Thursday, 5 September 2013

Steady progress

I didn't get home from work until dusk yesterday so it wasn't until late this afternoon that I could inspect progress.
Yesterday was spent finishing off the dyke re-profiling and scattering the spoil. Natural England had suggested the best way to do this was with a muck-spreader which does work very well producing a thin even layer across the marsh surface which won't damage the existing flora.

There are just two problems; first it takes an awfully long time to load and then spread 8 tons of earth at a time, second it needs a hefty tractor to pull it and, despite the marshes being as dry as they'll ever be, it nearly got stuck a couple of times creating an unexpected extra water feature on the marsh. The driver didn't dare venture on to one of the rougher marshes we'd designated for spoil spreading deeming it too risky.
Today work started on the scrape proper and by the end of the day about 2/3 of one of the 2 main pools had been dug.

Unfortunately the muck spreader has been called away to another job so small mountains of earth are beginning to accumulate. These are about 8 feet tall and can only get bigger.

With impending rain I suspect we will end up having the digger scraping the spoil out as flat as he can and squashing it down with the digger bucket. Not ideal but earth piles don't really fit in with the local landscape.
There was also the question of what to do with the pile of scraped up cut vegetation that had been piled up at the weekend. I decided the only thing to do was try burning it. The rush, sedge and grass had dried out nicely on the surface and it caught light easily with a single match.

 However the pile also consists of a large amount of earth, some that had built up around the base of the clumps of rush and some that had been inadvertently scraped up with the vegetation (creating more mini-water features), so that after an initial satisfying rush of flame it settled down to a steady smoulder. I stayed with the 'fire' until dusk stirring areas to move the earth and get more areas burning but the pile was still substantial when I left. During that time the wind shifted from a gentle south-easterly  to easterly, round to north-easterly and then finally a light northerly, a sign of the on-coming change in the weather. I had 3 species of wader fly over, 3 Snipe, 2 Lapwing and a Golden Plover but the scrape has yet to host its first water bird although a Pied Wagtail paid a brief visit.

On a completely different note, the Swallows in our car-port have decided to try for a third brood and are currently sitting on eggs. Have they got time to rear a brood to fledging before the weather forces them south?

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