Alton Water – wildlife gallery
Alton Water is the largest County Wildlife Site in Suffolk and is owned and managed by Anglian Water Services Ltd. It is the largest area of inland water in Suffolk and the fourth largest reservoir owned by AWS. Having been site manager and head warden for nearly twenty years, up until my retirement in 2015, it is only natural that I should include this album of some of the more iconic wildlife to be found on this site.
Key habitats and wildlife to be found at Alton.
Not surprisingly Alton Water is comprised of mainly inland water and extends to nearly 400 acres. It is a comparatively recent reservoir formed by damming a natural valley in the 1970’s. At its deepest point it is around 65 feet but has numerous natural inlet bays with shallow water and well vegetated banks. Once building works had been completed much of the surrounding surplus land was sold back to the original land owners. This reduced the habitat to relatively narrow bands comprising a draw-down zone, vegetated margins and surrounding scrub. A number of pockets of woodland were planted primarily to enhance the landscape rather than the wildlife.
It is a County Wildlife Site primarily on the basis of winter wildfowl. Alton Water has held county records of coot, and tufted duck. It is also one of the main breeding sites for great crested grebes. The surrounding scrub has proved to be excellent habitat for spring migrant birds with perhaps the nightingale being the most important. Some seasons have seen over 30 singing males holding territories.
Additional habitat has also been provided over the course of time with ponds, wildflower meadows, sand martin and kingfisher banks all having been created. A very successful project providing breeding rafts for common terns has been in existence for many years.
Visitor Information for Alton Water.
Alton Water is open everyday of the year excluding Christmas Day. It can be accessed from a number of car parks situated around the perimeter. There is a circular track of 8 miles shared between walkers and cyclists. In addition there is a further 2 mile track north of Lemons Hill Bridge for the exclusive use of walkers and anglers. The two main car parks are situated at Stutton just off the B1080 where a Pay and Display system is in operation. The car parks at Lemons Hill Bridge are currently free of any charge.
Public toilets are available at Sutton where there is a cafe and Cycle Hire shop. Check opening hours as these are seasonal.