IBA South Shore (Port Joli sector)
Liverpool, Nova Scotia
Site Summary
NS004 Latitude
43.817° N
64.937° W
0 - 5 m
435.61 km²
tidal rivers/estuaries, mud or sand flats (saline), open sea, inlets/coastal features (marine), coastal cliffs/rocky shores (marine)
Land Use:
Nature conservation and research, Fisheries/aquaculture, Hunting, Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Hunting, Recreation/tourism
IBA Criteria: Continentally Significant: Congregatory Species, Nationally Significant: Threatened Species
Conservation status: Migratory Bird Sanctuary (federal), National Park, Provincial Park (including Marine)
Restricted access for IBA coordinators
Login name: Password:


View in mobile

Site Description
The Port Joli sector of the South Shore is located along the southeast coast of southern Nova Scotia, facing the Atlantic Ocean. The site consists of a long stretch of shoreline between the towns of Rockland, on the west, to Summerville Centre, on the east. Included in this IBA are the following beaches that are of significance for Piping Plovers: Black Point Beach, Matthews Lake Louis Head Beach, Sable River, Johnston Pond, Herbert Rocks, Port L'Hebert, Sandy Cove Beach, Port Joli, Joli Point, St. Catherine's River Beach, Little Port Joli, Cranberry Pond, Wobamkek Beach, and Summerville Beach. Many of the preceding sites back on to tidal basins, which are dry at low tide. This site also features three large inlets consisting of mud flats and eelgrass in the upper reaches they are Port Joli, Port LHebert, and one at the outlet of the Sable River. Rocky shores with reefs separate these inlets. The coastline is irregularly shaped with a few steep headlands, although most bays are shallow.
This site supports large numbers of breeding Piping Plover (globally vulnerable, and nationally endangered). A total of 35 adults, representing about 1.3% of the estimated total Atlantic population and about 8% of the estimated Atlantic Canada population were recorded at this site in 1996. In 1991, 38 Piping Plovers were recorded at this site.

Canada Geese (from the Newfoundland and Labrador population) are also found at this site in significant numbers during fall and spring migrations, and during the winter. It is thought that one flight of geese passes through in the fall, and that a second flight arrives in early winter and remains there for the winter. Since surveys started in 1914, between 3,000 and 6,000 wintering Canada Geese, representing 2 to 5% of the population, are regularly observed at this site. The most recent survey, in 1999, found 3067 geese, and occasional peaks of over 11,000 birds have been recorded.

In the early 1960s, as many as 15 eastern population Harlequin Ducks (nationally endangered) were observed at this site. An average of only 8 birds was recorded between 1973 and 1996, but then in January 1999, 45 Harlequin Ducks were seen. The American Black Duck is regularly seen here in good numbers (1,612, winter 1999). Other wintering waterfowl include Common Goldeneye, Common Loon and Common Eider.

During the fall migration each year, about 2,000 shorebirds are recorded. In some years, Black-bellied Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Willets, Least Sandpipers, and Pectoral Sandpipers are found in significant numbers (greater than 1% of their respective estimated populations).

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Black-headed Gull 2018 FA 4
Black-headed Gull 1994 - 2012 WI 7 - 32
Dovekie 1990 - 2014 WI 8 - 296
Great Cormorant 2017 SU 250
Harlequin Duck 2017 - 2019 FA 96 - 134
Harlequin Duck 2012 WI 207
Piping Plover 1991 - 2016 FA 4 - 11
Piping Plover 1996 - 2015 SP 4 - 10
Piping Plover 1990 - 2017 SU 4 - 38
Roseate Tern 2008 SP 2 - 5
Savannah Sparrow 2014 FA 30
Savannah Sparrow 2016 - 2017 SP 20 - 25
Savannah Sparrow 2017 - 2018 SU 20 - 40
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
The accessible sand beaches attract people who often overlook the small numbers of Piping Plovers present here and are therefore sometimes disturbed by these beach-goers.

Serious hunting violations that have occurred in the past are thought not to have affected overall goose numbers. Four federal Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (MBS), Port Joli, Port LHebert, Sable River and Haley Lake, the earliest of which was established in 1915 as a provincial sanctuary, were created for the protection of geese. The borders of these Migratory Bird Sanctuaries have changed several times, owing to the high interest in hunting in the area. The establishment of the Seaside Adjuct portion of Kejimkujik National Park (1986), provincial parks (1970s and 1990s), and the MBSs in this area has probably led to a slowly increasing interest in conservation.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
   © Birds Canada