SAINT JOHN, NB. The Irving Nature Park in West Saint John provides a vital feeding and rest stop for thousands of shorebirds during their fall migration. The tiny (16.5cm /6.5”) Semipalmated Sandpipers arrive in the Bay of Fundy between late July and early September where they join several other species of shorebirds to feed on small invertebrates on the Bay’s extensive mud flats. After doubling their weight over a two-week period, they depart on a 72-hour 3,000-4,000 KM non-stop flight to South America.
The Saint John Naturalists Club, Nature NB and the Irving Nature Park are teaming up to share this amazing story with visitors to the Saints Rest Beach this summer.
“We are excited about talking to Park visitors about this amazing migration story” says Chuck Perry, President of the Saint John Naturalists Club. “Sadly, the population of the Semipalmated Sandpipers has been declining since the 1970’s but we are optimistic that by getting as many people as possible interested in the birds, we can help assure that the Irving Nature Park will long continue to be an important stopover site for migrating shorebirds.”
Katie Breneol, the Manager of the Irving Nature Park, notes that the Park was established by J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) to help protect an environmentally significant, endangered area of the Fundy coast. “Given our location close to a major urban area, we welcome thousands of visitors a year who come to enjoy and experience the Park’s great diversity of woodlands, coastal marshes and beaches”, she says. “This can create pressures on sensitive habitats that the Park works to protect. This project will help inform our visitors not only of this amazing migration story but also in how they can help in protecting the birds when they are roosting on the beach during high tides. J.D. Irving, Limited supports a fully funded calendar of outdoor experiences at the Irving Nature Park.
Adam Cheeseman, Director of Conservation with Nature NB notes that the Irving Nature Park is part of a larger area identified as an “Important Bird and Biodiversity Area” in Saint John. The coastline and mudflats here play a vital role as a feeding and resting site for migrating shorebirds. “At Nature NB, we know from our conservation projects throughout the province, that engaging and informing the public on the importance of these sites can pay huge dividends in reducing disturbances to these birds during their incredible annual migration.”
Volunteers from the Saint John Naturalists Club will be on the Saints Rest Beach during high tides on weekends from August 17 to September 8. They will be conducting shorebird counts and talking to beach visitors about the sandpiper migration and conservation story, and about the ways they can help the birds including minimizing the disturbance of the sandpipers while they are resting on the beach.
For more information:
Saint John Naturalists Club
Hank Scarth, Project Coordinator
Irving Nature Park
Katie Breneol, Park Manager
Adam Cheeseman, Director of Conservation
Make sure to follow the Irving Nature Park, Nature Saint John and Nature NB on Facebook!!