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Baie des Escoumins et Grandes-Bergeronnes (QC084)

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Baie des Escoumins et Grandes-Bergeronnes (QC084)

Les Escoumins, Québec

Latitude 48.329°N
Longitude 69.427°W
Altitude 0 - 3m
Area 339.55km²

Site Description

This site stretches along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, from the village of Grandes Bergeronnes to the mudflats just past Les Escoumins at Pointe du Moulin. The shore is generally rocky except at Baie des Escoumins, where there are extensive mudflats that up to a kilometre wide during very low tides. Several small islands are situated close to Les Escoumins. They include Ilets Boisés, and Petite and Grande Caye à Brisson. The Rochers Bare and Ilot des Bergeronnes are farther to the west. Four ‘at risk' species of whales frequent these waters.

Birds

This site hosts congregations of many waterbirds. Seven species have been reported in significant numbers. Brant migrate through the area in large numbers during spring migration, with a maximum count of 5,500 birds recorded in 1986. This is 4% of the Atlantic bernicla population or over 1% of the North American population. Three species of duck congregate here in significant numbers in different seasons. American Black Ducks can be present in globally significant numbers. Up to 5,000 have been seen in the fall, and 3,200 in the winter - both numbers are over 1% of their total population. Barrow's Goldeneyes are sometimes seen in continentally significant numbers, such in the winter of 1978 when 60 were counted (almost 2% of the eastern population). Although small numbers of Common Eiders (subspecies dresseri) breed on the Rochers Bare, much larger numbers have been recorded in the area in the summer. In July 1996, 2,500 birds or 2% of the dresseri population were counted.

This location hosts up to 10,000 gulls in the fall. A large proportion of these birds are Herring Gulls, for instance in 1980, 8,000 Herring Gulls were recorded (about 3% of the North American population), and it is one of the best sites in Quebec to witness fall migrations of Bonaparte's Gull. In winter up to 1,250 Iceland Gulls (6% of the global population) and 300 Glaucous Gulls have been recorded (1.5% of the North American population).

Fall shorebirds are common in the Baie des Escoumins; the most regularly seen are Sanderling (500 in 1978), Semipalmated Sandpiper (300 in 1979), Semipalmated Plover (300 in 1996), Black-bellied Plover (100 in 1985) and Least Sandpiper (100 in 1977).

A few thousand Canada Geese and Snow Geese are usually seen in the spring, and Common Goldeneyes, Oldsquaws and Surf Scoters, are common along this piece of coast in various seasons. Finally, in addition to the eiders, five other species breed in the Baie des Escoumins in small numbers – these are Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron and Black-crowned Night-Heron. In 1995, 823 pairs of Herring Gulls were counted in several variably-sized colonies.

Conservation Issues

The western portion of the IBA is within the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and the Baie des Escoumins is located outside the park. Risk from oil spills is concerning because of the numerous ships and tankers using the St. Lawrence Seaway. Such a disaster would have a catastrophic effect on the populations of aquatic birds. Note - contaminated sediments were reported in the IBA but an environmental impact assessment study has not been undertaken. The municipality of Les Bergeronnes is still dumping untreated sewage into the river, which is another source of pollution for the area between the river mouth and Pointe à John. In 2013, the wharf was completely repaired and there was no apparent impact on the duck populations. Nonetheless, ducks were using the opposite shore of the river during the reparation work. Similarly, the destruction of the Escoumins River dam had no significant effect on birds.

Fish Habitat

The landscape of the area is typified by salt marshes, intertidal rocky shore, mudflats, river's estuaries and long sandy beaches. The mixing of the cold and well-oxygenated waters with the warmer waters of the St. Lawrence favors an unusual marine biodiversity. Several marine species are commercially exploited, such as the common whelk, the soft-shell clam, the green sea urchins, the Stimpson's surf clams, the snow crab and the Atlantic herring. Moreover, the harvest of soft-shell clam at low tide is a popular recreational activity throughout the region of Lower North Shore. The north shore of the estuary is also hosting a variety of pelagic species occupying an important role in the food chain, such as the capelin and the rainbow smelt are also targeted by the sport fishermen.

The fish habitat is affected by coastal erosion, residential development, harnessing of rivers and the creation of resorts. In addition, the presence of industries discharging pollutants in the system does impacts the water quality. The Atlantic salmon is sensible to aluminum contamination through bioaccumulation of the residues present in the system.


