Birds, bushland and breakaways

Northampton farmers Brad and Jan Eastough have recently completed fencing around more than 10 hectares of remnant bushland and breakaways on their property – protecting the habitat of Wedge-tailed Eagles and Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos.

The Eastough’s farm is located near Hickety, between Geraldton and Northampton, and the fenced area was once accessible to stock. Previous grazing had reduced the cover of native vegetation and resulted in some small areas of erosion beginning to form on the undulating patches.

NACC’s Bushcare Officer Vanessa Brown has been working closely with Brad and Jan and said preventing erosion problems from developing through stock exclusion fencing was generally much easier and cheaper than repairing gullies and fixing other erosion sites.

“It is great to see farmers like the Eastough’s being proactive and preventing the loss of native vegetation with soil-binding roots,” she said.

Now that these areas of bushland have been fenced, there have been a number of significant improvements to the property.

“We now don’t need to worry about losing sheep down the gullies,” Jan said.
“In the past we have had to get down there on foot and the sheep can be hard to get out.
“Now the bushland is protected from grazing.”

The Eastough’s farm also provides vital habitat for a wide array of birds of prey and threatened species such as the Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos.
“There are a lot of Wedge-tailed Eagles around here too, and you can spot their huge nests,” Jan said.

The Wedge-tailed Eagle is Australia’s largest birds of prey!
Wedge-tailed Eagles build their nest in a prominent location with a good view of the surrounding countryside. It may be built in either a living or dead tree, but usually the tallest one in the territory. In some parts of Australia, where tall trees are absent, small trees, shrubs, cliff faces or even the ground may be used. The density of active nests depends on the abundance of prey and other resources. In most years, nests are usually 2.5km – 4km apart. If conditions are particularly good, the distances apart may be less than 1 km because the birds require smaller areas to find sufficient food.

This project is supported by the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

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