Cover stories: Gouldian opportunity

This month’s cover species, The Gouldian Finch (Erythrura gouldiae) is a threatened Australian granivorous bird and one of 637 Kimberley wildlife species allocated cost‐effective management priorities using the Priority Threat Management process. Here the photographer, Bruce Doran shares more images from his surprise encounter with this hard-to-spot bird.

The photograph of the Gouldian Finches was the result of an incidental observation in the Victoria River area of the Northern Territory. I was (originally) taking photographs of Australian Bustards for a book that my colleague, Dr Mark Ziembicki, was writing.  I had set up a hide in the early morning near a water trough where we had seen a number of Bustards the day before. I was in the process of photographing a Bustard when I heard a flurry of many small wings. I didn’t pay attention until I realized that Mark was gesticulating wildly at a large group of Gouldian Finches which had landed on the fences, pipes and bare ground around the trough. Mark later told me that he had only seen a single Gouldian in seven years of fieldwork in the area. I took a range of images, mostly of finches on fencing wire and pipes. The next day I set up a hide in a better position, in the hope that the finches would return. They did, albeit in smaller numbers, and I was able to take some low-angle shots of these delightful little birds drinking with other finches and pigeons. I’ve never seen them in those sorts of numbers since, so it really was a fortunate few days.

All photos: Bruce Doran

Read the corresponding Review, Priority Threat Management for biodiversity conservation: A handbook by Carwardine et al. in issue 56:2 of Journal of Applied Ecology.

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