Once again, Inert prove me wrong.
For the past few weeks, I've been disinclined to haul my backside out of bed and get it down to Manor farm by 7:15am. Partly due to the cold snaps, partly as my hay fever was particularly bad, partly as I didn't think Inert were up to much, but mainly as I couldn't face slogging my way through oceans of mud with little or nothing to report on.
I have also, I admit, been worried by the possibility of disturbing breeding birds, but soon realised that the situation around Cormorant lake is similar to the infill of Finch pond a couple of years ago: The birds simply breed on the other part of the site. Hence, two years ago, birds bred around Cormorant lake, whilst this year they shifted to what was Finch pond, and possibly the mud flats.
Anyway, I took myself down to Manor farm, by 7:00am on Saturday, and what a surprise I got. Firstly, due to the long dry spell we've had recently, the ground was very firm. What a joy it was to walk over the infill, without having to check every step gingerly to ensure my foot didn't sink into mud, or to be able to wander around without having to make detours.
Secondly, Inert have been up to a stunning amount over the past few weeks. They've covered huge tracts of the land mass. Flattening many of the spoils heaps they have been piling up over the past few months. Pushing and levelling the soil west, north and east.
What was a deeply rut riven, churned up chunk of land adorned with huge spoil heaps, is now almost as flat as a bowling green. I wouldn't say a large amount of infill has taken place. The west shore of Cormorant lake has moved slightly east.
The north shore has joined up with the gravel causeway (which separates off Cormorant lake north), but only because water levels are so low. In fact I heard the pump wheezing away on my Thursday visit - a sure sign it isn't working properly. I was able to step down to the north shore of Cormorant lake (north), something I haven't been able to do for months, as it has been so wet, and then step over to the gravel causeway. The ground was absolutely solid. I didn't go onto the gravel causeway or over to Cormorant lake (north) just in case of breeding birds.
Big changes have happened around the south end of the ridge. The tiny land bridge is no more. Instead, Inert have filled in a large part of the drainage ditch from Finch pond they dug. There is now a large expanse of level land. Some of this land extends into Cormorant lake north, with a bit of the gravel causeway flattened down.
Curiously, either a digger or bulldozer drove up the south face of the ridge. I speak from experience that the slope here is quite steep. The vehicle then drove along the ridge to its north end. I didn't walk along the ridge to find out what it did there, as I didn't want to disturb any breeding animals. I know foxes have dens in the ridge and north embankment.
The area around the copse has been built up, possibly approaching its finish level. Again, I didn't investigate in case there were breeding birds either in the copse or on what was Finch pond. There are Lapwings and Sky Larks nesting on what was Finch pond - I can seen the Lapwings from the south footpath. Although I am studiously keeping off the Finch pond area, I do find it a little ironic that a couple of Lapwings have nested closer to the south footpath than I would get to them were I to walk over to the copse.
I must say that the most curious feature that Inert have built is a large, limestone (or chalk) bridge across a fair bit of the land mass. This 'bridge' makes a lot of sense when the whole area was basically a quagmire, but why this structure wasn't built sooner is a mystery to me. Lorries had been struggling up the land mass for months; reversing for up to 75m, and then being held up with a single track road.
It is ironic that just when he trackways are beefed up with limestone (or chalk) and two way traffic is possible, that the rains stop and the ground hardens. Trust me, the ground really was quite firm. An absolute joy to walk on.
Inert have built, what can only be described as a large round about around my mighty mound. Thus trucks can actually keep flowing, sort of. The limestone bridge is still single track, whilst the south vehicle track is single carriageway with passing points.
That there are breeding birds about, there is no doubt, but they are on the peripherals of the infill area - way over on the mud flats to the east, ridges and grasslands to the north, and of course, Finch pond to the west. Nothing is breeding on the work area, which is a wasteland. Inert do environmental surveys, before under taking work, so rest assured no animal is losing out.
It must be said, as I have done so before, that the wildlife largely ignore the lorries and assorted plant trundling around the site. I've seen birds totally not flustered when a dirty great big lorry passes within feet of them.
I didn't wander around the pump station to see what Inert have been up to there. It might be worth a quick jaunt in the future, but only from a distance.
A polite notice first: All photographs on this blog are owned by me and subject to copyright.