I met the Inert site manager, yesterday, who was walking the boundary (again) with a colleague to assess fencing requirements (again). We had a long chat, not unusual as he seems to like chatting with all and sundry he meets.
Basically, he has been told that the reason for filling in Manor lake and not extending it as a deep lake westward is that the organisation who will be managing Longwater Road Nature Reserve did not want the liability of maintaining Manor lake. Why? Well, because so many kids swim in it.
Hmmm. I smell a rat. Someone is being "economical with the truth" here.
Extrapolating, this should also mean that all the lakes should be filled in on Fleet Hill farm, Moor Green Lakes nature reserve, Horseshoe lake, the nearby fisheries, etc. In fact every lake needs to be filled in, if this were true e.g. the lakes on Dinton pastures, California country park (which is full of holidaying kids, in a heavily populated area), Fleet ponds, etc, etc, etc.
I suspect that the reason for filling in Manor lake (and I believe the established lake on Chandlers farm) is the management organisation has a different wildlife agenda to the MGLG members who first drew up the site plans, many decades ago.
I would hope that the management organisation will keep areas of Manor farm as rough scrubby land (suitable for the likes of Willow tit and Lapwing) and also keep tracts of gravelly land suitable for the likes of Little Ringed Plovers (LRPs). See slideshow below.
As suspected (and suggested on last weekend's update) Inert were putting down a capping layer of top soil onto Manor lake. The site manager claim they had stuff left over, in the form of mighty mounds on Chandlers farm, and that the management organisation gleefully took up the offer of using this soil to skim the infill on Manor lake. Hmmm, more deep suspicion on my part.
He did say that a capping layer would not be put on the western part Manor lake aka its extension. This is superb news as it might mean that the management organisation plans to keep this area gravelly, pebbly and stoney, which is superb for Little Ringed Plovers. However, maintaining his environment will be tricky - lots of weeding - unless the management organisation has other means (e.g. safe weedkiller/suppressant, flame throwers - I kid you not - etc.)
I couldn't see, from the south footpath, whether my supposed scrapes were being retained or if the capping layer would obliterate them.
The Inert site manager expects work on Manor lake (east) to be completed in a couple of weeks - which is what I had hoped for optimistically. There was a lot of fettling with Finch pond over the course of a few weeks, with a fair amount of going over and reshaping parts already completed - possibly due to last minute changes in design or correcting misunderstanding in the rather vague plans.
Also, as I said in last week's somewhat moribund column, Inert are now working on the frilly bits of the design i.e. bridlepath, fencing, I guess removing the remaining banking along the south footpath between the Bailey bridge and yellow bridge, etc. Oh, and installing the sluice gates, once given the all clear by the 'ecology' team, which as far as I can see, consists of MGLG members and volunteers reporting on breeding birds in the work zone.
Inert will then turn the focus on completing Chandlers farm; which I know nothing of except that the design here has changed, with the established lake and eco-system being filled in and destroyed. A lot of birds used the lake on the north west corner of Chandlers farm, I reckon as it was undisturbed. I used to hear a lot of birds landing in it or taking off from it.
More good news. There were four Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the Main Reed beds. I didn't have a clue what they were, but I followed my usual strategy of photographing anything unusual and then going home to identify them. I also didn't realise that they were one of the species targeted in the RSPB's 'Back from the brink' project. Well, if these birds remain here, then this nascent reserve will have helped in their recovery.
There were also four LRPs running and flying around a gravel bar in the middle of the Main reed beds. No doubts part of this year's very successful breeding. Long may this continue.
I didn't see the Marsh harrier, this week, though it has been around. I managed some rather vague shots last week, as the beastie flew around the field to the north of the fens (aka east Main reed bed).
As for this week, the weather gods frowned upon me. Overcast conditions, bright water back lighting images, meant for poor photographs. Indeed, I stopped photography and headed home when it started raining. Though a quick side jaunt to Colebrook hide allowed me to photograph a LRP and common Sandpiper, before a rapid retreat to the MGLG car park as the rains set in.
Well folks. hopefully in a couple or three months Manor farm restoration will be completed, and I will be out of a job. It's been quite a journey - thankfully, quite short for me. I think I would have given up the will to live, had I started documenting the restoration process way back when it started. There have been many delays and extensions, pushing back the finish date by many years if not a decade or so.
The slideshow will contain photos of LRPs, Black-tailed Godwits and restoration work, along with an LRP on MGL. I'm too lazy to separate out the restoration work into a slideshow of its own.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.