A prominent ripple was the first clue to animal activity at RSPB Minsmere ...
The creature tucked itself into a niche under the footbridge ...
... and began chewing a reed.
Just look at the difference in size between the front claws and the back ones! The front paws leave a star-shaped print in the mud.
These beautiful animals are a protected species in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. They are also listed as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Water Voles declined drastically in the 20th century, initially on account of invasive farming practices and then as a result of the spread of American Mink.
I have logged the sighting on the Wildlife Trusts' sightings form.
It was a good afternoon for mammals. There were large quantities of rabbits and their young out in the sunshine.
They were hopping about and sitting peacefully when there was sudden pandemonium in the ranks. David (who has posted his own Water Vole photo) watched a stoat chasing one of their number into the thicket of bramble and gorse. I missed the stoat, but saw white tails bobbing in all directions.
There were plenty of red deer about. I have only just noticed the rabbit to the left.
The BBC Springwatch team will be back here before long.