At Tarcutta Hills we've got a quiet 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're now one of the most highly fragmented and poorly protected ecosystems in Australia.
They've been particularly hard hit in the Tarcutta region, putting many bird species that depend on them at risk of local extinction. But 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 this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
What Tarcutta 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 birds are nationally endangered – there are thought to be just 1,000 breeding pairs left.
Tarcutta also protects:
Animals: Squirrel Glider, Yellow-footed Antechinus, Tree Skink, Spotted Grass Frog.
Plants: White Cypress Pine, Small-leaf Bush Pea, Honeypot, Many-flowered Mat-rush, Kurrajong.
Vegetation communities: Mugga Ironbark Scribbly Gum open forest, Grassy White Box woodland and forest (nationally critically endangered), Red Stringybark open forest.
What we’re doing
By protecting and increasing the area of Grassy White Box Woodlands at Tarcutta, we're 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 they've been listed on the Register of the National Estate.
In late 2020 a 288 hectare parcel of neighbouring land was purchased, extending the reserve to 720 hectares in total.
The new block features a rare, large and healthy example of a critically endangered ecological community called ‘White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodlands and Grasslands’, which provides habitat for woodland birds such as Swift Parrots, Diamond Firetails and several species of robin.
Birds of a feather flock together
An important part of the Reserve Ecologist's work is staying on top of the changes taking place within 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.
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.
Tarcutta's purchase was made possible with funds from the Commonwealth’s National Reserve System Program, as well as our generous supporters.