The grassy woodlands of Tarcutta Hills Reserve. Photo: Wayne Lawler/Ecopix.
At Tarcutta Hills we've got a quiet sort of revolution going on.
Where once the order of the day was to work the land for agriculture, we're now 'tilling' it on behalf of nature.
This includes nursing back to health Tarcutta's precious grassy white box woodlands, which were once part of a network covering some 10 million hectares of south-eastern Australia.
Dramatic changes to the landscape have taken a heavy toll on these woodlands, and experts believe they are now one of the most highly fragmented and poorly protected ecosystems in Australia.
They have been particularly hard hit in the Tarcutta region, putting many bird species that depend on them at risk of local extinction.
However, we know that over 100 bird species still feed and forage at Tarcutta, some of them among NSW's most vulnerable.
They include turquoise parrots, brown treecreepers, superb parrots, speckled warblers, black-chinned honeyeaters, hooded robins and diamond firetails, all threatened in NSW.
All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
What this reserve protects
If we're lucky, winter at Tarcutta sees the arrival of swift parrots as they move up and down south-eastern Australia and across to Tasmania looking for food. These fast-flying, chit-chattering parrots are nationally endangered – there are thought to be just 1000 breeding pairs left.
The reserve also protects these significant species and communities:
Swift parrot. Photo: Graeme Chapman.
White box woodlands. Photo: David Nelson.
- squirrel glider
- yellow-footed antechinus
- tree skink
- spotted grass frog
- wite cypress pine
- small-leaf bush pea
- many-flowered mat-rush
- mugga ironbark scribbly gum open forest
- grassy white box woodland and forest (nationally critically endangered)
- red stringybark open forest
What we’re doing on the property
Spider orchid at Tarcutta Hills. Photo: Katrina Blake.
By protecting and increasing the area of grassy white box woodlands at Tarcutta, Bush Heritage is playing a small but important part in Australia's Swift Parrot Recovery Plan, an initiative to increase the amount of habitat available to this nationally endangered bird.
This work also contributes to bolstering what remains of Australia's grassy white box woodlands, a critically endangered ecological community.
In fact, Tarcutta's woodlands are so important that they have been listed on the Register of the National Estate.
Birds of a feather flock together
Noisy friarbirds are just some of the birds that use the food resources at Tarcutta Hills. Photo: Wayne Lawler/Ecopix.
An important part of the reserve ecologist's work is staying on top of the changes taking place within Bush Heritage's reserves.
At Tarcutta Hills that means keeping a close eye on the changing face of local bird populations.
During drier times we see a lot of flowering eucalypts. This attracts nectarivorous species such as the little lorikeet, yellow-tufted honeyeater and red wattle bird.
These species declined significantly in 2010, although the more insectivorous noisy friar bird fared well.
Wetter weather means fewer flowering trees but more growth in the tree tops, and more leaf litter on the ground.
This in turn leads to an increase in crown-feeders, such as the striated thornbill and olive-backed oriole, and ground-foragers such as the speckled warbler and buff-rumped thornbill.
We intend to conduct a cultural values assessment on Tarcutta Hills, to better understand the indigenous cultural values heritage of the property.