Sorry for late update. Somewhat busy.
Rain continues to disrupt restoration on Manor farm. I popped along on Thursday, after a moist week of continuing deluge. Inert were working on their default restoration prep of pump station mound. It seemed a half hearted affair, tinkering around the edges. Afterall, the mound is very large, dominating the area around the pump station.
Curiously, Inert shut up shop at approximately 10:30am. On my return leg from MGL, the gates across the south footpath were now wide open for foot traffic.
Inert had been working on Manor farm during the first part of the week. I could see that the three mounds of spoil, left on the tip of their infill last week, were now gone. The north east corner of Cormorant lake had a slightly more infilled feeling.
I did not do a proper site visit, partly as the rain continued, and partly as I knew the south vehicle track would be fairly difficult to negotiate.
This week's weather is much drier. Indeed, footpaths around our area are beginning to dry out, with half a dozen spots, notorious for their quagmire muddiness, actually quite firm. I use these spots to gauge how bad Manor farm will be.
There is no doubt that it has rain more frequently this year, compared to the previous two. This would not normally present a problem. Afterall, sunshine and showers is a standard cliché for describing a British summer. What is different this year, and why Manor farm is turning into a quagmire, are that any showers are deluges on an epic scale (i.e. think tropical/Amazonian rain) and they are slow moving. We have had so many windless days, this year; in contrast to last year, which was notable by frequent windy days.
As anticipated by yours truly, Inert have moved back to infilling Cormorant lake. After a near drought of inactivity, it is like a dam has burst, resulting in frenetic activity on Manor Farm and Chandlers farm.
Dry weather and increasing temperatures from last week, continued to provide blistering temperatures of around 30 C over the weekend and the first half of this week. Ground conditions were firm to rock hard over large swathes of Finch pond (as was) and now the Cormorant lake infill. That's not to say there wasn't the odd boggy bit. I encountered some patches in the middle of the land mass, alongside the centre land bridge.
What have Inert and co been up to? Firstly, before we launch into that, I have to assume that Inert have not been infilling until this week. However, I might have been unlucky in that the days I have attended the area, Inert have been working on the mighty pump station mound.
However, assuming that Inert have returned to infilling this week, then they have done a stunning amount.
Prior to cessation of work due to bad weather, Inert had tried to infill around the edge of Cormorant lake (north), forming a sort of raised beach. They hadn't managed to make it all around the lake, leaving a gap on its north shore. This week, they have filled in the gap. A nice, wide and very firm raised 'beach' goes all the way around Cormorant lake (north), apart from a small gap in its south east corner to accommodate a drainage ditch. Water levels are still pretty high.
There was a small ridge of spoil, and a couple of mounds of spoil, dropped from lorries, along the north east edge of the infill of Cormorant lake (north). This has been bulldozed into the lake, along, I think, with more spoil. As of Friday evening, there were three mounds of spoil, dropped by lorries. I would hope (weather permitting - the Met Office has threatened heavy rain this weekend - but thus far, Saturday afternoon, not much has fallen) that the spoil heaps will be pushed into Cormorant lake (south), along with more stuff.
My mid-week stomp occurred on Thursday. Inert were working to the west of the ridge, up against the gap between it and the north embankment. I think they last worked around here last year, but it is possible it was as far back as 2019!
I remember the infill of Finch pond was about a metre higher than the infill around the west side of the ridge. Inert and Co were here on Thursday to level the area out. I reckon at least 10 lorries were trundling about the site. Though at the start of my walk, most were in a seven lorry traffic jam, with five waiting on the west land bridge. Only one lorry at a time was allowed to dump their load, along side the ridge. Despite there being tons of space, and the ground being very firm to rock hard.
I spotted what I assume was boss man, driving around the site in his silver truck. It might be coincidence, but the lorry jam disappeared and more than one lorry was dumping their load, when boss man drove over to the ridge. On the other hand, a sufficient area had been levelled off to allow multiple lorries to dump their loads. And that is what I was seeing as I ended my walk.
Surprisingly, lorries were dumping their loads along the southern vehicle track, just to the east of my mighty mound. There didn't seem to be much in the way of stuff dumped, when I visited the site on Friday evening. Perhaps five lorry loads. It must be said, that the bulldozer driver was trundling from the north embankment down to where this stuff was being dumped. Perhaps he had bulldozed a lot of it flat. Who knows. I couldn't see on Thursday. The vegetation is now very tall, and I stick to the footpath.
A boulder sorter outer was sorting away on Chandlers farm. I haven't really heard it running over the past few weeks. Probably too wet.
