Heads up: Blackwater River Festival kicks off next week. The Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust and associated nature conservation groups have a week of events planned between 21st and 29th September.
As part of this, Moor Green Lakes Group will have an open day on the 29th September where members of the public will be permitted access to the reserve. I am scheduled to perform various tasks on the day, from possibly leading guided tours, and also manning Colebrook hide and Manor farm.
Back to our normal schedule.
Manor farm was very misty at roughly 7:30 on Saturday morning. Opening and closing the Longwater road gate to Manor farm (it still isn't padlocked properly), and clambering up the west embankment, I could barely see half way across. I decided it wasn't worthwhile walking along the embankments, and took off across what was Finch pond. By the time I got near the ridge, the mist had been burnt off by the sun. Amazing how quickly this can occur.
Inert have been very busy this week. My Wednesday stomp revealed nowt but a whole load of lorries dumping loads on the north side of the copse. There was very little sign of Finch (village) pond west or of the bulldozer. It was busily at work on Chandlers farm.
Told you Inert flit about the site. Though it probably makes sense for the lorries to dump a whole load of stuff, before the bulldozer does its business. When there are only a few lorries, the bulldozer driver can spend a fair amount of time waiting for sufficient stuff to flatten.
Last week, Inert filled in Finch pond west; remember I've been calling what was calling them large village ponds. This week, Inert have almost completely filled in Finch pond east. Only half the 'inlet' is left.
Inert have also started to fill in Cormorant lake, pushing what looks like really good top soil along the south side of the gravel ridge separating Cormorant lakes north and south. Shame. The birds really like the flat, open shoreline, bereft of vegetation. Strangely, very few birds seem to use Cormorant lake north. I do see them there. Just not as many as on Cormorant lake south. I guess it is too enclosed.
Other than that, the whole of Finch pond and area around the copse have this tidied up, flatten appearance. Interesting, seeing as the survey stakes suggest the land has to be built up considerably. I think this is where the north embankments (strictly, they are banks) and ridge come into play, being bulldozed flat.
The shiny new limestone/chalk track way is taking a pounding from the lorry traffic. It's beginning to form ruts. This will make it a bouncy ride for the lorry drivers in the not too distant future.
Our pump wasn't pumping. Gone on strike again. Though water levels were quite well. Not much point in pumping the lake (i.e. Cormorant) completely dry. All the little fish will be killed off.
On the wildlife front. There was (and maybe still is) great excitement at the appearance of a Black-winged Stilt. More on this in the wildlife section.
Firstly, an updated map of the latest round of work (in yellow) since Inert were last here back in early march. NOTE: Inert have actually been working all over what was Finch pond, and the old infill I call the Land Mass. They have been steadily landscaping the site, smoothing it over, and building up bits. The yellow hatching simply shows the new infill that has taken place since they returned a couple of weeks ago.
As part of my Wednesday stomp, I usually take a wander over to Colebrook hide to see if there are any interesting species around. This week there was a Snipe - a somewhat reclusive bird. I was dead chuffed to see it on the sand bars in front of the hide.
At this point a birder comes hoofing it up to me, all excited like, asking if I'd seen the Black-winged Stilt. I wouldn't know this bird if it came up and bit me on the leg. I showed him the photos of the Snipe I'd taken, on the grounds that my bird identification skills are so low it could have been said Stilt.
My photo was dismissed. However, the birder did spot the Black-winged Stilt. A creature of the Med, rarely seen in this country. This particular individual was a juvenile, suggesting that it was hatched in this country. No doubts they are moving north due to climate change.
Anyway, this sighting caused considerable excitement, and went out on the birders hotline very quickly. On my early morning Saturday stomp, I found two birders already in position, viewing said bird on East fen. Another one joined them shortly thereafter. A fourth, whom I met heading west on Manor farm, was heading back when I left for home. I think he had gone off to Manor farm as it was so misty early on. Nothing could be seen.
Personally, I found the Black-winged Stilt a little on the boring side. I far prefer Lapwings, Snipe, Egyptian geese, etc. They are more colourful. Still, each to their own.
Now some of the more familiar species inhabiting the reserve.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.