Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Tin Can Bay: Shining Flycatcher, Black Bittern, Bush-hen, Ground Parrot, Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin

Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin_
A lovely encounter with Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins, Pale-vented Bush-hen, Black Bittern, Ground Parrot and Shining Flycatcher were the highlights of a three-day visit to Tin Can Bay.

Pale-vented Bush-hen
We stayed at the Top Tourist Caravan Park in Tin Can Bay. A pair of Pale-vented Bush-hens were very vocal in the maleleuca swamp at the back of the park and the birds would sometimes feed in the open, with no coaxing required. A second pair of bush-hens could be heard calling in the swamp.

Pale-vented Bush-hen

Noosa Plain, Cooloola
Following an early morning drive to the Noosa Plain nearby at Cooloola, five Ground Parrots were flushed at different spots from the main telegraph line road along a 400-metre stretch over about 20 minutes. This is an unusually high density of this species and it was apparent that the birds were feeding on grasses in relatively open areas along the road.

Ground Parrot
 I even managed a distant if poor shot of a Ground Parrot in flight.

Teewah Creek
 No visit to the Noosa Plain is complete without dropping in to the beautiful Teewah Creek.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
 A group of 8 Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos were feeding in bushes on the Noosa Plain.

Grey-tailed Tattler
 I spent a morning kayaking along Snapper Creek, Tin Can Bay. Quite a few tattlers were roosting in the mangroves at high tide.

Snapper Creek, Tin Can Bay
I tried a bit of Black Bittern playback and a bird responded. A fine male soon flew in, and although I could see it well just a few metres away, a profusion of mangrove leaves prevented a picture. I've rarely encountered Black Bittern in mangroves and when I have the birds have been secretive.

Shining Flycatcher - female
I had more success with Shining Flycatcher, seeing a total of seven - two pairs and three single males - in the mangroves.
Shining Flycatcher - female

Shining Flycatcher - male

Dolphin feeding station
Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin
This morning we visited the dolphin feeding station at Norman Point, Tin Can Bay, where Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins have for many years been coming in to feed on fish handed to them under supervision by visitors.  The animals are remarkably tame, placidly allowing a steady procession of visitors who are  allowed to hand-feed them small fish. It is a magical experience to spend a good 40 minutes or so standing knee-deep in water watching these animals at such close quarters.
Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin
A pair of dolphins were present during our visit but up to six members of the pod come in each morning to be fed.
Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin
One animal surfaced with an empty wine bottle finely balanced on its snout; the dolphin spent some time swimming about with the bottle.
Dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay
Visitors pay $5 to enter the feeding site which is on the property of a local cafe, and another $5 to feed a fish to the dolphins. The funds supposedly are spent on managing the site and feeding the animals, though it is fair to say it is a lucrative money spinner for the cafe owners. Visitors from around the world are attracted to Tin Can Bay by the dolphins. The animals have apparently been coming in to be fed here since the 1950s, when an injured dolphin that beached itself was hand-fed by locals until it recovered. 


  1. Greg. Are you ever home! What a life of travel you lead. So envious.

  2. Great information for my trip next year. Fantastic pics of some really special animals. I always thought Bush Hens were invisible!

    1. Ken, the bush-hens can be very difficult but this pair was unusually co-operative