Bird preservation is a key priority for a group of Southern Highlands birdwatchers.
The group has set up a project to conduct regular bird counts on Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs) in the Taralga-Laggan District.
And other interested Highlanders are welcome to assist with the project.
The project aims to accentuate the biodiversity value of TSRs, along with their recreational and often overlooked historical values in order to strengthen the case for their preservation and continued public accessibility.
The cluster of reserves found in this area remains some of the closest to both the eastern seaboard and to the south-west of the Greater Sydney Area. Travelling Stock Reserves were traditionally linked to pastoral expansion west of the Great Dividing Range. There are no Travelling Stock Reserves in the Wingecarribee Shire area.
Over time, the network of Travelling Stock Routes which connected Travelling Stock Reserves in the western parts of both NSW and Queensland, became known as The Long Paddock, especially in times of drought when large mobs of livestock were moved along stock routes in search of grass as early as the 1880s. Travelling Stock Routes and Travelling Stock Reserves, although enjoying a common history and shared purpose, are different entities.
The Long Paddock Birdata Project has established a bird list for 10 Travelling Stock Reserves and the results confirm that they are valuable recreational birding sites. Over 90 bird species have been recorded across the TSRs and nearby areas. Some of the more interesting species include Australian Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Collared Sparrow Hawk, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Hooded Robin, Spotted Quail-Thrush, White-winged Triller, White-naped Honeyeater, Varied Sittella and White-throated Gerygone.
These TSRs were established on Crown Land Reserves in the latter part of the 19th century and some have remnant pockets of native vegetation. Several were also sites for small rural schools which sprang up in response to the closer settlement acts. These were legislated into law from the 1860s.
The former Golspie School and the nearby Golspie Travelling Stock Reserve are typical of many which shared a common history important to their small rural communities dating back to an age when large pastoral lease-holdings were gradually being replaced by smaller family farms.
BirdLife Southern Highlands commenced seasonal surveys in May 2018 and the next round of bird counts for autumn are set for May 21 and 23.
Members of the general public who would like to participate in this valuable citizen science project are asked to contact the organisers for more details at mailto:email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org