Hares live in open countryside and feed on a varied diet of herbs, grasses, cereal and root crops. A golf course with extensive areas of long grass makes an ideal habitat for them.
Unfortunately the brown hare population has reduced over the last 100 years. This has been due mainly to a decline in traditional mixed farming along with a change in the law, which has allowed farmers to shoot them. In addition it is thought that the increase in buzzard numbers has made the leverets more vulnerable.
With speeds of up to 45mph, hares are the fastest land animals in the UK and escape their main predators, foxes and buzzards, by running. They breed from January to October. The description of “mad March hares” boxing is actually unreceptive females fending off males. The young are fairly independent from birth, hiding in shallow depressions in the grass, known as forms. Initially they are fed once a day, at sunset, by their mother.
In 2006, the Cheshire Wildlife Trust's Bat Group visited the course to do a bat survey. Accompanied by a handful of interested Members and armed with bat detectors, they set off at dusk and walked around Waverton Gorse and across to Guy Lane Farm. The bat detectors pick up the bats' signals, which are at too high a frequency for the human ear, and reproduce them so that they become audible. The frequency of the original signal indicates the species of bat.
The Group detected two species: soprano pipistrelles and noctules. Pipistrelles are the most abundant and widespread bat in Britain and also the smallest: they usually roost in buildings. Noctules are one of the largest British bats but in spite of their strong flying capability they are confined to England and Wales: they are mostly tree dwellers.
The owner of Guy Lane Farm told us he had a roost of bats in his buildings: the detectors told us they were pipistrelles.
Three bat boxes have been set up on the right hand side of the 5th fairway.
Badger activity is commonplace on the course as there is a main sett underneath the large boundary oak tree behind the 4th tee. Their favorite areas on the golf course for foraging are behind the 3rd green, alongside and behind the 7th green, and behind the 6th green. They have also caused damage to the right hand side of the 12th green and the immediate area around both tees on the first hole. Luckily they tend to keep their rooting to areas in the cut rough, mostly staying away from fine turf areas.
Damage from rooting is most common during the winter months, with clear and frosty evenings being most popular. There is less damage during the summer as the clay profile in the rough firms up and the worms delve deeper looking for richer pickings elsewhere.
It is an offence to kill a badger or to interfere with a sett.
Foxes are occasionally seen on the course.
Most mole activity occurs on the front nine, the outer holes on the course. The moles ‘work’ their way in from the land surrounding the clubs boundary with popular areas being the left hand side of the 2nd hole, left hand side of the 8th hole, behind the 6th green and the deep rough area to the left of the 4th/5th tees. Mole activity is rare on the inner loop of holes, with sporadic molehills popping up along the ditch line.
Mole activity is however not a big problem on the course and the moles are controlled by trapping. Most activity occurs from late February to May as this is their breeding season.
Numerous voles and shrews can be seen on the course within the long grass: these small mammals are an important feed source for barn owls and other raptors.
|CONTENT HERE - THIS COLUMN WILL APPEAR IN THE SIDEBAR|