What to Look For in Autumn
Autumn sees a welcome slowing down of activity for many birds as young and parents alike start to move away and breeding is no longer a priority. Very often the reservoir water level is at its lowest and the exposed mud margins attract migrant waders on passage to other parts of the world. Sandpipers and greenshank are both commonly seen but expect the unexpected as anything can put in an appearance. A good spot to head for is Coralline hide, opposite Tattingstone, particularly if the water level is low. Several years ago this whole area was re-profiled to create a series of islands, pools and dykes that provide good habitat whatever the current water level.
One group of animals that are still very much thinking of sex are the deer. October is the main rutting season and males can often be heard in the nearby woodlands. Although they do not spend much time actually on the reservoir they do creep down at night to drink. If you’re going round Alton by bike and you would like to see deer the best chance during the day is to go along the back road between Tattingstone and Holbrook and keep a sharp eye out in the fields near Birchwood. Waders


Slowly the wildfowl numbers build up as they return from their breeding grounds further north. Tufted duck and coot numbers are increased by birds arriving from the continent.
Finally a couple of species to look out for are the majestic osprey and the black tern. The osprey is either on route from Scotland or possible even Rutland to its over wintering grounds in Africa. The black terns don’t always turn up but look out for them as the dance across the water near the picnic site having a last feed.