Species Profile: Butorides virescens – Green Heron

Scientific Name:              Butorides virescens

Common Name(s):          Green Heron, Little Green Heron, Green-backed Heron

 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Basar (left), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Butorides_virescens_070506_GWADA.jpg

 

Identification:

Green herons Butorides virescens are relatively small birds which can get up to 14 inches tall and have a wingspan of 25 inches.  Females are slightly smaller than males and their plumage is duller in the breeding season.  Adults have yellow legs and a long, dark, sharp beak.  The top of their head is blackish green and they have blue-gray on their back and wings that fades to green.  Their neck is brown with a white stripe down its length and a white chin.  Juveniles have reddish-brown and white streaks down their head and neck and many white spots on their wings.  Hatchlings have gray down feathers all over except white on their stomachs.  Adults have long necks but keep it pulled in close to their body at rest or while flying.

Range:

The green heron is native to northern South America, Mexico, and the United States.  They migrate north in late winter and early spring then head south August-October.

Ecology:

Green herons inhabit wetlands and other water bodies including wooded ponds, lakes, marshes, and rivers.  They make nests in trees or vegetation by water.  Nests are made of sticks several meters off the ground.  They are monogamous for a breeding season, with the male picking the nesting site and displaying courtship by flying noisily in front of a female with his head and neck feathers puffed out.  Green herons rarely congregate while nesting.  Females lay 2-6 pale green eggs in 2-day intervals.  Both parents incubate eggs until they hatch, normally around 21 days.  Both parents also feed the young and slowly wean them as the young get their flight feathers.  Young can usually fend for themselves when they are a little over a month old.  Occasionally green herons will breed twice a year.

Green herons consume fish, aquatic invertebrates, amphibians, crustaceans, spiders, reptiles, and small rodents.  They feed by stalking prey on the shoreline or from perched on branches above.  They are mainly active during dusk and dawn, hiding during the day unless searching for food.  They sometimes use “bait” to catch fish by dropping food or insects on the water’s surface to attract fish.  When the fish come for the bait, the heron will grab it.

Special Notes:

Here in Bella Vista, green herons can be spotted during their summer breeding season, mainly near the lakes or streams.  They are humorous to watch, especially when they sporadically extend and retract their long neck.

 

 

 

 

Scotsdale GCM Update 8/22

Scotsdale GCM Update

Recently at Scotsdale we have been working to improve the quality of our practice area, specifically the short game area and chipping tee. We have added two new irrigation heads to the tee area that previously was not irrigated. This will improve the quality of the chipping tee in several ways: the ability to effectively fertilizer it more frequently; better weed control; the tee will not have the tendency to get too hard when it dries out; and divots will recover more rapidly. These heads cover a lot of ground and in addition to the existing ones already near the target greens, provide a much better look to the area. It is just one small way we continue to strive in improving the quality of Scotsdale. I ask everyone to treat it like any other tee on the course and not drive or park your carts on the tee box.

In addition, we will be making an adjustment to the approach and fairway cut on #11. Due to how narrow it gets leading into the green, we experience some issues with the mowers used to cut the fairway. Our goal is to create a mid-section of rough in that area that will highlight the green more predominantly and prevent some of the mower issues that occur in this spot. We are making this change now since the weather will still allow for Bermuda growth and we can create this look before dormancy.

Future lines of where fairway ends, and approach/collar cut will begin for 11.

Thank you to everyone for your support and we hope that you have been enjoying the course!

