Skip to content

Tarcutta Hills rabbit survey

Published 31 May 2021 by Tom O'Hara (volunteer)

In May a chance came up to volunteer on Tarcutta Hills Reserve in NSW, to do a rabbit survey on the newly acquired block that's been added to the reserve.

This was an exciting opportunity because it would give me my first look at the Tarcutta Reserve and my first look at a Grassy White-Box woodland, which Tarcutta Hills is known for, and which has been reduced to only 1% of its pre-colonial distribution.

So I was excited to see the reserve and perhaps a Swift Parrot, Antechinus or... well... rabbit.

The first thing that struck me about the reserve was the enormous size of the Ironbark gums, which were in full flower.

I had only seen much smaller Ironbarks before and didn’t even know they got that big. They were full of Eastern and Crimson Rosellas, Red-rumped Parrots, Wattlebirds, and Noisy Friarbirds.

In fact, there were hundreds of Wattlebirds and Noisy Friarbirds calling from dawn until dusk anywhere you went in the forest. It was truly amazing.

But I wasn’t there to twitch – I was there to find rabbits.

My partner in crime was Georgia McManus, a recent Science, Law Graduate from Sydney who was also seeing Tarcutta Hills for the first time. On the first morning, after awakening to a cacophony of Noisy Friarbirds, we got our instructions from Field Officer Damon Bassett and headed out to look for any signs of rabbits and log the geolocation into the Bush Heritage system.

We started in what I would have called a rabbit-friendly spot. In a small valley, with lots of grass and dotted with blackberries, which we were also to geolocate into the system.

After looking around there were no signs of rabbit, scat, or burrows. There were a lot of signs of wombats however, so this was a good start, and a sign of what was to come.

Over two days, Georgia and I only found one trace of rabbits – a small, old pile of droppings – but no burrows and no actual rabbits. Of course, no rabbits is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. But after two days I did begin to doubt whether or not I could tell the difference between a rabbit and a wombat…

Although we didn’t find any rabbits, we did see some Wedge-tailed Eagles close up, some amazing White Box, Stringybark, Ironbark and Scribbly Gum, a few sorts of Greenhood orchids, a lot of interesting insects, wallabies, kangaroos, the storage shed resident Antechinus and even a snake.

I took a photo of the snake and later Damon identified it as a Dwyer’s Snake. Apparently the first time this species has been seen on any of the Bush Heritage reserves, which was far better than finding a rabbit and made up for not seeing a Swift Parrot!

Over two days we did about half the new section and made plans to return at the end of the month and finish the rest.

When we returned the Ironbark blossoms were nearly all finished, and the nights were a little colder in the tent, but the results were the same when it came to rabbits – no sign of them. We did flush a Hare if that counts for anything?

There were Flame and Red Capped Robins, a few more interesting insects and a few of the White Box were in blossom, which have an amazing smell to them. In the evening there was a call of a bird I am yet to identify, followed by a beautiful moonrise.

Overall, it was a rewarding opportunity to just walk the reserve, to pay attention to the land and what was in it, and it was nice to know that there's at least one less introduced pest to worry about.

About Tom

I'm from Canberra in Ngunnawal country where I work as a part-time electrician while doing a PhD at the ANU School of Art and Design. I started volunteering last year at Scottsdale Reserve.

For my PhD I make jewellery and small sculpture in wood using generative and degenerative processes to make works that both speak to the natural world and the human built environment. I'm researching our changing relationship to wonder, which began as a sensory engagement with nature and the beginning of philosophy but has now come to represent childish ignorance or at best inspiration to scientific-driven curiosity. This transition from wonder to curiosity has seen people, cultures and knowledge disconnect from nature and place humans above and separate from the natural world. I investigate this relationship through my practice and a series of jewellery and objects.

About Georgia

I'm currently living in Sydney in Wallumattagal country. I have just completed my Bachelor of Science and Law in February and am currently taking time to work out what I'd like to do next. Although I've been volunteering with Bush Heritage within the Climate Adaptation Team for almost a year, this was my first (of hopefully many) time on any reserves.

