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Dorchester Cape and Grand Anse (NB038)


Dorchester Cape and Grand Anse (NB038)

Bay of Fundy/Baie de Fundy, New Brunswick

Latitude 45.804°N
Longitude 64.522°W
Altitude 0 - 5m
Area 50.69km²

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.

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.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Number Year Season
20,000 - 128,1002019Fall
20,000 - 130,7002019Summer
30,000 - 95,0002018Fall
30,000 - 80,0002017Fall
30,000 - 72,0002016Fall
20,000 - 50,0002016Summer
95,000 - 140,0002015Fall
30,000 - 60,0002015Summer
40,000 - 100,0002014Fall
58,000 - 117,0002012Fall
40,000 - 50,0002012Summer
20,000 - 130,0002011Fall
30,000 - 40,0002010Fall
75,000 - 100,0002009Fall
20,000 - 200,0002007Fall
20,000 - 50,0002007Summer
40,000 - 245,0002006Fall
45,000 - 75,0002006Summer
70,000 - 120,0002005Fall
19,500 - 20,0002005Summer
50,000 - 130,0002004Fall
25,000 - 150,0002004Summer
75,000 - 175,0002003Fall
30,000 - 200,0002002Fall
20,000 - 30,0002002Summer
100,000 - 200,0001995Fall
90,000 - 165,5001982Fall
125,000 - 190,4051981Fall
100,000 - 143,2001980Fall
120,000 - 257,3941979Fall
72,000 - 145,2001976Fall
Semipalmated Plover
Number Year Season
1,500 - 3,0002021Fall
5,000 - 20,0002015Fall
1,500 - 3,0002012Fall
3,000 - 5,0002006Fall