Part of a four-part series, The “Fall” will highlight extraordinary wildlife migrations in Canada, including that of almost one third of the global population of semipalmated sandpipers, which make their only Canadian stopover on their southward migration near Johnson’s Mills.
NCC’s Johnson’s Mills conservation area is a renowned haven in the upper Bay of Fundy for many species of shorebirds, in particular the semipalmated sandpiper. At the peak time in August of this year, more than 120,000 semipalmated sandpipers were resting and feeding near the reserve during their marathon late-summer migration from the Arctic to South America. The long-term survival of these semipalmated sandpipers depends on the conservation of Johnson’s Mills’ mudflats and roosting beaches, where the sandpipers feed and rest before their three-day, non-stop journey over the ocean to their wintering grounds.
John Foley, NCC’s Atlantic regional vice president, said the organization has worked tirelessly since 1994 to protect shoreline habitat for migratory shorebirds at Johnson’s Mills.
“During this time, we have completed 29 conservation projects with local families who have entrusted their land to us.
“Without NCC’s leadership and New Brunswickers’ collective action to protect this critical habitat, declining shorebird populations would be in an even more perilous state.
“NCC is pleased a national audience will learn more about these majestic shorebirds on the Nature of Things. The fact CBC chose Johnson’s Mills underscores the impact charitable land trusts like NCC can have in the protection of species.”
NCC is Canada’s leading charitable land trust. It has conserved a total of 562 acres (227 hectares) at Johnson’s Mills with the help of generous supporters and land donors, companies and foundations, as well as the provincial and federal governments. The Johnson’s Mills area has been recognized internationally as a Site of Hemispheric Importance, designated by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN).
Other shorebirds commonly observed at Johnson’s Mills include semipalmated plover, least sandpiper, white-rumped sandpiper, black-bellied plover, and two species listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA): the red knot and peregrine falcon. A peregrine falcon is also featured in the Nature of Things documentary.
The CBC Nature of Things “Fall” show airs at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8.
– Since 2000, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has owned and operated an interpretive centre at Johnson’s Mills, which is open to the public during the summer. It is a popular destination for both tourists and local nature and birding enthusiasts. Donations towards this facility and continued stewardship of these lands are greatly appreciated.
– Semipalmated sandpipers weigh 20 grams when they first arrive in Johnson’s Mills from the Arctic. The birds must double their weight during their approximately three-week stopover in order to survive their migration south.
– Some of the funding for this conservation project was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, a U.S. Act passed by the United States Congress in 1989 to conserve North American wetland ecosystems and waterfowl. For more information, visit fws.gov/birds/grants/north-american-wetland-conservation-act.php.
– The Upper Bay of Fundy, which includes NCC’s Johnson’s Mills site, was the first Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site designated in Canada and the second one in the world, after Delaware Bay in the United States. Today, there are six designated sites in Canada and a total of 97 WHSRN sites in 15 countries. Collectively, these conserve more than 14.8 million hectares (36.7 million acres) of shorebird habitat.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast. This includes 29,500 hectares (73,000 acres) in the Atlantic provinces.