FIRST UP is an exotic visitor to the Ashdown reservoir: Aix galericulata to be precise, more commonly known as the mandarin duck. The male, who flew in, is a particularly handsome fellow with distinctive long orange feathers on the side of the face and pale orange flanks. Course manager, Chris Mitchell, took the photograph of him, shown above.
And when not snapping ornate wildfowl, Mitchell and his team have been coping with an early spring, prompting rapid growth on greens and tee boxes. The greens have been mown, aerated, top dressed and rolled twice during two weeks of March, when we were blessed with some fine warm weather.
The fairways have also been mown and put back into shape after the vile winter weather had taken its toll and work continues on the paths to repair them after the downpours. Areas of heather have been topped and bare areas reseeded. Everything is being timed to ensure the course is in the best possible condition for Easter weekend and the Founders Cup.
Provided the weather does not have a sting in its tail bringing frost the greenkeepers will continue to top dress and aerate as much as the conditions allow. A further application of wetting agent will also be made to ensure that water penetrates and is retained by the soil. As the weather warms bare areas will be seeded together with overseeding of greens to strengthen the sward. Then it is straight into a full cutting program.
Below ground there will be some fine-tuning of the irrigation system to be done on order to pump rainwater collected from the car park, practice range and clubhouse roof. The pressure needs to be high enough to force it uphill through the pipe and into the reservoir to provide both an environmentally friendly watering system and also to attract more unusual species of wildfowl like our handsome recent visitor.