Most wildlife on our course is most welcome but we have a visitor who is not. In 1839 Himalayan Balsam was introduced to country houses as an ornamental species. Since then it has spread all over the country due to its ability to fire seeds up to 7 metres. Seeds are also transferred along streams too. It looks great but shades, and out competes, native plants and there is some evidence it poisons nearby plants to stop them growing.
When the strands die back in Autumn it leaves banks bare and open to erosion by water. Most of our steams, and some other areas, here at Lichfield are rife with it. The only effective method of control is to pull it up before the seeds are released, a method used by the National Trust. Perhaps we should organise some Balsam bashing next year to encourage more native species!
On a more positive note there have been some exciting bird sightings around the courses recently. Redwings and Fieldfares, both winter visiting thrushes, have been flying over in large numbers as they arrive from the far North. Some have even stopped to polish off berries from our bushes.
Several quite tame Green Woodpeckers, often seen low on trees or on the ground, are feeding on ants at the moment and the Jays, living in the nearby woods, can be seen flying slowly backwards and forwards with acorns as they fill up their stores for the winter. They forget where they planted some which is one way acorns get dispersed and new trees start to grow next year.
Finally, I’m pleased to see our resident Little Egret, a small white heron, is back for the Winter. It’s been roosting in the tree on the fountain lake of late.