It actually rained, dear reader. A fair amount, with the prospect of more to come. Finally!
Even after all the deluge we had overnight the ground on Manor farm was still quite solid. There was no sinking up to my knees in mud, particularly on the freshly bulldozed soil. It was actually quite pleasant to walk on.
With the pump being turned off for the past couple of weeks and the afore mentioned deluge, water levels in the Manor farm lakes and ponds have increased by quite a lot. The south end of the 'causeway' which was totally clear of water last week, is now flooded. That isn't going to help with the infill.
Finch pond jnr II has been filled in, and operations continue to infill even more of Finch pond.
Inert had built a very impressive earth ramp (roughly twice the width of a haulage lorry) along the ridge leading up to the trackway cut across the ridge on Thursday.
Naturally, I took a walk up to inspect it. I was completely surprised to see how devoid of water Cormorant lake north was. I haven't seen it for months, keeping off this part of the nascent reserve during breeding season. I reckon it must have been almost completely dried up, seeing as water levels have risen considerably over the past two weeks. I did not walk along the south footpath this morning to see if the pump had been turned back on.
Our bulldozer driver had driven along the gravel spit that separates Cormorant lakes north and south. he doesn't appear to have done anything else except drive to the east end of the spit and back again. See addendum below.
I shouldn't really try and second guess what Inert will continue with next week. I will, however, postulate that the infill of Finch pond will continue (starting with the long line of soil piles) and that the trackway will be consolidated to allow lorries to trundle along it. This will enable them to deliver spoil to be bulldozed into Cormorant lake (north).
There was abundant wildlife around this morning. Many geese and ducks, plus the odd deer, most totally ignoring me. A couple of Grey Heron took off from Cormorant lake north, but they are extremely wary birds.
I have been wondering about the ramp and new trackway. All that effort and the lorries having to drive all the way around Finch pond. In my naivety, I would have thought it much more efficient to drop a couple of large sewer pipes into the channel between Finch pond and Cormorant lake, and then cap it with soil from the ridge. That way Finch pond can still be drained via Cormorant lake south, and the lorries have an easier route to Cormorant lake north. They need only turn right near the former location of the Yellow bridge (now occupied by the boulder sorter outer), and then trundle across the feature I call 'the land mass'.
Of course I might be totally barking. I'm not a civil engineer, and I do not know what exactly is the need for the ramp and cutting.
The memsahib and I took a walk along the south footpath, late Saturday afternoon. One aim of the walk was to see if the Moor Green Lakes renovation and extension had been completed. Sadly no. It has a projected completion date of 4th August.
Whilst photographing a huge flock of Lapwings landing on the north end of 'the land mass', I noticed that the east end of the gravel spit (separating Cormorant lakes north and south) showed signs of bulldozer activity. I reviewed some of the photos I took of this area earlier, and sure enough there appears to be the beginnings of infill. Right now I am kicking myself for not wandering down the gravel spit. It's some pretty skilful driving, but I am perplexed as to where the soil came from.
You would have thought, dear reader, that by now I would have learnt not to try and second guess what area of Manor farm Inert will attack next. Fully expecting them to fill in the area west of the new 'causeway', they instead build a ramp along the edge of the ridge and then cut a trackway across the south end of the ridge.
I suspect this trackway is to give lorries access to Cormorant lake (north) to allow this lake to be filled in. Naturally, having second guessed what is going on here, I will be proven completely wrong.
Thursday's excursion was taken at roughly 9:15am when the temperature was a rather warm 26 degrees centigrade. No way was I going around the reserve at my usual lunchtime. Temperatures by then were 31 degrees centigrade - it would be even higher in the exposed blistering heat of the nascent reserve.
I do wonder how many of the plant drivers and operators have air conditioned cabs. A fair number of the haulage lorry drivers had their driver side window down. Does this suggest they do not have air con? Poor lads, the dust, temperature and noise were quite extreme.
In many ways I was lucky to capture the digger cutting the trackway. I suspect the digger operator would have finished the work by 11:00am.
The bulldozer driver is often out of his cab directing operations or assessing progress. He's probably the only one who knows what is going on. I also get the impression, perhaps wrongly, that most all the work is done by eye. I can't see any of the normal surveying guides you see on a building site e.g. bits of wood nailed together in the shape of a cross - much like the Cross of Lorraine. Perhaps they use some form of satellite positioning?
Oh, I think that Finch pond jnr II has been well and truly filled in.
It was eerily quiet on Manor farm when I took my mid week jaunt. Not a lot appeared to have happened. The odd hint that something had been done, but not much can be seen from the South footpath.
