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Birch Cove / West Beach


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Taken from my blog: http://redleafz.blogspot.ca/2013/04/birch-cove-west-beach.html

One of the curatorial walks organized by the Fundy Geological Museum (FGM) took us to Birch Cove/Raven Head (Candidate Wilderness Area), North of Cape Chignecto Provincial Park. Here's a description posted by the FGM about the area:

Raven Head is one of two Candidate Wilderness Areas being proposed in Cumberland County. Situated on the south shore of Chignecto Bay it extends from Apple Head to Shulie River. A number of landscapes were identified as significant natural areas throughout the province, and many have now been designated under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act. The objectives of the act also provide opportunities for wilderness recreation, education, and research and community stewardship.

The Raven Head and Kelly River Candidate Wilderness Areas fall within the Chignecto Ridged Plain Landscape. The Late Carboniferous sediments that make up the regional bedrock and the cliff exposures along the shore have been carved by glaciers, and blanketed by the Shulie Till.

Glacial striations are visible in a number of localities nearer the coast where the till has been removed through erosion or construction of roads for forestry operations. Drumlins and moraines were also noted, although marine sediments are noted near the mouths of a number of rivers. Raised beaches, beach sands and wave terraces are present inland and above modern sea level.

The course of the Kelly River on the surficial geology map for the area is marked by deposits laid down as the most recent glaciers retreated and the rise and fall of sea level (Stea, R.R. and Finck, P.W. 1986, GSC Map 1603A). Hummocky terraine, kettles, kame terraces and kame delta are present along the river valley walls (Apple River member). In the area of the headwaters of the Kelly River and Fox River an esker parallels the valley.


The province wants to designate the area as a Candidate Wilderness Area. But when we got to the site, we encountered something that could jeopardize the efforts to make it happen. I'll elaborate a little later.

The other location that we visited after Birch Cove was West Beach, not too far West from the first location. Our first trek didn't take long and we had time a plenty before the tides came back, so we took the opportunity to head over West Beach. Here's the description posted by the FGM on their website for Apple River / West Beach:

A unique blend of natural and cultural heritage. From the beach access you can see a dyke and the remnants of an aboiteau near the drainage point for a Ducks Unlimited impoundment. The road to the Eatonville entrance of Cape Chignecto Provincial Park is situated on the land side of dyke. A long shore gravel bar, located seaward of the dyke, is made up of a mixture of gravel eroding out of the cliffs, and reworking of the glacial tills located on top of the bedrock. Portions of the top of the gravel bar have been driven inland by the tides, blocking the pathway of a stream in the salt marsh behind it.

The Coal Age sediments in the cliffs that border and underlie the Apple River Harbour provide another view into the environments from this time period. Thick units of red pebble conglomerate alternate with thinner sandstones and siltstones, and the finer sediments preserve fossils similar to those seen at the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. The plant fossils include cordaites leaves and upright tree trunks, ferns, calamites, stigmaria, lycopod stumps and trace fossils.

A quarry, located at Pudsey Point in the 1800’s, used the sandstone units to produce grind stones, and one can be seen in the foreshore at low tide. The light house at Cape Capstan is visible across the mouth of the Apple River Harbour and Alma, Fundy National Park, and the Cape Enrage lighthouse, all located on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy can be seen in the distance. Keep your eyes open for shore birds, eagles and the occasional turkey vulture.

Beyond Pudsey Point bedrock in the cliffs gives way to glacial till and raised peat bog. Orchids, pitcher plants, fox berry can bee seen in season, and the rare mainland moose leaves it tracks.

Continuing west we re-encounter Coal Age bedrock in the cliffs and in the foreshore, and plant fossils, including ferns, calamites, stigmaria and upright lycopod and cordaites trunks are present in the finer grained sediments and pebble conglomerates. These units have been faulted, and veins of baryte can be seen in these structures, similar to the mineralization noted at Spicers Cove.


Both sites are part of the Carboniferous Cumberland Group (Late Carboniferous). This area doesn't show the same type of disturbance experienced further South near Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, which shows signs of faulting and folding.


Birch Cove (1), West Beach (2)

To get to Birch Cove is to drive West of Parrsboro (easiest way to get there) via Apple River Road or by driving South from Joggins on Shulie Road. Getting there is tricky if you don't have a guide that is already familiar with the area. The roads are dominated by dirt roads used by tractor trailers hauling wood. The roads are extremely bumpy and dusty, making the drive a bit of a drag.

We parked the cars in a safe area and started down some semi-wooded trail. When I say semi-wooded, it means that the foliage is only a few feet in thickness on each side. The rest has been clear cut, and the landscape is just a poor sight to see. The province wants to make this area some kind of protected nature reserve, but there's not a whole lot remaining.


Sorry sight indeed

After a little pause to contemplate the area, we proceeded further down the trail where we got into a wooded area.


Walking down the trail to the beach


Raccoon tracks

We made our way to the beach and it was nice, compared to the sight we saw up the trail just before. Water environments are the dominated feature when looking at the sediments that compose the cliffs in this area. The traces of past ice activity on a major scale is also apparent on the topography of Birch Cove. Sand stone cliffs mixed in with layers of conglomerate, marine sediments, topped by glacial till and raised beaches.




Ken Adams (left), Kerr Canning (center), Matt Stimson (right)



Warm enough for a swim =P


Birch Cove is a nice site. Not a lot of fossils around but nice to see the diverse topography of the locality, which was a major factor in the region's local economy for many years. Several locals within the past two centuries had settled in the area and erected mills, using the water flowing down the Apple River. Kerr, which was part of the expedition, had found several artifacts from the previous century of settlers that had since abandoned the area a long time ago. He showed us remains of some of the settlement in the nearby forest. What remains are several sandstone blocks from various foundations.


One of the old foundation

After wandering in the forest for a little while, we came out the trails and hopped in our cars to head over to our second destination.

West Beach is a few kilometers South-West of Birch Cove. The cliffs in this site have strata that are more familiar of the other sites such as Joggins. Also similar are some of the fossils that we found in this area, especially in the coal-bearing sections.




Tree in situ

The tree in the picture above shows the base of the tree with two of its 'surface' roots radiating out.


Tree roots with root hairs


Tetrapod footprint

Overall it was a good trip. I had already been in the area before but further South at Spicer's Cove (which I suggest everybody go check!). The drive up and down the rolling hills by itself is worth the trip. One can spend the whole day in that area and come across a very diverse topography.



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Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a summer day!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't remember that footprint Keenan, Was I there? Looks like a Paleosauropus which would be interesting.

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Yup it was from the last spot we went, right before we saw the trees in situ.

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