Bee alert and spot an or­chid

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

NA­TURE is great at keep­ing se­crets and some of them may only be feet away from you as you walk through your lo­cal coun­try park.

Take wild flower mead­ows, for in­stance.

To many peo­ple, they may just look like lots of daisies and but­ter­cups in a field of grass. This is to­tally un­fair on the grass as there are prob­a­bly loads of va­ri­eties of grass and sedge in there but you are also miss­ing out on some won­der­ful flow­ers.

My eyes were opened by nat­u­ral­ists work­ing for The Lan­cashire Wildlife Trust, who were keen to point out one of na­ture’s most del­i­cate and beau­ti­ful plants in a field which I had trod­den past for years.

Yes, in among the grass and but­ter­cups there are or­chids.

There are many species of or­chid found grow­ing in Bri­tain.

They tend to be made up of won­der­ful pur­ples and pinks with names like the com­mon spot­ted or­chid, heath spot­ted or­chid, early marsh or­chid, south­ern marsh or­chid and north­ern marsh or­chid.

Com­mon spot­ted are cer­tainly wide­spread in Lan­cashire and Greater Manch­ester and can be seen in mead­ows and nestling in the shade of trees and bushes.

I have also been in­tro­duced lo­cally to fly or­chids and the won­der­ful bee or­chid, which ac­tu­ally grows on sites where in­dus­try once dom­i­nated the land­scape. On the peat-rav­aged moss lands of Sal­ford, re­stored ar­eas are now home to bee or­chids, which is proof that The Wildlife Trust of­fi­cers and vol­un­teers are do­ing some­thing right.

The bee or­chid is bril­liant. It has evolved bee-like flow­ers, which fool the bees.

Up in Lan­caster I was treated last year to a view of one of our rarest species, the lady’s slipper.

Th­ese flow­ers have sim­i­lar pouches to the bee or­chids but are a deeper shade of browny pink.

It is amaz­ing to think that in all of our re­gion there is only one spot where they are known to grow on a regular ba­sis.

It’s not just the bees that are fooled by or­chids. Many blooms re­sem­ble their name; frog or­chids have trail­ing legs and lady’s tresses wear pet­ti­coats.

So when you are out and about look a lit­tle closer at the grassy verges and parks and see if you can spot a real won­der of na­ture.

The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion of the wildlife in Lan­cashire, seven bor­oughs of Greater Manch­ester and four of Mersey­side. It man­ages around 40 na­ture re­serves and 20 lo­cal na­ture re­serves cov­er­ing acres of wood­land, wet­land, up­land and meadow. The trust has 26,000 mem­bers, and more than 1,200 vol­un­teers. To be­come a mem­ber of the trust, go to www. lanc­ or call 01772 324129.

●● Bee or­chid

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