Recently a number of Black-headed Herons (Ardea melanocephal) were spotted breeding in the trees of The Links at Fancourt. In the past two years this renowned golf course on the Garden Route has received two major environmental accolades for preserving and enhancing its wildlife habitat, and for protecting its natural resources. It therefore comes as no surprise to see more bird species nesting in the area.
The fairly large, though slender, Black-headed Heron is a colonial nester (a large congregation of one or more species of bird that nest and/or roost in close proximity at a particular location) and usually breeds in trees, reed beds or cliffs, between the months of July and January, laying two to four eggs. This species is often to be found with other water birds in open grassland, fallow field, edges of inland water and forest clearings.
Nature photographer and resident at Fancourt, John Bryant explains that due to The Links ‘green’ spaces, and rodents inhabiting the long grass, more bird species are taking up permanent residence here. ‘Contrary to what people believe, a well-constructed and managed golf course can in fact have a very positive impact on the environment, by providing a welcome sanctuary to many species of birds, small animals and insects, and thus preserving our eco-system for generations to come’, added Spencer Cooper, The Links Golf Course Superintendent. Lately Openbill Storks have also been spotted at The Links, while Spotted Eagle Owls have long been a resident species.
The Links received its first ‘green’ certification, which was awarded by GreenStaySA in 2010, and recently added the impressive conservation accolade of Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary to its environmentally-friendly status, presented by the international Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses.
Driven by Tana Scott (Fancourt Environmental Consultant), Fancourt has adopted a ‘green’ approach in general, which is applied to all aspects of the business operation. Fancourt has established an Environmental Management System to improve its performance, with focus areas including management of invasive alien vegetation species; waste, water and electricity management; as well as providing a safe habitat for wildlife along streams and lakes; and educating golfers about the importance of natural areas.
The game of golf holds a distinctive place in the world’s sporting landscape today, with over 30,000 golf courses worldwide – each having a very important part to play within their local environment. Cited as ‘the most impressive piece of golf design and construction ever in South Africa’, The Links is dependent on its natural beauty and location along the scenic Garden Route, and is therefore 100% committed to preserving this natural habitat.
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