A round with black-tailed godwit and oystercatcher

“This is very exciting and very special.” Harro Müller is an ornithologist and he is particularly taken with the Büsum Dithmarschen golf course. “I don’t think there is a golf course anywhere in Germany that has such a high number of breeding birds as this one.” Müller assumes that there are around 40 breeding bird species, including numerous species that are classified as endangered on the Red List, such as the cuckoo, bluethroat, black-tailed godwit or oystercatcher. Counts in recent years have shown that their occurrence has even increased on the golf course.

One might think that the Wöhrdener Loch nature reserve, which is directly adjacent to the golf course, is a much better location. Completely without houses and without playing on a golf course. In fact, the birds feel particularly comfortable on the golf course because there are no hunters such as foxes, martens or raccoon dogs. The golfers find it rather annoying.

The number of birds in the vicinity of the 18-hole course is naturally high. The Dithmarscher Speicherkoog, created by the complete dyking of the coastal area in 1987, is flown to by thousands of migratory birds in spring and autumn. However, before the embankment the number of breeding birds was considerably higher, and since then the breeding birds have only gradually begun to reclaim the area.

The fact that nutrient-rich water from the sea always seeps in below the dyke also means that saltweed, for example, an important plant for coastal protection, has developed. Valuable bodies of water were created from the residual tidal creeks that remained on the separated side of the dyke. “30,000 to 35,000 wading birds in September or October are quite common here,” explains Müller.

From his point of view, the golf course plays a not insignificant role. “The birds benefit from the small-structured landscape.” There are hedges, bushes, reeds and a small alder grove. “The ecological system has been preserved,” explains the ornithologist. “Due to the nest box promotions and the spacious meadows and perennials, the living space here is pretty ideal.”

According to Müller, shy birds like the black-tailed godwit in particular have realized in recent years that they are not really threatened by the athletes on the golf course. The roofs of the shelters are often used by breeding pairs, even in the bunkers one or the other pair of birds has already tried to breed – but then unsuccessfully.

The golf course itself, which also participates in the Golf & Nature certification scheme of the German Golf Association, promotes bird numbers as much as possible. The roughs and compensation areas are only mowed very late in the summer, the repeated creation of new meadows has ensured improved habitats in recent years.

Müller therefore recommends a trip to GC Büsum-Dithmarschen in Schleswig-Holstein not only from a golf perspective. Equipped with binoculars, extensive bird watching is also possible here. Starlings, tree sparrows, sedge warblers – there is a great variety on and off the fairways.