Not this time the water vole we saw before or the otters we’ve failed to see at the Mill; only a sculpture and an entry into the water plus fish taking the rising flies. This place is so peaceful even the wildlife could seem an intrusion, unless you count the chiffchaffs and chaffinches calling from tree tops.
Occasionally other walkers or joggers pass; children from the area around the Leisure Centre can be heard and, from time to time, a stream debouches into the river. No other sound is heard above the distant hum of motorway traffic and the odd motor bike.
The River Itchen flows through the reserve; tributary streams carry water away from the city that is always at risk of floods, sometimes forming ponds or bogs. With such variety of habitat a wide range of plants, some truly wild, some garden escapees or planted in an hospitable environment, can flourish in their seasons. Yellow iris was the most striking, sharing space with the otter sculpture that in certain lights and from the rear might fool anyone. Not an otter, though, in our experience. There are ragged robin and two colours of comfrey as well as trees like guelder rose, willow and ash. Reeds stand sentinel in the ponds and bogs. Distant tree-topped hills are visible beyond the city limits.
Sometimes the path brings a sight of the Leisure Centre; at its end a housing estate is visible across the river before joining the roadside close to the National Trust Water Mill on one side and the old Bishop’s Palace area on the other. The choice is then to walk through the City Centre, mostly pedestrianized, or retrace steps through the reserve. We chose the latter and were rewarded (one of us) with what may have been the water vole leaping into the water and two moorhens working their respective ways along the edge of the river.