ONE OF THE MANY joys of playing golf at Ashdown is the ability to take one’s dog out on the course. However, at this time of year dog owners are asked to take extra-special care when out and ensure that all dogs are kept under control.
The Board of Conservators of Ashdown Forest has recently published two pamphlets that members will see distributed around the clubhouse. In what is a sensibly written code of conduct for dog walkers, the conservators highlight seven varieties of ground nesting birds, including rare species such as the Nightjar and Dartford Warbler, all to be found in the forest and, equally significantly, on the golf course.
When dogs are allowed off the lead they often roam away from their owners and what looks like a dog having a great time romping happily looks to any ground nesting bird like a potential predator.
Birds will fly the nest leaving both eggs and young at a huge risk to opportunistic predators such as crows and magpies. So please read the literature and ensure that your dog does not disturb any of the important populations of birds that have made the forest a Special Protection Area.
And should any other reason should be required to ensure that man’s best friend does not go runabout on its own it is that spring sees the emergence of adders, Britain’s only venomous snake, and Ashdown Forest has a large breeding population. By mid-April adult males have shed their winter skin and are ready to mate.
A bite from an adder can make your dog seriously ill and can be potentially fatal. Their initial reaction, if stepped on or disturbed, is to bite.
So do enjoy walking your dog during your round but please remember to keep it on a lead.