I did not pay a visit to Manor farm on Saturday. Partly as it had been raining (some torrential) for almost two days (and was still doing so on Saturday morning) and partly as we have too much prep to look after aged relatives over Xmas.
In any case, Inert appear to have slowed down on the restoration efforts. Unsurprising as Christmas is almost upon us. Many people will be taking leave, and quite rightly so.
I did pop down on Wednesday. Our intrepid bulldozer driver was hard at work making new piles of stuff near the pump station; ably supported by at least three John Stacey tipper trucks and one Collard grab loader.
I wonder if Inert are caching stuff in preparation for a big push to fill in Cormorant lake (south), come the new year. On the other hand, it may be too boggy to work safely so close to water's edge. The rain has been relentless, to the point where I feel the pump is just about keeping up with pumping out water flowing into Cormorant lake. Over on Moor Green Lakes, Colebrook lake is high again. No doubts Grove lake as well.
It is possible that Inert have been fiddling around the edges of Cormorant lake (south), but I wasn't able to see much from the south footpath. They seem to be continuing what they have been doing for the past few weeks: piling up stuff along the south shore of Cormorant lake (south).
I'll be fascinated to see if the pump keeps operating over the next week or two. Cormorant lake will fill up quickly if it stops.
Photos in slide show are from my Wednesday morning stomp.
I am still quite perplexed as to this restoration process. As noted several times in this blog, I have noticed Inert go through a process of Pile, level and gouge. For the past few weeks, Inert have largely concentrated on the pile stage i.e. piling up soil. Though, in their defence, they have been pushing sorted soil into Cormorant lake.
The extent to which Inert have been piling stuff on the east shore of Cormorant lake and around the pump station has been lost on me, as I have been keeping clear of most of the recently bulldozed material. Rainfall continues incessantly, making ground conditions somewhat lethal for foot traffic. Even some areas of Finch pond infill are still quite treacherous. I did venture on to this infill for the first time in months when I decided to climb onto the ridge. I had hoped that the soil would have consolidated itself over the past months. But no, it is still the consistency of epoxy-porridge, with sink up to your knees patches.
Anyway, getting back to the narrative. This week I wandered over to where Inert were working on Wednesday i.e. around the pump station and east shore of Cormorant lake. I actually had to walk all the way round to get to the pump station i.e. walk east to the Bailey bridge, turn north to the pump, then turn west to walk to near the scrape. I couldn't cut across from the vehicle track to to west of the pump station as the ground was so muddy and cut up.
Inert have created large piles of soil, which tower over me. Regretfully, there was no obvious sign of what the digger was doing last week. In addition to building soil heaps, Inert have been pushing stuff into Cormorant lake (south) along its east shore, around the scrape. But it is hard to fathom if the infill extends further north. I haven't been on this bit for some weeks; partly as Inert were mainly working on the west shore of Cormorant lake, but mainly as the whole area was just too boggy to walk upon; especially when carrying a long lens around my neck.
Our stalwart pump was chugging away, working hard to pump vast quantities of water dumped by the incessant rain we have had, which is set to continue; according to the Met office.
Something was happening on Fleet Hill farm on Wednesday/Saturday of this week and Saturday (or Wednesday) of last. Week before, I did spot a bloke on a red quad bike on the north part of Fleet Hill farm, riding up to the north Longwater road entrance. He was quite leisurely, and appeared to have business on the site.
On Wednesday of this week, I noticed a large white van, parked inside the north Longwater road entrance. Hi-viz clothing bedecked the van, while the two gates on the north Longwater road entrance were open. I didn't pop over to investigate what was going on as I had to head home.
This Saturday, on arriving at 8:00am ish, I noticed two men, in orange Hi-Viz suits, trekking eastward on the footpath that runs south of Stone Crusher lake. Again, I did not investigate; in main because it was drizzling. In fact, 20 or 30 minutes after I got home after my stomp, the heavens opened up.
I may investigate on Wednesday. However, as I have not visited Fleet Hill farm in some time, it may be difficult to assess what, if anything, was done. This will not be a wasted visit, as I do need to find another tree or trail to place my trail cam. The one I am using currently takes too many photos of a brown rat. It was also visited by a dog, this last week. Not a problem, as the dog was well behaved and came when his master called; I saw both on Saturday. My main concern is if a dog (investigating my bait) does not come when called, and its owner has to go and get it, and so reveal my trail cams. Most all owners would leave the trail cams, but with my luck I'd get the one dog owner who nicks my trail cams. It is much quieter, the further west you go into Fleet Hill farm.
Here's a special for you. In trawling the internet, looking for old photographs of the farms before they became a quarry, I came across a site of the company that built the conveyor under the Longwater road, between Fleet Hill farm and Manor farm. Canning Conveyor Co. Ltd. kindly gave me permission to reproduce the photos. The photos showed the end of erection in spring 2010.
There I was, 8:15am, wandering along the vehicle track on the south side of Manor farm, approaching my mighty mound, when what do I espy: a red digger trundling north from the Bailey bridge. Bleedin' 'ell I thought, what's 'e doing workin' on a Saturday morning?
Then I thought, should I make my way off Manor farm? Even though the digger was still some 50m away, it could go any where, and may be joined by more plant. It is dangerous to be wandering around with plant operating. More so, as I didn't have any Hi-Vis clothing.
