Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012? Already?!

I am sorry for the long hiatus that included the end of 2011 and the entire first month of January 2012.  My time has predominantly been spent preparing budget documents and reports for our fiscal year 2012/13.  This process seems to encompass more elements each year and the bureaucratic process of budgeting is, well we will just say exhaustively tedious.  Everything has been submitted and I hope that is the end of budgeting until next December (fingers crossed).

My staff on the course have been equally busy.  Coots continue to keep us busy in our effort to harass them enough to leave...yeah that's not working too well.  And our staff knows about harassment as we are trained how to prevent harassment every year so we just employ the opposite tactics.  These birds are persistent and have not gotten the hint.  We have used flares, noise makers, lasers, remote controlled boats, border collies, golf carts making laps to keep them in the ponds.

Coots grazing like cattle on a golf course.
Our Central Coast Chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association recently had the pleasure of listening to Pat Gross, our Southwest representative from the USGA, present information about happenings from our region and tips about how different people are dealing with issues.  Guess what coots were on the list!  Seems like many people are experiencing record numbers of these uninvited pests.  I am not sure what their natural predators are, but from my studies in Biology and Zoology in college, the predator/prey population curve must be favoring the prey right now with predator numbers slumping as these guys are out of control.  When you call Fish and Game to inquire about help their phone line states "please do not leave more than one message ... someone will be in touch with you in 5-7 business days due to large call volumes."  Some local superintendents have been experimenting with mono filament fishing line across their ponds to deter the birds.  This has shown minimal success.  In Santa Barbara another superintendent stated that he had purchased pink construction string (it was all that was left when they went to buy string) and made a big "X" across their pond.  They are not sure if the color is unappealing to the birds or what, but this seemed to work well.  We will be experimenting with this tactic very soon.

American Coot
For those of you unaware of the type of bird I am referring to they are the puddle duck looking black bird with red eyes and white beak.  They are a migratory species that is protected by the migratory bird act and they wreak havoc on golf course turf.  They love the tender leaves of our grasses and they will devour them right down to the crown which results in the need to apply additional fertilizer or in the worst cases reseed.  The worst result may be for health reasons as these birds will drop up to 4 ounces of feces per bird per day.  We have estimated that we have had as many as 2000 birds at any given time ... that's 500 pounds of bird crap per day!!  Most of this ends up around or on our greens as they love these tender leaf blades that are more easily digested.  The end result is something that is not extremely ideal for our golfers or my staff.  Rest assured that we are constantly trying to get rid of these birds so stay tuned.  Luckily their nesting season will be over soon and they will be off to cause trouble somewhere else.


  1. Their departure cannot come too soon for me. How come the coyotes that I saw recently at Dairy aren't doing a better job.

  2. Coyotes are not typically hunters, but rather scavengers. Our Mountain Lions don't find the birds worth their time as it would probably take 5 or 6 to make a meal and probably not a good one at that.