I've decided to eschew my normal early morning stomp around the reserve, dear reader, as it is raining, and has been so for several hours. The Met office rainfall radar shows rain bearing clouds heading up north from France, aimed almost directly at Finchampstead. They appear to be forced upward when they hit the Hogs back, causing them to release their rain more intensively on everything downstream.
I'll pop down to the reserve later when it gets brighter. Cemex/Inert have been working on Manor farm this week. I saw activity as I travelled along the Longwater road. The blue digger was poking around the Yellow bridge.
Play resumes. :-) I've just got back from the reserve. Firstly water levels have dropped dramatically, almost to the lowest I have seen them. Cormorant spit is well and truly back; though in deference to the large number of birds swimming around I did not walk out on to it. Several islands have started to reappear in Finch pond, and I can now safely cross the channel between Cormorant lakes north and south. It is a mere trickle.
Secondly, Cemex/Inert have been hard at work around the Longwater road entrance. There is much evidence of activity, and several large piles of earth have appeared. The drainage channel, cut to drain Finch pond into the culvert, has now been filled in.
Finally, it is rather difficult to see what the blue digger was up to around the Yellow bridge, late on Wednesday afternoon. It looks as if it was cleaning up the soil around said bridge. Other than that, not much appears to have happened on Manor farm. I did not hop over to the Hampshire side of the reserve. I went from the pump station straight between Manor lakes north and south to the Moor green lakes footpath.
A gentle plug for the Reading Guild of Artists and your crazy blogger. Over the next four days, two artists from the RGA will be in residence on the lower ground floor of John Lewis, Reading. That's Heelas to those of a certain age. I will be in attendance on the Tuesday 27th.
Each day we will have examples of our work on display (which you can order - as we are NOT allowed to sell from the shop floor), and will be drawing, painting and chatting to anyone kind enough to approach us.
There is another opportunity to see members of the RGA in action, if you cannot make it to Heelas over the next four days. On April 7th there will be four artists in residence. They will be drawing real life situations around the store.
I will not be part of the four. Partly to give other members an opportunity, but mainly as I can't draw very well. Continental drift works on a faster time scale than me drawing something decent.
Update: I did a recce this morning. We are located in a summer house, behind the lifts on the lower ground floor. What you cannot see in these photos are our painting areas on the large table set as if for dining. The layout was very much work in progress.
Update on the update: Seems like the RGA presence is garnering a lot of interest. The four artists in residence report many people coming up to see what is going on, to have chat and also enquire how to either take up art or to improve their art.
Beware that the John Lewis staff have not all been briefed on the whereabouts or existence of the RGA members. However, dear reader, you are well clued up to where we are.
I'm happy to talk art, nature reserves, wildlife, volunteering, etc, etc, etc. I can take orders (will even deliver free within 20 miles of Reading) but cannot sell from the shop floor. 10% of my art sales are donated to RSPB.
Cemex's new pump is still chugging away. It will be interesting to see exactly how low water levels become. I cannot over emphasis how dramatic an affect it has had. I wonder what the birds make of it all?
I'm quite intrigued at why restoration involves creating large heaps of soil. Earth is bulldozed all over the place. Then before I know it, the stuff is scrapped up again into heaps and banks, before being bulldozed back into the ground again.
Light conditions were foul. With more blocking highs likely to form over the next few weeks due to the sudden stratospheric warming, it looks as if I will just have to lump it. On the other hand I could splash out on a new camera (say a Canon 200D) with which I can whack the ISO way up from the current 200 on my Rebel XTi. However I can't justify the cost (even after saving all my pennies) as I don't think it will improve images that much. A gloomy day will pretty much produce gloomy images, and cameras will still struggle with detail.
I processed quite a few of the photos I took in some freebie photo viewer. It has basic image processing features, and I used one to make my photos lighter. It was partly my fault that they were so dark. I accidentally set my camera to fully manual. Luckily the settings I had did a reasonable job.
My Victure trail cam is proving to be a disaster. It takes five to ten seconds to start recording, even though it has a stated trigger time of 0.5 seconds. I thus have loads of videos of scenery. It has to go back, I feel. Shame as the video quality is a marked improvement on my old trail cam.
I finally got a half decent shot of one Skylark on the grasslands of Manor farm, despite my nemesis of 10/10 clouds. Not as clear as I would have liked, but it has the distinctive wing shape. I spotted what I believe are Gadwalls on Colnbrook lake. I reckon they have been right in front of my nose for months, but because they look like female Mallards I have dismissed them.
Gull/Tern activity around Tern island was raucous. I guess it is territorial and breeding displays. It is that time of year. There was much wheeling about and flying in the air, accompanied by loud screeching. The bad tempered coots joined in for good measure.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.