I hate that I do not have any photos to share, but I wanted to at least tell you about my experience yesterday at Dairy Creek Golf Course. Albert, our golf course supervisor for Dairy Creek and Morro Bay, and I took a drive around the course yesterday to check out a few fairways to see how we could reshape them to make the course a bit more user friendly. Keep your eyes peeled as these changes will be happening soon if not yesterday.
The real reason for my post today is to talk about the avian specimen that abound on the course! People that complain that golf courses ruin or destroy the environment may be somewhat correct during the construction or grow in of a golf course due to the amount of disturbances, increased watering in some instances, and the techniques to establish turf and landscaped areas. However, once established these areas can be havens for an abundance of wildlife and plant life and Dairy Creek is the perfect example.
During our drive we left our Turf Center and headed backwards on #9 cart path. At the white tee box there was a Mallard hen with her 5 ducklings grazing on the grass and enjoying the sun not far from the ponds edge. We continued across our maintenance path alongside of the tee boxes on #2 and the puddle ducks were thick on the pond's edge adjacent to the tees along with a few Egrets as well. We headed cross country from there and drove through the rough on #2, across the 7th fairway and back to the path up to the restrooms behind the 4th green where we encountered a wild turkey hen bedded down in the tall grass. Upon closer inspection she hopped up and we discovered she has a lame leg and was struggling to put some distance between herself and the two of us so we left her to rest and possibly recover from her injury. I saw this same bird on Wednesday afternoon when I was out with the turf professors, from Cal Poly, taking soil samples last week. At that point I did not notice her injury. She may make a recovery or become a source of food for a larger predator like a mountain lion or coyote and continue nature's food chain.
Albert and I stopped at the 5th tee box to examine the 5th fairway and look at ways we could reshape it to make it more attractive to the eye in hopes that more balls will end up down the middle. On this tee box I came across a gopher snake last week that was heating her body for the day ahead. We then continued towards the tee boxes on #4 and took the maintenance path over the hill to #17. This hole is looking great especially considering it has the least amount of top soil of anywhere on the course. We continued backwards on #17 to the restrooms then to our maintenance path behind #13 green to #11 tees. During this drive we passed many of our raptor perches, which were in use by many birds of prey and a few crows trying to get a look into the unmaintained tall grass areas we have across the landscape of the golf course.
Albert had me take a look at their mornings work, which was carving out a fairway on #11 approach and rough across the creek. They did a great job extending the approach into a fairway and carried the closer cut of turf up onto the mounding right of the green so that shots that hit this area would possibly carom onto the green. We took our maintenance path behind #11 towards the cart barn and came across a large group of California Quail. This group was actually a mother with her, it seemed like at least 20 chicks, scratching at the ground and then scrambling for cover in the tall areas surrounding the cart path in that area. The little guys were really small and could not have been much older that a week or two. Hopefully many will survive to increase our population of this species on the course as they provide a great food source for many predators up the food chain, which will eventually increase our population diversity.
All in all it was a great day on the course, which I relish a lot these days, since I am mostly confined to my office performing more managerial and financial tasks. As I got in my truck I was surprised that we had not seen any other turkeys than the hen near the bathrooms on #4, as we have as many as 300 wild turkeys on the property at their peak of the year. Just before I drove through the gates of the golf course I waited while two turkey hens cautiously escorted their 11 poults, baby turkeys, across the road. Ahh...the circle of life! During your next round make a point to look around and enjoy the nature that you are in and share your experiences with your non golfing friends as they may have th opinion that we are destroying the ecosystems, polluting ground water sources, and reducing our wildlife populations. Let them know that we are stewards of the environment and it they would like to chat give them my information as I very much enjoy educating people about what we do for our golfers, our community, and the wildlife which we are thrilled to share our lives.