Well, despite what the Met office and BBC weather forecasters predicted, our British weather had its own ideas about what to do. Yep, you guessed, yet more rain, some quite heavy, fell, in what has been a very, very wet year.
Inert et al have ploughed on, aided and abetted by their land bridges. They have made, what I think is, spectacular progress on the dual infill and upfill of Cormorant lake (north). At this rate, I reckon another three weeks and the lake should have disappeared.
Inert do not even have to transport stuff over to the lake to complete the fill. They only need to dig out the lake that is supposed to sit just south of Cormorant lake (north), and use spoil from that; rather than hauling stuff over from either Chandlers farm or the pump station spoil heap.
Once Cormorant lake (north) is filled, there is the matter of the remainder of Cormorant lake (south) to infill, and the new, longer, mightier Manor lake (south) to dig out; plus the frilly bits of landscaping, etc.
Are we going to get a dry November? Well, apart from a deluge today, the first week of November appears to be set dry. Then the rains return next weekend. Only, the Met office and Beeb seem to get it so wrong.
After a reasonably dry week, we received torrential rainfall throughout Tuesday/Wednesday night. It sounded pretty biblical, and was not predicted on any of the medium range forecasts by either the Met office or BBC.
I was, therefore, a bit surprised to find the area that was Finch pond was not a boggy as I thought it would be. Neither was the current area of action around the shores of Cormorant lake north. For a human, that is. It isn't much fun for a lorry carrying between 16 and 20 tonnes of spoil.
Over the last couple of months, I have documented how Inert et al have carefully in and up filled the shores of Cormorant lake (north). They crafted a beautiful lake, in a great location for people to view it via the new, to be built, footpath, which will skirt the northern edge of the reserve.
Firstly, as I pointed out, is that it is in the wrong place, according to plans I have available to me.
Secondly, I did wonder how the lake was to drain, given we were approaching autumn in a rather moist La Nina year, as the land had been built up all the way to the northern shore of the site. Well, this little error was rectified by a digger being dispatched to create a drainage ditch. Though it would flow temporarily, in the wrong direction.
Thirdly, after switching to up filling what was Finch pond (though this might be due to the logistics of getting spoil and lorry drivers - flexible response), Inert switched back to Cormorant lake, with a new round of upfilling. Unexpectedly, to me, building up the land to the lower banking of the north embankment.
Now on to this week. It seems the reinstated drainage ditch was not deep enough - no surprises there. A digger was dutifully sent to deepen the drainage ditch. This has lowered water levels in Cormorant lake (north), though lower would, I feel, be better. However, what is left of Cormorant lake (south) is now filling up. I wonder if anyone has turned on the pump?
The beautifully created land bridge, which I photographed last week, has been destroyed. Very curious. However, the newest land bridge, in the middle of Cormorant lake (north), is very much in use.
In/up fill of Cormorant lake (north) continues via its south and west shores, but Inert are creating their usual lunar/Somme style landscape in the process. Some of this is due to the torrential rainfall, but mostly, I feel, this is how Inert operate. I've seen it so many times over the years.
I really need to get myself down to walk along the south footpath. I have a feeling there have been thing happening along the south part of the reserve which I am unaware of. I've just been so busy.
I await, quite agog as usual, as to the next mystifying installment of the restoration of Manor Farm.
I'm beginning to sound like a stuck record, as once again I express my mysticism as to the restoration process.
Inert continue to both infill and upfill Cormorant lake (north), completing the land bridge they started last week, and creating a new one through the middle of the former gravel causeway. Land levels have been raised by approximately 8' to 10' (2.4m to 3m) as the upfill continues to reach the height of the lower north embankment.
This, I believe, sets the land level some 8' to 12' higher than the original land levels to the north of the site. Very perplexing indeed.
It looks as if Cormorant lake (north) will disappear, as per plans. However, according to those same plans, there is supposed to be a lake just to the south of Cormorant lake (north). Inert will have to dig this lake out, if the plans are unmodified from the ones I have.
Clearing of vegetation from the lower embankment of the north embankment has made it very easy for me to walk along it. I used to have to fight my way through tall, dense bracken. Not amusing after rain or a heavy dew.
I noticed some recent fox dens in the upper north embankment. Shame I didn't put any trail cams out. I hope the cubs survived this year, unlike the previous time I put trail cams out.
I did clamber to the top of the north embankment. Still quite tricky due to both the very steep sides of the banking, and the dense bracken. The view of the site/reserve was more magnificent than in previous years, as the line of Birch trees had been cleared. On the other hand, the view was less satisfying due to Cormorant lake (south) being completely filled in, and half of Cormorant lake (north) being filled in.
Well, I'm all agog at to what the latest installment of the restoration will be next week. Rainfall has, by and large, held off. There were a couple of sneak showers not predicted by either the BBC or Met office, but it has been very dry. However, the land has not dried out completely. Parts were still very soft for humans, therefore quite boggy for lorries. Other parts were firm, but not rock hard.
I may take a stroll, next week, down to the south vehicle track and the mighty mound next to the pump station, just to see if anything has been happening. However, I may not, as the main thrust of operations appear to be concentrated on Cormorant lake (north).
