At first I thought it was a baby beaver, crouched near the pond and nibbling on twigs. Then it heard me moving about and took off at high speed, half swimming, half running for the safety of deeper water. When it paused, looking back, I could see the long, hairless tail curled beside it; that, together with its speed, tipped me off: this was a muskrat, a new visitor to our little pond.
I don't know how long it will stay, or if it will bring friends; we've had fishers in the area recently, as well as river otters and mink. A fisher actually killed one of the local beavers last month, and the rest of the family seems to have moved off and grown much more wary. But it's always nice to see even more diversity of wildlife in the area, and I look forward to seeing what happens as spring truly settles in!