Portarlington Golf Club is located 2.5 miles from the town of Portarlington and occupies 105 acres of the old Warburton estate at Garryhinch, Co. Offaly.
It is a beautiful parkland course…rated in the top 100 in Ireland. It boasts a wide variety of mature trees including some ancient oaks. A coniferous forest flanks the 5th,6th,and 7th fairways.
Another major feature is the River Barrow on the eastern side of the course, bordering the 16th and 17th fairways.
Naturally the above features are ideal as a wildlife haven. Otters may be observed upstream of the 16th tee. Late evenings are the best chance of a sighting.
Otters raided the first lake some years back and took all our Carp. They were seen heading back to the river at daybreak.
Occasionally one will see the blue flash of a Kingfisher as he skims the river.
There are also six lakes judiciously placed on the course, three of which are feeding stations for the Mallard duck who are fed on crushed barley. In the early years these birds were brought in each spring but they are self propagating now and make a lovely spectacle when they parade their ducklings across the fairways having hatched in secret locations.
Moorhens (waterhens) , favourite prey of the notorious Mink, once numerous, are rarely seen on the river Barrow, but they still rear their clutches on the lakes.
An unwelcome visitor to those lakes is the Grey Heron ( Crane), looking for an easy meal , not averse to snatching waterhen chicks and ducklings.
Thankfully the Grey Squirrel is gone from the area, they were a serious threat to the Red Squirrel and are not native to Ireland. Their demise is credited to the arrival in the locality of the Pine Marten who was first observed in the area approximately 30 years ago. The tamer and heavier grey squirrels were easy prey for the Pine Martens while the lighter and faster Red Squirrel could escape them out on the more slender branches. Pine Martens are voracious predators and will devour red squirrels , if they come on them at night in their dreys.
They will also devour nesting birds, and almost anything edible. They have colonised the area and can be seen on the course occasionally, although they are nocturnal.
Red squirrels are fed peanuts from April to September at three locations in the centre of the course. They are our most popular resident. Many visiting golfers see their first red squirrel in Garryhinch.
Like most areas in the country, the rabbits are gone from Garryhinch but there are a few resident hares to be seen
There were signs that Badgers had been digging for roots at the back of the 7th green.
Ravens have nested at the 8th tee, and are increasing in number, their raucous croak is unmistakeable.
Buzzards likewise are new editions and can be observed circling on high. Like them or not, both Ravens and Buzzards are protected species, as is the Pine Marten.
Swans can be seen too, and have nested on the river near the 16th tee box and successfully reared their cygnets.
A rare visitor to the lake on the first fairway – a little Grebe has nested and raised her chicks.
There is a goodly population of Sika Deer (our club logo) in the surrounding woods and are frequently seen about the course.
In hard weather, the smaller birds are fed close to the clubhouse. In spite of this location, a Sparrow Hawk has been seen raiding – nature in the raw.