Stephenville Crossing is bordered by miles of Atlantic Ocean shoreline. Along the shoreline there are exposed and protected areas that support different groups of animals and plants. Some of these are permanent residents, others are migratory, and some are accidental visitors. They inhabit varied natural and man-made features and make our shorelines irresistible to naturalists of all kinds.
The sandy strands along the edge our beaches, support interesting if limited flora and fauna. Many mollusks, inhabit the lower, intertidal portions of the sandy beach area and feed when the tidal waters cover their section of the beach. Small invertebrates end up as supper for flocks of gulls and shorebirds, which actively pursue these creatures near the water???s edge. Willets, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Common Snipe, Red Knots, and Sanderlings are just a few of the birds seen on this shoreline.
The beaches, at, above and below the high-tide line, are fragile habitats, constantly changing due to the elements. The dunes behind the shoreline provide ideal nesting habitat for coastal species, such as gulls, terns, and shorebirds. Dune vegetation attracts a great variety of insects, which in turn furnish food for bank swallows and other species of open country birds.
Herring Gulls, Ivory Gulls, Bonapartes Gulls, Black legged Kittiwake, Common and Least Terns, and others of their kin, find safety in numbers, nesting in colonies. The Black-Headed Gull which is just starting to be found in the Maritimes, is nesting in this shoreline area.
The haunting cry of Loons is often heard and a walk on the beach, near Rothsday Bay, at the right time of year, insures a sighting of these birds. Another frequently seen visitor to the Rothsday Bay area of the shoreline is the Osprey, who often feeds in this area.
Piping and other species of Plovers nest singly, depending on their sand-colored plumage to keep them hidden in this open habitat.
The Piping Plover, which is an endangered species, have recently been found nesting along our sandy beach.
A section of stephenville Crossing’s shoreline also has a rocky beach. The rocky areas are steeper, the plant and animal life are controlled by tidal levels. Shorebirds, like Sandpipers forage here for food. Acorn barnacles of many species, which close tight to retain water during lower tides, occur in here in vast numbers, and Atlantic Dogwinkle, feed on these barnacles. Rockweeds are common on both as well as Blue Mussels and Crabs. Irish Moss is the dominant seaweed along this shore. Kelp, which is a versatile plant is also abundant in areas along the shoreline. Locals collect this nutrient rich plant for their gardens.
When you visit our shoreline, be sure to bring bathing suits, binoculars, and your camera, you won’t be disappointed.