Pulling into the car park at Blashford Lakes nature reserve, the time’s nudging 9 am. Yet the sound of bird cries filling the air is a reminder that there are plenty of early risers around here. For the uninitiated hopeful of getting a glimpse of some of these residents, however transient, one tactic would seem to be to try the wooden door of the newly rebuilt Tern Hide. And, incredibly, as if walking through Narnia’s magical portal, a whole new world flows into view.
Today, Ibsley Water, the largest freshwater body of water in Hampshire, is fringed by shallow foreshores and a necklace of trees. A transformation that’s almost impossible to imagine, given the changes in land use witnessed across the 150-hectare site over the centuries. From what was once fields, it went on to become an RAF base for Spitfire squadrons during World War II, and a motor racing circuit. Now managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, on behalf of Wessex and Bournemouth Water, the lake is one of several created over the past couple of decades by flooding the gravel pits that more recently scarred the countryside.
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