A Wednesday morning visit to the works was somewhat quiet. There were a couple of contractors working on Fleet Hill farm, just north of the Longwater road entrance, mowing and strimming around the saplings. I took a look down a few of the protective plastic tubes on my Saturday visit. Most of the saplings do not appear to have survived the drought.
It's hard to tell as I am not an expert. Some appeared to have fat buds, but no leaves. Others did thrive and have branches growing out the top of the tubes. Others looked distinctly dead. However, I have had saplings in plant pots that I thought were gonners only to be surprised in spring when the burst into life.
Judging by the number of empty tubes in the bank of trees planted some years ago along the Longwater road, I'd say the death rate for saplings is quite high.
Hopping over the Longwater toad to Manor farm revealed a peaceful scene. A blue digger was resting by the former west shore of Finch pond, while a grab loader was serenely dropping a load of spoil next to it. I might have arrive at the works at early morning tea break. Later on a couple of John Stacey lorries and some further grab loaders trundled by. Nothing like the armada I have seen before.
That restoration work has proceeded this week, though at a sedate pace, is evident. Piles of spoil have been scrapped into the depressed area and around the south shore of Finch pond. Other piles have appeared, and the huge pile in the north west corner of Manor farm has grown slightly. You'd have to compare photos to gain a proper appreciation of any work.
However, Saturday morning was misty and foggy. The fog would clear slightly to mist, only to regather itself and obscure everything.
The pump was quiet again, though water levels remain low, despite the recent rain. My nemesis (mud) was conspicuously absent, with the ground being rock hard, especially on the infill due to the heavy plant trundling on it.
Some 'arty' shots for you. There appeared to be little wildlife around. This might be due more to not being able to see them with all the fog and mist around. Even so, Cormorant lakes north and south, which normally teems with wild fowl, were remarkably empty. There were a fair number of Egyptian geese around Cormorant lake south. They took off west, in dribs and drabs, to their feeding grounds in the west.
Inert seemed to be following what I predicted they might do. This is to my untrained eye, and I may well not have noticed a whole lot of what they might have been up to. However, the huge pile of spoil in the north west corner of Manor farm continues to grow, with many piles of spoil added to it. Also, further piles of spoil have been dumped onto the depression, no doubt ready to be bulldozed.
Speaking of bulldozers, it was conspicuous by its absence. Unusually for me, I visited the proto-reserve on Wednesday. I saw lorries trundling around, dropping spoil around the huge heap, depression and round the boulder sorter outer. There was no bulldozer in sight. It is possible it was working on the Hampshire part of the reserve or involved in other duties. However, I only ever see one bulldozer, perhaps the driver was on holiday or ill.
Further piles of spoil were dropped around the north end of the copse, plus two huge piles on the shore of Cormorant lake next to the scrape. I noticed these piles last week, but only got around to photographing them this week.
With water levels fast reaching their lowest point, I suspect further work will now switch to sculpting Cormorant lake and its interface with Finch pond.
There were huge numbers of Egyptian geese and a lesser number of Canada geese, this morning. It is amazing the amount of wildlife this proto-reserve supports, and it isn't even ready. I hope the ultimate plans for the reserve do not preclude the geese and Lapwings. They seem to like the low lying scrub, mud flats and scrape type structures. It would be a pity if these habitats were turned into yet more reed beds.
This isn't a particularly long report as most of the scene looks the same. I hopped around the site a bit, and tried to present the more salient and interesting photos. Hopefully, the bulldozer will be back in action next week, and we'll see more going on. However, judging by the racket, a whole lot is going on over on the Hampshire part of the reserve.
The light really was as bad as it looks in some of the photos. Quite cloudy and overcast.
Before this week's update: I finally twigged something about the Manor farm restoration. The evidence was available to me (i.e. google earth images), I just didn't examine them properly. All became clear now that I know how the restoration process takes place i.e. it appears fairly random.
Comparing google earth images from 2014 against those from 2017, it became clear to me that Inert have already filled in large parts of the Manor farm part of the reserve: a long thin pond to the south of Finch pond and the area I call the land mass i.e. between the copse and Cormorant lake.
I suspect other landscaping took place around Manor lakes north and south, with planting of reed beds as well.
There I thought that all the restoration had started sometime last year.
Ploughing on with this week's instalment. It never pays to second guess what Inert will get up to next. Having predicted they might go ahead and fill in the flat depression along the north shoreline of Finch pond, they instead have concentrated on the south shore of Finch pond and north west corner of Manor farm. I also note, on my Thursday visit, that spoil was being dumped near the pump station.
Inert are constructing an enormous pile of spoil in the north west corner of Manor farm. It covers a large area, and exceeds the target infill level by a couple or so feet. At its north end is a huge mound of spoil. I'm not sure if this is indicative of the eventual height of this structure or simply the way that Inert work.
