Wednesday, 10 February 2016

A Winter Feast for New Forest Ponies

Every winter there are tree works as part of the management of the New Forest. The Electricity Board tree surgeons have been pollarding and clearing branches or trees that are growing dangerously near to overhead power lines. Piles of pollarded holly have been left for the ponies and deer to eat.

They enjoy leaves and branches .....

....and the sweet bark of mature holly trees.

A good, thick moustashe helps when eating holly and gorse.

A group of ponies have been following the tree surgeons around, waiting for the spoils of their work.

Strong teeth and tough gums are essential.

Bark is patiently scraped and chewed from logs of beech and holly....

....but the tougher bark of oak has less appeal.

Out in the rusty bracken, groups of ponies are finding sweet shoots of gorse to eat.

By evening, they will have wandered away, leaving the piles of holly and logs to shy roe deer who come to the heathland edge to feed at dusk.

This young pony was looking for her grey mother. Soon they had found each other and joined their family group as the ponies wandered off, through long established tracks across the heath.