My Wednesday morning stomp revealed contractors working on the embankments and ridge in force; and were making their way along the north and west embankments bordering Cormorant lake (north). Why is this significant? After all, the north and west embankments and ridge have been cleared before.
It is the clearing of the north and east embankments which lead me to believe the big push is on. I realised that if you are a bulldozer driver or digger operator, perched 3m to over 6m up on some steep sided banking, then you really want to know where the edge of said banking is. Kind of difficult to establish when it is covered in dense growths of thistles, nettles and bracken over 2m high.
Further signs that Cemex are really go for a completion sooner rather than later:
- What was Finch pond is rather flat and filled in. Only a tiny bit remains around the north of the copse. What I called east Finch pond has been filled in. I had an easy walk around the site: no having to work my way carefully around what was left of Finch pond, assessing the best route through an apocalyptic landscape resembling the Somme, clambering up high, steep side gouges in the land and then sinking up to my knees in mud.
- Inert have continued to gouge out the north embankment next to the ridge, and bulldoze it into the 'inlet' of Finch pond. The inlet is a tongue of water that ran alongside the ridge. Inert always left it there, and I wondered when they would start to fill it in.
- The south end of the ridge has been bull dozed flat. Well, actually a small nub of a hillock that was isolated when Inert cut a way through the end of the ridge to allow lorries to access the gravel spit the divides Cormorant lakes north and south.
- Further work has been done on Cormorant lake (south), mainly to clear out and deepen the channel that drains said lake.
- Inert have also been over bits of the land mass (aka the infill from previous years) and bulldozed some of the north and east shores of Cormorant lake.
- The pump, which was wheezing on Wednesday (a partial blockage, I reckon), was off today (from what I could see), but water levels were quite low all round.
I'm sure there are many other bits of restoration I have missed, but I was impressed with the speed at what had been accomplished this week. Who knows, Cemex might pull it off and complete restoration by the end of the year. This does mean no more need to get down to the site at 7:00am on a cold, wet, dank winter's Saturday, ploughing through my nemesis: mud the consistency of quicksand.
If I am any judge of the lie of the land, the reincarnated Finch pond, once landscaping has finished, will be quite shallow, possibly with some terracing. The latter is pure conjecture. Terracing is there, but it will be a piffling task to grade to a nice, gentle slope.
We'll kick off the slide shows with a 360 from the top of the structure I call the mega mound. Inert have sliced a chunk off it to build up the track way. The resulting steep slope made it a little 'interesting' to clamber up. As I climbed up I noticed caterpillar tracks all the way to the top! These digger drivers are absolute nutters. I swear the slope it trundled up is greater that 45 degrees.
Also the contractors working to clear the embankments of vegetation. It was blisteringly hot when they did this last year during our mega hot summer. This year they had a nicer time of it, temperature wise. Though it isn't a pleasant job.
Wildlife was somewhat sparse. I'm not sure if this is due to the season, the time in the morning I visit the reserve or the creatures not being used to the heavy plant working on the site.
Last year the birds in particular got very used to lorries, bulldozers, diggers and other assorted vehicles trundling about the site. They totally ignored the huge hulking things, to the point where I figured that if I disguised myself as one (e.g. wear boxes painted yellow, with a big flashing light on my head, and me making brum-brum noises) I could walk around the site photographing birds.
I was intrigued by the number of garden plants on the site; especially the sunflowers. Right now the post industrial landscape of Manor farm provides a rich variety of flowering plants, much like an old fashioned meadows. Unfortunately, the reserve to be will likely not exhibit this level of diversity. Certainly the East Fen (the area I call the grasslands) seems somewhat barren.
Enough of my wittering...