Friday, September 4, 2015


Birding the Acadian Peninsula

Two weekends ago we went for a short vacation to the Acadian Peninsula.  Our main objective was to see shorebirds, many shorebirds, as they migrate through that area on their way south.  Shorebird migration starts in late July and proceeds through September.  Thousands of birds of several species use our shores to feed and rest as they proceed south.

Greater Yellowlegs
Some of the areas we checked for birds included Maisonnette, LeGoulet, Miscou Point, Lac Frye, Petite-Lameque, and Wilson's Point.  There is so much shoreline there that nearly any place has its population of shorebirds at this time of year. 

Black-bellied Plover

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Plover
Some of the common species are shown above, the Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, and Black-bellied Plover.  Also common are the Lesser Yellowlegs shown below.

Lesser Yellowlegs
Shorebird activity is governed more by the tides than the time of day, so in order to see them well one must watch the tides.  The best time to see them feeding is about an hour after high tide.  At high tide they are usually resting and may be difficult to see.  The tide brings in a fresh supply of food which they are anxious to eat.  

Least Sandpiper
The small shorebirds are commonly called 'peeps'.  They are numerous and are fun to watch as they actively feed.  Shown above are two species of peeps, Least Sandpiper and Sanderling.  The Sanderling prefers the ocean shore especially close to the wave action.  It is often seen chasing the waves in and out as they crash on the shore.  Shown below is another species which prefers the ocean shore, the Ruddy Turnstone.  It is our most colourful shorebird.

Ruddy Turnstone
Our rarest shorebird is the Piping Plover shown below.  The North American population is severely compromised and we must be diligent to protect the shoreline habitat of this bird.  A few breed on the Buctouche shoreline, for example, where Environment Canada is actively protecting them.

Piping Plovers
Piping Plover
Another interesting shorebird is the Solitary Sandpiper.  It prefers muddy areas and is often found feeding along the shores of small ponds.  Shown below is one we found actively feeding.

Solitary Sandpiper
 This sandpiper is often found alone, hence the name.  It is distinguished by the eyeing, the greenish legs and the spots on the back.  It is a real beauty as are all the other species.  Shorebirds are difficult to identify but definitely worth seeing.

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