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IF you are sit­ting in a traf­fic jam on this hol­i­day week­end, have a look at the road­side verge and see how much wildlife you can spot.

The kestrel is a fa­mil­iar sight to mo­torists with ● their pointed wings and long tail, hov­er­ing along­side busy road look­ing for small ro­dents be­fore drop­ping, talons first, to snatch a meal.

Like most birds of prey, com­mon kestrels have keen eye­sight en­abling them to spot small prey from a dis­tance.

Once prey is sighted, the bird makes a short, steep dive to­ward the tar­get.

If you are lucky, you may spot a bank vole, one of Europe’s most com­mon mam­mals. They thrive in grassy, road­side verges and love nuts, seeds, berries and in­sects. Voles can be dis­tin­guished from mice by their rounder faces, smaller ears and eyes and shorter tails. The bank vole is a richer, chest­nut brown than the Field Vole and has a pro­por­tion­ally longer tail.

Many in­sects can be seen in these green cor­ri­dors. An easy one to spot is the six spot bur­net moth. This day-fly­ing moth has red spots on jet black wings and flits among the this­tles and scabi­ous. You will be very lucky if you spot the field cricket, but you may hear its chirps.

The male lives in a burrow and sings at the en­trance to at­tract a fe­male. They hatch in spring, and the young crick­ets eat and grow rapidly. They shed their skin eight or more times be­fore they be­come adults.

Wild­flow­ers make a cheery ad­di­tion to the grass verges of the mo­tor­ways and coun­try lanes. Cow pars­ley de­mands at­ten­tion with its great um­brels of frothy white flow­ers. It is a tall plant and a key nec­tar plant. Mo­tor­way em­bank­ments swarm with ox-eye daisies in the sum­mer months, turn­ing them into a car­pet of white and gold. It is also known as the mar­guerite, moon daisy or dog daisy.

You may be sur­prised to see an or­chid on the road­side, but the com­mon spot­ted or­chid thrives in these mi­cro­cli­mates. This or­chid is the most com­mon of all

Bri­tish or­chids and the one you are most likely to see. Some­times, so many flow­ers ap­pear to­gether that they car­pet an area with their del­i­cate, pale pink spikes. Red cam­pion bright­ens up any hedgerow or verge with their abun­dant rose-pink flow­ers. Its roots were once boiled to make soap and its seeds used to treat snakebites.

In­stead of sit­ting in a traf­fic jam, you could ex­plore all that Tame­side Greenspace has to of­fer. From its Vic­to­rian parks to the wild windswept moors, there are many habi­tats wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered. On Tues­day, May 29, the sec­ond flora walk of the sea­son will take place. Meet at 7.30pm at Cas­tle Clough car park, Car­rbrook. SK15 3PJ.

Red cam­pion

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