Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Frilford Heath Golf Club, 11th March 2014

Another week, another mid-week session!  While we usually meet on Saturdays, there have been a number of additional sessions recently, and this was one of them.

The idea of meeting on a Tuesday was due to the fact that a part of Frilford Heath Golf Course was not in use and thus we could in theory work on one of the fen areas without the risk of having to dodge flying golf balls.  

Six Green Gymmers plus Judy Webb from Natural England (the authority that manage the wetland areas there) met at 10am, outside the greenkeepers' buildings on the course itself.  We collected together our tools - mainly rakes, and advised the head greenkeeper, Sid, that we had arrived.  Sid escorted us down to the worksite - the appropriately named Two Pine Fen.  This is a small wetland habitat within the course itself.  It is adjacent to the larger Boundary House Fen where we regularly work and has a pair of large pine trees within it.  It is home to a variety of locally rare plants including several species of orchids and bog mosses.

Once at the site, Judy instructed us on the task, which was to rake up the the vegetation that had been cut sometime earlier, and to move it into piles at the edge of the fen for later collection by the golf club staff.  Despite it being rather a small area, it soon became apparent that we were faced with quite a large job owing to the uneven and soggy ground and with the many tree and shrub root obstructions.  There were quite a proliferation of ground elder and willow roots, which may require tackling at a later date, lest they should spread any further.

On this occasion, we worked around any such impediments and raked-up as much loose vegetation as we could.  Hidden amidst the undergrowth were found to be quite a number of lost golf balls that we collected together, with guesses being put forward as to how many that we would find during the morning.  

Occasionally we had to stop raking while some golfers teed-off at a nearby hole.  The green and fairway that sandwiched the fen were not in use and the part of the course that was active shouldn't have posed much of a problem, however there were many erratic first shots that sent golf balls flying across the work area and fairly close to ourselves!

The refreshment break was taken at 11:30am with both carrot cake and lemon drizzle cake on offer, having kindly been supplied by Eleanor and Sally.

A good effort was put in after the break to complete the task and to maintain or even improve the habitat for the rare plants.  Some other strategies may have to be put in place to safeguard the wetland, however. These include removing some of the drainage channels that currently take a lot of the water away from the site thus leaving it too dry for the flora that it is intended to support.  

We will return to the golf club on Saturday, but it will be back to Boundary House Fen for that session.  Incidentally, the number of rogue golf balls was counted up at the end of play, and the grand total was... 74!
-Andrew

Work gets underway

Kevin rakes

The largest area of this particular variety of bog moss in the county!

Carolyn and Eleanor prepare refreshments

A small patch of orange bog moss

Work is halted while some golfers tee off

The final push

Sally and Judy, hard at work

Most of the golf ball haul

Eleanor adds to the pile, having dragged the raked cuttings across on a tarpaulin

Piles of raked cuttings, ready for collection

The aptly-named Two Pine Fen




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