Shorebirds of Mary’s Point
Shorebirds are best viewed at high tide (when they are roosting); however, roost size between the upper Bay of Fundy sites (Mary’s Point, Johnson’s Mills and Hopewell Rocks) vary on a daily basis. Thirty-two species of shorebirds have been found at Mary’s Point. Prominent ones are:
Semipalmated Sandpiper ( Calidris pusilla ) – 14 to 16 cm: Resting on the shore, this species sometimes gives the impression of a large pile of stones, their numbers at Mary’s Point makes the effect particularly striking . It is also the most numerous species in Mary ‘s Point sandpipers . These sandpipers have the upper part gray , white bottom , and legs and beak are black. Of all the shorebirds that stop in the upper Bay of Fundy during migration 95% belong to this species. Adults begin their migration in July. Generally, at Mary’s Point, they are most numerous during the first two weeks of August. Juveniles begin migration in August and they are quite numerous in early September . Two similar species associate with Semipalmated Sandpipers are the sandpiper ( Calidris minutilla ) which is a little smaller, darker and draws more on brown , with yellowish or greenish legs and the White-rumped Sandpiper ( Calidris fuscicollis ), which is a little larger and the wings are longer than the Willet . It is usually in flight that you can see its white rump.
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus (16-19 cm): This is a chubby, striking bird, like a miniature Killdeer but with only a single black band across its breast. The back is brown and the legs and base of the bill are dark yellow. “Semipalmated” refers to its partly webbed feet. This species often flies and roosts together with the great flocks of Semipalmated Sandpipers at Mary’s Point. ________________________________________________________________________________________
Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola (26-34 cm): A strikingly beautiful, large shorebird with black breast and pale speckled back. In flight, both adults and immatures show black “wing-pits” and a white rump and tail. At Mary’s Point some of the birds have drab white, winter underparts. These plovers prefer the edge of the shore near the water. ________________________________________________________________________________________
Sanderling Calidris alba (18-20 cm): Sanderlings are one of the most active little waders, constantly chasing the retreating waves or poking in seaweed. Their summer plumage is almost gone by the time they arrive here. Never-the-less, they are beautiful in their pale gray and white feathering, sometimes with traces of rusty colour about the face. From mid September through November, Sanderlings are frequently accompanied by the Dunlin (C. alpina), a chunky, darker gray sandpiper that has a rather long, drooping beak. ________________________________________________________________________________________
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres (20-25 cm): A fairly large, orange-legged bird with an intriguing black pattern on its face, neck and breast. In flight, the black and white pattern and ruddy colour are striking. Turnstones constantly rummage through seaweed and small stones in search of food. ________________________________________________________________________________________
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus (26-30 cm): Dowitchers, which have long legs and a very long beak (but not so long as in the more western Long-billed Dowitcher), often keep company with other large shorebirds such as the Black-bellied Plover. The dowitcher’s back is dark brown, and the neck, chest and part of the belly ruddy. At Mary’s Point some are changing into their winter plumage of drab gray above and white below. ________________________________________________________________________________________
Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca (35 cm) and T. flavipes (25-28 cm): These two species are almost identical except for their size. The long bright yellow legs, graceful body, and strident call make them quite conspicuous. They mainly frequent creeks and marsh ponds. ________________________________________________________________________________________
Raptors and Other Birds: Shorebirds at Mary’s Point are prey for two species of falcons, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon. Herring Gulls also occasionally pursue and capture sandpipers. Other species that are prominent along the shore during late summer are Ring-billed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Blue Heron, Common Eider (moulting), Northern Harrier and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow (in the salt marsh). All photos graciously provided by Steve Miousse Please note: Best viewing for shorebirds at MP is between ~ 20 July and mid August. Shorebirds are best viewed at high tide (when they are roosting); however, roost size between the upper Bay of Fundy sites (Mary’s Point, Johnson’s Mills and Hopewell Rocks) vary on a daily basis. Visitors must recognize that numbers on any given day can be unpredictable.