WALKERS who visit a County Durham nature reserve will share their stomping ground with three Highland cattle which have temporarily moved in.

The yearlings have been introduced to Ferryhill Carrs Local Nature Reserve, on the edge of Ferryhill, to graze on the rough scrub and grasslands.

As they are happy to eat most plants they will clear parts of the 200acre site of aggressive vegetation to encourage wildflowers such as yellow rattle and birdsfoot trefoil to grow, in turn supporting insect and birdlife.

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Part of the nature reserve is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and managed by Natural England and the rest is managed by Durham County Council.

The council received funding from SITA, which supports environmental and community projects, to bring the cattle from their usual home at Waldridge, near Chester-le-Street, to Ferryhill and to install fences at the site.

Countryside ranger, John Olley, said: “They are nature’s lawnmowers, this is their first year on the grasslands at Ferryhill Carrs and they’ll encourage wild meadow flowers, which supports the food chain.

“It may take a few years but we want to see more wildlife down here like amphibians, butterflies and birds on the grasslands and wetlands.

“The public do and can also get involved by volunteering when we have community days.”

Volunteer countryside ranger, Tom Binks, who spends at least one day a week on conservation projects such as litter picking, scrub clearance and path maintenance, added: “They are beautiful animals to see at the Carrs.”