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Birding at East London Golf Club or Mugged by a Monkey

Updated on May 29, 2012
Half-collared Sunbird
Half-collared Sunbird
White-browed Scrubrobin
White-browed Scrubrobin
Hadeda Ibis
Hadeda Ibis
Impala on course
Impala on course
Knysna Turaco
Knysna Turaco

Almost mugged by a monkey

Birds of East London Golf Club or almost mugged by a monkey.

The East London Golf Club consists of Coastal Bush and Evergreen Forest that provides a favorable habitat for many of the typical forest bird species of South Africa including Louries (now called Turacos), doves, robins, bulbuls, waxbills, sunbirds and woodpeckers.

The East London Bird Club enjoys an occasional Monday morning outing to the course where typically about 40-50 different species are recorded. Many of the golf club members are avid birders and it is not unusual to see a four-ball pause to discuss an interesting sighting or bird call – sometimes not always appreciated by the non-birders. But then birds of a feather tend to flock together and it is unlikely that a golfer-birder would be joined by a total non-birder.

Two species that are often seen and heard are the Hadeda Ibis, who, with his long beak helps to aerate the fairways as it probes underground in search of worms. The Knysna Turaco is a magnificent sight in its green, blue and red colours and can often be seen flying across the fairways. Its gruff, croaky call is often heard from the canopy and gives no indication of its beauty.

Two rare species that can be seen on the course are the much sought after (by birders from the interior of S.A. or overseas) Knysna Woodpecker and Knysna Warbler. The second is rarely seen because it is a shy forest ‘skulker’, but it is often heard and then recognized by it trilling, descending call. The Woodpecker is easier to find as its loud pecking can be followed up to where he/she if working at making a hole on the tree.

The course also enjoys other wild life including a herd of Impala and many Duiker who can often be seen running across the fairway or grazing next to the greens. More shy and seldom spotted are some Bush-buck. A troop of monkeys patrol the trees near the clubhouse and have been known to try to steal food from unsuspecting victims in the car park! (Especially women)

A year or so ago a young women golfer had a rather frightening experience with the Vervet Monkeys at the Club.

This took place in broad day light in the car parking area of this up market Golf Club. Now you really would not dream of facing any kind of danger here as there is strict security at the entrance and even a security guard looking after the many expensive cars parked here.

The trouble is that this attack came from out of the air. Unathi, who had just finished 8 holes of golf (the school golf team only play 8 holes on Mondays) and was feeling very satisfied with her round as she had broken 50 for the first time, decided to take out some of the sandwiches that her mother had lovingly packed for her that morning. As she opened the Tupperware container and lifted the egg and tomato sandwich towards her mouth, a hand, attached to a hairy arm, and even hairier body, came out of the tree above her and tried to snatch it out of her grasp. According to the security guard who unfortunately was on the other side of the car park admiring a very expensive Porsche Coupe at the time, Unathi let out a blood curling yell and then ran across the car park towards the Clubhouse pulling her golf cart behind her and waving her sandwich in the air with the monkey in hot pursuit. Unathi is a young lady who is not easily robbed of her lunch or other possessions

Highly trained as the security guard was, he really did not immediately know what to do and so he simply froze in his tracks and wondered where this chase was going to end. At this moment Andre, the school golf captain, quite a big chap for a grade 10, came around the corner and the monkey, realizing that he/she was now outnumbered and was probably not going to win this battle, jumped into the nearby Coral tree and disappeared over the wall into the bowling club area and to greener pastures.

Unathi is convinced that it glared at her in a threatening way as it disappeared to terrorize the sportsmen and women on the bowling greens who could not run as fast as Unathi could, even pulling her golf cart. On being questioned by the rest of the golf team as to why she did not abandon the cart or the sandwich she could only explain that at a time like that, common sense did not come into the picture, only survival of the fittest. Makes you think about the theory of evolution.

A golf game at East London Golf course offers much to the nature lover be their interest flora, fauna or birds. Just watch out with your sandwiches!

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    • Johan Smulders profile image
      Author

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Thanks Sparrowlet, it is a beautiful place to bird but watch out for the monkeys.

    • Sparrowlet profile image

      Katharine L Sparrow 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Entertaining hub, and love the story of brave Unathi! The birds are truly beautiful.

    • Johan Smulders profile image
      Author

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      The monkeys can be quite aggressive, so as with any mugging, hand it over unless you have a golf club in your hand!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      A wonderful, entertaining story that should bring out the wildlife lovers. I know that I'd be willing to give up a sandwich to meet a vervet and get a photo.