Anyway, I watched the digger, and the digger driver watched me from within, and after a few moments I wandered down a rather natty path Inert have made for me ( :-) ), while the digger driver made his way past the pump and over to the east side of Cormorant lake, close to the scrape.
I haven't worked out what the digger was doing. At first I thought he might be digging a new drainage channel. Which is odd, as there is a perfectly good drainage ditch already there. In addition, the digger driver didn't seem to get close enough to the water's edge to cut the channel - unless you dig the channel dry, to begin with (thus making it easier and safer) and only connect to water at the last moment.
Needless to say I did not wander over to see what the chap was up to; keeping well away and to the vehicle paths. I did toy with paying a visit on my return leg from Moor Green Lakes. half an hour later, but the digger was still at work. I had to proceed to the Longwater road (where my car was parked) and make a slight detour to pick up two trail cams I had put out on the Blackwater.
Now, what have Inert been up to this past week? Well, it is a bit tricky to tell. My Wednesday stomp revealed our bulldozer driver industrially working away on the east side of Cormorant lake. No apparent attempt had been made to level the heaped soil on the west side of Cormorant lake. The odd lorry was sighted, but certainly not the hordes I have sometimes seen. Overall, there seems to be a slow down in rates of progress.
On Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised to see that ballast had been laid over the rubble track, Inert had made over the past week or so. How nice of them to do so for me. :-) :-) :-) Walking along the rubble track was wonderfully easy - no hopping from boulder to boulder, or sinking into deep mud.
I have seen Inert build such a structure several times over the years. Mostly along the south vehicle track. I've never seen them build one onto the land mass. It will certainly make the lorry drivers' lives a lot easier not have to either drive or reverse down a muddy track.
Our stalwart pump, silent on Wednesday, was chugging away this morning. As well it might, seeing as the rain has returned with a vengeance, and is to continue. The rate of flow from the out flow of the settlement ponds suggests that another pump has been turned on. I think Chandlers farm might still have a pond requiring draining. Not sure.
There are subtle hints that Inert have also been tinkering around the west and north side of the copse. It is hard to say. I have been so used to seeing the site either covered in fog or frost or both for the past few weeks, it is hard to remember subtle changes from week to week. One bit of churned up muddy ground looks the same.
My trail cams picked up the grim reaper (Mink) early in the week, but no sight of the beast since Thursday. Luckily, one trail cam did pick up a weasel, scuttling fast along a branch. Only a photo mind. The thing went so fast, it was out of sight by the time the video recorder kicked in.
Inert continue with the pile phase of their usual modus operandi of Pile-Level-Gouge. Pace seemed a little relaxed when I stomped around the south footpath on Wednesday morning. Only one or two tipper lorries dumping stuff on the west shore of Cormorant lake, next to the mighty mound.. While our bulldozer drive seemed (on Wednesday) to have a sedate time of it all, waiting for its next lorry load of stuff.
The boulder sorter outer was now on Chandlers farm, next to its mighty mound, surrounded by a bevy of diggers and sundry plant.
Our on off pump was happily chugging away on Wednesday, and well it might. Water levels everywhere are still very high, whilst the ground is sodden, mushy, soggy and lethal. I stayed off most all muddy bits on my Saturday stomp. Even some of the vehicle tracks were no go areas; whilst firm, they were covered in varying depths of really, really gooey mud, causing me to sink halfway up my wellies, without applying much weight on my foot. The stuff held on to my boot, as I tried to pull it out of its grip; all the while the supporting foot would sink deeper into the stuff.
I know to keep of the bits of track where even the bulldozer has sunk into the mud, cutting out a deep gouge. The 'trench' fills naturally with oozing mud the consistency of runny porridge, forming a deep pool. I know that the bottom of the trench, on which the oozing mud sits, will be soft.
Otherwise, a freezing cold (minus two) Saturday morning simply revealed that Inert continue to pile up soil on the west shore of Cormorant lake, and also graded material is pushed into Cormorant lake. All the while still carefully going around the scrape.
I would expect that in the next week or two that Inert will enter the 'levelling' stage, where the material piled up over the past few weeks is flattened. Then the whole load will be gouged out, pushed into Cormorant lake, with another depression formed.
Shame. I had expected more progress on Manor farm than what has been achieved. But then I do not know what else has been going on the site.
Normal, but small, slide show follows. Then pictures of the grim reaper i.e. American Mink.
I decided to splash out and purchase a cheap trail cam to replace my Crenova, which had not recovered from being submerged by flood water. It remained resolutely foggy due to moisture in its body.
As the rain continued throughout the week, and water levels creeping back up to flooding, I placed the new trail cam (an entry model Apeman) well up the river bank. I was very fortunate in capturing photos of an American Mink, which wandered round on Friday.
This mink appeared very pale, in stark contrast to the darker coloured one I (well, my trail cam) filmed a year or two back. I sincerely hope they are not breeding. It'll be the kiss of death for many creatures in the area.
Rather annoyingly, whilst the Apeman appears to be a more robust and reliable unit that my Crenova and Victure trail cams, it appears to have a much slower trigger time and time to video. This means I only got photos of the mink. It was fast moving and well out of the way in the 2 seconds it took for the Apeman to start videoing.
Anyway, unusually for me I went straight back in the late afternoon to stake out the fallen tree with two trail cams.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.