Thursday, 15 December 2011

Reach Lode Bridge Repair Work

Mike Overall has been down on site for the last two days working on getting transition plates fitted and racking the big metal side fences back into shape. Where the clay banks have settled a gap has been slowly appearing, we have been fixing this as it developed. Recently BAM Nutall came down to re-surface the ramps and bring them back up to height. As the ramps are likely to be subject to more moment a hinged plate has been added. As the ramps move a smooth transition from bridge to cycle track will remain. Check out Mike’s webpage he is certainly worth a look if you have any metalwork to do.

In other news regular visitors to Burwell fen may have spotted some interesting spellings as well as wildlife. My nice sign is somewhat embarrassingly talking about ‘signed routs’ not ‘signed routes’. I haven’t had the chance to change them. Any regular visitors to this blog might have noticed my poor spellings! Sorry about that I do try to keep it acceptable.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Bit of a catch up.

It has been a while since my past post. So what has been going on.... well the cattle handling unit or coral got its crash barriers attached. Johnny also put it to the test and rounded up the cows to take one back to calf. Still a few finishing touches to do. Cut the top of the post off and reinforcing the fence being the main bits. While I am on about Johnny and the cattle here is a link to Spinney Abbey Farm’s website. Plenty of lovely produce and some ghost stories too.

Also Jason finished fencing the ha-ha on Burwell fen. The idea did work in part, and it was a shame to have to fence it, but we got to keep them cows off the path. In areas where the ditch is likely to hold water all year round and if we can make the edge a bit steeper I hope we can try it again. A ha-ha would not be subject to the continued management the fences need and in my opinion look a lot nicer.

Wild Camping at Oily Hall

The fence is up, the ramp for the composting toilet is in and the foundations are in place. All we need to do now is build everything! Hopefully before Christmas we will get the cabins or pods constructed. It looks to be a pretty tall order though and plenty of hard work.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Gates are in and we start work at Oily Hall

Firstly we have brought in the gates from Tubney Fen. Now the cattle are off the gates are in for the winter to allow easier access for horse riders, it also means they can’t be stolen over the Winter. The plan is to get them back out a week or so before the cows are due back in May.

Down at Oily Hall, which is to the West of Lode, we have started constructing a Cattle Handling Unit. Me (John), Johnny, Johnny and Jason (it made it simple for Jason to get out attention) set about getting it started. Basically it is a big strong pen, the cattle are baited or run into it to catch them. When time and materials permit the plan is to have three layers of crash barriers to complete the fence, and to cut all the poles down to get it all neat and tidy. We used old telegraph poles, so the post certainly look strong enough!

Below is a picture of where we got to, and a picture of what we hope it to look like from a site nearby:

Other things on the go:

Jason has started to build the fence to surround the new wild camping site on Oily Hall. With a spot of luck the shelters or ‘pods’ will be constructed in mid December. The idea is that groups such as the Scouts or Guides can book them out and use them as a stopover, no need for a tent. Further work on Oily Hall includes Jason building a fence to divide the fields and possibly digging a small pond.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Owl and Harrier Spotting

Harriers and Owls

As there have been some fantastic sightings of Owls and Harriers recently I thought I would share my favourite places to go and see them.

Number one is pretty simple, our Visitor Centre at Wicken. Clearly a good spot at any time but if you finish your walk for about 30 minutes before dusk and are near the Visitor Centre you have a great chance of spotting a Harrier or two, and possibly an Owl, mainly Barn Owls.

Number two is Harrisons Drove. I have always liked a wander down here at dusk and waiting to see if anything flies over head.

Number Three, Via Newnham Drove, heading from Burwell. This drove is in a bit of a state and you need a 4x4 really to get to the end where there isn’t any parking, just a few lay-bys. But the reasonably long, straight walk down from then end can be as fruitful as where the arrow points to at its end. I found myself here at the end of last Thursday and spotted four Short Eared Owls one flying right overhead. If you are on the lodes way this is a nice point to stop lean on the gate and take a nice break. Barn Owls andMarsh Harriers have both been spotted here recently by myself.

Number four. Reach Lode Bridge. There is a bit of hard standing here, Split Drove is in better condition than Newnham Drove, not ideal but I can take my little car down there no bother. Pop over the Bridge and see what you can.

The path around Burwell Fen via Reach Lode, Burwell Lode and the Lodes way makes a big triangle. This is well worth a wander, especially in the afternoon/evening as the sun goes down.

Here is another fantastic picture of a Short Eared Owl by Richard Nicoll.

Short Eared Owl