Working in wildlife conservation and covering the area where you’ve grown up, you notice a huge amount of change over the years.
This can be easily demonstrated by how Romsey’s countryside has receded, as the town and its population has grown. But rarely do we see an example where development has actually helped to secure and protect an important place for wildlife within touching distance of a busy town centre.
Having grown up in Romsey and gone to school nearby, this very stretch of countryside was a regular place to roam with my friends. The barge canal was the perfect conduit to being ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and forays to the drained farmer’s fields were not uncommon. As years passed the Fishlake housing estate was built, removing some of that rough hinterland and, north of the road, (unbeknown to many) pumping operations that ensured the fields remained dry were ceased.
Winter flooding of the meadows began to be more and more profound and it was impossible to miss the ponds growing each summer. In the early 2000s I remember seeing that patches of reedbed, interspersed with bulrushes, started to characterise the southern end and hearing chattering reed and sedge warblers, audible from Fishlake Road. The lines of planted poplars were starting to die back and become their own ‘wild’ spectacle. I remember thinking that this special place could one day make a brilliant nature reserve!