Having started at Hunley on the 30th of June as an “environmental officer”- this title being new to all of us, it was tricky to get ideas of what I should be doing to fulfil the role and make the most of my time here. Before my employment I had read a few of Greg’s blog posts to familiarise myself with the kind of tasks I would be doing on the course. I caught up with the situation regarding Crane Fly larvae damaging the greens and plans of putting up bird boxes for starlings that could feed on them without damaging the turf.
For the first few days I began learning about the different plant life surrounding the course by using a phone app called Pl@ntNet and compiled my findings in a spreadsheet complete with research on what each species provides for the local wildlife. This ultimately helped me get a clearer understanding of where to find certain species of plants, how they grow, what kind of animals and insects they attract. Noting down each species also helped me understand which areas on the course were perhaps lacking in biodiversity and needed more attention.
I’m also occupying myself by taking what I’ve learned about individual plant species and posting about them on Instagram (@sustainability_at_hunley) to spread awareness of the importance of our natural landscape to others- whether these posts reach locals who visit the golf course or international followers with an interest in wildlife and biodiversity, my goal is to make the general public aware of why we have to respect what’s left of the natural environment and make sure that we protect it and keep it thriving for years to come.
I’ve tested the ponds dotted around the golf course to see if there are any traces of pollutants to worry about and I’m pleased to say that the results show that there are no traces of nitrates and nitrites in the water, which means there are no pollutants running off the course and into the water sources. Additionally, the pH balance of the water is confirmed to be 7, which is neutral. The pH levels of freshwater sources are important to plant and animal life, as most animal species can’t survive if the water is too acidic (generally below 5.0) or too alkalic (above 9.0).
It was great to have the Wildlife Trust come and show me how to make bird boxes and subsoquently I’ve made 10 of my own (see header image) and placed them in the patch of woodland, marked “Habitat 9” (we have 36 specific areas mapped out on the course) to help combat the decline of natural nesting sites. I’m hoping to spot some birds taking up residence soon as the bird nesting season ends in August. This can be weather dependent and some birds can nest outside this period so I’ll be keeping an eye out regardless. The entrance hole sizes are 32mm which is ideal for Tree Sparrows, Great Tits and Nuthatches – I’m hoping to make boxes more suitable for Starlings as mentioned at the start of this blog, the Starlings would help control the Crane Fly larvae damaging the greens.
As someone who’s had very little involvement in ecology work in the past it’s odd starting out in a job where you have free reign to look around your environment taking pictures, making notes and ultimately deciding on ways to change it for the better. I’m taking every day one step at a time and ensuring my decisions are well-informed in my effort to make a more biodiverse and welcoming environment on the golf course and its surroundings.