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Enjoying nature

Golf Course De Texelse flows into the stunning Texel countryside and borders on National Park Dunes of Texel. So you will come across many different types of birds and unique plant species on the course.

 

Bird paradise

Because of its location on the bird island of Texel, a wide variety of birds can be spotted on the course.
In one day, you can easily count over 70 different species.
Depending on the season, you will see migratory birds, wintering birds, breeding birds and summer visitors.

Ten birds that can regularly be seen on the golf course are named below.
Text source: Vogelbescherming Nederland
 

Moorhen

The moorhen is a common bird in the Netherlands. It is notable for its red beak with yellow tip. Its tail points upward while swimming or walking. The white undertail coverts are then highly visible. Young moorhens follow this white signal feather. The moorhen broods along all kinds of fresh water, such as small ditches and ponds, also in villages and towns. Black feather colour, with white flecks along the sides. Striking white undertail coverts with black central stripe. Red beak with yellow tip. It has a red stripe. With their typical (greenish yellow) marsh-bird feet, they can walk over floating water vegetation without sinking too deep.
Little grebe

The little grebe is our smallest type of grebe. This timid water bird is even slightly smaller than the more well-known moorhen. The little grebe is a breeding bird of shallow and sheltered waters with rich bank overgrowth and underwater vegetation. For instance marshlands, but also fens and lakes. On all kinds of waters outside breeding season, sometimes even urban canals and parks. Small and somewhat stocky grebe with a short beak. The short, light rear is often swollen, and then appears downy.
Shoveller

The shoveller has a spatula-shaped bill that makes gobbling up duckweed and aquatic animals much more efficient. Shovellers live in low-lying wetlands in the moderate-climate area, and partly due to their preference for plant-based food they belong to the (secondary) meadow birds. The broad bill is characteristic of this species.
Whimbrel

The whimbrel is the smallest and most northerly counterpart of the curlew. It does not breed in the Netherlands, but travels through in the spring and autumn. In spring, it is spotted inland more than in the autumn. In the autumn, it prefers the coast. You often hear whimbrels before you see them, since the sound is a characteristic trill. Smaller and darker than the curlew, and with a bill turned downward just like it, but shorter. Strikingly marked head with a narrow, light crown stripe, dark side-drown stripes, a light brow stripe, dark eye stripes and a notable eye ring.
White wagtail

The white wagtail is one of the commonest breeding birds in the Netherlands. It can mostly be found in the countryside. On farms but also between the hooves of cows, horses and sheep in the hope that they push up insects or larvae. The white wagtail constantly moves its tail up and down. They breed in barns, nooks and under roof tiles, but also on banks of ditches and in the foredune. Usually in the human environment. Black-and-white with white wing stripes and black throat in breed plumage.
Sedge warbler

The sedge warbler is a bird of reed-lands and other bank vegetations, and usually builds its nest in land reeds. Its ideal habitat involves a combination of young and perennial reed and a thick, partly high sprouting herbaceous layer. It eats insects it gathers low in the thick vegetation. The sedge warbler is a migratory bird, and hibernates to the south of the Sahel. Sedge warblers really make themselves noticed when singing. The sedge warbler is an agile bird. It isn't timid, and they are usually easy to see. It has a yellowish-brown feather colour with a striking, light brow stripe and dark striped head and back.
Reed warbler

The reed warbler is a true marsh inhabitant. The striking, cawing, staccato song – always with a “krr-krr-keet-keet-keet"-like strophe – can be heard in most reed areas. This inconspicuous brown bird prefers reed-lands, with the stalks being in shallow water. In good breeding areas, such as low-peat marshes in the Netherlands, reed warblers can breed in colonies. Evenly yellowish brown from above, off-white below, and in fact no further explicit features. A relatively long bill helps distinguish them from the very similar marsh warbler. 
Sand martin

Sand martins are birds characteristic of open terrains with fresh water (such as rivers). The breeding area must meet two important conditions: there must be a bare, sandy or clay steep face – in which the nest holes can be excavated – and there must be a great deal of gnats or other insects flying around. They spend the winter in Africa. While its top parts are brown, the lower parts are white with a clear brown breast band. The underside of the wings is quite dark, and the tail is shallowly forked.

Barn shallow

The barn swallow is a true farmland bird, an aerial acrobat of the farmyard. The nests are preferably made in places such as barns and sheds, where it can fly in and out. They stay in the Netherlands from April to October, and spend the winter in southern Africa. The barn swallow is bluish black from above. The forehead and the chin are red; breast band black. The rest is creamy white. It flies skilfully through the air to catch insects. To drink, they fly just above the surface of the water, and now and then lower their beaks into it. Long, forked tail.
Marsh harrier

Of the three species of harriers known in the Netherlands, the marsh harrier is by far the most common. It is a true marsh bird, with a preference for reed-land. If there is a high density of mice, the species can also occupy drier habitats locally, such as farmland. Of the three species, the marsh harrier breeds and hunts in the wettest and highest vegetations. Slenderer than the buzzard, with longer and narrower wings and tail. Long, yellow feet. During slow hunting flight, it holds its wings in a striking V.

