Nesting birds get their own crowd control at The Open

One of the parent meadow pipits who nested in the rough behind the fifth green. (Picture courtesy of St Andrews Links Trust.)
One of the parent meadow pipits who nested in the rough behind the fifth green. (Picture courtesy of St Andrews Links Trust.)
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When the juggernaut that is The Open comes to St Andrews it takes over the town.

But even the might of one of the world’s major golf championships does not take priority over Mother Nature.

Golf fans who visited The Open might have spotted a roped-off area behind the fifth tee of the Old Course.

As Links Trust environmental officer James Hutchinson said, it was brought to the attention of the team just three weeks before the championship that a pair of meadow pipits had build a nest at the spot and were sitting on four eggs.

“The area was initially due to be strimmed for spectator access but the nesting birds meant strimming was obviously no longer an option,” said James in his latest blog.

“The area was instead roped off and signs were placed at five-metre sections highlighting the reason why.

“The birds were often observed from a distance and two weeks prior to The Open the chicks hatched.

“Both parents returned on a regular basis with beaks full of grubs for the hungry chicks, however, it soon became clear that the growing number of spectators were making it difficult for the parents to make it back and forth to feed their young so a decision was made to divert all traffic away from the area.

“The marshals on the tee were informed of the nest and they played a great role in diverting spectators away from the nest site.”

Towards the end of the tournament, three chicks were often seen on the footpath and in the unstrimmed rough.

“I was informed that one chick even tried to make it onto the fifth tee during play on Sunday,” said James.

“A kind marshal helped it back to safety with mum and dad keeping a close eye on proceedings.”

Read more about wildlife on the Links at the Links Trust blog