Hockley Meadows is an area of water meadows in the Itchen valley to the north of Shawford. Since 2017 the eastern part of the meadows has been owned and managed by the Hampshire Wildlife Trust.
A typical variety of riverside birds are resident the area, including Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Cetti’s Warbler and Reed Bunting. Spring and summer sees the arrival of numerous Sedge Warblers and smaller numbers of Reed Warblers, as well as Grasshopper Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher.
In winter Little Egret and Water Rail can be seen around the ditches and river margins. Snipe winter in small numbers in the meadows and Woodcock are often seen at dusk. Barn Owls have also been seen very reliably during recent winters. Chiffchaffs over-winter in good numbers along the river, while Stonechats are also regular visitors to the meadows.
The site is not particularly known for migration, but passage periods can produce Yellow Wagtails around the cattle, Common Sandpiper along the river and flocks of hirundines overhead.
If entering the meadows from the north, the best place to park is in the laybys on either side of the Hockley Link road. The main footpath is on the east side of the Itchen and offers good views of the meadows on either side. A second footpath on the west side of the Itchen takes you along a tarmac path for a few hundred metres, after which you should turn left through a gate and follow the footpath south. This path is much less disturbed but can be very muddy. A circular walk can be had by taking the main footpath as far south as Compton Lock, turning right across the small bridge, following the path through the wood, then turning right across the stile in the brick wall and taking the path north. You can also enter the meadows from Shawford village, where there is parking in the station car park, on the road side, or in the car park of the Bridge Inn (for patrons). The site is easily accessed by train, using Shawford station.