My original plan was to walk around the reserve on Saturday 20th as the weatherman had been promising me clear skies and sun. That way I could photograph the lakes and ponds from the north embankment in brilliant light conditions. However, by Thursday this optimistic forecast had turned to one of pouring rain, dark cloud and cold temperatures.
Switching rapidly to plan B, as I had a day off work, I did my muddy jaunt today (Friday) while it was sunny. Unfortunately, this would probably mean not getting on to the reserve or onto the north embankment as there would be heavy machinery trundling around the place.
Inert appear not to have done anything to the Manor farm part of the reserve. I heard lots of heavy plant as I walked from the Moor Green Lakes car park, but when I reached the works bridge I could only see plenty of activity south of the Blackwater. Walking further west it became apparent nothing had been done to Manor farm, plus both the bulldozer and digger were absent.
Switching on the fly to plan C. As Inert and Cemex were not on Manor farm, I decided to pop over the gate at Longwater road, take some photos of the work around Finch pond, then high tail it up to the north embankment to photograph the lakes. My reasoning being that I would be unmolested (by the likes of security) as there was no work going on, particularly on the north embankment.
To this end, I introduce you to Hawthorn Lake. You'll have to check the maps pinned at the top of this blog to see its location. It is on the north part of Manor Farm, right up against Longwater road. From the plans, it is intended to remain and not get filled in.
The pump is still absent, which means water levels have crept ever higher. This in a year where we have had below average rainfall. The reserve has been known to flood. Check the Moor Green Lakes website.
During my walk I spotted what I believe were snipe. Birdwatchers had told me they had seen many on Manor lake. I also spooked several deer. I see their tracks everywhere.
As usual, picture heavy. Split into five sections reflecting the route of my walk.
1. Moor Green Lakes hedge laying and south footpath.
2. Longwater road entrance and Finch pond.
3. North embankment, Finch pond and Cormorant lake
4. Hawthorn lake
5. Cormorant lake and Manor lake north (though these might be the fen)
As usual, I will post the basics of the post first and then fill in the commentary as and when I get the time
1. Moor Green Lakes and south footpath.
Not much to be seen as I trotted around here. As I looked south from the works bridge I saw the blue digger, complete with both tracks, working far on the other side of the new community/sports area on the Hampshire side of the reserve. As I continued my way west I saw no sign of the bulldozer or any major workings on the site. It was then I decided to walk along the north embankment.
I've left the next slideshow static, so bringing the hedge laying activities to the fore. You'll need to click on the slideshow and use the navigation buttons to see all the slides and caption. I'll add a link to the Moor Green Lakes Group website when the ranger has added their report on the hedge laying.
We had quite a large group of volunteers attend the work party this past Sunday. Some new members to boot, plus a number of teenagers doing various awards e.g. Duke of Edinburgh. Whether male or female, young or old, they got stuck in, enthusiastically wielding axes, bow saws, bill hooks, lopers, etc, etc.
It appears that nasty 'hair' is back in the top right had corner of the photos. I had thought I had got rid of it. Sadly not. I shall have to dig out the stock lens that came with the camera originally to work out if the hair is in the lens or the camera. Not too sure what to do if the hair is in the lens mechanism.
2. Longwater road entrance and Finch pond
Not much to report here. I retrieved my trail cam from the Fleet Hill farm section of the reserve before popping over the gate to Manor farm. The trail camera got loads of shots of squirrels, pigeons and coots.
I reckon that the Longwater road has been built up on a bank some 2 1/2 to 3 feet ( 70cm - 90cm)above the Finch pond water level. Not a huge margin should the Blackwater decide to burst it's banks due to the effects of global warming.
It was noticeable how much water levels have risen. I could not get to the north embankment without walking through water - a foot (30cm) deep in places. I had no trouble walking along dry land last week.
Not really much I can say except the usual mantra: water levels rising. This week though, I had lovely sun. Unfortunately I think I had too much ev and got my white balance wrong on occasions. There was plenty wildlife.
I actually spotted this lake last week, but decided against exploring it. I often catch a glimpse of it as we walk east along the Lower Sandhurst road back to the Moor Green Lake car park. This part of the manor farm reserve comes right up against the Lower Sandhurst road.
Hawthorn lake is scheduled to remain as part of the plans for the reserve. Interestingly it is separated from Cormorant lake by a large bank of what looks like gravel. This whole area will change. It appears that the north parts of Cormorant lake could be come fens. However the plans are probably subject to change.
I must admit this area is a little confusing; I guess it is because I rarely visit this part of the reserve and haven't quite mapped it onto the plans for the area. I am not sure what is going to happen to the lake north of Manor lake, and I am not sure it is even connected to Manor lake. It is possible it will become fen land. Not sure.
Finding landmarks is more difficult, it can all look the same which ever way you face. A large expanse of grassland to the north of the reserve looks pretty much like every other expanse of grassland.
Anyway, previously I walked along the north shore of Cormorant lake and Manor lake north, but this week I had to strike off inland following various animal trails. I could not walk along the shoreline due to the raised water levels effectively removing the shore, and these wide streams, flowing into the lake, appeared blocking my way.
Still this is where I saw my first ever snipe, and where I spooked yet more deer.