I have a feeling that Inert have been digging out the foundations of the works buildings. Judging by the noise I heard on Wednesday, they had a jack hammer extension to the arm of a digger, which was then smashing its way through the concrete foundations The spoil was then being transported to Manor farm for screening by the boulder sorter outer.
Fine screened material was then being bulldozed into Cormorant lake, whilst the bigger stuff was piled into heaps before being bulldozed to form a road way onto the land mass. Actually, Inert have done this a number of times on Manor farm, and at least twice in the past few weeks. It follows their normal pattern of build piles, bulldozed flat, dig hole.
Speaking of holes. The area to the south of Cormorant lake (south) I called the great depression has been filled in. Again, following Inert's normal practice: pile, level, dig hole; repeat.
I suspect that the larger screen stuff (i.e. concrete blocks, bricks, etc) will be broken up a little bit over the next few weeks (probably by driving heavy plant over it) before being bulldozed into Cormorant lake.
Whilst the boulder sorter outer was in operation near the south footpath on Wednesday, it was absent from Manor farm on Sunday. Possibly finished with? Maybe infill of Cormorant lake will now pick up?
Although lake levels are now low, the pump was off on my Sunday stomp. I didn't walk on Saturday due to rain and even more gloomy weather. Strangely, the pump has been chugging away of late. It needs to be turned back on. More rain is predicted over the next few days, adding to the stuff we got last week (and last night), meaning the Blackwater is running high again. Getting my trail cam back from the tree in the Blackwater was a bit of a challenge this morning.
Needless to say, underfoot conditions were pretty boggy on Manor farm, with all this rain. I kept to fresh lorry and bulldozer tracks. However, kept resolutely off old tracks or freshly bulldozed soil. It is just too boggy, with the consistency of quicksand and clinging power of cold porridge.
The disruption around Cormorant lake (south) is causing birds to switch over to other lakes in the area. A whole load of Canada geese appeared to have taken over Manor lake (south) and Moor Green Lakes.
With torrential rain on Wednesday falling on already saturated ground, the Blackwater was almost bank full in places. A few more inches and there would have been flooding on parts of the south footpath. Note it is possible that the Blackwater burst its banks on Fleet Hill farm - it does so - and on bits of the south footpath I didn't walk along.
I put a trail cam out on a tree that had fallen into the Blackwater, near the Longwater road. When I put it out, Saturday week, it was a good 2 feet (60cm) above water levels. It was completely submerged when I tried to retrieve it on Thursday morning. Much to my total astonishment, the unit was still working (when I managed to get to it yesterday morning) even after water poured out of its battery compartment and SD card slot when I opened it up. Extraordinary! It is a cheap Crenova unit, costing all of £68.
Anyway, enough prattling on about flooding and trail cams. What have Inert been up to this week?
It is a bit tricky to tell. Due to my ancient car being serviced and MOT'd on Wednesday, I had to postpone my mid-week visit until Thursday morning. Inert were busy around the west shore of Cormorant lake and my mighty mound.
They had moved the boulder sorter outer to near the south footpath, next to my mighty mound. A small fleet of John Stacey lorries were queuing up to drop their loads next to the boulder sorter outer. I counted at least five John Stacey lorries - there could have been more, plus lorries from other companies, but I didn't hang around long to find out.
Our bulldozer driver was pushing stuff around the various parts of what will be Manor lake. I didn't really walk along to the scrape to find out how much had been pushed into Cormorant lake. Due in part to laziness, still being ill with a filthy, rotten, stinking cold; and partly as I wanted to get over to Moor Green Lakes to photograph it in the early morning sun.
I can say that the south shores of Cormorant lake are looking a little flatter, which is normal procedure. The piles of bricks and concrete, which I saw last week, appear to have been laid into a track, stretching from the south footpath to the middle of the land mass, where the boulder sorter outer was last week. By Saturday, this piece of plant had been moved back on to the land mass where it was last week. At least the other plant and personnel will have a firm track to drive/walk along.
After a couple of week's hiatus, the pump was back on - not leaking by the looks of thing. It is sorely needed, with all this rain about. Water levels have crept up quickly over the past week.
That's it, I'm afraid. More of same, slowly nibbling away at the infill of Cormorant lake, with nothing seemingly dramatic happening. This means the slide show is fairly short and, in complete contrast to last week's fog, a glorious technicolour scene which you get on an early autumn's morning.
What was dramatic, was I spotted a Great White Egret (aka Common Egret or Great Egret) over on Moor Green Lakes. No doubt this bird also partook of the reeds and rushes of the various lakes and ponds on Manor Farm and Fleet Hill Farm. Quite exciting as this is quite a rare species to spot in the UK. Sightings are getting more frequent, but still rare. There are reckoned to be about 35 birds over wintering in the UK, but this is a very broad estimate.
Now on to our rare visitor - The Great White Egret. This bird was stooging around the north shore of Colebrook lake (north) in Moor Green Lakes. Unfortunately, two minutes before I got to where I saw this bird, the early morning sun was covered by a finger of cloud. The whole lake went from glorious sunshine to instant gloom. Photography matters were not helped by the bird being about 100m from me, with the added bonus of a slight amount of mist. Still, the old Sigma 150-600mm contemporary and fence post/viewing screen board did a sterling job.
Wednesday's lovely sunny stomp, revealed Inert working on the banking that runs alongside the south embankment and also around the southerly shores of Cormorant lake (south). Two diggers were busying themselves, digging around the mound and reducing the height of the banking alongside the south footpath.
