Firstly: Whilst I have permission to be on the Eversley Quarry site (all you interlopers take note) I will be largely keeping to the footpaths for a couple of months. Partly this is due to the bird breeding season being in full swing (I'd be gutted if I stepped on a Sky Lark nest on the grasslands or a nest of other birds on/near the mudflats), but also as walking along the north embankment has now become unpleasant and a tad dangerous. It is unpleasant due the near waist height nettles and grass soaking soaking my trousers through, which is not much fun at 7:30 am. Also, with all the deer around I have to contend with ticks; I have had a couple hauled out of my flesh. The thick vegetation makes clambering up and, more pertinently, down the steep side of the ridge tricky in the extreme as it is impossible to see foot/hand holds. I have slithered down at least once - luckily no injuries, except pride.
Inert have also joined in the conservation efforts by keeping off certain parts of the site - mainly Cormorant spit and the north/east shores of Cormorant lake. They appear to have turned off the pump to allow water levels to rise a tad to stop foxes and badgers getting onto Cormorant spit - which is now a large island. However, a narrow channel of water is not going to deter a fox or badger if they are minded to get onto Cormorant island. Inert are still continuing to fill in Finch pond.
Secondly: a slight change to the schedule. Now that spring has finally sprung, the garden and other outdoor pursuits beckon. Thus the weekends become somewhat precious. Apart from the odd walk along the reserve with my partner, I will lessen the frequency of weekend forays. However, currently I find it more interesting to pop over to the reserve at lunchtime on week days as so much is going on. It was dead boring when there was only one lorry and our bulldozer making the odd appearance.
I may not take and post endless photos of the shores of Finch pond inching ever east and north or of seemingly identical shots of lorries and diggers. The latter might make for a great time lapse sequence, but it will be tedious and boring if published every week.
So what has happened during my short hiatus?
The gates to the Fleet Hill farm part of the reserve were both wide open when I arrived. Intrigued I hopped across the Longwater road to investigate. My nose was assailed by the metallic smell of weedkiller. Any of you who have put weed and feed onto your lawn will know what I mean. Sure enough there was a man on a quad bike trundling around the shores of the lakes spraying stuff. It could only be weedkiller.
Anyway I walked around to the wooden footbridge. There was a man repairing the fencing along the footpath, and he had also installed new metal five bar gates (the old gates had toppled over) and a metal kissing gate on the footpath to the north edge of the reserve. About time to.
I had a chat with the chap. Seems that the female horse rider who had been illegally riding her horse up and down the footpath was rather angry about the kissing gate and had a right go at the tradesman - who simply said talk to Cemex. Apparently she apologised to the chap the next day - so might have got an earful from Cemex.
Hopefully this should stop her riding her horse on the footpath and out of bound areas of the reserve - there is a perfectly good bridle path built by Cemex - which shouldn't get torn up like the footpath has. I wouldn't like to meet a hulking great horse on the narrow footpath - you'd have to squeeze yourself against hedges to allow the animal to pass, and hope it doesn't get spooked and lash out. The northern end of the footpath, where it enters Finchampstead village, has a large, clear sign explicitly stating that horse riders should not use the footpath.
I also noticed that the tree planting has continued to the west of the wooden bridge - probably going up to Fleet Hill farm itself. The fence building chap was told that some 8000 trees were being planted. Hmmm, that's 2000 more than the tree planters told me the other week. No matter at least they are going in.
Unfortunately I have no photos of all this work. My ancient DSLR had an apoplectic fit. The photos I took of the kissing gate and wooden bridge area were totally overexposed. No matter of fiddling in image processing software could produce something viewable. Also, photos I took of the various tree planting exercise were deleted! I think this had more to do with Windows 10, as I had to abort the download. I'll try and persuade the memsaab to go for an extended walk this weekend so I can take some snaps.
On to Manor farm. Yes, the lorries continue to trundle through and dump soil, which the bulldozer driver has pushed into Finch pond. However, today the bulldozer was no where to be seen. As I have mentioned before, this is not unusual. Inert seem to flit all over the three sites.
Activity around the Yellow bridge was also muted. The old roadway to the bridge has been dug out completely and fed into the boulder sorter outer. The piles of soil around this beast continue to grow ever larger, and lorries appear to be bringing it soil to sort, which a sole digger feeds to it.
My suspicion is that the sorted soil will be partly bulldozed into Finch pond, and partly spread across the 'land mass'.
Wildlife was muted - as you would expect with all this activity. I did spot a Great Crested Grebe in Cormorant lake. May be it decided to translocate itself from Fleet Hill farm due to the spraying.
I'll start with some wildlife photos. These were taken over a period of a month.
Let's start with the belligerent crow - Carrion I think. You may remember that I have mentioned the crows seem particularly belligerent on this site - attacking anything that annoys them. I have seen one mobbing a Buzzard and Red Kite before, but never managed to photograph it. Well I managed to do so about a month ago. Unfortunately they were over The Ridges, which was at least 500 yards away from where I was standing on the south footpath. My ancient DSLR and Tamron 300mm lens did its best, but the birds largely come out as dots.
The crow launched a series of attacks on the Buzzard. It would first chase the Buzzard and, in a classic aircraft dogfight manoeuvre, climb above the Buzzard. When the crow reached a suitable altitude it would dive onto the Buzzard. The Buzzard would be weaving to and fro so that sometimes the diving crow would immediately clash with it. Other times the crow would have miss but have sufficient momentum from the dive to bank hard and clash with the Buzzard. This whole manoeuvre would then be repeated for 5 to 10 minutes.