Johnson's Mills Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre
Boardwalk at the Johnson's Mills Shorebird Interpretive Centre, New Brunswick (Photo by NCC)
An internationally renowned NCC property in Atlantic Canada
Johnson's Mills, New Brunswick, is truly a birder's paradise, and is visited and photographed by people from around the world. Every summer, massive flocks of shorebirds journey through the Bay of Fundy from the Canadian Arctic before heading to South America. Johnson's Mills becomes the stage for one of nature's great spectacles, as its mudflats and beaches serve as a temporary stopover for flocks of shorebirds numbering up to a quarter of a million individual birds.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) owns 227 hectares (562 acres) in the area and actively promotes conservation, education and stewardship on-site. We operate an interpretive centre in July and August so that visitors can respectfully enjoy the magnificent conservation area.
Johnson's Mills at a glance
- Johnson's Mills is located 8 kilometres from Dorchester, New Brunswick, and 35 kilometres south of Moncton.
- It earned international prominence when it was added to the Ramsar list of Wetlands of International Importance.
- It was also designated as Canada's first Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve.
- The pebble beach and mudflats make the area the perfect resting place for migratory shorebirds.
- Bird Studies Canada named Johnson's Mills an Important Bird Area (IBA).
More than 30 per cent of the world's population of semipalmated sandpipers stop at the Upper Bay of Fundy to feed and rest. In just a few weeks, the birds double their weight by eating mud-dwelling invertebrates exposed at low tide before departing for South America.
Other shorebirds commonly observed include:
- semipalmated plover
- least sandpiper
- black-bellied plover
- white-rumped sandpiper
- ruddy turnstone
Treading lightly around the shorebirds
During their short stay, it is imperative that the birds be able to feed and rest undisturbed. Shorebirds can't swim, which makes them vulnerable at high tide when they need to rest on the beach. As a result, we ask that visitors please stay off the beach during high tide.
Shorebirds are easily startled and something as simple as a passerby can scare them into flight, depleting the fat stores they need for their long flight south.
Check out a time-lapse of the shorebirds in action, below:
NCC, with the help of Conservation Volunteers, has planted native trees and strategically placed shrubs that will further develop the protected area. This is in addition to purchasing the land surrounding the beach.
NCC aims to ensure that the shorebirds have a successful respite with minimal stress before making their non-stop 4,300-kilometre flight to South America.
NCC staff will be monitoring the high tide by bike.
Our vision for Johnson's Mills
NCC is currently responsible for 26 properties here and wishes to secure additional lands at Johnson's Mills. Since 1994, NCC has worked with partners and willing landowners to obtain critical shoreline areas. Stewardship remains a key focus and NCC is currently raising money for an endowment fund and for future land securement. This fund will provide for the ongoing management of all of the area properties, as well as for the interpretive centre.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada wishes to recognize and thank the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund (NBWTF), the New Brunswick Enviromental Trust Fund, Canada Student Jobs, the Jack Iwanicki Fund and donations from the public for its generous and ongoing support of our work at Johnson's Mills. Financial contributions from NBWTF for NCC projects over many years have been instrumental in helping us carry out our conservation and stewardship efforts. For more information on the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund, visit nbwtf.ca.