Now wait a minute—golf? Surely he jests, this post sure started off sounding a lot like a morning bird outing. It’s amazing how the two things can go together so well. Let’s talk about golfing and birding.
Most birders aren’t golfers, and vice versa, most golfers aren’t birders. Of course there are quite a few that dabble in both but they are different hobbies and pique different interests. I have been golfing since before I started birding. However, I am a much better birder than golfer. I wouldn’t say I’m bad, but I won’t make the cut anytime soon—well ever. But golfing has always provided me with a chance to take advantage of some great birding territory that may otherwise be inaccessible and therefore making it a great way to go birding.
For most Utah birders we are familiar with birding along the edges of golf courses. There are a number of course that have great habitat and good birds in tow. I remember talking to my friend Dave Slager about this once and he thought it was just strange! Back east (Dave was form Michigan) he never would have thought to go birding at a golf course. Why after all? The birds were found ion hundreds of other locations with the same habitats. I of course would argue the point that we are in Utah—a desert, and by god, those golf courses were a source of great birding. They were mini oases. It made sense in Utah, and other locations around the Great Basin and Mountain West.
Think about it for a minute. Most golf courses have some sort of water feature, or features. Many are centered around large bodies of water, ponds, or rivers. The grass is keep bright green by constant watering, and along the edges of the course there is usually brush, buses, shrubs ,trees etc. Some courses have a rather impressive set of habitats to go along with the beautifully laid out courses. Some of my favorite courses in Utah have turned up a few good birds over the years, and have always provided me with 3-6 hours of good birding while golfing. This past year I saw Neotropic Cormorant at River Oaks; in 2009 an Osprey at Nibley Park; in 2008 I had a Winter Wren at McRiley; and in 2007 the best bird I have had while golfing was a Least Tern at Rose Park.
Least Tern being chased by Forster's Tern at Rose Park Golf Course
If you are lucky enough to go birding while golfing in St. George, that opens up a whole new world of what you might be able to see! If you have never combined the two it may be something worth giving a swing at this spring. Golf season is right around the corner, and spring migration will follow suit.