The Pomquet Beach Region is a series of barrier beaches, with one- to two-metre tides, situated on the north coast of Nova Scotia near Antigonish. Besides Pomquet, the beaches of St.Georges Bay that are part of this site are: Mahoneys Beach, Dunns Beach and Monks Head Beach. Pomquet is one of the longer beaches, being 5 to 10 m wide at high tide. At low tide, broader expanses of sand flats appear. Marram Grass and other seaside plants hold the sandy beaches and prograding dunes of the shoreline together. Other less common plants found here are: False Heather, Bastard Toadflax, both provincially rare, and Buttonbush Dodder, which is rare in Canada. Some of these plants are found further back from the sea in a heath-shrub zone.
The Pomquet Beach Region has been used for years by breeding Piping Plovers. This shorebird, that breeds on coastal beaches and inland shorelines, is designated endangered in Canada by COSEWIC (The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). In 1996, the Antigonish Area beaches had 12 breeding birds, a significant number, equalling 3% of the Canadian Atlantic population of the species. Between 1997 and 1999, the total has probably increased: the number of plovers nesting on Pomquet Beach (perhaps the most important beach) has increased from six to eight (and sometimes nine). This beach has had one of the most stable Piping Plover populations in Nova Scotia since the species began declining.
The marine invertebrates found in the tidal areas also provide food for other shorebird species which stop down here during migration. There is a Great Blue Heron colony on Pomquet Island, and Osprey and Bald Eagles breed in the general area.
Although the Pomquet Beach portion of the IBA is a provincial park, this designation does not fully afford protection of the kind needed at a Piping Plover site. The habitat is protected from development but not from recreational activities. Many of the coastal beaches preferred by Piping Plovers, including the Antigonish Area Beaches, are also those preferred by beachgoers and other recreationalists. Disturbance by All-Terrain-Vehicles and other vehicles is a problem at all the beaches, but especially those not designated a provincial park. In Pomquet Provincial Park vehicles are not allowed on the beach, but some still get through barriers intended to keep them out. Also within the park, a swimming area is adjacent to the plover breeding area - on some popular weekends over 1,000 people use this beach. The situation has been helped by the presence of signs indicating nesting areas, by volunteer Piping Plover Guardians, and by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, but disturbance of nesting birds and their habitat is still a serious ongoing problem. All the beaches of this IBA site are surveyed formally every five years under the International Piping Plover Census program.IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
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