I think the pump was going. Hard to tell with all the noise. One of the out flow streams appeared to be flowing, but it might have been run off due to the deluges we've been having.
It is the day before the second Freedom day. Still time for bumbling Boris and the scaremonger experts to derail it, due the minority who refuse to have the Covid-19 vaccine. Surprisingly, the weather might be a saviour - Scorchio! After a relatively wet and manky earlier summer, temperatures are set to hit 31C today, and continue above 24C for the week, if not longer.
This will dry out the soil, and hopefully allow Inert to complete the infill of Cormorant lake (south). For the time being, Inert and co, continue to add to the mighty mound of spoil around the pump station; this week, extending it further west.
I wonder how much Inert and lorry drivers have been hit by the Pingdemic.
The pump did not appear to be working, on Thursday, resulting in relatively high water levels in Cormorant lakes north and south. Not sure if this will stop Inert continuing the infill.
Not so much rain this week, but still sufficient to create large puddles and keep the ground soft. However, matters were beginning to improve towards the end of the week, with firmer, drier ground.
I visited on Wednesday to find Inert working away on the pump station mighty mound, very close to the bailey bridge. Lorries need only cross the bridge, turn left immediately and the reverse a few metres to drop their load. They do not, as of the previous few weeks, have to drive down to the pump station. However, even this quick, short manoeuvre caused a lorry queue on Chandlers farm.
I reckon at least four lorries were on site, probably more.
Oh, the pump didn't appear to be working, and water levels in Cormorant lake were very high.
Will Inert return to infilling Cormorant lake (south) this coming week? I refuse to second guess.
Headline says it all, really. I visited on Thursday morning. It is possible Inert worked on Manor farm earlier in the week. If so, it was only around the pump station.
There was a fair amount of activity on Chandlers farm - concentrated on the enormous spoil heaps Inert have constructed there. A digger was feeding a boulder sorter outer, both perched high up on a spoil heap. I could hear, but not see, the bulldozer.
Unfortunately, it is raining today; just as the ground was beginning to dry out. I'm not too sure how much work will take place on Manor farm next week, due to the soft conditions caused by this unusual rainfall.
36 hours of near torrential rain, last week, with a few more wet days thrown in for good measure, has resulted in Cormorant lake (north) filling up and the going on the land mass soft to boggy.
The south vehicle track is, once again, littered with deep puddles, accompanied by gooey, sticky mud. Not fun for lorries to drive down. Even less fun is the land mass vehicle track which, despite being chalk, compacted down really hard two weeks ago, is now so soft it is being churned up by lorries. They are gouging out deep, long troughs.
Inert had made a flying start on filling in Cormorant lake (north), this time on its east side. They had filled in the drainage ditch, exiting Cormorant lake (north) to create a land bridge. All was going swimmingly well until the deluge. With no means of exiting, water soon filled up Cormorant lake (north). Inert suspended its infill, and dug out the carefully constructed land bridge to form a drainage ditch. Sigh.
They did, at some point, build some spoil heaps, along the north east side of the infill of Cormorant lake (south), that resembled long barrows.
With rain stopping play on the infill, Inert resorted to plan B and continued adding stuff to the pump station spoil heap. Both bulldozer and digger were working on it on Wednesday, along with the now, familiar, lorry jam, as they queued to get across the bailey bridge.
Strangely, the pump was not working. It has rather a lot to drain.
Mid-week site visit only; Wednesday - bright and sunny. Rain started on Thursday. Medium heavy, with odd pluses of heavy rain, but persistent all through the day, continuing into Friday - when the deluge began, and continued and continued. I would say, almost 36 hours of continuous rain.
I decided against a weekend visit. Partly due to the sodden condition of the ground (freshly bulldozed earth is lethal stuff), and partly as there did not seem to be a huge number of lorries around on Wednesday. The position of the bulldozer and where spoil was being dropped on the north shore of Cormorant lake (south), suggest that Inert are working their way southward, filling in what is left of said lake.
I'm somewhat perplexed as to why they are not doing the opposite i.e. working northward, from the south shore of Cormorant lake (south). Lorries do not have this long, semi-circular route, over the land mass to get to the north shore of the lake. They simply dump it on the south shore, needing only to cover a fraction of the distance. Very odd.
Anyway, I also decided to leave it a couple of weeks to enable Inert to make real progress, which results in more dramatic 'then-and-now' photos.
I'm bulking out the slide show with some photos of wildlife I saw on the site on Wednesday. Although the birds came reasonably close, they didn't come that close, and some heavy cropping was required to bring them to the fore.
