The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that this update was written on a Friday. This means no Saturday stomp around Manor farm. Partly as the weather is expected to be foul tomorrow (storm Hannah is barrelling in), but mainly as not much has happened on Manor farm.
Plenty going on with Chandlers farm. I suspect that this is where Inert will concentrate their efforts over the coming couple of months due to the bird breeding season in full flow.
This week Inert appeared spread all over Chandlers farm, particularly the western half. It is all looking decided flatter. A couple of bulldozers were clanking away, plus a couple of tipper trucks and diggers.
The Bailey bridge is now looking rather splendid with its snazzy yellow sides. I wonder if the sides will survive the heavy plant crossing the bridge during the remaining restoration of Manor farm.
With our hard working pump now silent, water levels in Cormorant lake and what is left of Finch pond edge ever higher. It's quite unusual seeing them so high. I don't think they have yet reached their fullest. The pipe, which the gull type things love sitting on, is still on the mudflats. A couple more feet of water are needed to get it to float.
My old nemesis, the mud, is now dry and hard, and being churned into fine dust by all the plant chugging about. It was being blown into dust clouds by the brisk wind.
I saw a vehicle moving eastward along the old south shore of Finch pond, whilst on the school run on Thursday morning. I thought that perhaps Inert had returned to Manor farm. My afternoon visit (I didn't do my normal Wednesday morning stomp as my car was in the garage being repaired) revealed this vehicle to be a water bowser.
What was really odd about this vehicle was how it filled its tank with water. Firstly, there is a pond on Chandlers farm. I have seen a water bowser filling up from it. Secondly, it chugs over to Manor farm to fill up from Cormorant lake. However, the it does so at the north end of the eastern infill! This requires the bowser to reverse some 75 yards or so, along the east shore of Cormorant lake.
Most peculiar. Inert seem to like having vehicles reverse long distances.
Anyway, I didn't bother hoofing it all the way over to the Longwater entrance to see if Inert had filled in the tank assault course. I was too knackered after swimFit, plus by the looks of things, from the south footpath, nothing had been done as all the spoil heaps were still intact.
There is a surprising amount of wildlife around, considering it is the middle of the breeding season. The Skylarks didn't seem as plentiful on Thursday. Possibly due to it being mid afternoon, and it was a tad breezy.
There were all sorts of intriguing rustling noises coming from the side of the path, during my walk. I couldn't tell if it were bird or mammal. Though I wish I could recognise bird song. I do know quite a few, but there were a whole host of intriguing warbles I could not identify.
I think I might have discovered where another Oyster catcher pair are nesting. They appear to be on Sandpiper island, in Colebrook lake (south) on the Moor Green Lakes reserve. I did notice them flitting about this island earlier on in the year. But on Thursday, I managed to photograph an Oyster catcher landing on the west shore of the island.
Alas, there was too much vegetation to see if my hunch was true. The MGLG do not appear to have this island on its winter schedule. Unlike Plover island, where I do have photographs of an Oyster catcher sitting on its nest.
I did, however, manage some splendid shots of the Oyster catcher coming into land. They are fast birds, and difficult to pick out from background noise. Only one photo came out completely in focus. The others were useful for action shots, if not detail.
Finally! Wednesday was nice and sunny. I took an extended walk, starting at the MGLG car park; wandering down to the Blackwater; turning right and hoofing it along Manor farm, past the Bailey bridge and sewage works; across to the Longwater road entrance and back again.
In the near future, new footpaths and bridle paths should allow a circular journey, allowing one to walk along the north edge of Manor farm back to the MGLG car park. That in itself will be better than the Moor Green Lakes reserve, where there is no footpath along its northern edge.
Much was happening on my little stomp. Our pump was not pumping. I wonder if it has run out of diesel? Subsequently, lake levels in Cormorant lake and Finch pond were on the high side. Manor lake, however, was on the low side - exposing the mud flats on Manor lake north. These were promptly taken over by gull type things, Lapwings, etc. Mudflats are desperately popular with all sorts of birds. The ones on the west of Cormorant lake are particularly popular.
