Any conversation in the bar at St Enodoc recently is more than likely to start with … “Have you seen what has been done down by the stream between the 5th and 15th holes …....... ?”
Whilst the scrub clearance work here and in many other places around the course has been largely welcomed by Members there have been questions as to the need for the work and the potential consequences for loss of bird habitat for example. The detailed reasoning is all to be found in the STRI Ecological reports which have been made available to Members; both the hard copies in the lower lounge and the digital versions on the website. However it has to be admitted that these documents are long and not very exciting as a bedtime read. This short piece hopefully answers some of the more common questions.
Q. Why is the scrub clearance necessary ?
A. The scrub is invasive and is not indigenous to the dunes. It was not present originally and has been allowed to spread over the years. This is obvious when the old black and white photos of the course are seen – no scrub, no trees anywhere. Natural England have been clearing scrub in the SSSI area of the dunes for several years now.
Q. Will the scrub clearance continue in future ?
A. Yes it will. STRI recommend no more than 15% total cover of scrub. However this winters programme is now complete.
Q. What about nesting birds ?
A. Our ecologist says .. “In terms of nesting birds, the presence of Skylark Alauda arvensis is of particular interest as, although relatively common within the area, this bird has undergone a dramatic decline nationwide. Skylark is now a priority species in the UK biodiversity action plans. The more tussocky species-poor fixed dune grasslands will provide breeding habitat for this bird. Areas of species-rich grassland will provide good feeding habitat for the Skylark by supporting locally important populations of butterflies and other grassland invertebrates. Scrub and gorse encroachment will, if uncontained, restrict and possibly exclude skylark and other species from utilising these grasslands. Meadow pipits (Anthus pratensis) were also noted as present during the on-site inspection, they share a similar habitat to Skylarks and are currently of amber conservation concern.”
Q. What about other animals ?
A. By increasing the amount of bare sand on the course we will encourage the endangered sand lizards and other invertebrates, these in their turn will encourage breeding birds including the song thrush, peregrine falcon and the otters.
The black and white photograph, above, taken from behind the 5th green, shows the area between the 5th and 15th holes as it was prior to WW2. If left unmanaged and left to it's own devices the scrub would eventually cover the entire course.
More photographs may be found on our Facebook page.