The five or so hours of rain we experienced on Thursday morning has resulted in the return of my old friend, the mud. Only in isolated places, mind, as the site is still largely bone dry and the soil rock hard. Unsurprisingly, where the mud does occur it is that fine, extremely soft and clinging variety.
I had occasion to drive past the Longwater road at 19:30 on Wednesday evening. With no traffic on the road, I slowed as I passed the Longwater road entrance and glanced to my right to see if there was anything significant to be seen. Blow me if I didn't see the bulldozer driver working away on the north shore of Finch pond.
Blimey, either he is putting in some serious overtime or there really is a big push on to complete restoration of the site. I have seen people working on the site on Saturdays, but this was very rare.
You will not be surprised to learn, dear reader, that the infill of Finch pond continues apace. The main effort appears to be occurring on the north side, but it is difficult to work out what precisely is going on. There are many random piles of soil sprinkled about, some near the Longwater road entrance, others near the north embankment. It also appears as if the top surface of the area north of Finch pond has been scrapped off and pushed into said pond - much like what happened on the south shore area.
However, it is hard to tell as there are obvious signs of a lot of lorry traffic. Some it, rather strangely, turning round by reversing into and then out of the Longwater road entrance. Most peculiar as there is a vast amount of turning space.
The whole area is a rather complex series of trackways which the lorry drivers have to keep to - though the entrance to the track that leads to the cutting through the ridge has been blocked off. Again, a behaviour I have often seen during the restoration, to wit an area is worked on for a day or so then abandoned for several weeks or months.
Moving swiftly on to the copse area. There are signs that the bulldozer driver has been working here. The track which wraps round the north of the copse and the area immediately east of it appears to have been extended into Finch pond. There is a lot of fresh soil, spilling into the pond via very steep sided banking.
It is difficult to tell for sure (I was time pressured so didn't stomp on this part) as water levels continue to rise and the recent rain makes old bulldozed soil look fresh. However, I did notice that one of the huge heaps of soil around the boulder sorter outer (which appears to be still working away) was much depleted.
Otherwise, our Thursday stomp along the south footpath revealed very few lorries trundling around. No doubts due to us walking around a little later than normal, but the number of lorries on the site does vary somewhat.
This whole site is already a very important stop over point for many, many birds. Cormorant lake, particularly the post industrial wasteland, proves extremely popular. There are large flocks of Greylag geese, which I have recently learned to recognise, along with the usual hoard of Canada geese, Cormorants, Mallard, Gulls and Terns, etc, etc, etc. Swallows and Martins love the abundant insect life in and around the lakes, with large numbers congregating morning and evening.
One particular surprise for me are the huge flocks of Lapwings. I estimate some of the flocks I see flying around to contain 60 or 100 individuals. They, in particular, love the open scrubby nature of the post industrial waste land, particularly the area I call the land mass, the scrape and Cormorant spit (before the latter gets flooded) and also the area I call the mud flats i.e. the east shore of Cormorant lake.
What I found counter intuitive, was that once Finch pond was filled to a certain extent (about half its original size) and the landscape resembled the Somme the more birds it contained; aided and abetted by the numerous small islands that appeared. This in sharp contrast to the almost complete absence of birds when it was one huge lake. Many birds ignore the heavy plant trundling mere yards from where they are, though many wait for the quiet of evening to return. Except on Cormorant lake, where they cover the scrape, parts of the land mass and the mud flats.
I think it's a shame that this post industrial open scrubby landscape will be 'restored' to yet another gentrified set of reed beds, dense woodland and ponds. We do have rather a lot of this generic nature reserve dotted around the area. Fleet Hill farm and Moor Green lakes being prime examples.
I hope the big pipe on the mud flats is left. It floats when water levels rise to their normal levels, and often has up to 50 gulls and terns sat on it. Quite an amusing sight.
I've tinkered with the progress map slightly, but still am unsure as to its accuracy. It doesn't matter hugely in the long run as the final result is what counts. It serves to give a flavour of how much effort Cemex and Inert put in to restoring this site.
Now a slide show part II simply as many are shots from elevated positions i.e. either on the ridge, west embankment or atop a pile of spoil. As I review the shots in detail, something I do not always do, it reveals that my progress maps are really quite approximate. Roll on the final result!
I thought I'd chuck in some wildlife pictures this week. Mostly I tend to put any wildlife photos onto the RSPB Wildlife forum as I am not sure how many people reading this blog would be interested in them. However, it is apparent to me how important this whole site has become for wildlife, both local and passing though.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.