-Kyle Soller
Scotsdale Golf Course Superintendent

Species Profile: Trachemys scripta elegans – Red-eared Slider

Scientific Name:              Trachemys scripta elegans

Common Name(s):          Red-eared Slider, Red-eared Terrapin, Pond Slider subspecies

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Turtle_with_Neck_Stretched_Out.jpg ©Dan Soto

 

Identification: Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta) are semi-aquatic turtles with a distinctive red-orange stripe behind both eyes that distinguishes it from other turtles. Their body is covered with green and yellow stripes and they have webbed feet with short claws. Their shell averages 6-8 in, with female red-eared sliders typically larger than males. Shells of young are leaf green and get darker as they age, becoming olive green-brown. The bottom of their shell is a light yellow with dark markings. The colors of their body and shell help them stay camouflaged. Red-eared sliders can withdraw their body into their shell for protection when they feel threatened. They spend most of their time in water, although do bask in the sunlight on logs or rocks close to or in water. The lifespan of a red-eared slider is typically 20-30 years.

Range: The red-eared slider is found from northeastern Mexico to northern Illinois. They are as far west as eastern New Mexico and as far east as West Virginia and a small portion of southern Ohio. Arkansas is at the center of their range.

Ecology: These turtles are typically found in any body of calm, warm, freshwater. They cannot regulate their body temperature on their own and must rely on the temperature gradients of their environment. They bask in sunlight to keep warm and submerge themselves in water to cool off. They are often seen on rocks or logs basking in groups, and rarely leave the water except to bask. These turtles are highly adaptable and can tolerate many different habitats.

Red-eared sliders are very popular as pets, so large numbers are commercially raised throughout the southeastern United States. The FDA has restricted the sale of the eggs and turtles smaller than four inches because of Salmonella infecting humans who have handled turtles. Reptiles do not show effects of having this bacterial infection. Therefore, healthy looking but infected turtles can pass the bacteria to humans, especially small children, who have them as pets. This can be prevented by teaching children that they need to wash their hands after they handle or feed the turtle.

Red-eared sliders are omnivores that consume insects, fish, frog eggs, tadpoles, and a wide variety of aquatic plants and algae. Adults are more herbivorous than the young, although both will opportunistically eat insects and fish.

Mating occurs from March to July. Males court females by swimming around them and brushing their head and face with the backside of their claws. If the female accepts the male, she will sink to the bottom to mate. If she does not accept the male, she will become aggressive. Courtship is a long process but mating only lasts about 10 minutes. Females lay between two and 23 eggs in each clutch, and up to five clutches in a year. When a suitable spot has been found, the female will dig a hole with her back legs and lay her eggs. There is no parental care for the young and sex is determined by the temperature of the environment with males developing at colder temperatures and females developing at warmer temperatures.

Special Notes: Here in Bella Vista, red-eared sliders can be found in the lakes, streams, and golf course ponds. The best time to observe them is on cool sunny mornings basking in the sun on floating logs or near water. The distinctive red spot on the side of their head can be seen from a distance and helps with identifying them.

Cicada Killers

Cicada killers are very large wasps, up to 1 5/8” long, that resemble gigantic hornets or yellow jackets.

Each summer we receive complaints of them menacing golfers and digging holes into the greens and bunkers. While they look formidable, they are in fact not a threat. The male wasp is territorial and will buzz around you trying to chase you away but lacks a stinger, so he is completely harmless.

The female wasp is non-aggressive but can sting if handled or stepped on with bare feet. She prefers to spend her time burrowing into the ground and hunting annual cicadas.  After digging an extensive burrow up to a foot in depth, the female will find a cicada, paralyze it with her stinger and carry it back to her burrow. After placing the cicada in a chamber, she will lay an egg on it and bury the cicada where it becomes food for her young. She will repeat this process nonstop for a couple of weeks.

 

This is a picture of a cicada burrow on a green. Each morning the golf course crew will look for these mounds and will inject an insecticide into the hole to stop the cicada killer from causing further damage.  Although the mounds are cleaned up every day, a cicada killer can complete a new burrow in less than an hour. There is no insecticide that will prevent the cicada killers from digging into a green, so all control must be done post damage. Failing to control the cicada killers causes later damage to the greens when coyotes, foxes, and crows dig up the buried cicadas for food. Therefore, when the wasps are active, crew members will watch for recent activity during the day and treat the new burrows that appear.