Unique plants

If you keep your eyes peeled you can spot many unique protected plant species on Golf Course De Texelse. Take a moment to admire the broad-leaved marsh orchid, which can be found on the course from mid-May to mid-June.

7 from early June. And there is a stunning little area with yellow rattles and pink ragged robins between holes 6 and 7.

Ragged Robin

If you take a leisurely stroll from hole 6 to hole 7, you will find, behind the gentlemen’s tee, a lovely part of the links, where the yellow rattle flowers mingle with the pink blooms of Ragged Robin (4). Its official name is Lychnis flos-cuculi but in my student days we called it kukelbloem.

This plant likes moist places but the soil should not be very rich, so it often grows in wet meadows where the soil has been exhausted. In fact, there is a good example of this close to the links, where Hollandseweg meets Postweg.

Other members of the same Pink family are the pinkish-red coloured red campion (1), the off-whitish white campion (2) and the night-flowering catchfly (3) (Melandrium rubrum, album and noctiflorum). The last of these three does not grow in these parts; it gets its name from the fact that the flower only opens at night, rolling up its sepals as dawn approaches - Noctiflorum simply means night-flowering.

Rubrum means red and album is Latin for white. White campion flowers in several places on the links, so it is easy to recognise. If the plant is not in flower, it is difficult to distinguish between the red and the white campion.

However, when not in flower, these plants are clearly distinct to Ragged Robin: they are hairier, and the leaves are larger and less fleshy. Once the flowers appear, there is no mistaking them, because the pink flowers of Ragged Robin are more delicate than those of the red campion.

Western marsh orchid

Western marsh orchid is a perennial plant, plentiful on our links, and grows to a height of 15 to 30 cm. You can see hundreds of them, with their spotted and unspotted leaves, on the course from mid-May to mid-June. This plant grows on quite poor, wet soil with alkaline tendencies, either due to effects of the ground water or due to the soil itself.
The western marsh orchid spreads by means of its dust-like seeds, but to survive as a plant, it relies on a symbiosis with a certain type of soil fungi; the orchid needs 5 to 7 years to reach maturity. It is listed on the red list of Dutch plants that are either quite rare or greatly reduced in number and is protected by law.
Heath-spotted orchid

The heath-spotted orchid is generally not found on the links but might be discovered along the water’s edge at hole 7. This orchid starts to flower in early June, producing pale lilac to whitish, two-sided, symmetrical flowers; it is the last orchid of the season to flower on our links.

Its green, lancet-shaped leaves that wrap around the stem are spotted and dull green at the bottom.
The heath-spotted marsh orchid spreads by means of its dust-like seeds; these tiny seeds do not contain any food reserves and can only germinate if a specific root fungus (mycorrhiza) penetrates them. The plant grows on moderately rich, wet to damp soil in meadows, on moors and among dunes, but to survive as a plant, it relies on a symbiosis with a certain type of soil fungi.

It is listed on the red list of Dutch plants, which are either quite rare or greatly reduced in number and is protected by law.

Leafy-bracted beggarticks or three-lobe beggarticks

It’s a moot point. Some plant lists call this plant the leafy-bracted beggarticks while others list it as the three-lobe beggar-ticks but it is also known as trifid bur-marigold. I think it is an easy issue to solve, because its official name is Bidens tripartita and “tri” is Latin for three.

 Tripartita (three-fold) refers to the tiny needles on the plant’s seeds, needles that hook themselves into our clothes so tightly they can only be removed one by one. Sound familiar? If, at the fourth hole, you have ever hit the ball into the left-hand rough towards the pond this summer, I’m sure you will have encountered this plant. However, most of the seeds on the plant only have two needles at the sides. The third needle looks like a vein running down the middle of the leaf’s upper side and protrudes slightly. You might find a few three-part seeds, but these are very scarce, which is, I believe, due to the fact that the third needle breaks off very easily when touched, leaving lots of two-part seeds.

Three-lobe beggarticks are very rare on Texel but there are hundreds of them on our links around the small pond in the centre. The spot is an excellent habitat for this species: it is dry in the spring and the soil contains some rotted material. But where do all those seeds come from? There are two explanations for this.

The seeds have been lying dormant there for years but the construction of the links made their environment suitable for germination.
Or: the seeds came in the soil supplied by “Heicom”. The Golfmix Spec.’s list of components does not state clearly where the soil was sourced. I think the most likely explanation is that the seeds of the three-lobe beggarticks came with the soil that was supplied to the links.

