Popular ponies make a return to wetland

Exmoor ponies on the wetland at St Marys Island.
Exmoor ponies on the wetland at St Marys Island.
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A popular conservation ‘team’ have made a return.

A team of four Exmoor ponies, from the Moorland Mousie Trust, has arrived to help manage the wetland at St Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay.

The quartet will be grazing at the wetland for the next two to three months, as part of an effort to manage vegetation at the site.

They will eat the coarse and invasive scrub and grasses, allowing finer grasses and wildflowers, including orchids, to flourish and increasing the value of the site for a wide range of water birds.

Exmoor ponies have proved to be the best at conservation grazing because they have small feet, meaning they do less damage, and they have large jaws which can manage scrub.

Everybody is welcome to come and see the ponies in action. However, residents are reminded not to feed them as they are there to do a job as ‘grass-eating machines’.

St Mary’s Island Wetland was created in 1997 and forms part of the St Mary’s Island Local Nature Reserve.

The conservation group, which is made up of a group of local wildlife enthusiasts, was set up in 2014 to help manage the wetland area in conjunction with North Tyneside Council.

Coun John Stirling, cabinet member for the Environment, said: “I’m delighted that we are able to welcome these Exmoor ponies to our borough for the second time after they did such a fantastic job last year.

“Not only are they great workers but I’m sure local residents and families will love coming to visit them while they’re here.”

“I’d also like to say a massive thank you to the Conservation group and the local community for all their hard work in helping us ensure St Mary’s Island looks its very best.”

For further details, visit the St Mary’s Island Wetland Conservation Group’s Facebook page.