Inert seem to take great pleasure in nibbling away at this banking. It's been attacked a couple or three times already. I've no idea why the relatively low banking isn't simple bulldozed flat.
Our intrepid bulldozer driver was trundling all over the south shores of Cormorant lake and the land mass. In addition to commercial tipper lorries (from the likes of John Stacy) Inert have drafted in their heavy bulk loader; the type you see in big open cast mines. It has been trundling around for weeks, now.
Saturday's stomp was a reasonably miserable affair. I had hoped the overnight frosts we've had for the past few days would solidify the ground a little. Nothing of the sort. All it did was set water hard as epoxy resin around the doors and windows of my car. Getting the car door open required a great deal of pulling and yanking. By contrast, not only was the ground around Manor farm not frozen solid it was, if anything, even more gooey and sticky and yielding. I had to stay off bits of the site, even when sticking to bulldozer tracks.
The depths of some of the bulldozer tracks (2 feet or 60cm in places) testify how soft the soil was in parts, as even its wide caterpillar tracks did not stop it from sinking.
Fog made this morning's photography a little challenging. All would have been well had I left half an hour later than I did e.g. 7:45am, as the sun would have burnt off the fog. But then I would not have got some stunning shots of a Red Kite at 8:45am, when the sun was up, mist gone, and the bird was sunning itself.
What my (vague) stomp revealed was that the entire southern half of Cormorant lake's shores are completely torn up this week. More stuff has been pushed into the lake on a broad front taking the infill a little further north and still going around the scrape.
Inert have built a series of what can only be described as long barrows alongside the vehicle track south of Cormorant lake. It's very peculiar. They are beautifully crafted out of what looks like sandy ballast. No idea what they are for, but they do hide Cormorant lake (south) from the south footpath. And this after Inert reduced the height of the banking that ran alongside the south footpath.
A boulder sorter outer has taken up residency on the land mass, opposite the scrape, at the end of the track that Inert built a couple of weeks ago. It looks suspiciously brand new. Bright shiny paint and pipe work. There is also tons of concrete lumps spread about the boulder sorter outer. I don't think the birds are going to be too happy about this.
The nasty fly tipping has been cleared up, and a nice lump of concrete placed against the gate of the Longwater road entrance to deter anyone trying to get into the site. Should have left the banking and the tank traps in place.
Our pump was quite silent, this morning and Wednesday. Possibly awaiting repairs to its leak.
In summary, Inert have been all over the southern shores of Cormorant lake (south), filling it in a little, but mainly (as usual) tearing the whole place up so it looks like the Western front. Business as usual.
The much calmer, and reserve ready, Fleet Hill farm had a nice load of wildlife this morning. Shame I didn't have more time to investigate.
Sadly, after a reasonably quiet summer with regard to fly tipping, it appears that some low lives have decided to use the Longwater road entrance as a free rubbish dump. Some cowboy business.
Moving on to more positive matters. Once again I declined a Saturday stomp. The sky was cloudless and the air was crystal clear at 6:30am., which was not what the Met office said it would be on their Friday weather report.
I checked the Met Office's forecast and it steadfastly claim rain would come sweeping in from the west by 8:00am. As they have a habit of getting the weather completely wrong for this area, I checked Auntie Beeb's weather report. It concurred with the Met Office. I took a quick squint at the Met Office's (now somewhat useless) rainfall radar, which said a band of rain would track across from Bristol to Wokingham in approximately 3 hours from 8:00am.
Even during me eating a spot of breakfast, I noticed the sky getting overcast, with high level wisps of milky cloud. I held off going, and sure enough, by 8:00am the wind had picked up to force 4 and it was chucking it down. Ten out of ten to the Met Office and whomever the BBC use for their weather reporting.
Sunday, by complete contrast, was clear (though clouding slowly) and windless. I was hopeful of some decent wildlife shots, but there wasn't really much around.
Inert appear to have settled on remodelling Cormorant lake (south) with their usual strategy of dump, lump and flatten.
Dump: Tipper and grab loader lorries dump spoil around work areas.
Lump: Dumped spoil is quickly pushed into roughly the right place by the bulldozer; creating a No Man's Land type landscape
Flatten: The lump land is smoothed and shaped by the bulldozer driver.
This week's task appeared to be flattening and smoothing the Somme type landscape produced by the lump phase. There was some low key delivering of stuff to the site, but my Wednesday stomp showed the bulldozer trundling to and fro, smoothing off the land.
An odd feature was that a whole load of sand had been laid along the scrape and joining up with the previous week's infill. I simply strolled along this sand bridge onto the scrape; rather than having to gingerly pick my way across infill, testing the firmness of the ground as I went. Some paw prints in the sand revealed that at least one fox had also trekked along the scrape.
Infill continues around the scrape, impinging on it further. This feature may well disappear, though Inert are skirting around it still; apart from the sand.
Our pump was wheezing away and has sprung a leak. I've seen it do this before, when it was frosty. The spray of water coated small trees, making them look very festive.
I also took a walk along to the end of the gravel spit, which separates Cormorant lakes north and south, to have a look at the infill. Again, a very curious piece of infill, with Inert flitting about the site. It almost seems like Inert decided to dump some spoil there for no particular reason.
Guess what numpty forgot to take a photo of the site of the former works buildings? Yep, me. Even though I hoofed it back with the express intention of photographing the vacant area, I forgot. Possibly as I was quite tired.
On with the slide show.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.