As I walked east, past the extremely smelly sewage works, I spied two diggers resting (it was lunchtime) by the boulder sorter outer.
Then two John Stacey lorries trundled by, followed by the clankity clank of the bulldozer, languidly trundling westward along the main trackway through Manor farm. Two further John Stacey lorries then followed.
Only on Friday evening (not my usual time to visit the reserve, but as I hinted in an earlier posting, I have a series of family engagements during the next two months that will disrupt my schedule) did I spot the extent of the work this last week. Inert have built a 'causeway' almost linking the south and north shores of Finch pond.
As I now have a handle, sort of, on how the infill process works, I would suggest that the causeway is actually a boundary and used to aid infilling on either side.
It also explains the need to drain the lakes for infilling. Lorries, and our bulldozer driver, will have to reverse along these 'causeways'; I've not actually seen this, but the tyre tracks hint at it. If a vehicle was to slip into the lake then far better it does so in four or five feet or less of water than the ten to fifteen feet or more of the normal lake level. I kind of knew that, but it is only when you see the 'causeways' that it really comes home.
Other news on the site.
The pump was silent. Again, I am not sure if it was deliberate or if the diesel has run out. It has been somewhat dry (we got the first bit of rain in two months, this morning) so the lake may not be filling as fast. Certainly the lakes and ponds in Fleet Hill farm are getting low. However, I did notice that water was seeping out at one point along the base of the north embankment. This would make the ground unstable for heavy plant.
The boulders and rubble that appeared on part of the vehicle track near the pump station has disappeared. I'm not sure exactly when or how. It is possible that they were pulverised and used to surface some of the vehicle track near the pump station and on the Hampshire side of the reserve. There has been an awful lot of vehicle movements.
Some strimming has taken place on the east side of the embankment that runs along the Longwater road. It's very curious. I didn't wander along it to see how far north it extended or if it went round the north embankment; I was a bit pushed of time, the memsahib was waiting for me on the Longwater road. I am just wondering if the strimming was done for surveyors or environment agency folk to get easy access to the embankment; just like with the track cut on the north embankment.
A lock (sort of) has appeared on the gate across the works bridge/south footpath. OK, it wont stop anyone getting into the site, but it will stop casual walkers or their dogs from doing so. I'm not sure when it appeared as I do not always walk down to this point over the weekend.
I'm sure there is plenty more I've missed. I only turn up once or twice a week. I really must get back over to the Fleet Hill farm side of the reserve to continue cataloguing the lakes and ponds, but I can't be dealing with all this blisteringly hot weather. There isn't much cover on Fleet Hill farm. My partner did worry about all the saplings and whether they would survive in this, effective, drought. Quite a lot of the plants on the site are either suffering or dead.
A word about my wildlife photos. For the most part I am posting these on the RSPB Wildlife forum.
I need a spirit level in my camera to help me hold it level.
I have expressed, dear reader, my perplexity on how the restoration of the Eversley quarry proceeds. I am now truly perplexed. Possibly one reason why I didn't do civil engineering.
I did postulate, some weeks ago, that when Finch pond jnr first appeared, perhaps Inert were defining the new northern shore of Finch pond and that junior would be filled in. Considering how much effort went into crafting the pond and the nascent Finch pond jnr II, I was somewhat surprised today to see that Finch pond jnr had, indeed, been filled in.
Looking at the piles of spoil piled up on the north shore of 'Finch pond jnr II' and along the new north shore of Finch pond, I would say that Finch pond jnr II will be filled in before it is even complete, and that the north shore of Finch pond will extend further south.
In the meantime, our stalwart pump keeps pumping, and water levels in all the lakes (including those on Fleet hill farm) continue dropping. Alas, I feel I will never be able to cross the channel between Cormorant lake and Finch pond as I doubt the water level will ever drop far enough.
Note. Most of the remainder of the school holidays are looking a little fraught, so updates may be a little light or delayed. I have to attend family events; a three line whip from the memsahib.
I've redone the map as I noticed I got the boundaries incorrect. I had inadvertently included the sewage works and private woodland as part of the works. Whoops!
Also I've added a scale and changed the colour of the infill area to brown, to reflect that it is now dry land. Not entirely sure how clear this colour is. The extent of the infill on the map is approximate.
Here is a 360 view from the south end of the new infill near the ridge. A few months ago I would have been submerged in at least 10' (3m) of water.
