We had avoided turning right as we knew the path lead to the Longwater road and we do not like walking along busy roads. It was only after examining a 1:25000 OS map of the area that I 'discovered' the footpath leading into and around the Fleet Hill farm part of the works.
Back then I did not know about the restoration efforts underway; the plans for the nature reserve or indeed its size. I was actually more interested in taking photos of the various excavation machinery for my paintings.
A couple or so weeks later I discovered what was going on and decided to record (out of curiosity and professional interest) the process by which Cemex restored the quarry to nature reserve quality. So was born this blog.
It has been great fun, tramping for miles over the reserve, fighting my way through nettles and brambles and chest high weeds and whippy shrubs, falling down slopes and into ponds, sinking up to my knees in mud the consistency of quicksand, fighting off blood sucking biting insects, walking through the snow and ice. Highlights were spotting American Mink (and catching it on my trail camera), a fox den with cubs (which I haven't mentioned 'til now so as to protect them), a Weasel with dead Vole, Lapwings, Oyster Catchers, Shelducks, Hobby, plus all the other wild birds and insects I now have a fighting chance of identifying.
One unexpected outcome of this project is how much I have learnt about cameras, especially my secondhand Canon Rebel XTi. Even so, I have to admit, dear reader, that I use both cameras as point and shoot devices. Partly as I am somewhat time constrained as I stomp about the reserves, partly as the fast moving animals do not give you the luxury of fiddling with settings (i.e. blink and the blighter has gone), but mainly as I am too lazy to muck about with the camera controls. Occasionally I will fiddle so, but only quite rarely. I have discovered, through trial and error, a series of settings and tricks which take good photos most of the time.
I've included some of the original photos I took a year ago plus what the scenes look like now. Photos from 2017 taken with my bridge camera on the left. Photos from 2018 taken with my ancient DSLR on the right.