The recent stormy weather has taken its toll on many sea birds off our coast. The rough sea has made it hard for the birds to find food and the high winds have resulted in many becoming exhausted. Over the last couple of weeks there have been numerous reports of guillemots stranded on both Montrose beach and St Cyrus nature reserve.
This morning two of the greenstaff came across this one in a bunker on the 18th Medal hole. Although it looked healthy and good condition it was obviously in some distress. We called the SSPCA, who later came out and collected the bird. They said that they were caring for a number of guillemots and our one would be assessed and once back to full fitness would be released back into the wild at the coast.
If anyone spots one in difficulty out on the courses it would be appreciated if they could contact a member of staff or call the SSPCA directly.
Part one of of our winter work programme (November / December). Below is an update of some of the work that has been carried out so far.
As part of the gorse management programme a number of bushes have been removed from around the courses.
So far we have been working on areas to the right of the 2nd close to the dune edge, these bushes were creating cover for rabbits with a number of active burrows identified.
The carry at the 5th where patches of heather were suffering due to competition from the more dominant gorse and broom bushes.
Broom competing with heather.
More small stands of gorse that were compromising the heather at the 5th Medal.
Photo showing 5th with gorse removed.
Areas at the 4th and 7th on the Medal have also be tackled with the burnt gorse to the right of the 7th tee removed using a chainsaw together with the Viper chipper, that we have borrowed from Carnoustie Links.
Clearing gorse at the 7th tee, with the chipper in the foreground.
We have also been using a JCB to remove clumps of gorse from around both courses, a number of the areas that are in play have been re-turfed.
The JCB removing a clump of gorse from behind 5th Broomfield green.
The following bunkers have been rebuilt on the Medal course, the 1st greenside, the 7th fairway and 2 bunkers on the 18th.
1st greenside bunker.
7th fairway bunker.
18th fairway bunker.
18th greenside bunker.
The Astro turf at the 1st Medal tee has been extended, the walk-on area suffered from excessive wear and has been re-turfed on numerous occasions in the past.
Worn area at the 1st Medal tee removed and ready for astro turf.
Astro turf down and signs back in position.
A number of path ends also suffer from wear and these are being addressed by installing rubber matting. Turf is laid in the usual manner and the matting put down on top. The matting is designed to allow the turf grow through it and protect the crown of the plant. In time the matting will be hidden by the grass cover.
Worn area at 4th Medal dug out and ready to be re-turfed.
Area re-turfed and matting laid down.
Path end at 11th Medal with matting installed.
Now that rock armour has been moved to help protect the area leading from the 2nd Medal tee to the fairway, work has taken place to reinstate the path. Once the work had been carried out Astro-turf that we received from Montrose fc was laid down over the full length of the path.
The new astro-turf path leading towards the 2nd Medal fairway. Sand has been
spread on top and will be brushed in to help wear resistance.
We have started to remove the old astro turf at the 9th Medal tee which was ripped in places. The plan here again is to install the Astro turf along the full length of the path.
Removing the old astro turf at the 9th Mdal tee. Open sand area
An area at 8th Medal white tee is in the process of being made into an open sand area. Last year we cleared the gorse in front of the tee and Sophie Vukelic (Ecologist) from the Sports Turf Research Institute said we should consider creating this valuable habitat. All the dead organic matter that has built up over the years will be removed to leave clean sand, this will then be shaped and clumps of marram grass introduced to break up the edges.
Gorse cleared last year.
Scraping away the old organic matter.
Creating the open sand area.
All the stands of pine trees around the Broomfield have been limbed up as many of the branches were hanging down cose to ground level.
Prior to limbing up.
After Limbing up.
Removing the lower limbs is important when trees are close to greens and tees as it lets in more light and aids air movement over the turf. This in turn helps prevent the surfaces remaining damp during autumn and winter which could lead to fungal disease outbreaks.
Improved light and air movement around the 17th Broomfield green.
Greens on both courses have been hollow cored. This is the first time in a number of years that this operation has been undertaken and was carried out due to an increase of thatch in the top 40mm of the soil profile. Thatch which is dead organic matter can lead to soft water retentive greens and are not the characteristics we are aiming for. Combining hollow coring and our other aeration work with sand topdressings will help combat this problem and should result in firmer, healthier and more receptive greens
All the greens and tees on both courses have been verti-drained down to a depth of 8 inches. Walk off areas between greens and tees, tees and fairways has started and will continue over the coming months. This operation is carried out to relieve compaction and aid drainage.
