Cherry blossom

Wildlife Diaries from the Botanic Garden: March 20-26

Welcome back to Wildlife Diaries. This is a collaboration between the Museum of Zoology and Cambridge University Botanic Garden, sharing the wildlife of the Garden as spring arrives. Catch up on last week’s post, filled with moths, cherry blossom about to bloom and birds collecting nesting materials , and the week before with with badgers, bats and more, and the first Wildlife Diaries post with its flowers and fragrances, hibernating ladybirds and singing robins. Remember to join us for a special livestream at 5pm on April 1, when you can ask your questions to our panel of wildlife experts.

24 March 2021

The magnolias have burst into flower and look magnificent, and the Yoshino Cherry is in bloom, its flowers are buzzing with bees. The Hellebores in the Winter Garden are also popular with pollinators. Long-tailed tits are collecting nesting materials, flying from branch to branch with feathers in their beaks. A Goldcrest flies out from a conifer, and the air around the Cambridge Oak is filled with birdsong. As the garden gets ready to close to the public, a Muntjac is spotted near the fountain, running into the wilder, wooded area.

26 March 2021

Although the plants are heralding spring by bursting into bloom, the temperatures are still quite low and we’ve even had overnight frosts this week. Although some frog spawn was spotted in a small pool in the Rock Garden a few weeks ago, it has failed to develop, probably because of the recent overnight frosts. Frogs will lay eggs throughout spring so hopefully we will spot some new spawn soon as the weather warms up. Early spring followed by late frosts can be detrimental to many species. After plants stoically withstand cold winters, early spring means plants are keen to leaf and flower as soon as possible, but this involves a reduction in winter protection from the cold. A late frost can kill the fresh leaves and flowers and affect growth and reproduction that year. The Magnolia flowers emerging are also at risk from cold frosty nights which could cut the beautiful display short.

There was another first for the year moth in the trap over night, a Twin-spotted Quaker, plus a few other Common Quakers and a Hebrew Character again. Only a few bats were active over night, popping out just after sunset probably for a quick drink, before returning to their roosts to go back to sleep until the temperatures increase. We spotted our first Dark-edged Bee-fly on the path near the Autumn Garden yesterday. It looks a little like a bumblebee and will be found hovering over flowers with its long tongue, and is a good sign of the arrival of spring. Oxslips and Violets have also started flowering on the ecological mound.

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