Miramichi Bay/Baie Miramichi, New Brunswick
The Neguac Sandspit occurs along the northern part of the eastern coast of New Brunswick at the mouth of Miramichi Bay, approximately 30-40 km northeast of the city of Miramichi. It is a long barrier-dune spit that extends southward from the northern corner of Miramichi Bay. The spit is low-lying with broad sandy flats that are frequently breached by storms. As such, it is often a series of barrier islands rather than a contiguous sandspit. Many of the sand dunes are wider than 500 metres at some points, making the Neguac Sandspit the broadest dune system in the Canadian Maritimes.
The Neguac Sandspit provides significant nesting habitat for the globally vulnerable (nationally endangered) Piping Plover. During the late 1980s and early 1990s (1987 1992), an average of 22 adult Piping Plovers was recorded annually on the Neguac Sandspit. In 1991, this represented over 4.3% of the Atlantic Canada population. In spite of continued surveys by the Piper Project, the numbers of nesting Piping Plovers has declined to a low of four birds in 1997. The nine plovers recorded during the 1996 Piping Plover census, however, still represented 2.1% of the estimated Atlantic Canada population.
In addition to Piping Plovers, Common Terns breed on the Neguac Bar. A peak of 3,927 pairs of Common Terns was recorded at the Neguac in 1993. However, in 1994, major gull predation, resulting from the aftermath of a picnic held on the beach, led to the abandonment of the colony for the rest of that year. Since that event, the colony has never fully rebounded (the peak between 1994 to 1997 was 200 pairs in 1996, but none in 1997 and 1998). Other birds that are commonly observed in the bays, inlets and open waters of the Neguac Sandspit include Ospreys.
During the fall migration, Canada Geese are also present at this site, with estimates from the 1970s numbering in the low 1000s. More recent aerial surveys have not been completed, but local naturalists have reported lower numbers in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Piper Project is a special project of the New Brunswick Federation of Naturalists with support from the Canadian Wildlife Service. The Piper Project's objectives are to protect and educate the public about coastal ecosystems, especially Piping Plover habitat. For over a decade, Project Piper has been completing annual Piping Plover surveys at this site. These surveys have led to the identification of the Neguac Sandspit as a Core Site in the New Brunswick Piping Plover Atlas. Core sites are those sites that must be protected in order to ensure the survival and recovery of the Piping Plover in New Brunswick.
Unauthorized boat landings can cause major disturbances for nesting birds, leading to nest abandonment and reduced productivity, and, as in the case of the Common Terns (noted above), the abandonment of whole colonies.IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
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