Vole's best friend
In a drainage ditch off the main river, water voles have managed to survive the mink onslaught. Their waterfront burrows still bustle with life because Ratty has an unexpected ally - one who never appeared in Wind in the Willows. Cookham is a dog walker's paradise, and the footpath passes right along the edge of the ditch. All the resulting canine commotion is enough to keep mink away, but it doesn't bother Ratty and his friends. Behind the scenes, they seem to be thriving. Water voles have around five babies at a time, blind at birth and totally dependent on their mother. As the family grows, it's a constant battle for elbow room. But after about three weeks the babies are ready to take their first dip. Ratty and his friends don't ask for much - a muddy hole and plenty of greens. But if the mink move in, they'll disappear for good. Let's hope the Cookham dog patrol continues.