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Golf Course Wildlife News Update

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

The wildlife recently on the golf course has been nothing short of outstanding, The birds in particular have been the star attractions.

Ravens in previous years at the golf course have not been very common with the odd 1 or 2 birds being seen and not that often but in early March on John o Gaunt Course they could often be seen flying around summer hill area, their noisy cronking call probably what draws your attention first, distinguishing it from other crows apart from its much larger size and wedge shape tail. I had received reports of 4 Ravens on several occasions which is amazing but on 19th March I surpassed that with 6 being seen on Carthagena which simply defies belief, the most number of Ravens I have ever seen together anywhere ever and it was right here at John o Gaunt!

How do things get better than that?

On the 15th March while checking my bird boxes on Carth, my attention was drawn to shouts of Osprey from a member and his wife walking down 18th fairway, I started back peddling very quickly looking up (with binoculars) to see a distant Osprey flying down the 9th fairway on John o Gaunt course. A summer migrant returning from Africa possibly on route to Scotland. Coincidently, the first Osprey returned to Rutland Water 2 days later, maybe it was the same bird that flew over the golf course?

During March Red Kites and Buzzards were being seen much more frequently so it was only a matter of time before there were issues with the Ravens as all the birds seem to be hanging around the same area. On the 18th March, I watched a Raven attacking a Female Buzzard over the 9th fairway John o Gaunt course, the Buzzard had enough and flew off, the same Raven then went after the Male Buzzard and saw that off. Amazing sight, a Raven mobbing a Buzzard, didn't think i would see that at the Golf Club but then 10 mins later while stood in the yard I watched 2 Red Kites and a Raven having an arguement flying low over the buildings and the practice area, quite simply an outstanding morning.

John o Gaunt just keeps on surprising, On the 21st March a member reported seeing a Great White Egret flying over the course. A close relative of our common Grey Heron and a similar size, It was once quite a rare bird in the UK but now breeds in some places and sightings are increasing in Bedfordshire.

With birds seeming to be top of the agenda of sightings recently, you could be forgiven for thinking there isn't anything else out there but you would be wrong:

Down by the brook I usually have a trail camera set up under one of the bridges. Twice recently I have seen Otter on camera, this is the first time since April 2020, good to know it is still in the area.

There have been several new species for the club apart from the Egret. The weather has not been ideal for Moth trapping recently but I have managed 3 new species for the club, 2 came to a light trap in March, (Dotted Chestnut & Dotted Border) and 1 (Pammene giganteana) came to a pheromone lure on 13th April. This particular moth is a small micro moth with a wing span of just 14-16mm.

I mentioned the increasing sightings of Red Kite earlier, a pair have been showing very well recently with up to 3 birds present on occasions. Its looking like they might nest which would be fantastic so watch this space. Updates in a few months.

More good news goes to yet another new species for the club and another bird. A Hawfinch was seen flying into the wood on the edge of Carthagena course on 14th April.

The Hawfinch is a member of the Finch family, It is colourful with an orange head and other colours (Black, Blue, Brown, Cream, Grey and White) on its feathers. it has a big powerful beak and is on the Red list of conservation concern in the UK. A really good record for the site.

Check out the RSPB site for more info on the Hawfinch:

It should be warming up over the next month (fingers crossed) and more summer migrants should be around, Chiffchaff and Blackcap have already arrived and are around on both courses. Other birds I would expect to see/hear over the coming month include: Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Swift, Garden Warbler, Cuckoo and Whitethroat. Butterfly sightings should increase too, I have seen Brimstone recently, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell too but have yet to see my first Orange Tip.

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