Spring? tracking the osprey's return

We have changed the clocks. We have cleaned the course (some areas several times). We have seeded the tee divots. We have had a few days in the 60's. OK that last one isn't very normal for our Spring weather but the rest of them sure point towards the end of Winter. Yet the roller coaster weather continues. We had a snow storm Friday and temperatures in the teens all weekend. Today we are getting a major storm but the snow turned to rain and washed it all away and is chipping away at the snow on the ground. The ground is frozen and putting up a good fight though. The wind is the main concern right now with forecasts for 60+ mph gusts. Eventually we will be through with this nonsense and actually playing golf again.

West Chop dock

Heart rock
The pinkletinks started up and then froze so went back to sleep. The red wing black birds returned but one of the best signs of Spring is the return of our mascot the osprey. The screen grab below shows a bit of a spreadsheet I keep to track important parts of the job such as first mowing etc. The earliest the osprey has returned is 3/7 and is generally at the end of the month. We were the first pole erected by Gus Ben David in an effort to help the osprey after being threatened by DDT. We have had a mating pair on our pole since the 70's and were a vital part to the resurgence of this great bird. See more HERE or do a search of Osprey Mink Meadows and all sorts of interesting stuff will appear.


I found this really cool app called Animal Tracker. You can zoom in on birds that are tagged with a GPS unit. They have bios and a bit of history on them. You can click on two animations for activity last year or last two weeks. The pictures below show a screen grab of an osprey tagged on MV. The green bird is where she was in March of 2016 and then the red dot at the end of the red line is where she is now. Belle has made a move north in the last two weeks. It will be fun to see her make the journey from South America all the way back up to our little island in the North East.
great phone app to follow GPS tagged birds

Follow Belle as she makes her way home to MV

Greetings from the Sunshine State

(Editors note I started this in Orlando but had issues with loading pictures so completed today from office)
It has been a great vacation with perfect weather. The arrival to the Orlando area gave me the opportunity to visit with an old friend from my childhood before heading into the GIS conference. The show has been great and my presentation went very well. Here are a few snippets from Twitter:
Double Tweet. Original from professor facilitating the talk Dr. Soldat then Dave who is a turfgrass consultant in Calif.
Jesse is at Gull Lake CC in Michigan 
Kevin is the GCSAA field rep for the Northeast
Rick was a Super on the Cape. At least one person could see me!

I had to make a joke about the set up being geared for tall people("They did not bring me a box to stand on"). I was the only one with a portable microphone so I could walk around the podium so you could see me. I also had some fun on Twitter with Kevin's post and geography theme:

worst part of travel is dealing with weather
I decided to bail a day early to get ahead of the storm. Mostly because the weather after the storm was no picnic either with high winds forecast for several days. The snow totals ended up being lower but the winds wreaked havoc and we lost power for 5 hrs Thursday evening. I was glad I came home ahead of it but disappointed I missed that last planned day. It was an honor to be asked to present and it went well from all I have heard. It is encouraging to know that using less inputs may be more interesting to people. It is also humbling to be recognized for it on a national stage. My fellow presenters are two very sharp young men doing great things in the industry. I look forward to watching them as their careers continue to soar.
Jason posted his post show blog yesterday see it HERE It added perspective as he talks about it being his first show. I attended mine in 1993. I have yet to attend Canada's show however so he has me there.
On the local front we had some rain yesterday which took away some of the snow from Thurs. The temps are down and the wind is up but it looks like the storm predicted for today is staying north with just a few flakes falling. We have had a very mild winter thus far and maybe we can get back to that after this latest bout with snow and cold.

Speaking Engagements

I was asked back in July if I would participate in a low input turf maintenance talk at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America's national conference. GIS or Golf Industry Show is in Orlando this year. I was honored and thrilled to be asked. After hearing who the other two speakers were I spent the next 20 minutes trying to convince the organizer how I was not on their level. He was not swayed and thought I would be a good fit for the panel. I had started thinking about the talk and prepared an outline. We had a few conference calls to discuss content etc. I put together a slide presentation and even practiced it once. The other speakers are Chris Tritabaugh, Hazletine National GC coming off the Ryder Cup and one of the brightest young supers in our industry and Jason Haines, Pender Harbor GC in Brittish Columbia who is essentially doing research on his course and writing some of the best blog posts about it I have ever read. Esteemed company for sure.

original cover slide

one of the slides

another slide from talk
I then received a call from the organizer of the Maine Turfgrass Conference (Mike Guibord) asking if I would be interested in speaking up there in January. Thinking "in for a penny in for a pound" why not? After speaking with him for 20 minutes on the phone explaining what my talk would be about I asked how long the slot would be? He said an hour. I almost drove off the road. Now any of you who know me understand I like to talk. I am even OK in public having had to run meetings for my local superintendents organization and even being a moderator at the New England Regional Conference, but those are very different from being a sole speaker for an hour! The GIS talk is three of us with each being approximately 20 minutes. Mike responds you will be fine we just talked for 20 minutes, as if a phone conversation is akin to standing in front of 100+ people for an hour. I added a couple more slides and worked up a speech for each slide then shaved those to bullet points and then went for broke. Everyone was right. It went fine and I actually received many compliments on the talk.
Me in Maine starting talk
And some good natured ribbing on Twitter from the professor at Penn State Dr Ben McGraw who was actually before me, then a lunch break, then after me in the program. Speaking of Twitter, there were also some conversations leading up to the talk and I was getting nervous as it came closer. One response from Dave Wilbur really hit home and stuck with me:
Twitter conversation leading up first Talk

When it comes to the Bioject and using a biological control for fungal diseases there are not many, if any at all, who have done it for as long as I have here at Mink. 19 years is a long time to not use fungicides. I have seen very good results with it and am very proud to have been using less chemical inputs for 21 seasons. A lot of the credit goes to you the players who are willing to put up with less than "perfect conditions" and my staff who buys into the entire program. Some of it is less insecticides. It is frustrating to work all season keeping good turf only to see it torn up by skunks overnight. We are not regulated and can use any chemicals we choose so voluntarily decide to use less on the majority of the course. Living proof if the greens are good a lot of sins are forgiven. I will update you on how it goes after a couple of weeks on vacation before the show. Wish me luck. For more timely updates on what is going on check out my Twitter feed @22Crowther where it is mostly turf talk but occasionally a rant about the Boston Bruins or pictures of Bert...