Rory the pheasant becomes Ashbourne Golf Club 'celebrity'

Rory the pheasant Rory has been dashing out to greet golfers on the course at Ashbourne

A sociable pheasant has become a fixture on a Derbyshire golf course.

Rory - named after world number two Rory McIlroy - has been watching golfers as they tee off, pecking at their shoes and sharing toast with the green-keeper.

The male pheasant appeared on the greens at Ashbourne Golf Club six weeks ago.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said Rory's sociable behaviour was unusual.

"He follows people around the course and hangs around the clubhouse. He's getting more and more adventurous," said club manager Andrew Smith.

'Quite a celebrity'

"Some of the golfers think he's making a nuisance of himself but others see him has a tame little pet."

Mr Smith said one member had become so irritated with the bird, he had fended him off with a dustbin lid, like a gladiator. But the experience did not put Rory off.

Facts about pheasants

A pheasant.
  • Pheasants are not native to the UK. They were introduced for hunting
  • There are an estimated 1.8 to 1.9m breeding female pheasants in the UK
  • They are found in most areas of the country, apart from the far north of Scotland

Rory has made himself a favourite with the club's staff. He arrives at the club house every morning to share the green keeper's breakfast.

He was named after double major-winning golfer McIlroy by the club steward's son.

"Rory's got a 150-acre (60 hectare) golf course he seems to view as his territory," said Mr Smith. "He's clearly caught people's imagination. He's becoming quite a celebrity."

Val Osborne, head of wildlife inquiries at the RSPB, said: "I have never heard of a golfing pheasant before. Occasionally we hear of males getting quite aggressive.

"But for one to be quite tame and not too much of a pest to the golfers is quite unusual."

She added it was likely Rory had a mate near the course who was sitting on her eggs at the moment.

"At this time of year, the males don't have that much to do," she said.

"Maybe that's why he's taken up golf."

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