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Golfers on a Dorset course whose balls kept disappearing from the fairway have identified the culprit – a crow!

The mischievous birdie has been spotted at Parley Golf Centre swiping the balls and flying off with them.

Manager Daryl Dampney went out with his binoculars and has spotted a number of the crows.

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Recently the course was expanded near to a wooded area, which is where it is thought the pilferer lives.

It is believed that the thief is most likely a Carrion crow and experts say it is probably mistaking the balls for eggs.

Parley Golf Centre Crow Row 2

“We had a number of reports of balls going missing on various locations around the course,” explained Dampney. “Then someone spotted a crow flying off with a ball so we knew who was responsible.

“There is a great deal of wildlife on and around the course, but this is the first time something like this has happened.

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“We are letting our members and those who just turn up and play know about the crow.

“There is a number of the birds that seem to live in the woods so I expect that is where all the balls are.”

Parley Golf Centre Crow Row 3

Tony Whitehead, a spokesman for the RSPB, said: “This does happen occasionally.

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“It is likely that a single bird is responsible and is mistaking the balls for eggs that it wants to eat. Crows will fly off with food and store it in a larder for later.

“It is most likely a carrion crow and the way to stop it happening is to use fluorescent balls for a time.”


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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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