The 'Ratty' of Kenneth Graham's stories is, of course not a rat at all, but a Water Vole. Due in part to unsympathetic farming, building, pollution and water-course management, the poor old Water Vole has had a bad time of it in recent years. Then, the spread of American Mink in our countryside has taken it's toll on the species. As a result, populations of these charming little creatures, has plummeted by up to 95%, a decline which is still happening. So, it was with great surprise and delight that I saw one this morning.
I have read with interest in recent months, about people seeing signs of Water Voles in these parts, but sightings of the animal itself have been very few and far between. But, there it was, swimming across the Nutbrook before scrabbling out of the water and disappearing into the shrubbery on the bank, close to Straw's Bridge.
Sadly, it all happened within a couple of seconds and I had no chance of getting a picture, but what a wonderful sight it was.
Meanwhile, on 'Swan Lake' the Canada Geese were creating havoc and the Mallards were displaying like mad to each other, so no change there!