Go on safari in Cambridge’s green spaces to discover the plants and animals that live in these city centre wildlife havens.
Follow the map and clues below to discover the wildlife of central Cambridge. Our Wildlife Safari Trail can be followed on a smartphone here, downloaded to your own device, or printed at home before your journey:
Use the Cambridge Wildlife Safari map and the clues below to find real creatures and plants all around the city:
1. Museum of Zoology Slate Wall and Green Roof
Find the tree made of slate at the ‘tail end’ of the Museum of Zoology’s Whale Hall. Behind the slate are over 3,000 vacant snail shells creating homes for other invertebrates such as spiders and solitary bees.
Although you cannot see it, the roof of the Museum and David Attenborough Building is a ‘green roof’. Up to 60% of it is covered in plants to aid biodiversity in the city and provide flowers for pollinators.
2. Black poplar tree, Tennis Court
Look closely at the black poplar tree found outside the Biochemistry Department. You will see many holes made by hornet clearwing moths, or see the adults resting on the trunk in June.
3. Hobson’s Conduit, Trumpington Street
There are 24 species of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) to be found in Cambridge city. See if you can spot an emperor dragonfly or common darter along this stretch of water. Follow the conduit down until it becomes a brook to look out for water-violet flowers.
4. Mill Pond and Coe Fen
Common red soldier beetles are quite narrow and rectangular and are often seen pairing up on flat, open flowers. You might also see centipede or woodlice around the fallen trees, or heron near the water.
5. Riverside behind Peterhouse College
Here you will likely see beetles of all sorts, including the devil’s coach-horse. As these beetles hunt other invertebrates at night, turning over logs or leaf litter is a good way to see them during the day. Head towards the water to see pink-footed and Canadian geese, moorhens and mallard ducks.
6. Little St. Mary’s Church Yard, Little St Mary’s Lane
Keep an eye out for our native seven spot ladybird and larvae among the tall flowers, with its characteristic red and black colouration and seven black spots.
7. Silver Street Bridge
Visit the bridge at dust to spot Daubenton’s bats flying to catch a meal about the river.
8. Viewpoint for Kings College Meadow (along the ‘backs’)
From this spot, you can see Kings College and its wildflower meadow. All kinds of pollinators enjoy this meadow, not just bees, but also butterflies, hoverflies, beetles and even wasps. From a distance, you are most likely to spot the small and large white butterflies.
9. Senate House and passage
Take a stroll past Senate House for wildlife living in the gaps. Wall-rue has been known to grow on the House steps since 1860 and the moss, Tortula muralis, can be found along the passage walls.
10. Market Square
Find the drain cover with heart tongue ferns poking through in this city-centre spot.
11. Jesus Green
Head to the flowerbeds near the tennis courts to see bees visiting the flowers, pollinating as they go. Keep an eye out for large round bumblebees, narrower, long honey bees and the many species of solitary bee, which are usually much smaller. Watch for grey squirrels climbing in the trees or swans by the river.
12. Midsummer Common
Take a look under log piles to spot ground beetles. They are usually black or brown in colour but many species also have a metallic sheen, with hints of blue, green and purple. If you are here at dusk, it is possible to see bats flying close to the river.
13. Logan’s Meadow (opposite Museum of Technology)
This meadow is an excellent place to see wildlife. To see the speckled wood butterfly, go to the wooded section of the nature reserve and look for them in spots of sunlight under the trees. Looking up into the trees you may see woodpeckers, kingfishers, goldfinch or cormorants. Water voles, frogs and dragonflies are found by the streams.
14. Mill Road Cemetery
An excellent spot for bird watching. Visitors may see common chiffchaff, blackcaps, song thrush, common buzzard, greenfinch and goldfinch, and more.
Look out for the brown spot! These locations are great for getting involved in our Cowpats about Cambridge Challenge.
Drawings and design (c) University of Cambridge / Fanny Bara Moreau
Capture a wildlife picture you’re proud of? Share it with us and it could be displayed in our Community Gallery. Find out how: https://museumofzoologyblog.com/2020/05/04/community-gallery-openyourwindowbingo/
Discover animals in the architecture of the city with our Cambridge Safari trail
Explore more work from artist Fanny Bara Moreau: https://fannybara.wixsite.com/fannybara/education-material