And finally. Lapwings have started congregating on what was Finch pond. Not is such large numbers as in former years. It is a bit early for them to do so. However, much of the low, scrubby vegetation they so like has gone due to the upfill of the past couple of months.
A busy weekend, means this update was delayed.
The headline says it all. Boy did it rain, and rain, and rain. Just for good measure, it rained some more (lots more) over night. All this rain on top of what had already fallen.
The going on the site was soft to boggy for a human to walk on. I had to exercise a lot of caution whilst walking over the up fill built over the past few weeks. Some places I would place my foot gingerly on the ground, ready to step back sharply if it sank in too far. I didn't have to retrace my steps, but I did take a couple of tiny detours. The area would be lethal for lorries, I reckon. They would cut deep ruts pretty quickly. I didn't even bother walking along the south vehicle track, this week; surmising it would be water logged.
Unsurprisingly, Inert have switched their theatre of operation - though this switch might have been intentional i.e. they have finished with the current phase of up fill around the northern half of what was Finch pond.
Inert have spent the past week or so working on raising the land levels on the west shore of Cormorant lake (north). I say week or two, as I forgot to visit Cormorant lake (north) last week, to see how tree felling was progressing. Whether the up fill took place over a week or two weeks, I can say that Inert et al have put a tremendous amount of work in raising land levels.
I am, as ever, perplexed as to why this work was done. Without access to plans, I can only assume that this area is supposed to be raised, though it is odd as the land would be a fair bit higher than the ground and fields to the north of the site. Very curious, indeed.
Inert have also started to build a tongue of land into the shallow ponds to the west of the copse. I have some old plans which show this area having several small ponds, through which flows the Colebrook stream. However, plans for the site have, I am reliably informed, changed several times over the decades. Only time will tell what happens.
I guess, the land bridges have come into their own, in allowing tipper and grab loader lorries safe and fast access to the site. The amount of mud, squished up the sides of the bridges, is testament as to how wet the area has become, due to the heavy rains.
It should be interesting what happens this week. Progress seems to be rattling along, nicely. The weather is set to remain fine.
Note: I have to keep reiterating that Inert do a lot more than I report in this blog. I only have a small snapshot, of a small part of the total site. I haven't peeked at Chandlers farm, and haven't been on Fleet Hill farm in ages. I should make a recce - especially to see if a kissing gate has been reinstated on a footpath (leading to Finchanpstead Village) on Fleet Hill farm, to stop the arrogant horse riders from riding along narrow footpaths.
Well. What a week that was! Loads of loonies, clogging up roads and petrol stations, panic buying, due to mass hysteria whipped up by the media. My partner and I actually managed to fuel up, on Wednesday, after walking 4 miles to see if either BP or Tesco in Wokingham had petrol.
I was down to 1/8 of a tank, whilst my partner's fuel needle was in the red. She is a teacher, and so needs petrol to get to work.
However, as I waited in the queue (which only lasted 10 minutes) it was obvious that people were ignoring government advice to buy petrol normally. Drivers, on seeing the BP station had fuel, were slowing down, some even moving to the right turn lane, before deciding to drive on. They were only taking the opportunity to top up!!! That's panic buying.
I like the idiots who queued for 3 hours in an attempt to get into a petrol station that was closed! No one thought to walk up to the station to see if it was open. Or the other lunatic drivers, who followed a tanker for tens of miles, only to discover it was carrying mortar!!! It was a bog standard, double depth cement carrier!!!!
Anyway, enough of the crass stupidity of sections of the British public. What have Inert been up to this week? Have they been affected by the loony panic buyers? Well, it seems not.
Much to my astonishment, Inert did what I predicted they would do. Their up fill progress has reached the Longwater road entrance. I was so gob smacked that they didn't flit off to another part of the site.
The up fill is looking all lovely and flat, and appears contoured to accommodate some ponds. This is hard to determine, as restoration plans keep changing.
I think Inert have been using big, yellow heavy earth movers to transport spoil. Tyre tracks seem to indicate this. They have also been using the south vehicle track, rather than trundling over the land mass and latest up fill.
Unfortunately, their timing couldn't have been worse. The heavens have opened up, over the past week, with lots of torrential rain. While the site as a whole has firm footing, there is one section of the south vehicle track which, over the years, I have found to be extremely boggy, and constantly water logged. I have had to take detours around one particular depression (which always has water in it) on many an occasion.
Well, the vehicles have really churned up this particular, small area, resulting in ruts up to 3' or 90cm deep. I suspect lorries took a slight detour, around this area, when the rutting got too bad, but even this detour started to get deeply rutted.
I am quite baffled as to why this area was not reinforced with the tons of hardcore (bricks, concrete slabs, etc) that is lying around the site. Much like they did with the land bridges.
Worse still, it absolutely bucketed it down, yesterday. Virtually all day, and well into the night. Although the Met office predict a dry couple of weeks to follow, there are saying more torrential rain on Tuesday morning.
Thus, I am unsure as to how much progress, if any, Inert will make over the next week. Sigh, they were going so well.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.