Quoddy Region (NB037)
Wilson's Beach/Plage Wilson, New Brunswick
The Quoddy region IBA is a body of seawater, primarily in Canadian waters, found in southern coastal New Brunswick. The IBA encompasses all the waters in an area roughly bounded by: Eastport, Maine, the west side of Campobello Island to East Quoddy Head, White Horse Island, and the east side of Deer Island to Deer Island Point. This includes an area called Head Harbour Passage. Upwellings and areas of high productivity occur here because of strong currents created by the narrow passages that lead through to Passamaquoddy Bay.
Large feeding congregations of several species of waterbirds are found in the Quoddy region in the fall and winter. During fall migration, globally significant numbers of Bonapartes Gulls pass through the region. The migration of the species is drawn out, with non-breeding birds arriving in the Quoddy region as early as June and a few adults lingering as late as January. Birds arrive in a succession of waves, and remain in the area for several weeks, during which time they substantially increase their body weight. A boat survey in December 1998 found 6,030 gulls near Head Harbour Passage, while in the late summer of the same year, a minimum of 3,500 Bonapartes Gulls were observed and an estimated 5,300 were thought to be present. These numbers are between 1 and 2% of the global population. Additionally, estimates from the early 1980s indicate that this species may peak at 10,000 birds in the late summer, while an even higher recent estimate of over 25,000 Bonapartes Gulls comes from November 1997.
December also brings impressive numbers of other larids. Christmas Bird Counts based out of Eastport recorded an average of 5,175 Herring Gulls and 1,393 Great Black-backed Gulls over the 1995-1999 period. The vast majority of these birds were within the IBA. The Herring Gull average includes 14,531 birds that were seen in 1996; this was an unusual year, when an exceptionally high peak of 65,637 Black-legged Kittiwakes were also seen. Typical early winter numbers of kittiwakes are usually in the hundreds or low thousands. The averages above represent 1 or 2% of the North American Herring Gull population and 1% of the North American Great Black-backed Gull population. Oldsquaw and Common Eider are other common wintering birds, while scoters are present in summer.
Until recently, immense numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes congregated in the Quoddy region. Typical numbers seemed to have ranged from the hundreds of thousands to a million, but two million were also reported. A primary food source of the phalaropes was euphausiid shrimp, which will swarm at the surface of the water. Its not known if the reason that large numbers of phalaropes have not been seen since the early 1980s is due to a change in this food source or for some other reason.
Northern Gannet had not been recorded breeding on the coasts of New Brunswick or Nova Scotia since the mid 19th century, but in 1999 for the first time since then, an adult bird was found brooding a chick on White Horse Island.
It will be crucial to understand the causes of the large fluctuations in surface feeders seen at this site before any conservation efforts can be undertaken in the Quoddy region.
Potential or Ongoing Threats