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A semipalmated plover at Saints Rest Beach in Saint John. Image: Submitted/Hank Scarth

Volunteers sought to help protect shorebirds

By Brad Perry Aug 8, 2023 | 5:44 PM

Thousands of shorebirds will roost along the Bay of Fundy over the coming weeks as they migrate to South America.

At one beach in Saint John, you will also find a number of volunteers looking to help protect the birds.

The Shorebird Conservation and Education Project was created by the Saint John Naturalists Club in 2019.

Founder Hank Scarth said their goal is to count the birds at Saints Rest Beach and educate beachgoers about the importance of letting them rest.

“Shorebird numbers are in pretty significant decline and one of the key things that we can do, on a small scale at least, is protect the shorebirds when they’re here,” Scarth said in an interview.

Every summer, thousands of shorebirds pass through the Bay of Fundy as they travel from their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic to their winter grounds in South America.

Shorebirds typically spend a few weeks eating and resting in the Bay of Fundy before the final leg of their journey — a three-day, non-stop trip over the ocean to South America.

A sanderling at Saints Rest Beach in Saint John. Image: Submitted/Hank Scarth
A least sandpiper at Saints Rest Beach in Saint John. Image: Submitted/Hank Scarth

Volunteers will be at Saints Rest Beach during 2.5-hour periods around high tide on five consecutive weekends between mid-August and mid-September.

This year, the club also has an official counter and educator who will be doing the same thing during the week.

Scarth said they are hoping to get at least 15 volunteers to take part in the project this year.

“It’s not a great commitment by any means,” he said. “People can sign up for one shift or more, whatever they like,” he said.

The club will partner with Irving Nature Park and Nature NB for a volunteer training session on Saturday, Aug. 12.

It will take place at Irving Nature Park barn off Sand Cove Road, near the Sheldon Point Trail head, from 10 until 11:30 a.m.

A Shorebird Conservation and Education Project talks with visitors about shorebirds at Saints Rest Beach in Saint John. Image: Submitted/Hank Scarth

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