The SaddleBrooke Ranch Pickleball Association has had an issue with guests. No, not people visiting their courts from outside of the Ranch, but those that have feathers and wings.
The SBR pickleball courts are located just across the road from a large irrigation pond. Robson management has stocked the lake with fish to help clean the water and to provide entertainment for grandchildren that come to visit and want to go fishing. However, a pond of water and an abundant fish supply have also drawn some large birds to the neighborhood, in particular several Great Blue Heron. One or more heron can be seen most days along the shoreline of the pond either relaxing or hunting for fish. Needless to say they don’t have to go elsewhere to find breakfast, lunch or dinner. Once evening approaches and the coyotes begin to stir, the heron seek higher ground, or in the case of these heron the top of the fence in the middle of our pickleball courts.
Nature takes its course. The heron or multiple heron have their own little ecosystem right here in SaddleBrooke Ranch: convenient, safe and requiring little energy. However, nature continues to take its course after the herons have digested their meals and let’s just say leave a rather large white deposit on the pickleball courts. Mind you, the heron is not a small bird, so we are talking about a deposit that would likely fill a half-gallon container. And all too regular. Like clockwork we can expect to see at least one new deposit every day. The mess requires water, a cleaning agent and a scrub brush to remove.
The club’s board of directors has been perplexed by the situation. Lon Alness, club treasurer, states, “If we are lucky, the bird makes its mess the evening before so that its dry when we come to play pickleball in the morning; otherwise, it’s the equivalent of a ‘water hazard’ on the golf course.” Chris Jerman, club president, said, “We were looking for volunteers to help keep the courts clean, but once “the bird” showed up, we can’t get anyone to step forward. So currently we only have a few folks that are willing to clean this [stuff] off the court.” On a lighter note, Bob Hills, club vice president, noted, “When Chris Jerman took a 10-day vacation to go to Mexico, we didn’t have one bird-dropping incident. What does that tell you?”
The club has been seeking any assistance they can to deal with the situation in a humane way. There was hope that the heron would migrate during winter, but that is not so. We have looked at relocating the birds, but expect that will only open up an opportunity for another large bird to move into the neighborhood. The only workable solution appears to be running several rows of wire along the full circumference of the fence.
In the meantime, the war continues.