Cambridge City Natural History
The city of Cambridge includes grand buildings, new and old houses, streams, lakes, cemeteries, water meadows, gardens and recreation areas. The river Cam runs through the centre, forming a focal point for residents and visitors alike. It is a small city, roughly eight kilometres square, densely populated but full of green spaces. Nowhere are you far from the countryside and even within the city, wildlife abounds.
This project, planned to last for 3-4 years, aims to increase public awareness of the diversity of plants, animals and fungi within the city and to involve everyone in documenting Cambridge’s natural history heritage. As part of the programme, a garden will be chosen in each square kilometre across the city and surveyed intensively. Initial studies show that as many as 70 native plants may be present in an average garden and moth trapping in north Cambridge turned up a beautiful privet hawkmoth.
Just now, the season is turning from summer to autumn. Tawny owls – two males and a female – were calling last night from the tall trees. Other birds are quiet, in autumn eclipse. There is no longer the noisy racket from the heronry by the river, suggesting that this year’s young have at last fledged. The horse chestnut trees, whose leaves are attacked by the larvae of a moth, have turned brown and prematurely shrivelled. Although this moth only arrived in the UK in 2002, it has spread rapidly northwards. Spiders abound – the webs of the garden spider lace the bushes. Butterflies, bumble bees and dragonflies persist, but in smaller numbers than before. A mating pair of Willow Emerald Damselflies were seen in the Botanic Garden on Sept 4th. This species was first recorded breeding in the UK in 2007 and seems to be expanding its range