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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Parsonage Ups & Downs

A trip to Wiltshire ostensively to visit Salisbury ( a fine atmospheric city particularly being so close to Stonehenge (great to drive past this stunning place again, sadly no time to visit) and having the very atmospheric Old Sarum hillfort Castle just a mile north of the City)for a Blackmore's Night concert at the City Hall. A great 2 hour 40 minute concert from the band, including Candice Night (Mrs Blackmore) on vocals were on fire and the ultimate star of the show, a certain Mr Ritchie Blackmore still has it as a guitarist, soloing all night with 2 particularly good long solo's one an acoustic one during "Fires at Midnight" and maybe even better another one during "Journeyman" and joy of joys (!!) performing a particularly long solo with his cream Fender Stratocaster guitar (seventh heaven for all present!) A trip to Parsonage Down where I parked on the west side of the A33, walking an extra half a mile literally taking my life in my hands traversing a particularly busy dual carriageway (I should have parked along the east bound section by the rough track just off the main road & just east down to the Yarnsley Castle; a grassed over raised hill fort) trversing 6 feet high nettles in the central reservation and getting my trousers caught and torn hopelessly trying to negotaied a 5 foot high barbed wire fencing round the fort- when if I had parked by the track missed intersecting the castle hill fort area all togetherin an embarrassing area just below the crotch) it took me almost an hour to find the right entrance to the Down & this was not the start I envisaged or wanted! The Down was reached by taking the fist of 3 paths leading off from the track wih a discretionary byway notice and a pictur of a tank. A sign just past a gate indicated I was finally in the right area. I had initially taken a wrong turn, the 2nd track where I had seen a fine Marbled White butterfly resting peacefully in the long grass until where further on a tractor was seen and what looked like a military land area, but as soon as I took my camera out of the bag and it flew strongly off and out of sight! An initial search for the sought after Burnt Tip or indeed any orchids failed to turn any up at all. Not what I was expecting, walking down the Down into a Dip and then half way up a raised incline area, I met some botanists who had seen 1 near the gate and a couple of Fragrant & Frog Orchids. By the side of a path later on I finally spotted my first Orchid, a rather diminutive Fragrant Orchid, just coming into flower. But even better as I started to retrace my steps, right in front of me incredibly was a Badger, in full daylight on the path ahead of me, at first it didn't seem to notice me, it appeared to be a juvenile being 3/4 the normal size of a Badger an its coat appeared to me more browny than the silvery- grey I was expecting, I had a glimpse of the spectacular black & white striped face as it snuffled about, it soon got wind of me (perhaps literally, maybe it was the deodorant!) and started to run down the track and down a big obvious hole. from the hole streching maybe 4 metres down towards the lower part of the incline was an obvious earthy track a well worn rout taken by this particular set of Badgers, lets hope this our safe from the impending cull. Back at the gate, I saw the Botanists again but particularly disappointing was the fact they cleared off just before I reached them so I couldn't ask them exactly where the elusive Orchid was. As a result I failed spectacularly in finding any Burnt tips, a big disappointment. A further Fragrant Orchid, again seen by the side of a path was scant compensation. Walking back along the track, I noticed (as I had on the journey down) up to 5 singing Corn Buntings, seen singing from bushes adjoing the track an 2 to 3 Yellowhammers also. I kept a look out for Bustards but didn't see any. My final wildlife sighting was a another fine Marbled White butterfly which flew up from thistles by the side of the road as I was nearing the layby where I had intially parked the car.

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