Visitors to the town of Arundel will be able to watch wild water voles visit a feeding platform along the Mill Road Stream starting from Saturday 13 August.
This small furry mammal, made famous as the character Ratty in The Wind in the Willows, inhabits the banks of the stream near Arundel Castle.
Staff and volunteers from the RSPB and the WWT will be running a Date with Nature at Arundel, an event which helps visitors watch the Water Voles feeding on rafts in the stream.
Mark Weston of the RSPB said: “Water Voles live along vegetated banks of rivers and streams, and the banks of Mill Road Stream near Arundel Castle provide just the right kind of habitat.
“Grassy banks provide food, and also shelter from predators, which usually makes them quite hard to see. But by providing some bits of apple and carrot on a floating raft, we can let them enjoy a tasty snack while you get a fantastic view of these special creatures.”
The Water Voles on the Mill Road stream are descendants of those reintroduced at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre in 2005. Over 150 were released and they have bred and dispersed around the reserve and into the countryside beyond. Paul Stevens, Grounds Manager at Arundel Wetland Centre, said: “A survey completed in 2009 showed Water Vole habitation has now spread out from the wetland centre north as far as Southstoke and south across the A27 towards Littlehampton.”
Conservation efforts like these are vital, as Water Voles are becoming increasingly rare in the UK and are now our fastest declining mammal. One of the main problems they face is that they’ve lost a lot of the grassy banks they used to live on because people have made changes like removing the vegetation and putting cement along the sides of streams.
Mark Weston added: “By coming along to the Date with Nature, you can enjoy some really close-up viewing of the Water Voles and their habitat, and get a better understanding of how we can protect them.”
The conservation groups will be based between the putting green and the castle every day from 13 to 29 August, between 10.30 am and 4.30 pm, whatever the weather. For people using GPS to find the site, the postcode is BN18 9PA.
There is no entry charge and no need to bring binoculars or other viewing equipment.
There is free and charged car parking at the location, and cafés nearby for drinks, snacks and lunches.
Date with Nature projects aim to bring people closer to nature and inspire young people.To find out more about A Date with Nature Arundel, call 07802293417.
Visitors to Arundel can see more Water Voles on board the free boat safari at Arundel Wetland Centre, ¼ mile down the road from the Date with Nature site. These quiet, electric boats can get fantastically close to the rare creatures. Admission to WWT Arundel Wetland Centre is £10.30 for an adult, £8.60 for a concession ticket and £5.15 for a child. Entry is free for WWT members.