Our tent in the grasslands. Photo Tom O'Hara. Our tent in the grasslands. Photo Tom O'Hara.
Starry night. Image by Tom O'Hara. Starry night. Image by Tom O'Hara.
An ant. Photo by Tom O'Hara. An ant. Photo by Tom O'Hara.
Snake. Photo by Tom O'Hara. Snake. Photo by Tom O'Hara.
Insect. Photo by Tom O'Hara. Insect. Photo by Tom O'Hara.
Image by Tom O'Hara Image by Tom O'Hara
A wombat in its burrow. Photo by Tom O'Hara. A wombat in its burrow. Photo by Tom O'Hara.
Image by Tom O'Hara Image by Tom O'Hara
Image by Tom O'Hara Image by Tom O'Hara
Image by Tom O'Hara Image by Tom O'Hara
Sunlight through the woodlands. Photo by Tom O'Hara. Sunlight through the woodlands. Photo by Tom O'Hara.
Image by Tom O'Hara Image by Tom O'Hara
Image by Tom O'Hara Image by Tom O'Hara

Stories from Tarcutta Hills

Bush Broadcast: Live from Boolcoomatta


Webinar: Climate change resilience

Live from Tarcutta Reserve (NSW) where staff on the ground will discuss managing our reserves to create bushfire-resilient landscapes.

Read More
Woodlands at Tarcutta Hills. By Annette Ruzicka

BUSHTRACKS 13/06/2023

The first of many flames

A cultural burn at Tarcutta Hills Reserve, Wiradjuri Country, lights the way for the revival of right-way fire practices.

Read More

BLOG 31/05/2021

Fence removal on Tarcutta

Volunteers Jim and Erica (Ricki) Nash recently embarked on their first volunteer experience at our Tarcutta Hills Reserve near Wagga Wagga, NSW to remove old fencing, supervised by long-standing Volunteer Team Leader Justin Kell.

Read More

BLOG 31/05/2021

Tarcutta Hills rabbit survey

Volunteers Tom O'Hara and Georgie McManus recently complete a rabbit survey on our Tarcutta Hills Reserve, including the recently purchased neighbouring block.

Read More

BLOG 16/04/2021

A Squirrel Glider surprise

With its Grassy White Box Woodlands, Tarcutta Hills is perfect habitat for Squirrel Gliders, but we haven’t officially recorded them on the reserve before.

Read More

BLOG 26/11/2020

Jord International help in the hills

In this turbulent 2020 year Jord’s annual Bush Heritage trip was hosted on the Tarcutta Hills Reserve to “do some good”, have some rest and relaxation and strengthen team bonding. This COVID year we could not be joined by our workmates from overseas and interstate but nevertheless people from our Sydney and Newcastle offices took part in an activity which has become an annual institution at Jord.

Read More
Sunlight through Tarcutta woodlands. Photo Annette Ruzicka.

BUSHTRACKS 25/09/2020

Growing Tarcutta

The purchase of a parcel of land adjacent to Tarcutta Hills Reserve will extend the protection of habitat for Swift Parrots and other woodland birds.

Read More

BLOG 15/09/2020

Weed management at Tarcutta

This year has been a volunteer year like no other. As we slowly begin to move back into our new normal, our volunteers are able to move back into the field in their home states. Volunteer Stephen Gye has written about his recent trip to our Tarcutta Hills Reserve to help with weed management.

Read More

BLOG 31/01/2020

Bushfires update

As we enter a new month, I would like to take a moment to update you on recent developments towards our post-bushfire recovery. The devastation wrought has been confronting. My heart remains with those affected, those still fighting fires and those on the ground beginning the long process of recovery.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 10/09/2018

Woodland foragers

Tarcutta Hills Reserve provides vital foraging habitat for the Swift Parrot and other woodland birds, but ensuring it continues to do so in the future will require forward-planning and fast action.

Read More

BUSHTRACKS 20/03/2015

Growing pains

Victoria Clark, a Masters student at the Australian National University, has been researching tree density and habitat quality at Tarcutta Hills Reserve in New South Wales. The forestry industry has long used thinning techniques to manipulate tree growth and height but thinning as a conservation practice is a relatively new idea that could help restore some disturbed areas.

Read More
{{itemsInCart}} Items - {{formatCurrency(grandTotal)}}