At Glenelg Golf Club, we are fortunate to have Penny Paton (AM), conducting quarterly surveys of our course. Penny has seen a wide array of birds at the course, from small birds like the Yellow-rumped Thornbill to larger birds, like the black-shouldered kite and grey herons. On one of her visits last year, we spotted a pair of herons in a nest with fledging chicks.
As mentioned in our Course Biodiversity Update last month, Penny has noticed there has been a decline in smaller bird species in Adelaide. Increasing urbanisation has led to a lack of habitat and Glenelg Golf Course is helping to provide homes for some of these smaller bird species.
Some of our Members are also keen bird watchers and have been keeping an eye out as they walk around this course. David Allen and Derek Carter have provided information on birds seen at Glenelg Golf, as well as a list of the birds they have seen.
Glenelg Golf Course is one of Australia’s best golf courses, rated top 40. And it is a pleasure to play. But it also has other qualities and properties. It is a large land area, with open areas, trees, lakes, grasses and wildlife. It is a small “Rural” ark, in the middle of suburbia. Not only do I get to play golf “poorly” but I also get to see birds that are not available to the average suburbanite.
With the assistance of a friend, Derek Carter, a keen birdwatcher and former manager of the rough at Grange Golf Club, we did a tour to observe and record what birds call our course home. We found 33 species of birds in just an hour. As per Table.
But it was also instructive to observe change over time. I’ve been a member for around 30 years, and thus, much has changed in that time. Those more senior members may remember when every fairway had a squadron of Welcome Swallows, performing Battle of Britain like manoeuvrers at low altitude, eating the insects. Or do you remember when the Willie Wagtail would follow you for a hundred metres, just behind your buggy, catching the insects you disturbed as you walked. Or the flock of about 40 tiny Yellow-rumped Thornbills that lived on the fairways of the current 7th, 8th and 9th. The black and yellow New Holland Honeyeaters, White-plumed Honeyeaters and even the common House Sparrow were all present back then.
So where have they gone and why? They have all been driven off the course, (and out of my back yard) by the pervasive species, the Noisy Miner. The Noisy Miners gather in flocks, and attack any small bird on their patch, driving them away. The Noisy Miners have benefitted from changes in vegetation, specifically the clearance of understorey plants. It prefers open land, with occasional trees, like a golf course, but also our suburbs, with much larger houses, no gardens and lawned parks, have provided the ideal habitat for the Miner. The Noisy Miners have driven most of the small birds off our golf course.
As the Noisy Miner increases its dominance it changes Australia’s bush landscape. They drive out all of the small insectivores, meaning that the native vegetation experiences stronger and more sustain damage from insects, reducing its size and range.
In our survey, we saw only one Welcome Swallow. Even with our impressive wet lands. There is a remnant population of Yellow-rumped Thornbills living in the thicker scrub between the 9th tee, back of the 10th green, and behind the 11th tee. You may see a tiny movement in the boxthorns, a hint of yellow. A bird about the size of a golf ball. That’s the Yellow-rumped Thornbill. Sometimes you can still see a New Holland Honeyeater in the bottle brush, over the fence alongside the 5th tee. There is still one Australian Reed Warbler in the water hazard on the 5th, but in none of the other water hazards or lakes. They’re all gone.
A highlight at Glenelg, is the seasonal appearance of one of Australia’s largest cockatoos, the Yellow -tailed Black-Cockatoo. Their long slow wing beat flight, and loud call are an impressive sight. Glenelg Golf Course is a valuable food source for them.
So while you’re waiting for that “Slow Player” up ahead, take a small time out, and see what you can see on the ground, in the trees, and flying overhead. See if you can play Spotto, and see all 33 species in this list. The birds of Australia appreciate the land called Glenelg Golf Course.
|Australian Wood Duck|
|Little Pied Cormorant|
|Australian White Ibis|
Many thanks to David and Derek. We really appreciate our Members taking the time to help us record more information about the birds (and other fauna) found at our course.
We would like to add to David and Derek’s list of birds seen around the course. Please email your sightings with the subject “Bird sightings” to email@example.com. Please include:
- the bird name,
- which hole you were at when you saw it
- the date and the time.