Every summer the upper Bay of Fundy plays host to massive flocks of shorebirds on their winter migration from the Canadian Arctic to South America. This arduous journey is undertaken with only one refueling stop, the nutrient rich mudflats of Fundy.
The shorebird flocks are comprised of many species including the Least Sandpiper, the Semipalmated Plover, Sanderlings and others, but the Semipalmated Sandpiper represents the greatest percentage of the near two million birds that stop here.
The tidal mud flats, left by the receding waters, leave the tiny mud shrimp, Corophium Volutator, vulnerable to the probing bills of the shorebirds. Consuming nearly 10,000 shrimp a day, for a 12-15 day period, each bird will double their weight before resuming their non-stop flight over the Atlantic to the northeastern tip of South America.
In New Brunswick, they are best viewed at Johnson’s Mills, Mary’s Point and at Hopewell Rocks. In late July and early August they reach their peak and can be seen in flocks, sometimes as large as 250,000, roosting on gravel beaches above the high tide levels.
The slightest disturbance, but especially the presence of Peregrine Falcons or Merlins, results in a spectacular aerial display of precision flying as the birds twist and turn in unison just a few feet above the waves.