What a wet week we've had. Some four to five inches of rain fell. Friday and Saturday delivered a storm lasting almost 48 hours. A couple more mild storms followed on Sunday and Monday, dropping huge amounts of rain.
Perhaps all this water is one reason why Inert have not continued restoration on the north shores of Cormorant lake (south). Actually, I think not. I have observed Inert following this strategy. Flitting over the site, building spoil heaps in odd places, before flattening the whole lot, gouging out the land, then building more spoil heaps.
They have extended the spoil heap around the pump station, building a fairly spectacular hill. Oddly, the bulldozer is now pushing spoil from the north to the south, which I do not understand. For why?
Well, the lorries cross the bailey bridge, then reverse down to the pump station. However, they have to wait for the bulldozer to reversed east, past the pump station before dropping their load. The bulldozer then pushes the spoil west and then south. All the while, there is a lorry queue, patiently waiting on Chandlers farm.
The point is, there is a whole mass of land, quite firm, to the south of the spoil heap, with sufficient room for lorries to dump their loads, without having to wait for the bulldozer or hold up other lorries. Instead, for reasons I cannot fathom, Inert get the lorries to squeeze through the narrowest part of this area. Very strange.
I suppose it was too good to be true: Inert continuing to infill Cormorant lake (north) and the northern part of what is left of Cormorant lake (south). This Tuesday, on my site visit, they were back building a spoil heap westward of the pump station.
What confuses me is that Inert are building these spoil heaps exactly in the middle of where the extended Manor lake will be.
Regardless of this, Inert/Cemex are cracking on with restoration work. Both bulldozer and digger were at work. The bulldozer pushing spoil up the mini heap, the digger shovelling the stuff from the south to the north. Quite why the bulldozer can't simply push the stuff to the north and build up a heap there is beyond me.
There were quite a few John Stacey lorries on site; at least 5 I reckon. They trundled to and fro, over the bailey bridge, negotiating a wide puddle, before having to reverse about 50 yards west to dump their load. Mostly, they seem to have to wait for the bulldozer to push spoil up the mini heap and then reverse out of their way.
I don't think the rain we had this past week (dropping over 2 inches in rain) had anything to do with Inert focusing work around the pump station. They are keeping to some weird and wonderful plan.
I honestly thought Inert would be taking a breather from their infill of Cormorant lake (south), turning their attention to fiddling around the pump station. Once again, they did the opposite. They continued to work on the north shore of the land mass, with up to 10 tipper lorries trundling around, accompanied by the bulldozer and digger. On Wednesday morning, he latter was merrily demolishing the large spoil heaps that Inert had built up on the north shore of the land mass late last year.
In the three weeks since I last did a site visit, Inert have now filled in the last remaining bit of Cormorant lake (south) between the land mass and the gravel causeway which separated it from Cormorant lake (north). It is an incredibly eerie feeling being able to walk from the Blackwater footpath all the way to what remains of the gravel causeway, without having to negotiate ditches or any form of open water.
Not only have Inert closed this gap they have:
- Pushed the infill further east along the entire west shore of Cormorant lake (south).
- Covered much of the mud flats that used to exist on the north shore of Cormorant lake (north)
- Dug a new drainage ditch from Cormorant lake (north), around the latest infill, to enter what is left of Cormorant lake (south)
- Continued their infill of Cormorant lake (north), by infilling along its west and north shores. I've actually seen them do this with Finch pond. Rather than starting on the south shore and working their way north, they fill around the edges of the lake, and then randomly work their ways inwards.
- Virtually all the land mass is now levelled. Flat as a pancake - in civil engineering terms. If Inert follow form, they will now either gouge out huge areas or build up spoil heaps, before flattening the whole area again.
If Inert keep this rate of progress up, they will complete the infill of Cormorant lakes north and south this year. They could even flatten the north and west embankments, along with the centre and east ridges, and perhaps dig out the new, long Manor lake; which should extend from pump station all the way to the copse.
Bird life around what was Cormorant lake (south) has been declining over the past couple of years. Hardly surprising, considering all the activity. The main reason is the lose of open water and, more recently, the lose of the scrape and now the mud flats. This had always been a very popular lake for birds. Far more than Finch pond, which was always strangely devoid of birds. I put this down to both the mud flats and the scrape that existed in Cormorant lake (south). I hope the new, improved Manor lake will have scrapes and mud flats. Though I suspect not - just more bleedin' reed beds which hides everything.
