7th December 2021: A run of bad luck…

A warning of possible reserve closures tomorrow.

The stalwart Tuesday volunteers arrived at Blashford ready to work this morning despite the heavy rain and strong winds. I think probably much against his better judgement Bob took them out on site to continue work on the removal of the old dilapidated boardwalk, clearing way for the construction of the new replacement one. They soldiered on as the rain grew heavier and the wind grew stronger only giving in (to what some sat in a nice warm & dry office – well dry anyway – would say was just plain old fashioned common sense!) when the wheel came off Bobs trailer…

With the volunteers headed home to dry off and warm up, and Bob trying to dry off his second coat of the day, we settled down to lunch only to be plunged into darkness when the power went off. Hot on the heels of Arwen Storm Barra had hit Blashford and toppled a large sycamore tree near the entrance to the nature reserve taking out an entire length of power cable…

Fortunately (there was some good luck today!) the horrible weather meant that the few visitors we had earlier in the day had all gone home so it was a simple matter to close up the site. Not so simple was letting everyone know who needed to know that the power was down, but we got there in the end and Scottish & Southern Electric were on site relatively quickly.

By the time I left shortly after 4pm we were properly in the “eye of the storm” with evening sunshine and just a gentle breeze and there were any number of power lines men, tree surgeons, cars, vans, trucks and cherry pickers on site with a promise that power would be restored by morning…

However the weather forecast has the worst of Storm Barra not actually coming through until the early hours of tomorrow morning so just a heads up to everyone that if that is the case although we may have electricity back up & running in the office & centre, if more tree’s come down it may become necessary to temporarily close footpaths &/or hides until they can be cleared so if you are planning on visiting tomorrow (8th December) maybe hold off arriving until later in the day?

Tomorrows another day…!

Wet, wet, wet…

Although the winds have subsided, keeping the reserve closed today as well as yesterday was definitely the right thing to do as when I arrived this morning Ellingham Drove was flowing like a river and the water levels definitely rose in the few hours I was on site.

I didn’t venture too far, only checking the paths between the Woodland and Ivy Lake hides for any trees that had come down in yesterday’s strong winds, but wellington boots were definitely needed for stretches of footpath around the Woodland Hide and down towards Ivy South. I decided to save the rest of the checking until tomorrow in case the river on Ellingham Drove became too deep and I struggled to leave – there was at least one car further down the Drove towards Moyles Court that had become stuck in deeper water and a number of drivers decided to think twice, turn around and head back towards the A338.

The only trees of note, which admittedly I could have missed as I haven’t unlocked or locked up for a few days, were well away from the path but unfortunately in the middle of the woodland log circle area we use for bug hunting. They seemed to have just toppled over, lifting up the saturated ground as they went:

woodland

I know the boardwalk past Ivy South Hide does occasionally flood when Ivy Lake and the silt pond are both at capacity, but I have never seen water flowing over it before:

The Dockens Water is also fuller than I’ve ever seen it, resulting in it spilling out over Ellingham Drove and into the main reserve car park.

The water was flowing just shy of the river dipping bridge. It will be interesting to see what our dipping area looks like once the waters have dropped again, our ‘beach’ had been looking quite good after the last flood!

Given it was still raining when I left and there really isn’t anywhere for such a huge volume of water to go, it is going to take a day or so for the flood waters to subside from the main car park, even if Ellingham Drove clears relatively quickly:

The photos above don’t really do it justice, the water was flowing into the car park with some force in places, and although I could wade along the road in, I was up to the tops of my wellies not far past the waymarker post in the foreground of the photo of the car park and Tern Hide.

It would be very advisable not to visit in too much of a hurry tomorrow! It is highly likely the main car park will remain closed for a day or two, depending on how quickly the levels drop, and even if Tern Hide becomes accessible by skirting the edge of the car park along slightly higher ground, welly boots will definitely be needed.

The south side of the reserve will hopefully open as usual tomorrow, although again welly boots might be useful for some parts!

Sadly we have had to cancel tomorrows Willow Bird Feeder event, in addition to today’s Weave a Willow Snail event which had been postponed from last Sunday, but hopefully it will stop raining soon and we can get back to normal!