Notification: I must point out that I have special permission to be on the Eversley quarry site of Fleet hill farm, Manor farm and the Hampshire part, Chandlers farm. These are not open areas for general access. Public rights of way are being incorporated into the sites to enable people to enjoy the new reserves.
Please bear this in mind. Although I refer them in my blog as reserves, they are still, technically, part of an operating quarry. So please keep to the existing public rights of way, and wait for the new ones to be adopted. Also it is will be even more important to stick to the public rights of way when they do become reserves so as not to disturb the wildlife.
Update: Apparently Cemex and RSPB have been working together to restore 1000 hectares of ex-gravel works to prime habitat. The aim was to achieve this by 2020. They actually managed the 1000th hectare in 2017.
Eversley was the first hectare to be restored under this partnership; actually the Moor Green lakes and surrounding area e.g. Horseshoe lake. This youtube video features scenes from Manor farm which regular readers will be familiar with. Here is an explanation on the RSPB's website, and here is one on the Cemex website about them being runner up in the MPA Quarries from Nature awards due to their work on the Eversley quarry restoration.
27th Jan 2018 - we get a mention in The Telegraph: 50 disused quarries turned into wildlife habitats to help Britain's endangered wildlife. "Eversley Quarry in Hampshire was the first to be completed following three years of work by wildlife and conservation experts." Ahhh, they missed phase 2, the subject of this blog.
This blog is about a proposed nature reserve on the Cemex gravel extraction works between Finchampstead and Eversley. There are three parts to the reserve.
1. Moor Green Lakes. This reserve already exists. It was restored by Cemex some years ago.
2. Manor Farm.
3. Fleet Hill Farm.
Initially, this blog concentrates on the restoration efforts Cemex engaged in prior to handing over the reserve to a conservation group for day to day management. Once this happens, I would then hope to chart the efforts required to turn the raw restoration into a fully operational nature reserve.
That being said, there is already a wealth of wildlife inhabiting the site, mostly as Cemex have ceased extracting gravel, and appears to be a mecca for bird watchers. We often encounter them as we walk around the footpath, humping their tripods, spotting scopes, cameras and binoculars or perhaps exchanging notes with each other on what they have spotted that day.
Although I live about three miles away from the proposed new reserve, I only learnt about it recently. I started to photograph the efforts Cemex are expanding in clearing the gravel works and, as is the nature of such endeavours, realised I had a photo journal before I knew it.
Extent of entire reserve
The plan below shows the extent of the reserve. It stretches for 2.2 miles along the Blackwater river.
Moor Green Farm is already a nature reserve, namely Moor Green Lakes nature reserve. For more details see here Moor Green Lakes Group or here RSPB entry. Perhaps you could join us on one of our work parties to aid in the conservation of this reserve.
Fleet Hill farm is supposed to be ready as a reserve by end of summer 2017. Apart from a few sub-phases, this appears to have been achieved.
Approximately 18 months later, Manor Farm will be incorporated into the reserve. A target date in a planning application I read suggested that restoration of Manor farm should be completed by 31st December 2018. Personally, as of 7th October 2018, I can't see this happening unless the scale of infill is altered drastically or a lot more resources are thrown at the restoration effort.
You may notice, dear reader, quite a few differences between the various plans and google earth images of the reserve displayed below. I am not sure why. I suspect that some of the differences are due to extraction of gravel. This is certainly true of the Fleet Hill farm portion of the reserve. Note: I have since discovered that the plans for the restoration were fairly fluid and subject to numerous alterations.
Update: I am keeping my speculations for historical reasons. Part of the 'fun' of keeping this blog is working out what Cemex and Inert are up to. Well, the later posts show that they are infilling Finch pond. They may also modify Cormorant and Manor farm lakes to look more like the plan.
Plan of proposed Manor Farm part of reserve and image from Google Earth
NOTE: I've finally got around to updating the google earth image with the expanded reference points. Hopefully, this will allow you to navigate my text a little better.
The plan below is the Manor Farm extension. Below that is a Google Earth image as of March 2017. Note the difference between the it and the plan. Particularly Finch Lake, which is now huge, and what I have been calling Cormorant Lake which is supposed to be joined to the bigger lake to its right. The Pump Station area, currently on dry land, would be in the middle of a lake, according to the Cemex plan.
As described above we start our walk at the Moor Green Lake car park, located in the top right hand corner of the map. The details shown in this map are the proposed public right of ways, and possibly some further landscaping. As an example, currently there is a sizable lake at the point I call the Pump Station. This lake is not shown in the map.
There are large areas of this new reserve I have not photographed as we have tended to keep to the current public footpaths.