One of my first exercises on my initial foray onto Manor farm was to clamber on top of the concrete 'cubes' aka drain section. From there I took a 360 of the site. I repeated the exercise, though it was a bit tougher this time around. Previously there was a convenient heap of ballast piled against the 'cube'. There wasn't, this time, and I had to haul myself up, with legs a dangling and kicking in the air to add upward momentum.
OK, it is more of a 180 than 360. There hasn't been much change on the west side since I last did this exercise.
It is horribly hot. Temperatures once again heading to the thirties and above. Flora is beginning to suffer everywhere, with parts of the reserve and my garden dying.
Inert have concentrated their efforts on finishing off Finch pond jnr II. The have extended its south and east shores to an extraordinary degree. The thickness of the infill is pretty impressive, leading me to believe that a lot of haulage lorries have been contracted this past week.
I also get the feeling that our bulldozer driver has also been working around the boulder sorter outer. The piles of sorted stuff grow ever higher.
There were a number of haulage lorries in evidence when I arrived at lunchtime on Thursday. I counted at least three R Collard and four John Stacey lorries. The latter still form the backbone of the haulage efforts from what I can see. It was lunchtime, as I mentioned, so I didn't see the usual backup grab loaders about.
It should be interesting to see what happens after Finch pond jnr II is completed. According to the plans, the remnant of Finch pond should be a lot thinner, and should narrow to a taper. Inert may turn their attentions to the south shore of Finch pond.
However, with the breeding season virtually over for any schedule one birds, and with the water levels so low, it is possible that Inert will turn their efforts to Cormorant lake, the north embankment and ridge.
Our interesting white Aztec 'temple' has disappeared. Probably doing duty as traffic control, it is now part of the infill of Finch pond.
The pump was chugging away on Thursday, with the wildlife making the most of the small islets that have formed in Finch pond. There were loads of Lapwings, a belligerent Shelduck (which attacked a Tufted Teal), a smattering of gulls, a couple of Ringed Plovers and a couple of Wagtails - I think of the grey variety.
Here is my latest, very badly drawn, estimate of how far Inert have got with the infill.
You are probably fed up with hearing about my CA woes, but just in case any other reader finds themselves with a similar problem.
I found another reference on t'internet, though this time for the Canon 200d, where a user had exactly the same problem as me. The usual (and expensive) suggestions were to use image processing software (aka the likes of Adobe) to correct this issue.
However, this time someone suggested turning OFF the in camera Chromatic Aberration. It's the first time I have seen this suggested.
I dived into the camera's menu system, found the 'Lens Aberration Correction' section and dutifully turned off Chromatic Aberration Correction'. Voila, no CA in wide angle shots. The setting didn't seem to affect zoom shots.
No doubt the camera is optimised for Canon lenses, and probably the newer ones at that. Hence the in camera processing. It is highly likely that cameras from other manufacturers may behave in the same manner, and offer a means of adjusting any in camera processing.
For me, this means no tedious post processing in Canon's Digital Photo Processing application. However, the application is pretty nifty, so I shall investigate it further.
After a bit of research on t'internet, I eventually went to the Canon support site to check out any software or firmware upgrades my brand new shiny 800d should have that might fix the CA problems with my ancient Tamron lens.
Nothing leapt out at me, but I did notice that Canon had an image processing application called Digital Photo Processing. Well, nothing ventured...etc: I downloaded it (though you have to enter the serial number of your camera to prove you are the owner of a Canon camera), installed it and fired it up.
When I opened one of the raw files exhibiting this severe CA the DPP software fixed it before my eyes automagically! I didn't have to anything except perhaps click on the image or change the White Balance. Your blogger is much relieved.
I shall have to explore what else this software does, but beware, dear reader, it only works on raw files.
I processed the photos in my previous post that were affected by CA, and redisplay them in this post. It was a rather tedious process as I fixed each file individually. I did notice a 'batch' feature which should allow me to process a whole load of files at once.
Hopefully, Canon will get around to issuing a firmware fix of this which I can load into the camera.
For those of you who do not know what Chromatic Aberration is (it took me a number of months to figure it out properly) here is a before and after example. The CA is a little on the severe side, but is fairly representative. Note, I have cropped a tiny area from the photograph. You don't see such wide fringing unless you zoom right into the photo - almost 100% zoom.
Now onto the fixed photos from yesterday's post. If you compare them against their equivalent from yesterday's post you might detect how much brighter and apparently in focus they are. Oh, I did take the opportunity to set the white balance to 'Daylight' rather than auto. It made the sky a shade more blue, and the greens a little darker. More representative of what I saw, I feel.
The upshot is that I do not have to remember to turn the focus ring 3mm to the left every time I take a landscape scene.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.