Although I saw the bulldozer working this area on Thursday, the marks in the ground I saw today suggests the digger also joined in the fun.
I've seen Inert exhibit this behaviour before. They build an enormous structure or fill in an area (e.g. south of Finch pond) then either bulldoze it all down or scrape it all up. Perhaps they need the space on the Hampshire side of the reserve or maybe they can only get sufficient haulage lorries for a short space of time.
Even more curious is a structure built just to the south of the Longwater road entrance. It is a low (2' - 60cm) thin bank of soil in the shape of a very large U or staple. The open ends of this structure are protected by the 'concrete cube' i.e. the concrete sewer sections. I cannot for the life of me work out what it is for. It is beautifully crafted.
It is hard to work out precisely what Inert have been doing along the south shore of Finch pond. There are signs of activity, but I can't place my finger on what was done.
The wide track of crushed rock, near the pump station and works bridge, has been cleared again. I'd love to know why or how it keeps being constructed and then deconstructed. I wonder if they lay down a whole load of large rocks and boulders, and then simply drive some crusher vehicle over it several times to break the whole lot up?
The pump keeps chugging away, reasonably quietly, and water levels have dropped considerably. No doubts attention will be turned to Cormorant lake in the near future.
Slide show to appear as and when.
For once, dear reader, Inert appear to have done what I predicted they would. They continued build up the lower level of the infill. There is more still to do, but in typical fashion effort has now moved to the north west corner of Manor farm. This area is to contain a proposed car park. I say proposed, as the plans we have access to are fluid and subject to change.
There are signs that work has been going on at other locations on Manor farm. They don't appear to be dramatic. I did notice a lorry dumping a load next to the soil heap near the pump station. I was too far away to see what it was. This may involve me taking a wander along Cormorant lake to see what is going on.
The pump is back. Either a brand new one or the existing one has been refurbished. I guess work cannot continue along the shores of the ponds and lakes until their levels have been reduced.
I'm afraid to say that the oak tree at the mouth of the Colebrook in the copse has had a slight mishap. It was inevitable. It's damaged part has finally succumbed to time, gravity and the elements and fallen down. I believe, some of the oak tree survives, as I remember the damaged bit (caused by fire or lighting) occurred only on one side of it.
A quick reminder that wildlife photos are now posted on the RSPB Wildlife Community forum. You do not need to register with the forums to read them
This Sunday's work party is a fairly gentle affair around Grove Hide, mainly clearing vegetation.
Meet at the new, extended car park on Lower Sandhurst road between 10:00 and 10:15am. Proceedings start at roughly 10:30am, though typically not until near 11:00am. Contribute as much or as little as you are able. Any help much appreciated.
There is a danger, dear reader, that updates are going to be a little repetitive over the next few months. As suspected, Inert appear to now be concentrating on raising the level of infill to the survey marks.
That being said, they do appear to be bopping all over place. There are signs of considerable work on both north and south shores of Finch pond, plus activity in and around the pump station, and the ever changing piles around the boulder sorter outer seem to keep growing.
The area I presumed to be a scrape is now back to being an isolated scrape, due to the pump still being absent. Other areas around Finch pond are now well and truly underwater. To wit, the track leading to the ridge cutting, and the track around the north end of the copse. The 'causeway' going across the middle of Finch pond had long disappeared under the waves.
Looking at how Inert are raising the level of land, I am wondering if the level of the eastern portion is at its proper height for the base of the infill, and that it will be capped by soil from the north embankment. Consider these two photos.
The left photo shows a portion of the eastern infill. The circle is where the mound in the right photo is located. The base of the red and white warning tape is the target height of the land. Now seeing as the land will be capped with inert soil, one can suppose that the level of rubble filled spoil has been reached (i.e. the base layer) and that the north embankment will be bulldozed to achieve the final land level.
That is my guess, but as I have seen over the past year or so, my guesses have this habit of being way off the mark.
I am quite intrigued what is going on around the pump station and works bridge. Some of the activity is due to traffic control. The bulldozer drive builds up banks of soil to mark the edges of tracks the lorries have to follow. Some of the activity I am not sure about. The land does have to be built up, but intriguingly the track of crushed rock continues to grow, and is nicely sculpted.
Two slide shows today. The first is my lunchtime walk along the south footpath on Friday. The second is my visit on Friday evening to photograph progress with in the site. It was late evening, and the sun had just set, so it was very gloomy. I have had to process all the photos to try and increase light levels. This has made some of the photos look quite surreal.
Now onto the photos from my internal, late evening walk. For any readers new to this blog, I must continue to remind people that I have permission to be on this site. It is not a public space.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.