Species Profile: Agkistrodon contortrix – Copperhead

Scientific Name: Agkistrodon contortrix

Common Name(s): Copperhead, Northern Copperhead, Southern Copperhead

Identification: Copperheads are heavy bodied venomous snakes in the pit-viper family. They have tan-brown bodies with dark brown hourglass shapes lining the length of the body. The hourglass shapes are narrower toward the top of the back and get wider as they go down toward the stomach. These make them highly camouflaged in forested areas, especially with abundant leaf litter. There are pit glands in the head between the eye and nostril that sense heat and help identify prey and predators. Their eyes blend in well with the color of their skin and they have dark black vertical pupils (cat eyes).  Juveniles resemble adults but have yellow tails. Copperheads can range in size from 20-40 in. with males being larger than females.

Range: Agkistrodon contortrix is found in the eastern and central United States, except most of Florida.

Ecology: Copperheads mostly prefer forests with rocky, wooded hillsides that have plenty of logs, leaves, or rocks for cover. They can also be found near streams, wetlands, urban and suburban habitats. Although copperheads are adaptable to different habitats, they do avoid areas that are open like pastures or fields used for farming. They can be found at any time, day or night. In the warmer seasons they mostly forage at night. They can be seen basking during the day or coiled in ambush positions.  In forest areas with a lot of leaf litter, they are almost impossible to see, especially when coiled and still.

Copperheads are venomous, although their venom is not very potent compared to other pit vipers. Deaths from copperhead bites are very rare and most bites occur from stepping on or harassing a snake. Many times, a copperhead will “dry bite” when harassed or disturbed, meaning it does not inject any venom. Symptoms of a copperhead bite include pain, tingling, swelling, throbbing, and nausea. A large dose of venom can cause damage to muscle and bone tissue.  Medical attention should be sought from any bite in case an allergic reaction or infection occurs. There are anti-venoms used to treat snake bites, although sometimes the symptoms from them are worse than the snake bite itself. The best thing to do when seeing a copperhead is to leave it alone and give it space. It is also a good idea to pay special attention to where you are walking, especially in forested areas where spotting snakes is difficult.

Copperheads feed on a variety of prey. They eat primarily mice, but also small birds, lizards, other snakes, amphibians and cicadas. They are primarily ambush predators, staying coiled and camouflaged until prey comes within striking distance, although they will actively prowl for some prey items, like cicadas. Their main predators are humans and vehicles.

Mating occurs in the spring. Males move in search of females and will fight each other in a vertical stance where the top thirds of their bodies entangle. Females give birth to 7-10 (up to 20) live young in the summer.  Females do not reproduce every year. The young are born at around 8 inches in total length and resemble the adults but are lighter in color and have yellow on the tips of their tails. The young use their tail color to lure in prey such as lizards and frogs until they get close enough to attack.

Special Notes: Here in Bella Vista, copperheads could potentially be seen anywhere. Remember that their hourglass bands are narrower on the top of their back and then widen as they move toward their stomachs. This patterning helps distinguish them from the northern water snake which are much more common here. Many snakes are mistaken for copperheads, which gets them killed. The hourglass bands, triangular head, and pit glands can all be used for identifying copperheads. While many people dislike snakes and want to kill them, remember that most snake bites occur because humans try to interact with the snake in some way. They also perform the important ecological function of keeping rodent populations down. It is best to leave these snakes alone and give them plenty of space if seen in the wild.

Scotsdale GCM Update

The last of the 3 scheduled aerations on our greens will take place Monday, August 5th.  As with the previous aerations this year we will again utilize smaller hollow coring tines to remove more material and allow for a quicker healing process. This process will continue to create a more uniform soil profile and eliminate any layering issues caused during last summer’s renovation to the greens.  In addition, the final granular soil fertilizers and amendments will be applied enhancing both the healing process and providing needed nutrients going into fall and dormancy.  This has proven to be very beneficial and will continue to make the greens healthier.

