Finding Food in the Frost

Monday, January 8th 2018

Yesterday was a busy day day at Foxglove Covert with around 40 visitors to the Reserve.  Today promised to be another good day, starting with a very heavy frost which attracted visitors throughout the day, but making it more difficult to find food.  Lark and Taurus did their normal ritual of standing next to the Wetland Hide to catch the first rays of the sun before moving on to browse the Gorse.  Watching Lark at work showed that he needed to break and bruise the plant first by stamping on it before eating it.  Taurus had no such inhibitions and was tearing off lumps to eat.

Clearly the frost took a long time to clear, covering much of the Reserve with ice.  There were several family groups walking round just to admire the views before making use of the faciilities in the Field Centre, and we had at least 16 visitors today, many saying that this was their first visit and they would be coming back soon.  

Here some were treated to the views from the camera on the Wetland Hide which had caught our attention as there was a tall thin line which was not normally there and which then moved to show itself as a Grey Heron.  Focusing on the bird showed interesting behaviour when it first noticed the ponies.  Initially both were wary of each other, but then the Heron seemed to start stalking them.  The picture below is taken of the Field Centre screen, so is a little bit blurred, but shows the bird making its way over to start feeding between Lark and Taurus, and it seemed to be working over areas that they had just been either walking or feeding on.

Going to check how the bonfire had settled over at the Bullet Catcher from the Worky Day on Saturday showed it was still glowing and so a quick raking in of wood that had not caught fire meant that this could now be burnt as well.  Again, a bird arrived to join in with the activity, with a Robin almost going into the fire to see if there was anything to eat.

Towards the end of the day, Susanna of the Yorkshire Exmoor Ponies Trust came to check on Lark and Taurus.  It was decided that they should move from the Wetland to the Moorland.  Thankfully, both know Susanna, so there was little difficulty in her catching them and getting head collars on.

They moved over quietly before cantering off to explore their new surroundings.  Lark discovered that there were sheep the other side of the fence and gave them a meaningful stare before settling to graze.  They have plenty to eat in the Moorland, and a good supply of running water, so we are putting signs up asking visitors to keep dogs on leads and not to feed them.


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