If you’re playing The Castle Course, look out for the Gannets diving into the sea to get their dinner or on the rare occasion you might see a pod of dolphins swim by.
Wildlife on the Links
While playing at St Andrews Links you should keep your eyes open for the local wildlife that you are likely to come across. With the varied habitat that covers our Courses there are a great range of mammals and birds to see if you are sharp eyed.
One of the most common sights are the Brown Hares that are dotted all around the Links. These majestic animals are quite territorial and can put on a great show in the spring as they box each other. Unlike their close cousins the Rabbit, Hares live above ground and don’t damage the courses by digging holes everywhere!
Other mammals which aren’t so easily seen are the stoats and weasels which are valuable allies as they predate heavily on rabbits. If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of one as it scurries across a fairway. Every so often the odd fox will set up home here, especially when rabbits are in plentiful supply.
Very occasionally we might get a Roe Deer wandering across the Links, perhaps making its way to the Estuary or the sea to bathe an injured leg. This is more common in the early morning but they have been spotted at other times of day.
The rough is home to animals like shrews, voles, field mice, hedgehogs and even the Skylark. This is a native bird which is listed on the “Red List” of endangered species in the UK but we’re delighted to say they appear to be on the increase here at the Home of Golf. We are partly putting this down to the good environmental practices of our Greenkeepers as the rough is managed in a manner which keeps it relatively open and sparse making it ideal for ground nesting birds like the Skylark. Having the Hebridean sheep graze the area just off the 9th and 10th holes of the Jubilee Course has had the same effect.
Other ground nesting birds commonly seen are Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits and Starlings while as evening falls you will notice Swallows and Swifts swoop over the greens collecting insects.
If your ball ends up in the infamous St Andrews gorse there is a chance you may spot birds like Yellowhammers, Linnets, Stonechats and Goldfinches. Or if you’re really lucky you might catch sight of an Owl while out at the far end of the Jubilee Course.
Being on the coast also brings its own diverse range of wildlife. A large number of migrating seabirds make an appearance at different times of the year with the odd sighting of the magnificent Sea Eagle. If you’re playing The Castle Course, look out for the Gannets diving into the sea to get their dinner or on the rare occasion you might see a pod of dolphins swim by.
This year we’ve been fortunate to have a family of moor hens breed down at the pond on the Eden Course and there are currently three pairs of Partridges at different areas on the Links. Only one pair has birthed chicks (2) but hopefully some more will hatch in the next few weeks. Last year we had the unusual occurrence of one pair having 14 chicks which miraculously all survived the winter and made it to this spring!
Words by Gordon Moir, Director of Greenkeeping
Header image: Abi Warner