Major species present:
Atlantic herring
Atlantic salmon
Capelin
Green sea urchin
Snow crab
Soft-shell clam
Stimpson's surf clam

Plants

The salinity of the St. Lawrence water has a strong influence on the flora of the coastal habitats. Salt marshes are dominated by saltmeadow cordgrass, tall cordgrass, red fescue and chaffy paleacea. Present in a variable proportion, a variety of plants typical of estuarine environments: sea pea, Scotch lovage, American searocket, sea milkwort, etc. In areas submerged where substrate is thin, and water velocity is small, eelgrass grows. Eelgrass beds are home to an amazing biodiversity: shellfish, crustacean, fish, etc. which attract many predators. Several fish-eating birds such as the great blue heron come to take a meal. The Brant goose is closely linked with this habitat since the underground parts of the eelgrass are at the basis of its diet.

Habitat loss, whether caused by human interventions (wetland drainage, road construction, urban spread, etc.) or through natural phenomena (coastal erosion) severely impact the flora. Similarly, water pollution and risks of oil spills are issues of special concern for the flora and fauna of these areas.

Major species present :
American searocket
Chaffy paleacea
Marine eelgrass
Red fescue
Saltmeadow cordgrass
Scotch lovage
Sea milkwort
Sea pea / Beach pea
Tall cordgrass

