Exmoor Ponies in Conservation Newsletter

Issue 2 Article 13

Swedish storks

Ill try to tell something about our grazing land. The site is some kind of meadow, the soil is sand. It's very flat with just a few trees. It's often quite windy. Only some kilometres away we have forests. I can go there by horse in 20 minutes without using real roads, just crossing one when I ride from our farm. More than 100 years ago a lot of frogs and birds were living here, but when the farmers started to make ditches, some of them nearly disappeared.

One of them, the Stork bird was nearly extinct. To rescue it the Society for Nature Protection started a special Stork reserve not far from us.

In Spring/Summer we will see them flying and walking close to our farm. These birds are eating the frogs, but are also looking for feed where there are animals like cows and horses. Before it was common having them walking after the plough. The storks build their nests up on roofs and at our stable roof the Stork Reserve people have put an iron "thing" to make it easier for the stork to build nests.

As well as storks we have other rare birds and frogs. Every weekend you can see enthusiasts (mostly Germans) with binoculars watching the birds from some distance. The reserve is open for everyone between September and March. Rest of the year it's closed to protect the birds when they have babies. However, it's always open for us in the village, if we don't have dogs running loose. Larger parts are surrounded by fences due to sheep, ponies and cattle which are grazing there in summer.

The climate in my part of Sweden is similar to the British, but a little colder. Very often fog and rain, compared to other parts in our country, but still not as much as in GB. In winter it's alternating between that and shorter periods of cold and icy weather. The Society for Nature Protection is one Society, which works with conservation. WWF are also carrying out some work in Sweden. The State has a Nature Authority, which works is based upon Government money. This Authority is actually the owner of our reserve here, but the earlier Society mentioned above are responsible for the storks and therefore also for looking after the land.

I'm deworming my horses regularly. At the Swedish Veterinary Laboratory in Uppsala they have made a study regarding deworming. It started up because we had a situation a few years ago, when all the stuff on the market was useless except Ivermectin and one other old trademark. The vets then came with a recommendation. This means every second year only Ivermectin, the other year Ivermectin in November and the other sort rest of the year. I bring the ponies in when I use ivermectin. The intervals they recommend is: all horses in November and in May before you let them out on the summer pasture. Repeat in August. Young horses are also dewormed in late January.

One problem is that people seem to believe that deworming is a bit like a vaccination, so they are not rotating the horses, using the same very small paddocks or fields in Summer and Winter with too many horses an acre.

The ponies are doing well in their fields. One field we discovered is so harsh with not much grass, so we had to move the ponies after only a few days. For the moment it's not so many storks, but just 2 weeks ago we had 8 at the field next to the ponies. To our amusement we have found that the rarest frog in Sweden lives here. It's the "onion frog" (directly translated into English). This frog likes to hide under sand or soil in the days, so it's easily killed by, for example, tractors. Next years we will make a big pond to help the frogs. We shall ask the Society for Nature Protection how to do it the best way.

The Exmoor pony is still quite unknown in Sweden, something I'm doing my best to change!

by Lotti Zetterberg, Ilstorp, Sweden.