IBA Dorchester Cape and Grand Anse
Bay of Fundy/Baie de Fundy, New Brunswick
Site Summary
NB038 Latitude
45.804° N
64.522° W
0 - 5 m
50.69 km²
tidal rivers/estuaries, mud or sand flats (saline), inlets/coastal features (marine)
Land Use:
Nature conservation and research, Forestry, Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Cultural use, Disturbance, Recreation/tourism
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Shorebird Concentrations, Continentally Significant: Congregatory Species
Conservation status: Ramsar Site (Wetland of International Significance), Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
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Site Description
Dorchester Cape is a rocky cape that extends into the bay, and Grand Anse is an area of sand and gravel beaches situated along the eastern coast of Shepody Bay, in eastern New Brunswick. It is adjoined by a large ledge of intertidal mud flats, known as Bucks Flats. Grand Anse is within the town of Johnsons Mills. One of the characteristic features of the shorelines of the Bay of Fundy, such as this, are the macro-tides ranging from 10 15 m, the highest in the world. Low tide exposes vast mud flats at this site, which extend at least 2 km seaward, providing a huge open area for shorebirds to forage for abundant invertebrates. The land adjacent to the flats is poor and infertile and thus does not support agriculture.
The Dorchester Cape and Grand Anse areas are vitally important for roosting and feeding migrant shorebirds. The Semipalmated Sandpiper is by far the most abundant shorebird in the Bay of Fundy during fall migration, with up to 200,000 birds recorded at the roost site during peak migration. This figure accounts for about 5.6% of the world population and is a recent recalculation of estimates made between 1975 to 1983. More recent estimates (1995) show that a similar number of birds continue to use the area today. About 50 and 95% of the worlds population of Semipalmated Sandpipers use this and other IBA sites in the Bay of Fundy at peak of migration in early August.

Dorchester Cape is also extremely important for migrating Dunlin. An estimated 2,027 Dunlin use this part of Shepody Bay, representing almost 1% of the central Canadian breeding population. Significant numbers of Semipalmated Plovers (678) have also been observed, which is more than 1% of their global population. Black-bellied Plovers are one of the only shorebirds that are found at the Bay of Fundy in equally large concentrations during both spring and fall migration, with a maximum count of 807 in the fall of 1994.

Numerous other shorebird species are found at Dorchester Cape, including Short-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers, Red Knots, and White-rumped Sandpipers (in some of the highest numbers in the region, 227 birds). Shorebird flocks move back and forth between Dorchester Cape and Marys Point (Shepody Bay West) to varying degrees depending on the tidal cycle, and thus the highest counts at both sites most likely involve some duplication.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Semipalmated Plover 2005 - 2016 FA 1,500 - 20,000
Semipalmated Plover 2006 - 2012 SU 5,000
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1976 - 2018 FA 20,000 - 257,394
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1995 - 2016 SU 19,500 - 400,000
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
Dorchester Cape is included as part of the Shepody Bay and Marys Point Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve; the first reserve declared in Canada under the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) in 1987. Along with Marys Point, Dorchester Cape is designated as a Ramsar site, recognized as a Wetland of International Importance (as of 1982). Shorebird censuses and research have been ongoing since 1976. The Canadian Wildlife Service operates a public viewing centre at the site, to help reduce disturbance of the birds and encourage public support for shorebird conservation. However, a secondary road provides access to the beach for tourists and cottagers, increasing the potential for disturbance of the shorebird habitat.

Nature Conservancy of Canada has protected more than 100 acres to buffer the Semipalmated Sandpiper roosting area at Dorchester Cape. An interpretive centre has also been erected on site, and the centre is staffed during the summer months.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada.
   © Bird Studies Canada