IBA Buctouche Bar
Bouctouche, New Brunswick
Site Summary
NB007 Latitude
46.481° N
64.668° W
0 - 5 m
72.59 km²
salt marshes/brackish marshes, mud or sand flats (saline), coastal sand dunes & beaches, open sea, inlets/coastal features (marine)
Land Use:
Nature conservation and research, Fisheries/aquaculture, Hunting, Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Other decline in habitat quality, Recreation/tourism
IBA Criteria: Nationally Significant: Threatened Species
Conservation status: IBA Conservation Plan written/being written, Private Park
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Site Description
Bouctouche Bar is on the east (Northumberland Strait) shore of New Brunswick. It encloses the estuary of Bouctouche River and Bouctouche Bay, about 25-35 km north-northwest of the town of Shediac, and 8 km east of the village of Bouctouche. It is a barrier-dune sandspit, about 11 km long and 100 to 400 m wide, which is connected to the mainland at the north end. The sand dunes are partially vegetated with marram grass; brackish ponds, inlets and salt marshes are located along the landward edge. Two species of butterflies with Canadian ranges mostly restricted to eastern New Brunswick have been recorded at this site: the Salt Marsh Copper, and the Short-tailed Swallowtail Butterfly.
Bouctouche Bar supports a nationally significant population of breeding Piping Plovers. Unfortunately populations have declined in recent years. During the 1991 International Piping Plover census, a total of 14 birds was recorded at Bouctouche Bar (about 3.2% of the Atlantic Canada population recorded that year). However, during the 1996 International census, a total of only 5 birds was recorded (about 1.2% of the Atlantic Canada population recorded that year). In 1997, 3 pairs of Piping Plovers were present. They successfully raised 10 fledglings.

In addition to Piping Plovers, a variety of shorebirds make use of the sandbar during fall migration. Surveys during the summer of 1997 recorded almost 20 shorebird species with as many as 500 birds being recorded on some days. The Brackish ponds, located on the leeward side of the barrier beach, are used by large numbers of feeding Great Blue Herons and waterfowl (mainly teal and American Black Ducks). A small colony of Common Terns is sometimes present on the southerly tip of the dune (approximately 50 nests maximum).

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Piping Plover 2013 FA 5
Piping Plover 1991 - 2014 SU 4 - 14
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
For many years, Bouctouche Bar has been subjected to excessive use by all-terrain vehicles. This has resulted in damage to the sand-dune system, and direct disturbance of the nesting Piping Plovers. Recently (1997), the forestry company J.D. Irving Ltd. developed a facility called Irving Ecocentre - La Dune de Bouctouche at the base of the sandspit. The main purpose of this facility is to restore the sensitive dune habitat, and to serve as an educational facility for schoolchildren, special groups, and the public in general. On the first 1.8 km of the dune, a boardwalk has been built to allow visitors to experience the sandspit without damaging its more sensitive features. There is also strict enforcement to exclude all-terrain vehicles.

Bouctouche Bar has been identified as a Core Site in the New Brunswick Piping Plover atlas. Core sites are defined as "those areas that must be protected in order to ensure the survival and recovery of the Piping Plover in New Brunswick.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
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