Friday, September 8, 2017

Baby Turtles

Yesterday, one of the Natural Area Preservation crew noticed that the turtle eggs they had moved to our turtle nesting mounds (Read more HERE) were hatching. Here are some pictures of the little guys.

And a couple of videos.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

August 2017 Weather Summary

August 2017 had an average temperature of 68.6 degrees, down about 4 degrees from July. The high temperature was 87.6 (August 2nd) and the lowest recorded temperature was 46.7 (25th.)

We got 2.58 inches of rain at Leslie Park's weather station during August. The rain fell on eight different days, with the largest amount coming on the 17th (0.80 inches.) Five days recorded more than a tenth of an inch. That brings the total so far to 24.77 inches for 2017.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Barn Painting

When I first started at the City of Ann Arbor in 2009, one of the first things I noticed was the beautiful 100-plus-year-old barn. Unfortunately,the exterior had not been painted in the memory of anyone working at the course.

I set about trying to find someone who would be willing and able to undertake this task. I contacted historic barn preservation groups and farmers. I called painting companies and general contractors. I either got no response or an estimate that was well into five figures. I did find one barn restoration expert. He looked at the barn and had many things he wanted to do, in addition to painting the barn.  His cost estimate was not spectacularly high. All looked good for us to finally get the barn painted. When the city contacted him to get his tax information, he started complaining about the government regulations and refused to give any tax information for billing purposes. Another dead end.

Finally, the barn was in such a state that we could not ignore it anymore and the City Park Operations crew had to paint it. They rented a lift and bought 110 gallons of paint. The results were striking.

The barn in 2009

The barn today.

The first coat goes on the east side.

You can see the barn back in 2014.

From near #10 green in 2017.

This is a picture of one of the bat houses we mounted on the barn in 2012.

The south side (toward #17 tee) of the barn was worn the most.

I think this was taken in 2011.

The flag looks crooked due to the perspective of the camera. I hope.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

July 2017 Weather Summary

At the end of last month's weather summary, I said that the month of June was boring. I promise to never say anything like that again.

July 2017 had an average temperature of 72.2 degrees, up about 3 degrees from June. The high temperature was 88.8 (July 19th) and the lowest recorded temperature was 50.3 (July 25th.)

What really gets interesting is when you start to look at the rain we got in July. We got 4.13 inches of rain, which is just above the 3.47 inches we have gotten in the last seven years. Unfortunately, 98% of that came within one seven day period, between July 7 and July 13. You might also remember that this is right before the City Championship at Leslie Park. Then the precipitation stopped. Technically, we got 0.06 inches of rain for the rest of the month, but that came over three different days. Eighteen days with appreciable rainfall. There were only 3 days where the high temperature was below 80 degrees during that time span, and one of those days was 79.2 degrees. The maximum amount of rain on one day was 2.07 inches. (July 7th.) There were seven total days of rain and two of those were over an inch. July 10th saw 1.01 inches fall.

Average windspeed was 1.1 mph. The highest recorded sustained windspeed was 33 mph, on the 12th, although these numbers are suspect, because we had an electrical surge at the barn during one of the storms. Along with frying the COM ports on the irrigation computer, it did something to the weather station. Now it only seems to record windspeed and humidity during daylight hours. I tried changing the battery, but that did not work, so must contact support at Davis instruments for some help with this issue.

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."