Friday, August 20, 2010

Lords of the Dance

August would not be August without a visit to Marys Point to watch the shorebirds dance.

Each year, as the summer sun wanes, 75-90% of the world's population of shorebirds pause in the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy - in particular Marys Point - while on migration from Arctic breeding grounds to the southern tip of South America. Their arrival begins in July; first the female flocks, then the males, followed by the juveniles in early August.

Thousands of bird lovers, nature enthusiasts and the curious come to watch. They sit quietly on the shore, respectfully well back, watching and waiting. For the Dance.


The birds rest at high tide, blending in like so many buff-coloured pebbles on the beach. Their quiet murmurs and mutterings have given them the nickname 'peeps'. But for this subtle undercurrent of sound, the inexperienced may not even know they are there.


But when disturbed or startled, the birds take to the air, their white underbellies flickering in the light. The air is filled with the wash of their wings, like surf on the shore. Their flight is utter poetry and as they sway back and forth above the surface of the waves, I wonder if they hear a melody on the wind that we cannot.

No one sees these lords of the dance without being moved.

I remember my first shorebird experience. I was kayaking at the Hopewell Rocks
(an experience in itself).

I had left the group and headed back to shore alone when I was overtaken by a large flock of the birds - tens of thousands. I heard them coming, their wings like wind in the birches.

Mesmerized, I floated motionless in my kayak. Like a mirage, the flock turned toward me, skimming the glassy surface of the bay. As their sheer numbers washed over and past me, like water around a stone, I felt the brush of wings on my upturned cheek….but perhaps it was only the breath of their passing.

Then, just as suddenly, they were gone…and I drifted alone.

These, then, are the shorebirds of Fundy.

Have I piqued your curiosity? Want to know more?

Shorebirds of Fundy
Hopewell Rocks - Shorebirds

8 comments:

deb said...

how fascinating.
and clicked to one of the sites and noted that they try and ensure respect for the birds , that is so vital.
and yes, hopeful.

Tabor said...

I visited the Bay of Fundy a long time ago and was impressed by its structure and huge tides. I am sure the birds would take my breath away. Lovely photos.

Deborah Carr said...

These are relatively small flocks in the photos...sometimes they might have 100,000 in a wave. Still images never do them justice.

Whenever I go to see the birds, I want a nice BIG telephoto lens (but it costs much more than my camera!)

Shayla said...

Your experience sounded awe-inspiring. We just got back from Hopewell Rocks. Next time we will have to try kayaking there.

One Woman's Journey said...

Thank you for sharing. What a wonder to experience. You live in a magical place.

SandyCarlson said...

I learned a lot, enjoyed the photos, and feel enriched by your post. Thank you.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thank you for sharing this amazing experience.. the thought of it sends thrills through me.. it must have tingled every nerve in your body...

I saw them once and it will stay with me forever.. it was as if the whole group of thousands moved and thought as one ....

Amy said...

So beautiful. Sigh.