Needless to say, the whole land mass and surrounds were eerily silent, with birds conspicuous by their absence around the land mass and Cormorant lake (north). Not that the latter ever sported much in the way of wildfowl. All I saw were about four Canada Geese and a couple of Shelduck. Even the reliable Tufted ducks and Mallards were missing.
On the other hand, they (and other wildfowl and birds) can now use the excellent Fleet Hill farm restoration or Moor Green Lakes and, as we've seen, what was Finch pond. I assume they are also breeding to the east and north east of Manor farm i.e. the east mudflats, Hawthorn lake, the grasslands and Manor lake itself. I wouldn't know as I've stayed clear of those areas.
Once again, before the slide show, a badly drawn image of where I think restoration has got to. New bits in blue, asbest I can estimate.
No site visit this week. It is tipping it down, and we have a prior engagement tomorrow.
Inert have done it to me again. I commented that restoration would proceed slowly for a couple or three weeks or months, seeing as they were working around the pump station with one just lorry last week. Well, on the day I visited, that is. Tuesday's stomp revealed upward of ten tipper lorries (reliable John Stacey) trundling over the land mass up to the north shore of Cormorant lake (south).
I estimate that upwards of 3000 tons of spoil are dumped on the site each day, if five 18 ton tipper lorries make 4 round trips for 8 working hours.
It was hard for me to gauge how many tipper lorries were operating on Tuesday (I spent most of my site visit explaining to a walker what was happening on Manor farm), but I estimate anywhere between 6 an 10. The site was very busy indeed, more so when the tractor/water bowser joined.
What were Inert up to? It was difficult to tell from the south footpath, and impossible with no site visit. However, from what I saw three weeks ago, Inert are continuing to fill in the last remaining bit of water between the land mass and the gravel causeway separating Cormorant lakes north and south. Judging by how the bulldozer disappeared behind birch trees, when viewed on the south footpath between the sewage works and the copse, I'd say the infill is continuing further eastward, and almost right up to the gravel causeway.
I'm not sure how long this current level of activity will last. Normally a week or two, before restoration proceeds at a leisurely pace, but it is looking good for a high level of completion by the end of this year. Makes sense to me to get this completed as soon as possible. This will allow Cemex to then concentrate on what it is good at i.e. extracting stuff out of the ground, rather than putting stuff in.
I didn't actually wander down the pump station (spent too much time explaining matters to the dog walker) so I didn't see the extent of the latest spoil heap that inert were building last week.
As usual, the nesting birds and other animals were totally ignoring the lorries, bulldozers, tractors, bowser, digger etc trundling around the site. The animals stayed on the old Finch pond side of Manor farm. There were two breeding groups of Roe deer, munching away quite relaxed. While the nesting Lapwings were zooming around Finch pond, either showing off (i.e. territorial displays) or seeing off any intruding, over flying large birds e.g. Carrion Crows!
Before the slide show, a new map (I do spoil you) of my estimate of the extent of infill in Cormorant lake (north). What this map, on the latest satellite image from google that I have, doesn't show is where Inert have been building up the level of the land. Their modus operandi is to push spoil into a lake to quite an extent, and then build up the height of the land behind that infill.
Cormorant lake (north) will not require a whole lot of infill as it isn't very deep. Thus there is only a tiny bit of Cormorant lake (south) to infill, before a whole lot of this lake is dug out to extend Manor lake all the way west to the copse.
Inert have shifted their restorations back to the pump station. I have seen them do this before, flit about the site. There are any number of reasons, possibly not able to hire sufficiently large numbers of lorries, birds breeding close by at this time of year, change of plan. Though, then again, I have seen Inert do this: transport stuff into an area; build heaps, flatten the area, then gouge the soil out and push it into ponds, before repeating process.
Lorry traffic did seem a little quieter, when I popped down Thursday and Friday mornings. Possibly one or two lorries - hard to tell as I tend not to hang around long.
One of the peaks of 'Twin peaks hill' seems to have been flattened a little. Whilst Inert appear to be building a new spoil heap further west of 'Twin peaks hill'. Inert love building spoil heaps.
Bit odd this heap building, as according to the plans, much of the area extending from the pump to the copse will be dug out to form the new, long Manor lake.
I've added some photos of some wildlife around the reserves.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.