And it’s goodbye from me…

Twenty years almost to the day (& certainly to the week) since I joined the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust Education team at Blashford Lakes I am returning my keys, uniform, phone & laptop and leaving for new challenges with the New Forest National Park Authority Ranger team.

Twenty years is a loooooong time in one job, particularly these days, but to be fair both the site and my job have grown and changed quite significantly in that time. Indeed when I first started I was an “Education and Community Warden”, the only employee on site, the nature reserve was a fraction of the size that it is now, had just one hide, with one path down to it (roughly in the location of Ivy South Hide today) and the site was closed to the public unless part of a booked, organised & pre-arranged group visit (not that that stopped birders clambering over the odd gate & fence for a glimpse of the lake – you know who you are!). In 2002 quarrying had only very recently been completed in what is now Ellingham Lake and it had not formally been signed off by Hampshire County Council Minerals and Waste Planning, both Rockford Lake and Ibsley Water were both still very much active quarries and Hanson were operating both a concrete block plant and cement pre-mix facility on the southern shore of Ibsley Water too.

Since then the site has gone onto employ more staff across a site which has doubled in size, welcomed in the public and established itself as an excellent educational resource for schools and uniformed youth groups across Hampshire, Dorset & Wiltshire.

As an educator it has been an amazing place to work and the Trust has been a fantastic organisation to work for – the same mix of habitats, all within a relatively small area, and the rich biodiversity which make Blashford Lakes Nature Reserve such a popular destination for wildlife lovers and bird watchers, means that it is, in my opinion, one of the best (the best of?) places to introduce children (and adults) to wildlife and the outdoors, engender awe and wonder and an appreciation of it, as well as the desire to proactively learn about and care for it. At the same time the Trust has provided the space and support for me to develop an education program and activities, both formal and informal, as I see fit.

I know that my love of nature doesn’t come from school, books or screens but rather that it stems from the time I spent growing up outdoors as a child and youth in North Lincolnshire. Not pro-actively seeking wildlife but simply exposed and immersed in the natural world whilst playing in it. This experience & knowledge has informed, and continues to inform, all of my outdoor education work and it has been my absolute joy & pleasure to be gifted with the opportunity to play & encourage play in nature at Blashford Lakes over the last twenty years.

A big thank you to everyone who has joined me exploring and playing in and around the pond, river, meadow, woodland or hides. It really has been my pleasure &, as much as I am looking forward to new challenges in my new role, I already know how much I am going to miss Blashford, the staff, the volunteers and visitors!

Join me for my final wander around Blashford (as a member of staff at least!) via my Twitter feed here:

I’ll be back 😉

Sad as it is to be leaving, it’s good to know that the site is in good hands.

Thank you to everyone who contributed so generously to the escape fund, for re-naming the education meadow “Jim’s Meadow” & to Geoff for my wonderful wooden “glasses”:

If nothing else it will be quieter next week…


…if you know you know 🙂


4 thoughts on “And it’s goodbye from me…

  1. All the best in your new position as Ranger in the New Forest .

    You refer to the year 2002 when you joined the Trust and by chance this was the year when we were promised by HCC , a path through the former Hanson Quarry at Ibsley .However,, this path was held up for 8 years as it was deemed to be through a sensitive area and its use would disturb the Gadwall ..Ironically when the path ( permissive only by then ) was opened in 2011 , the WeBS count in 2010 was only 2 Gadwall , whereas it had been 315 in the year 2000. Clearly then the decline was caused by other factors including the stocking of fish , turbidity and algal blooms .

    Spare a thought for the people at Ibsley , Mockbeggar and South Gorley who now have no direct access to the Blashford Lakes following the closure of the path in 2015 . That path was in return for 30 years of mining , with so much noise and dust from the cranes and dumper tracks and conveyor belt and loss of local wildlife including the hares which I used to see from the house on the former Airfield .

  2. Hey Jim, we wish you all the best in you new Ranger role, you will be missed by many, not only the youngsters you have given encouragement to explore nature, but us oldies too. You will be missed. Steve and Chris.

  3. Thanks Jim Your posts were a high point during lockdown.As you mention the reserve has developed tremendously during your time there Kind regards Simon 

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