Staff at WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre are hoping some unlikely visitors will help them attract more breeding lapwings – a bird that is now red-listed due to its decline. And who are these visitors? Six Shetland sheep!
These native breed of sheep, originally from the Shetland islands are now residents on islands in the Millennium Wetlands reserve where they will stay for at least six months. They will act as living lawnmowers, keeping the islands attractive for breeding waders such as Lapwings that have declined both locally and nationally.
Senior Reserve Warden Brian Briggs said: “We are delighted to welcome these hardy little sheep and had great fun getting them safely to the main island in our deep water lake area, one by one, by boat! We hope that by munching away they will prevent the island from gradually turning into scrub and woodland, and help us to maintain a range of vegetation for the benefit of wetland wildlife including Watervoles, Dragonflies and Wading birds. Visitors will be able to spot them from the Heron’s Wing hide.”
The arrival and locating of the sheep on the islands was filmed by ITV and will feature on the channel’s Coast & Country programme within the next few weeks.
The sheep will soon be joined by Dexter Cattle, in a neighbouring part of the reserve called the Western Scrapes. Like the sheep, these animals are well suited for grazing on nature reserves keeping the marshy grasslands in good condition for a wide range of wildlife and plants.
For those interested in exploring the reserve at WWT Llanelli further there are a series of special monthly Walk with a Warden sessions on Sat 13 May, Thur 8 June and Sat 8 July at 11am, lasting approximately an hour and a half.