My thought that Inert would not have done much restoration last week was proved to be correct. Though a Saturday stomp was always off the cards due to the rain.
I didn't walk on Tuesday because it was raining - and carried on raining for most of the day. After the 6th wettest July since records began, it looks like August is trying to set a similar record. Wednesday, however, was a gloriously bright, sunny, almost cloudless day. A spell of fine weather for three days, will give way to yet more rain.
According to a fellow MGLG volunteer, Inert went at their restoration of the Manor lake extension like the clappers from Monday of this week on. Just as well I didn't do a weekend stomp.
Inert have been instructed to create features that are not on any plan of the area I've managed to obtain from WBC's planning website. Just north of the Bailey bridge, Inert have created what at first sight looks like a bank. Only it is the weirdest bank I've ever seen them create. Firstly it is quite wide, looking much wider than the rest of the banking around the site. Secondly, its vertical profile is crescent shaped. Kind of like the mobile bridges used to cross rivers in WWII. Thirdly, it looks complete and is of short length. All in all, dead curious.
To the east of this odd 'bank', Inert have scraped flat a long piece of the former shore of Manor lake. Again, a very odd structure to appear in an odd place. Time, hopefully, will tell what these features are.
Moving westward from the Bailey bridge, we find that Inert have finally plugged a gap in the banking between Manor lake (or Mire as I now regard it) and the Main reed bed. I think this completes the banking along this section of the site. The gap was there to facilitate drainage from the main reed beds, into Manor lake and then onto Finch pond, before exiting under Longwater road to Fleet Hill farm.
A lot of the remaining bits of banking that ran alongside the south (aka Blackwater) footpath was also cleared. This banking was always terribly annoying as some of it would obscure the site, whilst summer growth of plants would grow so high as to completely hide all sight of animals and birds.
The area between the plugged banking and the gap for the sluice gate has been scraped flat, with a tiny shallow indent dug near said hole for sluice gate. This was lovely, gravelly, shingle type ground loved by Little Ringed Plovers. We may well see LRPs abandon this whole area unless this environment is returned.
The fellow MGLG volunteer also spotted a couple of contractors in hi-vis suits walking around the site. They were talking about installing various features like bridle paths. This is another step in the completion of Manor farm.
I do find it peculiar that bridlepaths are being put right up close to the nascent reserve, particularly Manor lake (Mire). Horse riders, being atop a dirty great horse, tower above all else, and are clearly visible and intrusive to birds; thus scaring them off. Yet humans, being much lower down and less intrusive, are kept away from the edge of the nascent reserve. How does that work? And why is so much effort and money being expended on a tiny number of privileged, entitled, anachronistic horse riders?
Next steps would be a car park - but probably not best to install this until an organisation is in place to manage the site. Making it bigger than the proposed 20 spaces would be a good idea.
Many people would also welcome reducing the speed limit on Longwater road. Though the proposed 30 mph I've seen is probably too low. 40 mph would be a more sensible limit - especially as the majority of drivers seem to do this speed already.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.