Course Ecology Statement
|The 18 hole private members only course was founded in 1890. Nine
holes were taken over for agriculture to aid the 1st World War effort
and it was not until May 1993 the Course returned to 18 holes and was
officially opened by John Jacobs.
The course is situated on chalk downland and has been designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) by Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre and Unique and Superb by the Hampshire & I.O.W. Wildlife Trust.
Large parts of the rough areas are extremely rare downland as there is good reason to believe they have not been ploughed for centuries and therefore hold several species of flora which are rare and restricted to old downland and are comparable to the largest downland SSSI/LNR site in the county.
The course itself is renowned for its excellent fast greens and manicured fairways. However large natural, unspoilt areas mentioned above have been neglected over recent years and as such have become populated by many oak saplings (scrub) and coarser grasses. These areas were traditionally grazed by sheep which prevented the area becoming overgrown and was therefore home to a variety of flora and fauna.
After discussions with Hampshire & I.O.W Wildlife Trust a plan to return this area to its more traditional aspect has been agreed. The small trees and scrub will be removed and the grass cut in the autumn on an annual basis and removed for composting together with the large quantity of fallen leaves from other areas of the course. The compost will be used at a later date on the course. Although the new programme has only been in action for 18 months an immediate improvement can be seen in the return of some of the flowers. At different times of the year there are colonies of Cowslips, Rock Rose, Salad Burnet, Yarrow, Bulbous Buttercup, Ladies Bedstraw, Crested Hair Grass, Toadflax amongst others. Purple shades are represented by a variety of thistles, one of which is sweetly perfumed, Knapweed and Scabious.
Where vegetation is short, besides Cowslips and Rock Rose, there is Germander Speedwell, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Milkwort, Vetches, Self Heal, Thyme and Harebell.
Nearer trees there are various Violets and some Wood Anemone whereas at the northern end of the short game course area there was an abundance of tiny Violas in 2010.
It is known the area contains 99 varieties of grassland and woodland species with Bastard Toadflax (nationally scarce) and Heath Dog Violet (county scarce). For the keen botanists, the club holds lists of the many species recorded in 1991 and 2001 showing common and Latin names. Many of the species of flowers mentioned provide nectar for butterflies or food for larvae. Greater Knapweed, for example, is a useful nectar source late in the summer. Some nectar sources we have are Cowslips, Violets and Dandelions in spring and Knapweed, Scabious and Marjoram in summer. Native grasses will support species like Meadow Brown and Marbled White.
Areas near the by-pass have nettles which are the larval food of Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma. A few brambles provide hibernation sites for the Brimstone.
Butterflies need sun, shelter and food. Small shrubs provide shelter. The golf course provides admirable shelter by having a good mix of uncut and cut areas. Butterflies like to breed at the margin of cut and uncut vegetation.
The course is fortunate to have a large boundary of hedges, onto arable farmland, which include Hawthorn and Blackthorn providing excellent nesting sites for the small birds.
Another part of the course is bordered by ancient woodland, Hassock’s Copse, and provides excellent habitat for a large variety of woodland birds.
Birds seen on the course include:
Buzzards, Red Kite, Kestrel, Owls including Barn Owl and Tawny Owl, Green/Greater & Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Yellow Hammer, Goldfinch, Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff, Meadow Pipit, Wagtails, Blue Tit, Blackbird, etc.
Two years ago 20 bird boxes were strategically placed around the course and were all well used. A hole has been made in a barn on the course as Barn Owls have been seen nesting elsewhere on the course.
On the course itself there are a wide variety of trees including Rowan, Ash, Beech, Birch, Holly and Oak trees some over 200 hundred years old.
The Oak and Birch are nesting sites for Green Woodpeckers which are plentiful and a very attractive sight with their red heads, green colouring and vivid splash of yellow as they fly away. This woodpecker is also known as Yaffle for its laughing call, or Rainbird or Popinjay. An old belief is that its call presages rain.
Dawn Patrollers may also be fortunate to see deer and foxes and the frequent sightings of birds of prey shows a good supply of small mammals and invertebrates.
10th February 2011