What to Look For in Summer
The lazy days of summer sees Alton Water looking at its best. The wildflower meadow near Rabbets Wood has developed into a very popular spot for photographers and provides a valuable source of seed for the surrounding grassland.
The resultant clippings are used to construct breeding and hibernation sites for lizards and grass snakes. Please leave any snake in peace. We do not have the poisonous adder, so there is no danger
Careful habitat management and creation has increased the number and species of butterfly that can be seen. The best way of seeing a variety of species is to follow the Nature Trail that starts near the Visitors Centre. Right at the start is a specially created butterfly garden where red admiral, commas, peacocks and speckled woods can nearly always be seen. Further along the trail the grassland supports many other species like the common blue and the small heaths and the water margins are particularly good spots with species attracted by the water mint.

Further along the trail a number of ponds attract dragonflies and damselflies and the impressive emperor dragonfly with its large hunch back and blue body can often be seen hunting in this area.
Almost anywhere around the reservoir you can find orchids. The fantastic bee orchids seem to appear in small clusters in the most unexpected of places. Pyramidal and marsh orchids are also usually recorded every year.With the arrival of their young, the terns have completely abandoned their volume controls! It is a fulltime job for them to supply a steady stream of small fish. Early in the summer they can be seen flying down the reservoir and nipping across the dam to the nearby estuaries where they capture small shrimps and flatfish. Later in the summer as the local fry get bigger they don’t have so far to travel and usually can be seen diving in the inlet bays around Black Pond Meadow and Birchwood Bay.
On the fish front the bream may spawn more than once during the summer and can be seen congregating in huge shoals just before and after spawning. A good spot to look out for them is off Lemons Hill Bridge in the shallower water around the willow margins. Sometimes huge eels can be seen hunting for small fish from the same vantage point.