Headline says it all, though not quite. Firstly, in a historical break from tradition, this progress update will be spread over a number of posts.
For the first time in months, I have ventured onto the Manor farm site. I have it on good authority that Moor Green Lakes Group have no objects to Inert continuing site wide restoration, rather than just the east portion of what was Cormorant lake. For why? There are no birds nesting on the ground. All have fledged. Some, like Little Ringed Plovers, may even start migrating.
Although being restricted to the south footpath, I have been able to note what Inert have been up to and piece together their progress. I was surprised, therefore, to discover that Inert have made far more progress than I had imaged.
Cormorant lake is now effectively gone. It has been both filled in and built up. Except for a tiny, rectangular section leading to the pump station; which was off, by the way. Details of Inert's progress will be revealed in subsequent parts of this post. Without revealing too much, we'll start with my site visit on Tuesday.
Pump station mound continues to shrink at a fair old rate, especially given Inert and Cemex are not deploying an armada of lorries. That revenue stream has dried up for the likes of John Stacey, Manor, J Mould et al. Inert appear, from my fleeting visits, to relying on their own heavy earth movers.
I watched Inert painstaking build up this mound over many months, at an excruciatingly slow pace. This was caused by a curious method of operation. Given the large amount of space available for, say, maneuvering lorries, Inert chose to use a stretch of land not much wider than a lorry. This meant a lorry would cross the bailey bridge, reverse to the pump station, drop its load, then drive back over the bailey bridge. In turn, this meant that two lorries, at most, could be on Manor farm: one maneuvering to drop its load, and one waiting for the first lorry to finish. In turn, this would result in a lorry jam, of up to 10 lorries, queuing to cross the bailey bridge. I never understood why Inert didn't use the huge amount of land available to them and set up a circular route for the lorries, rather than using a single track.
At least pump station mound is disappearing at a much faster rate than which it was built.
There were two diggers, one bulldozer and two heavy earth movers in operation. I'm not sure I've ever seen this many heavy plant operating on the site before. I think the closest has been two diggers, a bulldozer and one heavy earth mover. Does this indicate that Inert and Cemex are really intent on completing restoration by next year?
I hope so. And I know that the community surrounding the site will certainly hope they will be finally free of the noise, dust and disruption that they have endured for decades. Though to be fair to Cemex, gravel has to be dug up from somewhere; and this quarry probably provided much needed employment when it first opened. The last couple/three decades of the 20th century did see a lot of unemployment due to the collapse of traditional industries.
Inert were working on two fronts. Firstly, their continued infill of the east side of what was Cormorant lake. A bulldozer was busily at work, shoveling tons of stuff into depressions to raise their height.
Secondly, they have shifted some operation to what was Finch pond. A second digger was operating here, right up close to the west side of the copse. I understand that Inert were requested to refrain from working on what was Finch pond, as there were a lot of birds actually nesting there.
When I first saw it, the digger was profiling the north east shore of the new, smaller Finch pond. Yes, I do reckon that the small piece of water that has taken up residence just west of the copse is the new Finch pond. And what a popular pond it is for birds - mainly because Cormorant lake is no more.
What appears to be cheering about the new Finch pond is that quite a few scrapes (or mounds) have been designed into the pond. These prove very popular with birds; especially the big scrape in the former Cormorant lake. However, these mounds will be eroded away, unless some means in built into them to mitigate this e.g. a membrane.
As I trekked over to the sewage works (trying to photograph Lapwings defending their fledglings against corvids and gulls, the digger had moved westward to the middle of the north shore of Finch pond. Here it began to excavate a long, thin section of water; more on this later parts of this update.
I did notice that the Inert site manager was there. His presence might simply be coincidence or it might point to the whip being cracked to get on with the restoration. Who can tell. I've seen this before, Inert work like frenzy for a while before either flitting over to another part of the site or stopping work altogether.
I might also have arrived at tea break. The bulldozer driver and the digger driver (operating on pump station mound) both hitched lifts in both heavy earth movers. They disappeared to Chandlers farm. I've long since suspected I turn up at tea break. On the other hand, they might have had to attend a team meeting. My sympathies, if that was the case. God, I used to hate team meetings.
That's it for this slightly long winded post. Further posts, over the next few days, will detail the extent of the restoration that has occurred during my self imposed absence due to breeding birds.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.