The River Itchen in Hampshire, southern England, is one of the finest chalk streams in the world, famed for its wild brown trout. The River Itchen at Martyr Worthy is a distillation of an observational, ten-year study of a one kilometre stretch of the river at Martyr Worthy in Hampshire. The highly illustrated account draws upon 100,000 photographs and hundreds of hours of video recordings taken between 2008 and 2018.
Rivers have a fascination for many people and the ability to captivate. A two-month, purely observational and non-scientific, project to film wild brown trout spawning ended up lasting ten years.
The wild brown trout spawning is illustrated alongside the life cycle of the river flies upon which they feed. Seventy species of bird are highlighted with a focus on some, such as a black swan, kingfishers, herons predatory cormorants and the shy water rail. Otters, including a family tracked and filmed for a year, feature at night, together with water voles, mink and moles.
A wide variety of insects and plants feature. The majority of plants having herbal qualities that make the riverbank seem like a medicine chest, with one plant having inspired a mathematician in the 1500s.
Inspiration also comes in landscapes, patterns, shapes and reflections that provide rich material for the artist, poet and storyteller. It is through art and imagination that young people can be introduced to, and learn about, nature with a sense of fun.
More importantly, the relentless day-by-day activities of the riverkeeper describe what it takes to conserve this Site of Special Scientific Interest, a truly wild and special place.