Sickleholme Nature Notes - March

Sickleholme Nature Notes

In the end March turned out to be another frustrating month for both golfers and wildlife, with periods of milder weather suggesting the arrival of Spring, before wet or cold conditions intervened again. A few Daisies did appear, and I found small patches of Coltsfoot along the southern end of the course, but overall the only significant colour came from the introduced Daffodils and heathers. Buds were, however, apparent on the shrubs and hedgerows so hopefully, it is only a matter of time and a little warmth now.

Most reports related to birds. The clubhouse feeders remained quite busy and many species had commenced prolonged birdsong as the males endeavoured to attract a mate or protect territories. Robins and Dunnocks, together with Blackbirds and the other thrush species, were the most obvious songsters but amongst the conifer trees there was the near constant buzz of Siskin and this species is clearly in good numbers across the course. Hopefully, April will reveal our small population of Lesser Redpoll which nest in similar areas. One further report from a member was of a Treecreeper near the 2nd tee. I haven’t seen one on the course myself recently but this is typical habitat and a nice record.

Most of my personal highlights came during the B team warm up on 29th. Off the 3rd fairway, six Jackdaws fought over a nest hole and as we passed one had an opponent pinned to the ground, so vigorous was the contest.  As we reached the 9th tee, we were then serenaded by a dozen Curlew which were in display before landing in the field north of the tee for a feed. The call of the Curlew is surely one of the most atmospheric in nature. The biggest surprise, however, was of a pair of Mandarin Duck which were seen several times at low altitude as they looked for a nest site. Despite being reasonably common along our rivers, they nest in tree holes and often well away from the water. The photo image with this script shows a pair with the male being the more colourful of the two. It was once well described as “looking as if designed by an art class with sails instead of wings”.

Let’s just hope for warmer and drier weather in April together with a lot more golf and wildlife for us to enjoy.

Bryan Barnacle