The three-lobe beggarticks is a member of the Asteraceae. Its flower-heads are small and sometimes have petals on the exterior; the florets are brownish-yellow. The plant can grow to a height of 90 cm, although it can sometimes remain very small, with a dark brownish-red stem. The leaves are dark green, lancet-shaped, serrated and three-fold! Perhaps the tripartita actually refers to the leaves?

Nailwort

When this tiny plant blooms, it signals to me that spring is just around the corner and winter hibernation is over.

In the autumn, the seeds germinate and develop into little rosettes with oval, lightly haired, light-green leaves. These rosettes are still very small and almost impossible to find, but the plant uses them to collect the first warmth of the spring sun to continue its growth and produce a delicate stem with a few white flowers.

Nailwort is a member of the Brassicales (Cruciales) family and related to the cuckooflower and rapeseed. The seeds it produces grow in valves, which are always important for identifying Brassicales. Nailwort’s valves are elliptical, spherical - you see, they can also be found among other plants with small white flowers: hairy bittercress, shepherd’s cress and plenty of little mouse-ear. The first two species are also Brassicales and their leaves grow in rosettes too. But, as you can see from the pictures, these leaves are almost composite, feathered and have no hairs. There is also a clear distinction between the valves, which are elongated in hairy bittercress and spoon-shaped in shepherd’s cress.

Little mouse-ear has small white flowers but does not look like the first two: no rosette, a stalk with leaves and flowers and growing flat against the earth.
There, now you call tell these little plants apart!

I hope that you spot some nailwort when you are looking for your ball, because even if the weather is bad, this little plant bears spring tidings.

Rattle

If you are on the gentlemen’s tee, proceeding from the 7th hole and you glance slightly diagonally back towards the water, you will see, among the dead flowers of Ragged Robin, many hundreds of inconspicuous yellow flowers. They are rattle.

Their Latin name is Rhinanthus glaber and it is a member of the Figwort family, just like snapdragons, veronica and foxgloves that grow in your garden. There are many more this year than last year.

Rattle is an exceptional plant, because it is semi-parasitic, draining the sap from the roots of grass varieties, which means it can only grow where grasses grow. It is only semi-parasitic because it can produce starch with the chlorophyll in its leaves and with the aid of sunlight. It is quite common in the unfertilized grass that grows in the dunes.

Its square-shaped stem has elongated, lancet-shaped, serrated leaves that grow two by two opposite each other. In the glands of these leaves, labiate yellow flowers, with violet on the “teeth” of the lip, appear. The bud swells as the fruit matures - the rattle gets its name from the rattling sound the dry seeds make when the wind shakes them to and fro.

On Texel, this flower is called Skaater, Haantje or Kukelehaantje, but I don’t know why.

Distorted rose hips

Is that a new species there on the links? Just for a moment, we thought it was, perhaps a variety related to a sweet briar but with another type of fruit. The fruit looked like an orange-red fluffy ball, but such fruit is not found in the Rose family, so then we reckoned that a parasite had warped the fruit.

Aja Coutinho immediately got out the books and found, in a field guide to butterflies and in Nederlands Oecologische Flora, wilde planten en hun relaties 2’, that gall wasps, Latin name Diplolepis rosae cause this alteration.

What happens? The female gall wasp lays her eggs in the unopened leaf buds of a rose bush. Larvae evolve from the eggs. The larvae’s presence affects the development of the buds, producing a lovely red, mossy growth that can be as large as 3 cm in diameter. The larvae spend the winter in the gall, pupate in the spring and emerge in May, when the cycle begins again.

Bedeguar gall

The gall is not a deformed fruit, but a distorted leaf bud and consists of a tangle of delicate, feathered, leaf tissue and goes by the wonderful name of bedeguar gall, Robin’s pin cushion or moss gall. It was even believed that this gall had hypnotic powers, so in Dutch it is sometimes known as slaapappel or “sleep apple”.

Where can we find these fluffy balls? If, when you are the 8th hole, you do not strike straight ahead but your ball falls too short and bends considerably to the right, it may end up close to one of these little galls. In the area north of the sandy path that runs back to the club house, there are several small bushes of sweet briar (Rosa rubiginosa) where the gall wasp lays its eggs in May, in the leaf bud.

Well, perhaps it is not a new species, but it is an amazing natural distortion.

Development of Hanenplas 

Nature reserve Hanenplas, situated west of the golf course, is being developed.  Dune valleys are being restored and wet grasslands expanded. Groves have been cleared to provide better breeding opportunities for meadow birds in the grasslands and dune valley. In the cleared area, grass of Parnassus can once again thrive. Nature friendly, gently sloping banks will be created along the watercourses. From holes 7 and 17, you can easily follow how nature will develop here in the coming years.

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