Verti-draining the 13th Medal green
The system has been shut down for the winter with all pumps drained and pipework valves opened to allow water to drain away. This should help protect the system if we suffer periods of hard frost.
Sean our mechanic has been busy servicing our large fleet of machinery, he is also in the middle of sharpening all the cylinders and bottom blades from our ride on mowers. Liam one of our green staff has been helping him out, as and when he requires assistance. Sean also has to deal with any day to day machinery faults and breakdowns.
Sean and Liam servicing one of our Toro ride on mowers.
Sean checking one of the cutting units.
Hopefully this update has been of interest and highlights some of the work that has been taking place over the first half of the winter. I will post a second winter update around mid March describing further work that has been carried out on the Links.
We have recently enlisted the help of 2 local wildlife experts. Initially Russell Nisbet, a recently retired Wildlife Ranger was asked if he would be interested in carrying out some survey work. Happily he agreed and over the summer months he visited the golf courses a number of times and submitted his sightings, many of which were not on our original species lists.
Through Russell I was introduced to Paul Brooks who carries out a lot of Moth trapping work around Angus. Again it was great to hear that he was keen to carry out work on the golf courses.
Paul's first visit was on Friday 13th October when he set up two lamp traps. The lamps were situated on the Broomfield course, to the rear of the 7th green.
Paul examining one of the moths that were caught.
Paul with Russell, who joined us on the night.
Although nearing the end of the trapping season a good variety of moths were caught, two of which Paul was very happy to see.
Merveille du Jour,
( Griposia aprilina )
( Agrotis ipsilon )
The plan is for Paul to carry out a number of trappings over the the next 12 months. He will vary the locations of the traps and this should give us an accurate idea of what species are present over the two courses.
If you were to ask which bird would be most associated with Montrose Links then the Skylark would be one of those at the top of the list. We have good numbers that appear to be thriving, with the birds likely to be seen on many of the holes. Their characteristic song can often be heard as they hover high overhead.
We are very lucky to have such a good population, as nationally they are decreasing in numbers with a decline of over 50% in the last 25 years. The Skylark is on the Birds of Conservation "Red List" as giving cause for concern for their future.
One of the many Skylarks that can be seen on the golf courses.
We are very aware of the need to ensure that we protect the habitat that these birds require. Our grassland management policy takes this into account. We aim to leave all out of play grassland as ecology rough which provides homes and cover for many small mammals and provides nest sites for a number of ground nesting birds including the Skylark. Areas of rough that caused concern for golfers last year were cut back in autumn. The aim of cutting back these areas early was to deter birds from nesting there, allowing us to mow again without the fear of destroying any nests.
Skylarks nest in the rough close to the 1st Medal hole.
Skylark chicks in a nest to the right of the 17th Medal fairway.
We are in the middle of the nesting season and the nests shown above are only 2 of many that will be hidden within the tussocks of the rough grassland.This is one of the reasons that we ask that ride on golf buggies are not driven through the rough but are kept to cut areas of the courses.
Due to the ongoing coastal erosion and the need to safeguard the 1st green and 2nd tees, which were very much under threat, the decision was made to move the rocks protecting the 3rd tees and move them to help protect the 1st and 2nd. Although not ideal as it meant sacrificing the 3rd tee, it was the only option available to MGLL at the time.
Below is a photo gallery of the work carried out to create the new tee complex.
The existing top tee eroding away.
The view from the site of new bottom tee prior to work being carried out..
View from the site of the top tee prior to work being carried out.
Removing turf from the old winter tee.
Post going in to mark the boundary of the new tees.
JCB levelling the site.
Looking towards the 3rd green.
3rd green in the distance.
Sub soil roughly levelled.
Irrigation pipework being installed.
The first section levelled with root zone.
Ongoing levelling work.
Top tee levelled.
Turfing progressing well.
Tee nearing completion.
View of the completed lower tee.
Top tee complete.
Topdressing surfaces with sand.
Sprinklers in use for the first time.
The work that has been carried to create a new tee complex together with the extra rock protection at the 2nd tees will ensure that golf can continue to be played over these opening holes. However this is not a long term solution but it will give us a bit of time, with the hope that something more permanent can be undertaken to stop the erosion that is eating into our historic links.