Cemex have been working busily on Manor Farm around the culvert at the Longwater road entrance. The big changes include moving the concrete b cubes, clearing the site and cutting a new track along the shore of Finch pond. It is possible they were working on all the week before, but because I didn't nip over the gate I was oblivious of any changes. I was feeling a bit apathetic, which I put down to my flu.
The pump is still pumping away, and water levels in all the pond on Manor Farm are noticeably lower; a process hastened by little rainfall in the south.
Cemex appear to have stopped work on Fleet Hill farm for the time being.
On a more boring note. I was a little distracted this week, as I was testing out the capabilities of a camera lens. Having hummed and hawed and agonised and read numerous reviews, I finally bought a second hand zoom lens for my second hand Canon Rebel XTi. It became painfully obvious to me that the Canon was taking far more detailed photos than my Panasonic Bridge Camer. Not surprising, really.
I eventually got a Tamron 16-300mm VC thingy. It's got too many letters to fash about. The VC means vibration compensation, and it is worth every penny of the extra I spent on the lens. I was going to buy a Sigma 70-300mm DG lens, which at £95 new was a third the price of the second hand Tamron. However, the Sigma didn't have optical stabilisation, and it (along with the equivalent Tamron) produced soft image at anything over 200mm. Not good, seeing as I would spend most of my time at 300mm.
I need to learn how to use the beastie with the Canon, but so far (once I realised I needed to increase the EV by one notch) it has exceeded my expectations. There's a certain crispness about the photos.
The downside is that the four batteries that came with the Canon were in very poor condition. Only one worked properly, but even that struggles to power the Canon and the Tamron. Halfway around my walk it packed up. I had to switch to the Panasonic.
I would say, though, that the weight of the camera and lens comes to about 2 lbs or roughly 1 Kg in weight. No way can I carry that around my neck for one and a half hours. It went on the monopod, and I carried around. My bridge camera feels as light as a feather in comparison to the DSLR.
As we head into the second week of October we were treated with storm Ophelia barreling in at the start of the week to wreak havoc to Northern Ireland, North England and Scotland, and then storm Brian joined in at the end to hit Ireland, Wales, the South West and Midlands. The south of England, where we live, was spared the worse affects of these two storms. We did have to dodge heavy downpours as we took our weekly traipse around the proposed new reserves, and it was a touch breezy.
Once again, very little appears to have happened this week. Cemex are conspicuous by their absence.
Fleet Hill farm does not appear to have been touched.
There are signs that Cemex have been working on Manor Farm. Not least the placement of large lumps of concrete, and some churned up ground. The pump keeps pumping, and the water level in Cormorant lake keeps falling.
I also notice that the water levels in Manor lake have also fallen. This was most apparent when viewed from the footpath that divides Manor farm and Green lakes. I hopped over a fence to get closer and photograph the lake; first time I have been on this side of the reserve. However, judging by the 'squashed' condition of the mesh fence and path worked into the vegetation, it appears a number of people have done the same. I suspect they were anglers.
Cemex do appear to be working hard on the site south of the Blackwater river. This is to be given over to functions like community farming - whatever that might mean. They are certainly digging an enormous hole, and piling the soil into an equally enormous hill. It had grown considerably from last week.
I have a second hand Canon Rebel XTi, and re-discovered the Canon lens that came with it. The camera also came with a Quantrary 55-80mm lens, which isn't bad, but produces quite soft images, to the point I thought the camera was duff. Not so. The Canon lens produces some nice images - though I do need to figure out how to use the auto focus and metering. The slide show contains a mixture of photos taken with either my DSLR or bridge camera. Can you tell the difference?
We talked to a twitcher, who told us there were quite a few Little Grebes in the lakes, and spotted a Pochard far in the distance whilst we were talking. I wouldn't have known what a Pochard was if it came up and bit me on the leg! After consulting our trusty RSPB pocket guide to British birds when we got back home, we might have a fighting chance of recognising the blighter in the future.
Not much appears to have happened this week. Cemex may have chosen to work on another part of the site. They do tend to flit from place to place.
One notable feature is how low water levels have become in Cormorant lake. An old shoreline has appeared around the pump station - complete with grass - and Cormorant island is now a spit of land connected to the south shore. This demonstrates the water level needed whilst Cemex were still extracting from this area.
Four Egyptian Geese (one male and three females) were evident on the south shoreline of Finch pond. The male skulked around trying not to be photographed.
Although I harp on about the limitations of my bridge camera, I do have admit its range of 20-1200mm does allow me to zoom into objects a long way off and allow me to photograph subjects I would normally be able to do. I sometimes use it as a telescope. Not bad for a complete package costing a lot less than just the body of a DSLR. I just have to put up with soft detail - not a problem - as an artist I can compensate and paint in the detail.
In many ways I was quite happy not much happened. I spent 2 1/2 hours yesterday shifting roughly 2 cubic metres of wood chip (my neighbour had some tree work, and I got the chippings) and spread it over my flower beds. I was shattered. Which is very odd and doesn't make sense. I spent over three hours hacking scrub from around Grove hide of Moor Green lake on the previous Sunday and although tired was quite fine. Where as today, I struggled to totter around the reserve, and it would have been a hard, painful slog to complete a long blog entry. I think my flu shot kicked in and I reacted by developing a slight cold.
As we slip disgracefully into October the weather has been kind, with no nasty frosts to clobber my garden plants. This weekend is a little busy for us. My daughter had an open morning today kicking off at 9:15. She got the parents from hell to show around the school - they talked to every teacher for 20 minutes each. As a result of her early start, I had to go shopping at 7:45am. I rushed back from dropping my daughter off at school to firstly get my flu shots (I will react and show flu symptoms) before my partner and I stomped around the reserve.
Frantic cooking for the week ensued in the afternoon, as my daughter and I are volunteering with the Moor Green Lakes Group tomorrow (Sunday). Another early start to clear willow and scrub from Grove hide and view screens. My daughter will be doing her pyrotechnic duties, while I shall be lopping with loppers and slashing with my trusty bill hook. Alas my partner cannot join us. She has broken her finger. A rather nasty compression fracture.
OK, back to the interesting stuff. Cemex have been subtly busy i.e. there are definite signs of a lot of activity (churned up and flattened ground), but not all of the actual results. The obvious bits are shown in the slideshow. The rest may become obvious once vegetation is cleared.
I've mentioned the Longwater Road a lot in this blog. This week I thought I'd introduce you to this unremarkable stretch of road. I've also photographed the outflow from the filtered water pumped out of the lakes. I reckon Cemex filter the water through three settlement ponds. If you look at the google earth images, you will see three rectangular ponds to the south of the Blackwater river. I feel the lake water is pumped into the west most lake, where the coarse sediment falls out. The surface outflow from this pond into the subsequent ponds has finer sediment dropping out successively in each, before the water overflows into a channel and thence the River Blackwater.
Another aspect my partner and I noticed is that the Fleet Hill farm reserve in particular is getting increasingly clear and open. This is apparent with the ponds being visible from the Longwater Road. We think this is a combination of leaves dropping from trees this autumn and Cemex clearing the scrub.
I did notice that there is a lot of small industrial debris mixed in with the soil in various places. Not sure how this is going to be cleared, if at all. Just be prepared to dig up bits of wire, plastic, iron rods, etc in the future.
Oh I will also introduce you to our bovine helpers on the Moor Green Lakes part of the reserve. They are tiny little sweeties.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.