Workmen were installing more of the snazzy sides to the Bailey bridge. I wonder if insufficient were ordered first time round or perhaps the delivery was short? In any case not only were the yellow sides being welded into place, the paintwork was being touched up. Now that is attention to detail.
Seems odd to be installing these bridge sides now - assuming they are the final design for the bridge once restoration is complete. They are subject to possible damage as various heavy plant trundle across the bridge.
Moving on swiftly from that contentious statement. I hopped over the gate on the Longwater road to take a good look at what was happening with all the piles of soil I could see from said road. NOTE: normally I wouldn't do this on a week day, due to the heavy plant trundling around the site. However, this particular morning it was obvious there would be no lorries, diggers or bulldozers on Manor farm; partly due to the two transits sat on the Bailey bridge.
Inert have been exceedingly busy gouging out deep trenches and building heaps of soil around the Longwater road entrance. The whole thing reminded me of a tank assault course; heighten by the caterpillar tracks along the sides and top of one of the spoil heaps. I know travellers are a pest, but these 'defences' are on a truly heroic scale...or are they?
There used to be a large slab of concrete a few yards in from the Longwater road entrance. I often puzzled over it, as well as taking a short respite from all the mud by walking over it. I could never work out what it was, why it was there and, more importantly, why it hadn't been dug up. Perhaps the mighty trench and considerable quantity of earth movement are a clue. Was it, we wonder, not merely a slab of concrete but, instead, some sort of large storage structure?
Chandlers farm was surprisingly quiet. There was one bulldozer merrily trundling around the north west edge of this site, but compared to previous weeks, all was deserted. This is not to say that a mighty amount hadn't occurred earlier in the week or that activity picked up after I had returned home. Then there is the question of Easter - perhaps the workers had taken a well earned rest.
More will be revealed next week; perhaps.
I know there are some that visit my blog for updates on wildlife. Well, my Wednesday stomp proved particularly fruitful for me. I like the challenge of BIF (Bird In Flight) photography, and there were a lot of birds flying around. There were also a myriad of other birds, most I could not recognise, regardless of a fleeting glimpse or from their bird song. However, seasoned birders would probably get quite excited by the rich diversity of bird life on and around Manor farm.
There appeared far more Skylark around this year then in previous years. The air was full of their song. Which is good, considering their endangered state in this country. Lapwings were having a good territorial fight - I think there is a nesting pair on the north part of Cormorant lake, up by the grasslands.
Oyster catchers are nesting on Plover island on the Moor Green Lakes reserve - all our hard work on winter mornings, clearing the islands and shore line, has paid off.
I've been a bit tardy with this week's update. Decorating, you see. I wasn't looking forward to painting doors and skirting boards. Oil based gloss stinks to high heaven, takes ages to dry and can yellow quite quickly. Low odour, quick drying (aka acrylic) paints are a nightmare to apply - you can't get rid of the streak marks...until now.
I used Dulux trade paints, their low odour, quick drying high gloss white, and white undercoat. What a revelation. Their flow characteristics are amazing. Seems like Dulux have formulated them with a whole load of flow enhancers. You can brush over the paint several times as you apply it, even ten or so minutes after applying paint to surface, and it doesn't streak or lift. I even used a roller on the flat bits of doors! It's amazing to see the brush and roller marks slowly merge into a smooth surface.
Decorating the remainder of the house is no longer a daunting prospect of tempered frustration, fighting with acrylic paint that enhances brush marks.
Well, enough of my wittering on about decorating. What has been happening on Manor farm?