We cross the Longwater road at the culvert/entrance to the reserve to get enter Fleet Hill farm immediately opposite.
Plan of proposed Fleet Hill farm part of the reserve and image from Google Earth.
This is the Fleet Hill farm extension showing proposed structure and public right of ways. Below that is a Google Earth as of Sept 2017.
Stone Crusher lake is a small manky green lake. The plans below suggest that it will be filled in.
Swan lake is also a small manky green lake, which according to the plan will get bigger.
There is a large part of this extension that I have not really photographed as we have tended to stick to the footpaths. Most all the restoration had been completed by the time I started photographing the works.
Update 7th October 2018. I suspect that apart from a few small pieces of work (e.g. completion of bridle path) Fleet Hill farm is pretty much restored. One of the planning applications I read said that tree planting will occur in the year after restoration has been completed. As this happened earlier on in 2018, this would suggest that, apart from a few sub-phases, restoration is complete.
This post shows how the Fleet Hill Farm and Manor Farm parts of the Cemex Eversley gravel works has changed over the years since 1999. Credit has to go to the Google corporation for their Google Earth initiative and also for developing Googe Earth Pro. This free application allowed me to explore a history of the images Google have taken of our planet since 1999, and to also save images.
I would recommend you download Google Earth Pro. It allows to you to zoom in to see an incredible amount of detail.
As well as showing the evolution of the area, the images also demonstrate the evolution of the techniques Google used to photograph the landscape. If you look closely you will notice that Google had problems stitching some parts of the images together. They also either went through a number companies to do the fly over and photography or simply garnered images from different GIS companies over the years.
The images below have been reduced considerably in size from the Google Earth images. It would take ages for this blog to load across the network if I left them at full resolution.
Note. I've used Google Earth as was readily available and convenient to use. There are other GIS sources available, which may provide even higher resolution images or greater quality. You pays your money and takes your choice.
Several times in this blog I mention the complex geology of the area. I found a map, courtesy of my old College, that goes part way to showing this complexity. Greater detail can be found here Eocene sands and iron map a natty title that sort of rolls of the tongue.
I've taken the liberty of inserting a much reduced image in this blog. The vertical red line marks the Longwater road. If you zoom in you may just make out the words "Cemex works" to the left of it. This is actually on the Fleethill farm part of the works. To the immediate right of the red line is Manor farm. Count two large lakes to the right and you reach Moor Green lakes.
Quite a landmark are our works.
This is now pinned to the top of the posts.
I have largely ignored Chandlers farm over the years. Partly as most of the restoration will be (and has been) given over to sports facilities, and partly as it is still an operational quarry. I believe there are some 50,000 tonnes of stuff still to be extracted once the site buildings are demolished.
A small area of the site (the north west corner) is to be given over to a nature reserve, and I'm sure I read in one planning document that there was to be a community growing area. Another name for these could be allotments, perhaps. We need more allotments, especially considering the waiting list, and the need to do something to save this planet.
I present to you, courtesy of Google Earth Pro (a free app well worth getting hold of) the changing face of Chandlers farm - the original Eversley Quarry. Manor farm and Fleet Hill farm are subsequent extensions to this quarry.
I'm deeply suspicious of both the imagery and the dates attached to them. The earlier ones exhibit particular problems, typical of a fledgling service. Imagery has come from various sources, with varying degrees of quality, and they have been stitched together with varying degrees of accuracy.
I'd certainly take the imagery dates with a large pinch of salt. The year 'might' be correct, but the date is not always correct e.g. images dated 31st December or 1st January show deciduous trees in full leaf!!!
Consider the 'settlement ponds' in the top right hand corner of the site. These three rectangular ponds are, I believe, where water (pumped out of the various ponds and lakes) are passed through to allow sediment to settle out, before the water is put into the Blackwater. The photos for 1999/2000 show these ponds. The ponds are missing from the photos dated 2003, only to reappear in 2004.
I hadn't appreciated how much restoration had already taken place on Chandlers farm. Note the football pitches - rather poshly flood lit at night. I thought they had been there before the quarry. But no. They were one of the first parts of the quarry to be restored.
You will also notice the stop-start nature of the restoration. Not readily apparent from the large gaps in the imagery data, but quite normal as I have reported in this blog.
Still, it looks as if Hampshire county council is putting pressure on Cemex to get Chandlers farm completed, judging by the all out effort put in this year. Alternatively, it might be Inert flitting around the various sites, as we have seen over the past couple of years.
However, at least this is being done. Hopefully, the surrounding communities will benefit greatly, and hopefully a small fragment of this planet will be saved for wildlife and future generations.
Enough ramblings, on with the show.
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.
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.