This is a vole John Harding saw on the 21st, and I've just spent a happy half hour watching another (and there may have been a second one further up the bank because there was a lot of disturbance under the water by the bank). I managed to litter pick all round the vole, who was feeding on dock, grass and young nettles. At one point a boy ran across the bridge making a terrific clatter, and again the vole didn't show any reaction; shortly afterwards a group of teenage girls came past and admired it, and asked about voles in general. Throughout the conversation we had, which was shouted across the brook, the little animal continued to feed without concern.
I was able to get very close and see how dextrously it used its front paws to pluck and hold vegetation. The general shape of a water vole - the big bottom, the blunt nose - always reminds me of a guinea pig, but those nimble front paws are more like a hamster's.
At one point a rat came across the bank and seemed to be stalking the vole, but as soon as the vole became aware, it dropped into the water and vanished. The rat moved on. I'm wondering how much of a threat brown rats are?