Following the greens aeration, we plan on doing work to the collars as well.  We will be doing a vertical mowing, core aeration and sand top dress and drag. This process will be a longer process due to being done around play but should have minimum impact on your round.  The vertical mowing will be noticeable so if you see or play on them mid process or shortly after work is completed the collars may be off color and rougher than usually.  The aeration and top dress program are done for many reasons including better water utilization, gas exchange, nutrient uptake and to create a tighter turf.  This will also help us to have a better quality of cut on these key play areas through the reduction in thatch buildup from the summer growth period.

You may have noticed, if you’ve played Scotsdale in the last week, that slits have been made in the fairways.  This process along with applications of a plant growth regulator and fertilizer, is done to help tighten up the common Bermuda.  The slicing process causes the plant to produce new leaves and additional runners from the stolons enhancing filling of bare areas and producing an overall tighter turf and improved surface from which to play.  My hope is that the denser I can get the common now, that the better success we will have going through winter and coming out in the spring.  This is an application we plan on doing twice more in August.

This type work is very noticeable, labor intensive, time consuming and sometimes can impact play but will result in better conditions over time. As I once was told by someone wiser than I “Sometimes you have to break a few eggs to bake a cake.”

My staff and I hope everyone have been enjoying the beautiful weather and the golf course!  Thank you for your support!

-Kyle Soller
Scotsdale Golf Course Superintendent

Watering Alert (Watch Out For The Greens Checkers)

Battling the Summer Heat on Bentgrass Putting Greens

By Rob Dreesen, BVCC Golf Superintendent

As the temperatures continue to rise, you will notice our attention to greens rising as well. You will often run into “greens checkers” as you play your round. Contrary to popular belief, we are not trying to get in your way and ruin your round! We are simply just protecting the plant from dying. It is a complex process that is much more complicated than just watering the greens at night. We have to maintain adequate moisture throughout the day and also cool the plant when necessary.

Some of the courses throughout the POA use moisture meters to help determine what amount of water the plant needs. You will see the greens checkers carrying devices that look similar to a pogo stick. Other courses have different techniques that they use to determine what needs to be watered and what doesn’t. But we all have a common goal in that we strive to keep the greens as dry as possible without causing stress to the plant.

Another similar technique is “syringing” the greens. Syringing can also be called, misting. When we mist the greens we are simply keeping the plant cool. Research has shown that when you disperse a very light layer of water over the surface, it cools the plant by 10-15 degrees! Think of a misting fan or machine at outdoor restaurants or on the sidelines of a football game. These are there to keep people cool. This is the same approach we are taking on the greens, which can have a huge effect on the health of the plant.

By spot watering and misting greens throughout the day, we prevent the greens from being overwatered. If we only used our irrigation heads at night, we would be overwatering the plant which would lead to the following effects:

  • Plant Health
    • Roots shrink, causing the plant to be stressed
    • Areas with excessive water are warmer than areas with adequate water, causing the plant to be stressed
    • Greens are soft causing the mower to scalp, causing the plant to be stressed
  • Golf Playability
    • Greens are soft, causing more ball marks
    • Greens are soft, causing slower and inconsistent speeds

As you can see, hand watering and syringing throughout the course of the day is necessary for all of us to achieve our goals of having firm, healthy, and smooth putting surfaces. Please keep that in mind on the next round that you run into a greens checker. It is our goal to have the healthiest and best putting surfaces than we can, while also staying out of your way and letting you enjoy your round. However, time is critical, and sometimes we will need to get the green watered before you hit your shot into the green. We try our best to not disrupt the same group over the course of your round, but in the case this does happen, we apologize and it is certainly in the best interest of keeping our turf healthy. Thank you for your patience during these hot and very critical days.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to talk to us while on the golf course. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Thank you!

