The Saints Rest Marsh and Beach Important Bird Area is located on the southern shore of New Brunswick in the Bay of Fundy, about 5 km southwest of the city of Saint John. The area includes a gravel spit that connects the Taylor Peninsula and Irving Nature Park with the mainland, and a partly tidal marsh associated with Manawagonish Creek. Industrial areas occupy most upland areas north of the marsh. This site is close to sea level, but contains some low (less than 5m), abrupt ridges. The climate is typical of the Maritimes with frequent fog, mild winters and cool summers. Tides range from seven to nine meters in this area.
Saints Rest Marsh and Beach is a major fall stopover site for small sandpipers (i.e. peeps), and some other shorebird species during fall migration. Various sources have recorded the presence of over 20,000 shorebirds at this location. Since the late 1970s, participants in the Maritimes Shorebird Survey (MSS) have periodically surveyed the site, but overall, complete coverage has been poor and the site has not been surveyed in the 1990s. MSS protocol requires volunteers to count shorebirds every second weekend during the period of southward migration from late July to late October. So, seasonal totals from the MSS represent the total number of birds seen on as many as seven one-day counts.
Globally significant numbers of Semipalmated Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers visit the site during fall migration. The three-year average MSS fall count (1976, 1985, 1986) of Semipalmated Sandpipers was 50,666 birds, which is more than 1% of the North American population. This average includes an unusually high count of 100,000 birds in 1986 (the number may be an over-estimate). The two-year average (1976, 1985) MSS count of Semipalmated Plovers was 1,500 birds, which is 3% of this species global population.
Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpipers also frequent the site during fall migration. An MSS average of 475 Lesser Yellowlegs (1985, 1986) and 400 Least Sandpipers (1976,1985) have been recorded, whereas Pectoral Sandpipers are usually found in smaller numbers. Waterfowl are also attracted to the marsh, and this site is well known by local birders to contain unusual species.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Saint's Rest Marsh and Beach. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2020.