The Exmoor ponies have been grazing the western end of Branton Quarry, near Powburn in Northumberland, for a few months now and already the results of their efforts are obvious. A visit to a site nearby gave the opportunity to check the two ponies out and see what they had been up to. They have certainly managed to eat down the rough grasses on site and have trampled the ground, helping break up the grassy root systems and hopefully allowing the seeds of other plants to get a hold. The two ponies moved calmly round from the dry northern shore to paddle and munch their way into some of the reedbed at the western pond edge, doing exactly as is wanted of them.
The calm sunny afternoon provided a rare bit of warmth and the site was a picture of serene activity. Birds paddled calmly around the ponds, particularly the eastern one; wigeon, tufted duck, goosander and a variety of other waterfowl stuck in close pairs or small groups. Overhead black-headed gulls swept quietly from west to east, a heron flapped noiselessly away and even the kestrel seemed untroubled by any need to hunt. The only thing to break the stillness was a pair of oystercatchers that swung backwards and forwards screeching, as only they can.