Summer Weed Control

Weed cleanup on golf courses is continually a work-in-progress. It is especially a problem on golf courses that were previously overseeded. When courses are overseeded, pre-emerging for weeds can be very difficult since pre-emergents keep not only weeds from germinating but grass seed as well. So often, pre-emergents are not applied at all. This proposes a major problem for golf courses in future years and that is what we are now dealing with.

I am relatively certain that most of you remember how “weedy” BVCC was last summer. The crabgrass was out of control on many holes. We decided this spring to switch herbicides for our spring pre-emergent to a chemical that would better keep the crabgrass from germinating and encroaching our fairways. The good news is, our plan has worked so far. There are very few crabgrass plants on the course where we sprayed our pre-emergent. There are, of course, crabgrass plants that are in areas where we did not pre-emerge. On the other side of the cart path, opposite the fairway, are good examples of where we do not pre-emerge. We do not typically pre-emerge these areas as we try to spend most of our chemical budget on areas that are played more often (around greens, tees, and fairways).

The bad news about our change in pre-emergent herbicides, is that while the crabgrass is under control, the goose grass has gotten a little out of control in some areas. Did you know that a single goose grass plant can produce 50,000 seeds!? When a plant produces that many seeds, it can be very difficult to control once it is established. Therefore, as turf managers when we see goose grass we will make every attempt to kill it before it spreads, particularly to greens. We have made some attempts to kill the goose grass without discoloring the Bermuda, but so far, the goose grass has refused to die.

In recent years, the EPA has outlawed many herbicides, most notably is Illoxan which was the best goose grass herbicide on the market. Since we are “handcuffed”, so to speak, on what we can spray to kill the goose grass, we are forced to take measures that will discolor Bermuda grass. You will notice several areas around BVCC that will be an unsightly yellow or brown color. This happens when we spray the goose grass that is intermingled within the Bermuda grass. This chemical will only kill the goosegrass. Although it may appear that the Bermuda grass is dying, rest assured, the chemical only discolors the Bermuda temporarily.

As turf managers, we are continually striving to provide better playing conditions. Unfortunately, at times we must take a step back (discolor Bermuda) to take two steps forward (kill the weeds). This is part of the process to clean up the course so that our pre-emergent herbicides will work better for us in the future. We thank you for understanding and hope that you continue to enjoy your rounds even if every blade of grass is not always green!

 

Rob Dreesen

Golf Course Superintendent

Bella Vista Country Club

Scotsdale GCM Update

I want to remind everyone that on July 8 we will aerate greens for the second time this season at Scotsdale. We are doing this again to increase the quality of our greens and the soils ability to exchanges oxygen and reduce the thatch developed as the Bermuda grows during the summer months. This will be followed by applying nutrients and sand top dressing. We will roll several times afterwards to smooth the surface for better ball roll. If mother nature works with us and gives us some warm weather, recovery will be quick, with a full recovery in about 7 days. This process is much needed for the longevity health of the greens going forward and I thank everyone for their understanding.

 

-Kyle Soller, Scotsdale Golf Course Superintendent

2019 USGA Visit Set

Steve Kammerer, Ph.D., SE Regional Director, USGA Greens Section will visit the Bella Vista POA on Wednesday, July 10.

A full day agenda will begin with Kammerer meeting with the POA’s Director of Golf Maintenance Keith Ihms, CGCS, and golf course superintendents at 8 a.m. to discuss golf maintenance issues affecting the various courses.

At 10 a.m., Kammerer will meet with members of the Board of Directors, Golf Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) and management at the BVCC Golf Pro Shop for a course tour. The tour is open to the public and will occur rain or shine.

In addition, at 4 p.m., the public is invited to attend the July 10 Golf JAC meeting which will take place in the BVCC Board Room at 4 p.m. Mr. Kammerer will make a short presentation on his day’s visit and answer questions.