1. ITV Report

'Living lawnmowers' to attract bird life to wetlands centre

The first of the Shetland sheep takes to the water. Photo: WWT Llanelli

Staff at WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre are hoping six Shetland sheep will help them attract more breeding lapwings – a bird that is now red-listed because of its decline.

They say the 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.

The operation was filmed by ITV Wales. Credit: WWT Llanelli

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.

– Brian Briggs, Senior Reserve Warden

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.