Friday, July 7, 2017

Turtle Eggs and Sand Piles

When the Traver Creek Project was started, one of the most interesting parts was the turtle stipulation. In order to begin the creek renovation, a permit was submitted to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ.) To satisfy the MDEQ permit of the project, turtles and other herptofauna were relocated from the two inline detention basins (AKA ponds on holes #12 and #17) on Traver Creek to the pond on #8. There are at least four large snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) and numerous painted turtles(Chrysemys picta) in Traver Creek and there was concern over what would happen to these turtles during and after the project was completed. To help them after the project, four sand piles were created for the turtles to use as nesting areas. 

Last month, a painted turtle nest was discovered at Argo Canoe Livery. The nest was located in a high traffic area and the probability of successful hatching was low, so Natural Area Preservation (NAP) was called in to move the nest to a better location.

Argo and NAP staff locate the eggs.

The eggs after excavation. It is very important to have the eggs remain in the same orientation for proper development.

The eggs were moved to one of the sand piles at Leslie Park and covered with a predator exclusion screen. This makes it difficult for raccoons and other animals to dig up and eat the eggs.

While NAP was working, they discovered a snapping turtle nest in the same pile. The covered that nest with a predator exclusion screen, as well.

NAP also puts signs out so that people know what the screens are for and to leave them where they are.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

June 2017 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the June was 90.0 degrees. (June 12th) while the low was 45.2 (8th.)   The average temperature was 69.2 degrees, an almost 12 degree jump from May.

There were 9 days of rain recorded by the weather station. The monthly total was 1.57 inches. Only three days saw more than a tenth of an inch of rain and the 22nd had the most rainfall with 0.70 inches. Leslie Park has had 18.17 inches of precipitation in 2017.

Average windspeed was 2.1 mph. The highest recorded sustained windspeed was 27 mph, on the 10th. 

I do these weather summaries for historical purposes, not for the interest they generate. That being said, this might be one of the most boring weather summaries. No days below freezing, only one day above 90 degrees. Only 3 days of real rain (anything under a tenth of an inch in the summer is basically not replenishing the water in the soil.) No rain events over an inch. In the category of most boring, this month takes the prize. Not that there is anything wrong with that, mind you. I am not complaining. I will take boring over extremes, any month.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Dr. Leslie's Orchard

Note: This is an blog post I first published in 2012 and again in 2014. It has been updated, but I also feel like it is good information to keep putting out there.

Before Doctor Leslie donated the land for Leslie Park Golf Course, he and his wife had been running the land as a farm. On this farm, he planted wheat, corn and other annual crops, but a large portion of the land was devoted to orchards. They had cherries, pears and apples, as well as blueberries and raspberries.  The area where 5, 6, 7 and 8 are now located was predominately pears, apples and cherries. A small portion of this orchard was retained when the course was built. It was originally a 12 row by 12 row section, with a few trees outside of this square. That would have been 144 trees.

The Orchard looking toward #8 green from #6 fairway.

When I started with the City of Ann Arbor, there were less than 100 of these trees left. Through the previous 40 plus years, the trees naturally died out. Since the purpose of Leslie Park was to be a golf course and not an orchard, this was not a priority. The life expectancy of these trees is not overly long, and since they were planted around the time of World War II or before, it became clear to me that if nothing was done, we would lose the entire orchard. Since this was an integral part of the strategy for playing holes 6 and 8, as well as an homage to the former use of the land, we decided to start replanting the orchard.

Planting trees in 2012.

The first step was to decide what to plant. The "holes" in the orchard were filled in with a mixture of Bartlett pears, Comice pears, Honeycrisp apples and Red Delicious apples. The apples were added to bring about some of the historical feel to the orchard, even though this part did not have any apples. We started slowly on the 8 fairway side. This was to get a feel for how to proceed and give us some experience with the different trees. In 2010, we planted 16 apple and pear trees. We soon discovered that the deer love the apple trees but leave the pears pretty much alone. We started to experiment with deer deterrents and finally settled on cages. The following year, we planted another 18 pears and apples, along with 12 cherry trees.

The cherry trees are added to the northern section of the orchard, near #7 green. In 2009, there were 6 cherries here and stumps for 30 more. Over the past seven years, 6 of these old cherries have died. Unfortunately, the last one does not appear to have survived the harsh winter.

The two old cherry trees still do not have leaves.

Only one original cherry tree remains.

This pear has seen better days.

This is an apple tree we planted in 2014.

Since 2009, we have planted 48 apple and pear trees, as well as some cherry trees. Only 71 of the original pear trees are still alive. The gaps in the old  orchard are now almost filled. When that happens, we will only be replacing the old trees when they die.
As a golf course manager, you have to stay one step ahead. As an ancient Chinese proverb says, "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is right now."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

May 2017 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the May was 87.4 degrees. (May 18th) while the low was 30.7 (9th.) Only one day had low temperatures below 32 degrees.  The average temperature was 57.9 degrees.

There were 13 days of rain recorded by the weather station. The monthly total was 3.86 inches. Eight days saw more than a tenth of an inch of rain and the 21st had the most rainfall with 1.27 inches. Leslie Park has had 16.49 inches of precipitation in 2017.

Average windspeed was 2.8 mph. The highest recorded sustained windspeed was 31 mph, on the 17th. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Rare birds at Huron Hills

I recieved this email from the staff at Natural Area Preservation yesterday. It comes from the City of Ann Arbor's Ornithologist, Juliet Berger

I observed a Hooded Warbler at Huron Hills Golf Course Woods today. It was both seen and heard singing, in the mature woods near the small cattail pond west of a home. This is in the section closest to Huron Parkway. In the past this species has nested here, at least once before that we know of, in 2014. A striking yellow bird with a black hood, Hooded Warblers are a Species of Special Concern for our State. We are at the northern edge of their breeding range, as they are generally a more southerly nesting species. They require high quality mature woodlands with shrubby understory, and like to nest near the ground in a shrub. Here is a link to the website article about the Hooded Warbler.

Also, we observed a Pileated Woodpecker checking out the woods in the same area, as well as 2 pair of Scarlet Tanager, and a Wild Turkey. The woods were hopping today!

Wilsonia citrina (Belize).jpg

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) photo from wikipedia.

Scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea) photo from wikipedia.

Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) photo from wikipedia.

April 2017 Weather Summary

The high temperature for the April was 82.2 degrees. (April 15th) while the low was 27.5 (8th.) Only two days had low temperatures below 32 degrees.  The average temperature was 53.4 degrees, which was nearly 15 degrees above the average for March.

There were 13 days of rain recorded by the weather station. The monthly total was 4.29 inches. Ten days saw more than a tenth of an inch of rain and the 20th had the most rainfall with 0.79 inches.

Average windspeed was 3.9 mph. The highest recorded sustained windspeed was 35 mph, on the 8th. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New Equipment

Back in January, Ann Arbor Council approved some new equipment for the two city-owned golf courses. We started getting it in last week.

One of the two new greens mowers.

A new bunker rake.

From left to right, another greens mower, a fairway mower, a zero-turn mower and a rough mower.

Two light duty work carts, a heavy duty work cart and a mower for the intermediate rough cut.

All of the old equipment that this will replace will be auctioned off when the City holds it's annual vehicle auction.