Horticulture Apprentice Helps Wildlife!

Wednesday 1 September, 2021
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One of KEITS' apprentices, Adam, who's based at Weybrook Golf Club in Basingstoke has set out to help and promote the wildlife around the course!

We caught up with Adam to find out what he's been up to:

"Weybrook wildlife and conservation projects.

I had been preparing things around the course on the lead up to spring/summer time this year. I started by making signs for Toads, Frogs, Ivy Bees Skylarks and nesting birds and putting them in the relevant areas of conservation and also in the club house, to inform and educate golfers of the wildlife we have around the golf course, especially the protected species. I also have a wildlife gallery up in the clubhouse to show what wildlife we have thriving on our course. I attempted to grow a small wild flower area on a part of the course pre-spring season but unfortunately it hasn't taken this year but plans on huge wild flower projects are in the pipeline in the near future. I have put up 12 small bird boxes up around the course and also a home made swift box that I have situated on our equipment shed this spring and am planning on putting up many more. The main project I have been working on is protecting the ground nesting birds, the Skylarks, I've situated a large Skylark protection area on the course and put signs next to the rough areas where I know they are nesting. I have monitored the skylarks for the passed few years and found specific areas where they like to spend most of their time. I have roped off a large area of the course that will stop anybody walking or driving through it, these specific areas of the course will not be cut until after the nesting season has finished at the end of August. I have already found an active Skylark nest that currently has three eggs inside and I'm sure there are many more. We have just built a new 9-hole course to add to the original playing 18 we have already, opening day was 26/06/21 and we are already looking for ways to increase the biodiversity around the new course. There is a recently established pond on the new course, which has already attracted lots of aquatic life and it is where I situated the duck house I had made. Due to the recent development of the new course, we have haven’t had the budget to do the environmental projects we would like to have done but now that we have finished building the new course, looking ahead, our focus is now fully on environmental projects.

Every spring, the House Martins return to the greenkeepers yard to collect nesting material from the ground. I make sure the ground is soaked on those dry days, to help them with collecting the wet mud and grass they need for their nest building and they take advantage of this every year. Whenever I find birds nests which has been on many occasions now, I have made signs and put them up to stop any disturbance of the nest and if any nests are made inside a vehicle, those vehicles are strictly not used until nesting period is over. We are leaving more areas to grow wild through the spring and summer periods to encourage wild flowers to grow and to extend on those natural wild flower areas. We have recently purchased a moisture reader that has reduced the water usage we use around the course. Previous to this, the sprinklers would come on automatically in regular cycles but since purchasing this equipment we have been testing the greens of their moisture levels first and only watering them if necessary, which has already reduced the amount of water we are using. We are continuously trying to find ways to become more environmentally friendly and to attract more wildlife to our golf course. We have made a big Insect hotel out on the course out of logs from chopped up trees, instead of burning them, we have put them to good use.

The course is surrounded by farmlands and that attracts a wide range of wildlife to the course itself. There are lots of different habitats around the course to support wildlife. We have 5 ponds on the course, which are home to many different species, like frogs, toads, smooth newts, a various species of dragonflies and damselflies and many different bird species. The huge amounts of long rough areas are home to a massive increase of Brown Hares and birds due to leaving these areas untouched. There are certain areas of rough that are naturally growing wild flowers, which are attracting butterflies, bees and a varied range of other insects. Wild Roe Deer freely roam the course but tend to spend most of there time in dense the well established plantation areas. I have on occasions set up camera traps in areas of interest and caught Foxes and Badgers using the course after hours. I have found a fox den in the past and Hare and Rabbit holes in the well-established plantation areas. I have not found any Badger sets on the course but believe they are situated in the surrounding farmlands and they come and use the course at night. There are bird feeders are up in the yard that attracts many different birds. I have made an owl box that I was a little late putting up but is now up ready for next year and a plan to make more nest boxes for different species for next year. I know we have resident bats around the course and putting bat boxes up is in near future plans.

An injured animal is something that I just can not ignore. On numerous occasions I have had to stop work to tend to animals in need. I have helped many animals like, a fox cub, leverets, frogs, toads and many different birds. Depending on the condition and situation, a few times I have had to take them to local wildlife rescue centres but sometime its been a simple rescue release.

My Manager, Sam Moss, and myself have very much the same outlook on future environmental plans for the club. I communicate everything I do with my manager, who is always helpful and completely on board with anything and everything to improve the diversity on the course and I externally share everything I do through my social media platforms (@madashots_wildlifenature)"

Thank you for all your hard work Adam and for sharing your story with us.

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