Hmmm, this is where it gets a bit tricky. My Wednesday visit revealed nothing. Chandlers farm was still a hive of activity, centred around the north west part of the site i.e. to the west of the Bailey bridge close to the Blackwater. A lot of stuff was being dropped by lorries, then spread around by both bulldozers and at least one digger. This leads me to believe (probably quite foolishly) that Inert may be completing the latest phase of the restoration of Chandlers farm.
Moving over to Manor farm. I've been walking down from the MGLG car park, on my Wednesday stomps. Thus, I do not see what, if anything, is happening on the west side of Manor farm. I did notice that the north gates across the Bailey bridge were open on Wednesday, but simply assumed Inert were fiddling about around the pump; which, by the way, was vigorously chugging away and reducing water levels - particularly in Manor lake north.
However, I had cause to drive past the Longwater road entrance on Sunday, and noticed changes around this area. I stopped briefly on my way home - I was actually in a hurry, as I wanted to watch 'The seven ages of stars' on tele. Inert had blocked off the Longwater road entrance with a mighty mound of soil - and I mean mighty. It looked at least 6' (1.8m) high.
The only time you tend to see that is when travellers are about, and is meant to keep them off a site. There might be a more innocuous reason for the mound. A brief glance over the mound, from the Longwater road itself, did indicate some other mounds of soil or sand. All rather tantalising. I'll find out more on my stomp tomorrow.
I'll have a bash at posting some photos, from last week, later on today. We do have the gas man coming to try and sort out a duff radiator, which means I may have to assist e.g. clearing mess out of the way.
An early update as I have decorating to do this weekend. Yuk!
My foggy, Wednesday morning stomp revealed signs Inert are preparing to return to Manor farm quite soon. Though from experience, such pronouncements need to be taken with a huge pinch of salt.
Firstly, the pump was chugging away. Indeed, so vigorously the out flow into the Blackwater was the highest I have seen for some months.
Secondly, there was no activity to the immediate west of the works building. There was a lone digger putting more stuff onto a gigantic spoil heap that has been a feature of Chandlers farm for as long as I can remember. There may have been more vehicles to the west of the heap, but I didn't see or hear any; partly as I didn't go further west than the Bailey bridge.
Thirdly were these yellow things, I spied last week, piled up near the Bailey bridge.
I couldn't work out what they were. Crowd barriers, perhaps? All was revealed this week.
Barriers on the Bailey bridge. I can't work out if they are for vehicle traffic or for pedestrians when the area opens as a reserve. My suspicion is the latter. Vehicle traffic has been happy using this bridge for decades. The are rather snazzy and bright.
You can just make out a digger in the right most photograph, piling earth onto sand that had covered the gigantic pile.
A quick drive by peek, this morning, showed no activity on Manor farm; despite water levels being much lower than last Wednesday. I reckon water levels need to be at least four feet lower before Inert will consider returning to Manor farm. Perhaps next week.
I was somewhat unnerved on Wednesday morning. As I set off south from the MGLG car park, along the footpath, I heard sirens going off. For those who do not know the area, Broadmoor Prison (used to house the most dangerous and psychotic of prisoners) is located near Crowthorne, a few miles east from MGLG.
There are air raid sirens located around the area; one of which is the Shell garage on the London road in Wokingham. They are triggered if a prisoner escapes from Broadmoor i.e. to warn residents to go into lock down.
Thing is, they are normally tested every Monday morning, I think about 11:00 am. Firstly, there is the air raid warning sound. After a couple of minutes this is replaced by the all clear.
What concerned me was the warning sound kept going for the 15 minutes it took me to walk to the Bailey bridge. I kept scanning for anyone that might looked liked a crazed axe murderer!
Relief was mightily felt when I reached the Bailey bridge, and the all clear sounded. Strangely, only a couple of times.
I did read that there were proposals to do away with the early warning sirens. They were to be replaced with announcements via social media, email, possibly phone calls (e.g. to schools), and radio and tv messages. This appears not to have happened, as I still hear the sirens on Monday morning: if I am out and about at the correct time.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.