I hope to have at least 2 originals for sale (it all depends on exhibiting space and number of entries), possibly more if reserves are called up to replace any paintings sold during the exhibition. Remember, 10% of the gross sale price of any of my artwork goes to the RSPB. See my exhibitions page for more details.
Our reserve (Eversley) was mentioned in the Telegraph yesterday: 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." I can't say I recognise any of the accompanying photos being of our reserve. Shame it didn't mention phase 2 (i.e. the subject of this blog) or the years of hard work by the Moor Green Lakes Group and Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust to maintain the reserve; but at least we are 'famous'.
Back to our normal schedule. First a feast for the eyes. Sunrise this morning was pretty good. It would have been spectacular had I managed to get to the reserve 15 minutes earlier at 7:35 am; all lovely and red. Though light conditions would have been poor, so my cameras may have struggled.
I've included some photos from the Fleet Hill Farm part of the reserve. Mainly to capture the ever rising water levels in the lakes. I did put my cheap trail camera out. Water levels in the Blackwater were a tad high, but I decided to risk it. Judging by the amount of debris on the tree truck, I would say it was approaching running at full spate during the past week.
Parts of the land around the Longwater road entrance, up by the north embankment, were now flooded. I had a good 50 yards or so of water to carefully walk through, trying to estimate the depth I was stepping into. I needed to avoid some of the deeper gouges made by the bulldozer tracks.
Inert have cut two channels from Finch pond to drain the water into the culvert under the Longwater road and thence into Fleet Hill farm. It's the first time I have see water flowing through the culvert.
Much to my surprise, Inert have been very busy on Manor farm. I thought they would carry on from last week and continue working on the Hampshire part of the reserve. Indeed, today they were doing just that. There was a hive of activity up near the sports ground; diggers, our hard working bulldozer, plus loads of lorries.
They have continued to fill in Finch pond, and I reckon some of the soil they were loading into lorries last week have been piled up into heaps in Manor farm. They have also started to remove the banking that ran along the south footpath. It is really weird walking along the south footpath and suddenly coming across vistas we've not seen before.
The things I do for you, dear reader. I managed to fall/slide off the yellow bridge today. Inert had shaved away a slope I used to scramble down. It is now almost vertical, but I reckoned I could still crab down it. I didn't count on the soil being crumbly, so it collapsed with my first footstep. I fell backward, and slid down on my bottom; now muddy.
I have split the slideshows into the following sections.
1. Arty sunrise shots: Longwater road entrance and north embankment
2. Fleet Hill farm
3. Manor farm south footpath
4. Manor farm Cormorant lake and south footpath banking
5. Manor farm Finch pond and Longwater road entrance
1. Arty sunrise shots: Longwater road entrance and north embankment
A major difference I noticed this morning as I descended on the reserve at 7:50 am was the amount of bird song. I was serenaded by at least one Song Thrush, which stood out against the background of chirping and chattering, and a large flock of Long tail tits twittering in the trees above my car. There was a huge flock of Field fare in some oak trees near the north embankment. More noise was added by the large number of gulls, Canada geese, Widgeon, Lapwing, one green woodpecker and Egyptian Geese; plus a host of others I could not identify.
Just missing a spectacular sunrise by 15 minutes, I still managed some pleasing shots. I will have to get down to the reserve earlier and earlier to get any really spectacular sunrise shots, as the sun comes up much earlier these days. It did start off quite cold, say about 2 degrees C, but had climbed to a more respectable 7 degrees C and drizzling when I finished my tour around the reserve two hours later.
After placing my trail camera, I took a mini wander around Fleet Hill farm; only as far as the wooden footbridge and back. The vegetation has largely died back, which instantly gives a different feel to the place. You'll not be surprised when I reiterate that water levels in all the lakes and ponds have risen. Track ways have been inundated.
After my mini wander around Fleet Hill farm, I popped back over the Longwater road and took our customary route along the south footpath along Manor farm. There are a few points along this footpath where I took photos of restoration progress on this section of the reserve. The location of most of these points were dictated by the restricted view we had caused by earth banks running along the southern edge of the reserve.
Inert have had another go at tackling these earth banks. A section has been cleared, near one of the viewing points over Cormorant lake. It is a viewing point for most people who walk along this footpath, particulary the bird watchers. The ground has been worn by the passage of so many feet standing on this spot.
The signs of restoration efforts were reasonably clear this week, but still a patch of churned up mud looks pretty much the same from week to week, especially if a slurry of top surface mud quickly eradicates any crisp, new tracks.
Inert have been very busy in Manor farm this week. There are plenty of signs of large numbers of heavy plant movement and bulldozing. Though vehicle tracks have been softened by the mud, which has the consistency of batter, flowing into them.
Inert have built up a considerable low earth bank along the south shore of Cormorant lake, extending the bit they created two weeks ago. They have also started to clear away the earth ramp to the yellow bridge, which vehicles used to use to get over the conveyor. I think most of this earth ramp has been piled up in heaps along the south shore of Finch pond, and is industrial rubble. Good solid hardcore, great for a heavy vehicle track. It will be bulldozed into Finch pond.
Apart from the afore mentioned piles of spoil piled up in heaps along the south shore of Finch pond, Inert have been extending the shore line into Finch pond; bulldozing soil from around the area straight into the pond.
They did some work around the Longwater road entrance. I suspect it might have been emergency works, partly to shore up some areas around the entrance, but also to cut a couple of drainage channels from Finch pond to the 'new stream bed'. This will allow water from Finch pond to drain into the new stream bed and flow over to the culvert under Longwater road and thence to Fleet Hill farm. This might alleviate some of the flooding caused by Finch pond breaching its banks.
Whilst we have had rain recently, it hasn't been excessive, and might even be average. This following a particularly dry year, especially early autumn, caused by La Nina and a couple of other oceanic/climatic oscillations.
Normally the order of the sections and photos reflect my route around the reserve. Not this week as I have flitted around a bit on my trek through the reserve. Thus, you will find shots from the north embankment mingled with those from the south part of Manor farm.