Prized rare bird spotted in hundreds at Katherine Bird Festival

SPECTATORS: Bird watching enthusiasts attended the Gouldian finch counts to contribute information to scientists at CDU who are studying the Yinberrie Hills and Mt Todd area. Picture: Katherine Bird Festival.
SPECTATORS: Bird watching enthusiasts attended the Gouldian finch counts to contribute information to scientists at CDU who are studying the Yinberrie Hills and Mt Todd area. Picture: Katherine Bird Festival.

More than 130 bird watching enthusiasts had more than a sneak peak at Australia’s most colourful bird, the Gouldian finch, at the Katherine Bird Watching Festival. 

Attracting interest from both local residents from the Katherine region as well as interstate travellers, the festival provided one of the best opportunities to see hundreds of the once endangered species. 

Tying science with unique wildlife observation, the Katherine Bird Festival made the most of one of the world’s best bird watching spots. 

Festival organiser and bird expert, Mick Jerram said at one of the finch counts spectators saw 220 Gouldian finches in addition to an array of other bird species. 

“The counts were really well attended, making for some really strong data collection that we will be able to provide to scientists at CDU who are studying the finches in the Yinberrie Hills and Mt Todd area,” Mr Jerram said.

With the population of the Gouldian finch in the Yinberrie Hills area sitting at the 2000 mark currently, Mr Jerram said he estimated the bird watchers were seeing about 10 per cent of the population at any given time. 

“People were seeing a dozen Gouldian finches on their walks, at least, and so many more when we were doing the counts,” Mr Jerram said. 

Every year, thousands of people make the trip to the bird watching mecca of the Top End hoping to catch a glimpse of the Gouldian finch. 

Following the success of the festival, which positions attendees in the best location at the best time to see the Gouldian finch, Mr Jerram is expecting the event to really take off next year.  

“It is really helpful to bird watchers if they have experts on hand to take them out and show them the best spots and we are tying that in with contributing to scientific research, so it gets very interesting,” Mr Jerram said. 

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