Wellow field transformed into natural haven
Conservationist Frank Shellard has imported four rugged little ponies from the top of Exmoor to help him transform a field near Wellow into a small patch of natural England.
Mr Shellard, one of the owners of Wellow Trekking Centre, is determined to do his best to help keep the balance of nature just right and encourage wildlife to flourish.
His mission is to help conserve the bell flower, rare in other parts of South West England but which grows on the aptly named Bell Flower Hill, near Wellow.
The ponies help graze the field to the right stage for the wild flowers to flourish.
Mr Shellard said: "The ponies enjoy rough grazing and they keep the grass to just the right level to create the conditions for the flowers. We rotate them with the sheep and cattle. Conservation is not just about leaving the ground but looking after it and this is what we try to do here."
The field is cultivated as part of a higher level stewardship conservation scheme with the aim of not only creating the perfect conditions for wildflowers but getting the environment right for the bat population.
With old railway tunnels and quarry workings for them to roost in nearby, Mr Shellard is also encouraging good foraging conditions for greater horseshoe bats. Hedges are left high and the land has organic Soil Association registration.
He said: "We do all we can to create a foraging area so that bats can come in and find the bugs they need to eat. Bats have huge importance for the ecology of the area and its all about getting the balances just right. Each species plays its part in the order."
With this in mind Mr Shellard has also introduced a colony of bees to the field to help with pollination.
He said: "It is important that we encourage all these things to flourish and I like to think it is about creating a small piece of natural England."