I haven't stepped foot on site for four weeks, and two weeks since Inert switched back to the infill of Cormorant lake. I held off for the past two weeks as I felt that progress was slow, there being few lorries around when I did my mid week jaunts. However, I have said that the 20-30 minutes I spend walking around the edge of Manor farm mid week is not a true representation on the rate of infill or of the number of lorries transporting stuff per day.
Well, it looks as if Inert and contracted lorry drivers have been working hard. Much progress has been made with the infill of the north shore of Cormorant lake (south). The mud flats, along the north shore of Cormorant lake (south), have almost completely been covered over. Only a thin sliver for drainage of Cormorant lake (north) separates the land mass and the northern part of manor farm.
The infill extends eastward to stop, currently, some 10 or 15metres shy of the east shore mud flats. I guess (ho, ho, famous last words) that Inert will extend the infill a little more east, before turning their attention south to fill in the remaining, small piece of Cormorant lake (south).
What I am curious to know is if the current height of the infill is the final or finish height. It is considerably higher than the mud flats. Does this mean that infill (or upfill in this instance) will continue on to the mud flats along the east shore of Cormorant lake (south). This area is currently home to a lot of breeding species, and is an established habitat. Shame to ruin it.
Then, I guess, Inert will turn their attention to landscaping the area, in particular carving out the new, elongated Manor lake, and flattening all the embankments.
Inert have built a new vehicle track, allowing lorries to traverse the land mass to reach its north east corner, where the latest infill takes place. Previously, they had to still use the limestone bridge, heading north west before taking a sharp right to head east. There is, at last, a load of room for the lorry drivers to reverse, and to allow two way traffic. Finally!!!
The latest infill on the map below is a pure guess. Partly as the map from google earth is quite old, and partly as I am not a map maker so don't have a very good handle on my bearings. Plus, Inert have worked on the east shore of Cormorant lake (south) and may have changed the profile from that shown in this Google earth image.
Any thoughts that Inert had abandoned infill round the land mass, have been proven incorrect; for the time being. The bulldozer was back on the north east shore of the land mass, pushing spoil into Cormorant lake (south).
There didn't seem to be many lorries about, when I visited on Wednesday morning. A couple of John Stacy tripped lorries and an unidentified grab loader. I figured I'd let Inert work on the infill for another week, before making a site visit to see how far they have got. It's looking promising for a completion this year.
Now it is possible that had been more lorries contracted to work during the week, and I happened to pick a quiet time to pay a visit. Plus, I only get a tiny snapshot of what Inert are up to, seeing as I spend about 20 minutes, one day a week on site.
Oh, the digger was working industriously away on the spoil heap next to the pump station. I wasn't around long enough to see if lorries were dropping loads for it.
There were some Lapwings nesting on what was Finch pond. I think some of the eggs hatched. An MGLG member said he thought he had seen one. Last week I spied a Lapwing that was considerably smaller than another pair on the site. What was stranger, was that the two larger birds kept close company with the smaller bird.
I am wondering if the smaller bird was a hatchling that had fledged and was ready to fly. Five to six weeks is how long it takes, from hatching. This would kind of fit in with an early hatching. In any case, there was no sign of any Lapwings, this week. I hope the hatchlings made it. There are quite a few foxes, badger and mink around. Not to mention the Carrion crows, Jackdaws, Kestrel, Buzzards, etc. Also, sadly, a section of fencing has collapsed, allowing dogs easy access to what was Finch pond. The footpath is popular with dog walkers, and so few of them have any control whatsoever of their dogs.
What a wet week we've had. Some four to five inches of rain fell. Friday and Saturday delivered a storm lasting almost 48 hours. A couple more mild storms followed on Sunday and Monday, dropping huge amounts of rain.
Perhaps all this water is one reason why Inert have not continued restoration on the north shores of Cormorant lake (south). Actually, I think not. I have observed Inert following this strategy. Flitting over the site, building spoil heaps in odd places, before flattening the whole lot, gouging out the land, then building more spoil heaps.
They have extended the spoil heap around the pump station, building a fairly spectacular hill. Oddly, the bulldozer is now pushing spoil from the north to the south, which I do not understand. For why?
Well, the lorries cross the bailey bridge, then reverse down to the pump station. However, they have to wait for the bulldozer to reversed east, past the pump station before dropping their load. The bulldozer then pushes the spoil west and then south. All the while, there is a lorry queue, patiently waiting on Chandlers farm.
The point is, there is a whole mass of land, quite firm, to the south of the spoil heap, with sufficient room for lorries to dump their loads, without having to wait for the bulldozer or hold up other lorries. Instead, for reasons I cannot fathom, Inert get the lorries to squeeze through the narrowest part of this area. Very strange.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.