The water vole is the UK's fastest declining mammal so it was heartening news when recent survey work by Kent Wildlife Trust volunteers showed that not only are they continuing to flourish on the reserve, but their population has increased by 106%!
Immortalised as ‘Ratty’ in Kenneth Graeme’s 1908 classic, ‘The Wind in the Willows’, the water vole is a shy, secretive bank-dwelling creature with a slightly rounded nose and deep brown fur.
They have chubby faces with short, well hidden, fuzzy ears. Despite their shyness they are true engineers of the ditch and stream bank.
With their tiny paws, sleek waterproof coat, and their incredible teeth, which are used to dig, the sight of a water vole is never forgotten.
They spend most of their day eating vegetation, leaving piles of shoots to mark their favourite picnic spots.
As well as water voles, Holborough Marshes is a nationally important site for a host of wildlife, including rare moths, plants and birds - such as the nightingale and lapwing.
West Kent Reserves Officer, Dave Hutton, said: “After our first successful lease period of 15 years, Kent Wildlife Trust is pleased to be continuing its partnership with Lafarge for a further 15-year term and ensuring the continued careful husbandry of this flourishing nature reserve.”
In 2012, a former arable field was added to the lease by Lafarge Tarmac to extend the reserve by four hectares to 39 hectares.
The reserve is owned by Lafarge Tarmac and managed by Kent Wildlife Trust and is free for the public to visit.
Click here for more information about Holborough Marshes.