It’s interesting that when you join a golf club your focus is primarily on your golf game and the challenge of reducing your handicap. Perhaps even dreaming of single figures! However, after spending time with Skipton member Pam Boulton, my next round will have a slightly different perspective because it appears we don’t just have a fantastic course, we have a magnificent nature reserve as well.
Pam is a keen golfer but an even more avid bird and wild life watcher and has travelled to many parts of the world in pursuit of this passion. I did ask which had been the stand out trip to date and without hesitation she replied the Galapagos Islands, which also happens to be the haunt of her favourite bird, the blue footed booby.
Now you won’t spy too many of this particular bird around our beautiful moorland course, but what you might see is a variety of species that is full of surprises.
Our logo at Skipton Golf Club is the kestrel, it features on our website and much of our publicity material and is a common site around the course, hunting its prey. Less common but spotted regularly are buzzards, red kites, wax wings, tree creepers and red wing. This is but a very small sample of what can be seen.
In 2011, Pam instigated a Nature Watch asking members to report sightings around the course. From that activity alone, 28 different birds were reported including the very elusive and beautiful kingfisher and a harris hawk which had escaped from captivity locally and discovered a lovely place to roost on one of our holes. It did eventually give itself up having enjoyed a brief spell of freedom! As an early morning golfer, I have had the pleasure of hearing the greater spotted woodpecker at work but have never actually spied it.
Perhaps the greatest excitement generated was when Pam’s husband Chris, spotted what he believed to be a puffin close to the first green. Clearly, this well known seabird was mightily off course flying around a Yorkshire Dales golf course! Sadly, Chris’ mistake was quickly corrected by Pam. It was in fact an oystercatcher and these, with their high pitched call, have now become a very familiar sight around the course.
But it isn’t just bird life. Roe deer have been seen as have stoats and foxes. Hares and the less appreciated rabbits – ask the Greens Staff – are very common and I have on two occasions seen a stoat capture a baby rabbit. It’s nature at work but not the prettiest of sights or sounds!
Add to the wildlife some beautiful butterflies and moths and a superb array of flora alongside some incredible fungi and you not only have a golf course to be enjoyed but a paradise for ornithologists, botanists, biologists and even zoologists.