Friday, August 1, 2008

Birding Hot Spots Saint John, NB, CA

Five Birding Hot Spots in Saint John


The Bay of Fundy has attracted students of the natural world for centuries. Over the years, visitors and local birders have identified sites along the coast where birding is frequently very rewarding. Near Saint John, the following five sites are checked regularly by avid birders during the appropriate seasons.

Maps of these sites can be found at the following url:

1. Black Beach Road is a popular area, particularly during fall and spring migration. Large numbers of migrating warblers, vireos, flycatchers, and sparrows have been observed in the alders after a weather front of rain and strong winds from the north-west or the east.

Directions: From Route 1, take Exit 112. Proceed toward the east (Lorneville) on King William Road. Don’t make any turns. Just before the Coleson Cove Generating Plant, take the right fork in the road. Look for migrants from here until the end of the rough, dirt road (Black Beach).

2. Saints’ Rest Marsh and environs include the Sheldon Point Trail, the Lancaster Sewage Lagoon, Saints’ Rest Beach, Saints’ Rest Marsh, and Taylor’s Island.

The first part of the Sheldon Point Trail is a good place to find migrating songbirds in May, September, and October.

The area referred to as the Lancaster Sewage lagoon is a popular spot to find nesting and migrating waterfowl, warblers, and vireos; Sora; American Bittern; and resting gulls. In spring, the walking paths down to the lagoon and the forested area to the east of the lagoon are favourite places to find migrating songbirds.

In the fall, migrating shorebirds restore their fat on the tidal ponds, the marsh, and the mudflats to the west of Taylor’s Island. Two hours before high tide, the shorebirds leave the mudflats to rest on the marsh or on the barrier beach. Buff-breasted Sandpipers have been seen in late August and early September in the grass behind the barrier beach. This is a reliable spot to find Snow Bunting, American Pipit, and Lapland Longspur in late fall. In summer, Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows nest along the edges of the marsh.

Directions: The west side of Saints’ Rest Marsh can be viewed from the Tourist Bureau, accessed only from the east-bound lane of Route 1 (about kilometer 115). Although you can see the Lancaster Sewage Lagoon from Route 1, parking isn’t permitted along this controlled-access highway.

To reach to east side of Saints’ Rest Marsh, take exit 119A, turn right on to Bleury Street, turn right on Sand Cove Road for 1.7 km to reach the parking lot (on left) for the Sheldon Point Trail. Continue another .3 km for the parking lot to the Lancaster Sewage Lagoon. Two trails lead to the lagoon. The one on the north side takes you through mature alders and provides a better view of the marsh in the morning. In the afternoon, take the trail to the south of the lagoon to keep the sun behind you when viewing the lagoon.

Continue on Sand Cove Road, along the barrier beach, to Taylor’s Island. You can drive around island or make a small loop by turning left at the information kiosk. A parking lot, viewing stand, and better birding sites occur around the kiosk.

3. Marble Cove and Indiantown In winter, Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, Bufflehead, goldeneye, scaup, and rarities such as Tufted Duck spend the winter at the edge of the ice in this area.

Directions: Marble Cove can be view from the parking area behind the old New Brunswick Museum on Douglas Avenue. To reach the area known locally as Indiantown, proceed north along Douglas Avenue to Main Street. Turn left. Main Street ends at Bridge Street. Park near this intersection and walk through the small park to reach the St. John River.

4. Marsh Creek and Courtney Bay

Directions: The only exit from Route 1 which is close to this area occurs in the west lane of Route 1. From the west lane of Route 1, take exit 125, Crown Street. Turn left at the light on to Crown Street. Stay in the left lane. After next light, take the first street on the left, Hanover Street. Drive to the end of Hanover Street to see Marsh Creek.

If you are proceeding towards the east, take Exit 123. Turn right at the light and immediately move to the left lane. Keep to the left-most lane as road goes up over the hill. At the light, turn left down the hill, then keep to the right and turn on City Road. Choose the right-most lane on City Road all of the way up to the traffic lights at the next major intersection. (Then, be prepared to change direction four times in a very short distance.) At this major intersection, turn right. Immediately follow the traffic pattern to the left. Stay in the centre lane, which is the left-most lane of two lanes turning right. At the light, turn right on to Crown Street. Within a very short distance, make a left turn on Hanover Street. Drive to the end of Hanover Street to see Marsh Creek.

To reach Courtney Bay from Hanover Street, return to Crown Street and turn left. Stay in the right lane. Continue through the next light (Courtney Bay Causeway-Union Street). Turn left on either of the next two streets: Elliott Row and King Street East.

5. Red Head Marsh and Trail

This area may be making a comeback. For about ten years a dam prevented the salt water from entering the Red Head Marsh. After the dam was removed in 2005, waterfowl activity increased. Migrating and nesting waterfowl can be observed from April to November. Pied-billed Grebe, Sora, American Bittern, and Marsh Wren are seen frequently. The Red Head Trail winds along the south side of the marsh through mature conifers. The trail allows view of the east end of the marsh and provides opportunities to see forest species such as Barred Owl and Black-backed Woodpecker.

Directions: From the previous site, turn on to the Courtney Bay Causeway. At the traffic light, turn right on Bayside Drive. Stay in the right lane for about 1.8 km. At next traffic light, proceed right on Red Head Road for about 1.5 km. You can view the open area of the marsh from the small parking area just off the road. The parking lot for the Red Head Trail is located about .2 km, just beyond the marsh.