Modified operations at popular maritime shorebird site
Building closed due to COVID-19, but viewing deck for Bay of Fundy shorebirds offers controlled access to visitors
The ongoing pandemic has resulted in the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Shorebird Interpretive Centre in Johnson’s Mills, New Brunswick remaining closed to visitors again this summer. This decision was taken to ensure the health and safety of people due to COVID-19 protocols and the limited space inside and outside the facility. The centre was the site of multiple break-ins last year, with valuable equipment and technology stolen.
While the building itself is not open to the public, the viewing platform is open to visitors, with controlled access so people can visit, see and take photos of the birds. NCC staff will be on hand to answer questions, and signs have been posted in the area reminding people to help “Protect the Peeps” and give the birds their space.
The tips include:
• Keep your distance and stay on the road.
• Don't bring pets.
• Walk softly.
• Don't wave or shout.
• Drive slowly and quietly.
• Don't litter.
Johnson’s Mills is an internationally renowned destination for bird lovers, and NCC has hosted visitors and tourists here since 2000. People bring their binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras between July and September to get a closer look at the massive flocks of migratory shorebirds.
NCC protects 227 hectares (562 acres) in Johnson’s Mills and actively promotes conservation, education and stewardship on-site. Every summer, 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 thousands of shorebirds.
As a charity, NCC accepts donations on-site from visitors to support its efforts to protect habitat for migrating shorebirds.
“We really appreciate any and all contributions people can make. NCC is hosting student interns at the facility to count birds and make sure people are not on the beach area during high tide,” said Denise Roy, NCC conservation representative. ”Physical distancing is not only important for humans but birds as well to ensure we don’t disturb their key resting period before they migrate. Even though the centre has been closed, there is a lot of traffic in the area and so we need the public’s help to also minimize disturbances for the birds.”
Approximately one third 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. With shorebirds populations declining globally, NCC’s work to protect this coastal area is even more important. Daily bird counts by its staff contribute to tracking population trends in the Bay of Fundy region year over year. Staff also try to minimize risk of human disturbance for the birds, which can be detrimental to their survival because the birds lose valuable energy needed for their migration.
People can learn more and support NCC’s work at Johnson’s Mills by visiting https://www.natureconservancy.ca/johnsonsmills
People can see the migratory shorebirds from the comfort of their own home by connecting virtually at https://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/where-we-work/google-trekker/johnsons-mills.html.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast. NCC has protected 32,845 hectares (81,163 acres) of key habitat in the Atlantic Region since 1971.
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