I have just 1.5 days to wander NB next week, leaving from Moncton. I've done some research but can't decide where to go to see birds I can't see in Ontario. Where would you suggest I focus my limited time? Mary's Point? Grand Manan? Kouchibouguac NP? I'm willing to do some driving to get to a good spot.

I was recently in Gaspé and saw Northern Gannets, Black-Legged Kittiwakes, Harlequin Ducks, Common Eiders, Black Guillemots, Common Murres, Razorbills...happy to see them again of course, but I've already got them ticked off.

Thanks in advance!

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Either one is a good choice. If Mike Bouman is monitoring, he's a great one to comment as he lives in Ontario but is an adopted New Brunswicker.

Good luck and safe/happy birding trails to you Carla!!

PS, welcome to NB! Have you visited before?

Hello Joanne and thank you!

I was in Fredericton in the mid-90s but nowhere else in NB, and I wasn't into birding then. 

I should also say my field skills are pretty low, I'm new-ish.

Grand Manan is probably the best choice because of the pelagic birds I could see but it's kind of far if I drive into PEI the day before.

Hello again!

For Mary's Point, the website says to not go on the beach during migration season but that the interpretive centre is a good place to learn about birds. Does that mean I won't actually be able to see many birds because this is migration season and I'm supposed to stay at the interpretive centre? I heard there's a short walking trail and that I could see piping plovers from that trail.

Also! if I go to Mary's Point I'll probably have to leave at 9:30 am. Is that the kind of place for early morning birding, or is it dependent on the tides?

thanks in advance!

Folks are asked not to go on the beach but instead view from the edge of the beach using their bins or scopes from what I understand. Not so sure re those Piping Plovers at Mary's Point though. Maybe someone could comment on that.

Hi Carla ! The easy answer to your question would be Grand Manan but the short time frame you have makes this one the toughest to do. The travel logistics are quite extensive . A whale watch outing would be best to see shearwaters ( Great, Sooty, maybe Manx and if very fortunate Cory's ), petrel's ( Wilson's and possibly Leach's if the whale watch went out to the area known as "The Prong'), Northern Fulmar, Phalaropes (Red-necked and Red ) and puffins. Quite a lot of planning and timing to do the Grand  Manan trip and reservations for the ferry and whale watching with Sea Watch Tours out of Seal Cove would be advisable.  Great and Sooty shearwaters , phalaropes and other pelagic birds can be seen on the ferry ride to and from Grand Manan . I don't think you would see anything while traveling on Grand Manan that you could not see in Ontario ... have to get out on the water ... the farther the better !!

    With regard to Mary's Point I would consider checking out Johnson's Mills. Both offer the same opportunities to see massive numbers of shorebirds ( Semipalmated Sandpipers) and are equal distance from Moncton. Johnson's Mills is more accessible to the birds and this year seems to be the location of choice for the majority of sandpipers migrating through. The Interpretive Centre is adjacent to the beach and has a deck where the staff provides a scope to view the birds, all very convenient ! Again you likely will not see any new birds, get new "ticks" but the spectacle of seeing thousands of Semipalmated Sandpipers  flying in unison or roosting so close together they form a bumpy looking grey carpet is incredible !! The Johnson's Mills Shorebird Reserve has a number you can call to get info as to the bird numbers being seen and best times to view them ( high tide time ... high tide likely would be about 5 PM ). A couple hours before high tide is best . There are at  least three Peregrine Falcon's in the area and it would not be unusual to see them chasing the sandpipers . Some sandpipers are lucky and some are not , we saw it both ways.

   I doubt there would be reliable sightings of Piping Plover at Mary's Point . If you happen to be on P.E.I. though, you would almost certainly see an adult and two young Piping Plover at Panmure Island Provincial Park . We spotted them there this past week and I am positive they would still be there this coming week. Walk the length of the beach keeping a close eye on the upper beach versus the waterside of the beach. Kouchibouguac N.P. likely has reliable  sightings of Piping Plover but I do not have any first hand knowledge of recent or known birds there . Have seen them there in the past .

    Good luck with the trip and the birding !!!

Thank you for the excellent information! I'll have to get back to NB to make Grand Manan pelagic birding trip happen, and PEI actually seems like too much fuss now for such a short trip. I'm going to simplify:

Johnson's Mills (I called for prime birding times)

Hopewell Rocks and Desmoiselles Beach Trail (I called for tide times)

Sackville Waterfowl Park (I have a friend who just moved to Sackvillem she isn't a birder but likes walking in the marsh)

Johnson's Mills sounds great. I hope the Peregrine doesn't slaughter any little cuties in front of me though! Thanks Joanne and Mike!!

Nice choices [all]. Waterfowl park should have many Duck species, Pied-billed Grebe and possibly some Sandpipers. Glossy Ibis was there on two occasions earlier this year.

I haven't been to the Hopewell Rocks for years but remember Semipalmated Plover and some of "the Peeps" of the Sandpipers.

Johnson's Mills will provide large numbers of Semipalmated Sandpiper with some others thrown in.. Be sure to visit the Interp. Center; a wealth of info there.

I'm getting excited!

Johnson's Mills still has about 100,000 sandpipers! It's a great spectacle to see them flying around, and there are Peregrine Falcon attacks daily (you'll see one flying around at least). If you want to check out the 'pipers, high tide is the best time to see them!

Hi Carla,

We were at Johnson's Mills yesterday and the number of plovers and sandpipers was spectacular. Today I drove to Mary's Point and also saw thousands of plovers, although definitely not as many as at Johnson's Mills. There was at least one Peregrine falcon at Mary's Point that was quite actively hunting along with a couple of Northern Harriers.

The one problem with Mary's point is that the birds, once scared away by a Bird of Prey have a long stretch of beach to go to that is inaccessible to you, and so you will only see these birds as close as about 50 to 100 meters away. But often they will up to a kilometer or two away until scared away from that spot.

Johnson's Mills on the other hand has a road that runs along the beach, and so you have considerable opportunity to see the plovers and sandpipers. Yesterday they ended up staying around the observation post and within I would say 30 meters or so. Of course the falcons there are also active as you can see from the photo I posted from yesterday.

Enjoy your outing either way.


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