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Bonaparte's Gull
Number Year Season
3,0002016Fall
3,0002015Fall
3,000 - 6,0002014Fall
6,0002013Fall
2,0001994Fall
American Black Duck
Number Year Season
800 - 9001995Winter
8501995Fall
800 - 1,2001994Winter
800 - 1,5001994Fall
800 - 1,2001993Winter
800 - 1,5001993Fall
1,000 - 1,8001992Winter
1,500 - 2,0001992Fall
1,3001992Spring
900 - 1,8001991Winter
800 - 2,2001991Fall
1,2001991Spring
800 - 2,5001990Winter
1,600 - 2,5001990Fall
800 - 1,5001990Spring
800 - 2,2001989Winter
800 - 2,2001989Fall
900 - 1,3001989Spring
900 - 2,0001988Winter
800 - 2,4001988Fall
9001988Spring
900 - 2,5001987Winter
800 - 1,2001987Fall
800 - 2,6001987Spring
8001986Fall
800 - 1,4001986Spring
1,100 - 1,8001986Winter
1,000 - 3,2001985Winter
800 - 1,5001985Fall
800 - 2,0001985Spring
800 - 3,2001984Winter
800 - 1,2001984Fall
9001984Spring
1,200 - 2,0001983Winter
8001983Fall
800 - 1,0001983Spring
750 - 2,0001982Winter
750 - 1,2001982Fall
800 - 2,0001981Winter
8001981Fall
800 - 1,0001981Spring
800 - 3,0001980Winter
800 - 1,5001980Fall
800 - 3,0001980Spring
800 - 1,2001979Winter
800 - 1,5001979Spring
800 - 3,0001978Winter
800 - 1,2001978Fall
1,2001978Spring
8001977Winter
800 - 1,5001977Fall
7,0001975Winter
5,0001964Fall
Rusty Blackbird
Number Year Season
145 - 4352017Spring
502007Fall
302001Spring
252000Spring
401995Fall
Dovekie
Number Year Season
162011Fall
4682007Fall
82005Fall
2,0002003Winter
202003Fall
272000Fall
20 - 4581999Fall
Little Gull
Number Year Season
2 - 52017Fall
4 - 52017Summer
3 - 42016Fall
3 - 72016Summer
2 - 42015Fall
2 - 32015Summer
2 - 32014Fall
22014Summer
3 - 42013Fall
32012Summer
22011Fall
22010Fall
22008Fall
22008Summer
32007Fall
22006Fall
32005Fall
3 - 52004Fall
22003Spring
4 - 82002Fall
3 - 62002Summer
2 - 52001Fall
22001Summer
2 - 32000Fall
2 - 42000Summer
21999Fall
21998Fall
2 - 31997Fall
21997Summer
21996Fall
51995Fall
4 - 101994Fall
41994Summer
2 - 31993Fall
41992Fall
41991Fall
Herring Gull
Number Year Season
1,6461995Spring
2,5001991Summer
2,5001990Summer
2,500 - 3,0001990Spring
2,5001989Fall
2,5001989Spring
2,8001988Fall
2,500 - 3,0001987Fall
3,0001986Spring
4,000 - 6,0001986Winter
2,5001981Spring
3,250 - 8,0001980Winter
Red-throated Loon
Number Year Season
6462006Fall
7001993Fall
Brant
Number Year Season
800 - 1,2001995Summer
800 - 2,5001995Spring
1,8001994Winter
2,6001994Summer
1,000 - 4,0001994Spring
1,000 - 3,5001993Spring
1,2001992Summer
800 - 4,0001992Spring
8001991Winter
800 - 4,0001991Spring
1,000 - 3,0001990Spring
800 - 3,6001989Spring
800 - 1,3001988Winter
1,200 - 2,2001988Spring
1,2001987Summer
800 - 4,0001987Spring
2,0001986Winter
800 - 5,5001986Spring
800 - 3,0001985Spring
8501984Winter
800 - 2,5001984Spring
800 - 1,5001983Spring
800 - 3,0001982Spring
1,8001981Spring
2,0001980Winter
800 - 3,0001980Spring
1,0001979Summer
800 - 4,0001979Spring
800 - 3,5001978Spring
8001977Spring
Purple Sandpiper
Number Year Season
280 - 3202017Winter
3002016Winter
200 - 2202003Winter
250 - 3202002Winter
Iceland Gull (glaucoides/kumlieni)
Number Year Season
1,0001984Winter
1,2501980Winter
Great Black-backed Gull
Number Year Season
1201995Spring
521995Summer
2,0001984Spring
Barrow's Goldeneye
Number Year Season
75 - 2002018Winter
60 - 1002017Winter
73 - 1302017Fall
80 - 1202017Spring
40 - 972016Winter
50 - 702016Fall
40 - 1002016Spring
40 - 442015Spring
80 - 1502014Winter
682014Fall
34 - 352014Spring
582013Fall
452013Spring
702013Winter
602012Winter
402011Spring
40 - 502010Winter
402009Fall
40 - 522008Fall
502007Winter
342003Winter
58 - 752002Winter
23 - 321996Winter
351991Winter
251991Fall
201985Winter
301983Winter
271982Winter
351980Winter
301979Winter
20 - 601978Winter
20 - 301977Winter
201971Winter
30 - 401970Winter
201970Spring
Peregrine Falcon
Number Year Season
102010Fall
Common Eider
Number Year Season
10,0002017Fall
2,5001996Summer
800 - 1,5001995Fall
800 - 2,5001995Summer
144 - 2,0001995Spring
2,0001994Winter
800 - 2,8001994Summer
1,000 - 2,0001994Spring
8001993Fall
1,000 - 2,2001993Summer
1,200 - 2,0001993Spring
800 - 1,0001992Winter
800 - 1,2001992Fall
800 - 1,8001992Summer
800 - 1,5001992Spring
2,0001991Winter
1,000 - 1,8001991Fall
800 - 2,0001991Summer
800 - 2,0001991Spring
8001990Winter
800 - 2,0001990Fall
800 - 2,4001990Summer
8001989Fall
800 - 1,0001989Summer
8001989Spring
1,2001988Winter
8001988Fall
1,5001988Summer
800 - 1,5001988Spring
800 - 1,0001987Summer
800 - 1,2001987Spring
800 - 1,5001986Fall
800 - 1,2001986Summer
800 - 2,0001986Spring
1,5001985Winter
1,200 - 1,5001985Fall
1,000 - 2,0001985Summer
800 - 2,0001985Spring
800 - 1,5001984Winter
800 - 2,0001984Fall
800 - 1,5001984Summer
800 - 1,6001984Spring
1,5001983Winter
800 - 1,2001983Fall
800 - 2,0001983Summer
800 - 1,0001983Spring
750 - 9001982Winter
800 - 1,5001982Summer
800 - 1,0001982Spring
8001981Winter
8001981Fall
800 - 2,0001981Summer
8001981Spring
800 - 1,2001980Fall
1,000 - 1,2001980Summer
800 - 2,0001980Spring
800 - 2,0001979Fall
1,0001979Summer
800 - 1,5001979Spring
800 - 1,2001978Fall
800 - 1,5001978Summer
800 - 1,5001978Spring
5,0001977Summer
2,0001971Summer