The Sandpipers At The Johnson’s Mills Mudflats

Pipers Gather on the Mud Flats for a snack as they prepare for their 4500 km migration South. Johnson's Mills in New Brunswick is one spot protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada so these delicate migrators can live in peace.
Pipers Gather on the Mud Flats for a snack as they prepare for their 4500 km migration South. Johnson’s Mills in New Brunswick is one spot protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada so these delicate migrators can live in peace.

We drove to The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s protected lands along the Bay Of Fundy at the Johnson’s Mills Grande Anse Mud Flats. We had stopped at the site on another trip along that coast but the site had been closed and so after seeing on the CTV News a report about the hundreds of thousands of Semi-palmated Sandpipers that gather at the site prior to their 4500 km migration to South America we decided to get and check it out.

The actual interpretive center has a few rooms of displays and information as well as guide books and souvenirs for sale and there was a guide on the boardwalk lookout answering questions. A crowd of bird watchers was on the boardwalk poking their long lenses left and right hoping to see the flocks of pipers either hopping along the mud looking for food or flying in the awesome packed formations the birds create when so many thousands are flying together.

All the pipers had decided to move their picnic spot to a little bay a few hundred meters from the info center so we drove over to the beach area where the pipers were gathered. As soon as we got out of the car we could hear the high pitched squeaking and chirping of the thousands of birds and it created a whispering siren of crystal bells, a chorus of secret communication that we could only imagine what was being said.

Through the binoculars it was amazing, the telephoto perspective flattened the slope of the mudflats and all you can see is a wall of tiny grey and black and white birds moving this way and that. We always like to see a piper on the beach wherever we are but this was something else! It was the sort of sensation you get when you look closely at an ant hill that is swarming and thriving and heaving with thousands of ant bodies; this was similar with the feather bodies seeming to create a moving carpet or a curtain of singing bodies that flitted and danced along the mudflats.

What a lovely visit to this intertidal piece of heaven with all these tiny singing angels who gathered together for one last goodbye before they took to the skies on their way to the warm South. See you in the Spring!

Living in New Brunswick means there are always special places where a piper will appear, not just on the beach or the mud, this little fellow was up near Bouctouche standing on the roof of a baby barn!
Living in New Brunswick means there are always special places where a piper will appear, not just on the beach or the mud, this little fellow was up near Bouctouche standing on the roof of a baby barn!