Our bulldozer driver has been hard at work this week around the yellow bridge and Longwater road entrance. Much moving and piling of earth has taken place. Some of that earth is very fine silt and sand.
It rained heavily this week, causing the Blackwater river to rise well over a foot. The combination of fine silt being bulldozed into sizeable heaps which are not compacted and the rain meant miniature quagmires formed here and there. It was while walking off two reasonably well consolidated heaps of soil that I stepped into patches of piled up fine silt, sinking immediately up to my knees in the stuff.
Naturally, as I tried extracting one foot (all the while trying not to get more of me or my cameras covered in mud) the other foot sank deeper into the silt; well over the tops of my wellies. I tried using my monopod, resting it against a large chunk of bricks, to help leverage me out of the goo, but to no avail. I simply got the end of the monopod covered in mud; which then transferred to my coat and cameras as I continued my walk around the reserve.
It is an odd sensation attempting to walk with a kilo of congealing mud on and in each wellington, and on your trousers slightly over knee level.
I kept to the bulldozer tracks after the second silty encounter. A walker I met on the south footpath was kind enough to take a photo of me some 30 minutes after my muddy escapade.
Compared to last week, today was a relatively balmy 3 degrees centigrade, with quite a warming sun. I almost felt like breaking the sun cream out. As intimated earlier, much earth moving has taken place on Manor farm. I will update the photos and report on this post over the course of today, and possibly tomorrow. In the meantime, the rather ghastly photo of your muddy blogger. My wellies are normally jet black, tastefully tinged with the odd bit of stylish mud.
Actually, it does cover a bit of Moor Green lakes. The lakes and ponds were frozen over due to the unseasonably cold weather we have had this last week. It's actually caused by La Nina, aided and abetted by a couple of other cyclical weather phenomena.
An extensive amount of work has occurred around the yellow bridge and copse. I wouldn't be surprised if it were removed soon. The infilling of a small pond I photographed last week appeared more about creating a track for the various plant moving around the site. The pond itself was still largely intact.
The land on the east edge of Finch pond appears to be expanding further into the pond. Seems like quite a major bit of reclamation going on. I'm not sure as to the ultimate fate of the copse itself.
Strangely, having cut the new stream bed some weeks back, Cemex have now bulldozed over the east end of it near the yellow bridge. They don't start from one end of the reserve and work their way to the other. They flit about all over the place. What Cemex appear to be doing is clearing some of the earth banks bordering the south footpath. These banks have always obscured the reserve from the footpath.
It was while finishing of this section of the walk that your intrepid blogger first sank up to both his knees in the quicksand, and spent five minutes extracting himself. It would have taken about a minute had I flopped down horizontally and pulled myself out. That, however, would have left me completely covered in mud from head to toe!
At some point along this section of the walk I sank up to my knees in quicksand yet again. Not as bad as previously, as I instantly realised what was happening. It only took a minute to get out of the mess. You may also notice that I stopped zooming. My hands were a tad muddy, and I did not want to risk getting dust or soil into the lens. As it is there is a rather annoying piece of fine hair that appears occasionally in the top right of photos. I can't work out where in the lens mechanism it is.
Cemex have been moving earth round these areas quite extensively. The west shoreline of Finch pond appears to be extending ever eastward. The area I called the white jetty has disappeared under a layer of top soil, which appears to have been scrapped off the top of the north embankment. It is all rather peculiar the approach Cemex are taking.
After finishing this section of the walk, I hopped over the Longwater road to Fleet Hill farm to retrieve a trail cam I had set on the Blackwater river. Rather grimly it had captured images of an American Mink. They are regularly reported on the reserve, and may have been responsible for wiping out the breeding season of Terns on the Moor Green lake section of the reserve.