Altitude 0 - 60m
This site is located east of the Saguenay River, four kilometres northeast of Tadoussac, Quebec. It extends from Ponte aux Vaches to Baie du Moulin à Baude, on the north coast of the St. Lawrence River. It is located by an old delta of the Saguenay River and includes sandy tidal flats extending down from this delta. The habitat is largely open with many clumps of small shrubs, and forested areas of conifers, White Birch and aspen. These forested areas are mainly located on hilly terrain immediately around the site.
Tadoussac is known for the large number and diversity of hawks seen during fall migration. The St Lawrence River here is oriented in a southwest-northeast direction so southbound migrants that have arrived at the shore follow the coast rather than crossing the river – this creates a bottleneck effect for raptors and landbirds. Raptor movements have been monitored since 1992 by the Observatoire d'oiseaux de Tadoussac (Tadoussac Bird Observatory). An average of 16,430 hawks (1993-1999) have been tallied, with a high of 24,690 birds in 1999, and a low of 7,009 in 1996.
Eight of these raptor species are seen in significant numbers (all numbers are seven-year (1993-99) average seasonal totals). About 747 Osprey are seen between mid-September and early October; this is just over 2% of the national population. The one-day maximum for Osprey was 146 on September 30, 1992. Sharp-shinned Hawk is the most numerous raptor migrant. An average of 5,178 birds pass by each season, representing approximately 2% of the Canadian population. The uncommon Northern Goshawk appears here in nationally significant numbers (average of 236 birds). On October 4, 1992, a one-day high of 57 goshawks were seen. The seven-year average for Red-tailed Hawks is 6,377 birds, which is almost 2% of their North American population. Rough-legged Hawks reach significant numbers at Tadoussac; from 1993-1999 an average of 518 birds were recorded annually (1% of the North American population). A high one-day count of 138 occurred on October 19, 1993.
Two falcons reach globally significant numbers: Merlin, with a four-year average of 197 birds (almost 2% of the North American population), and the nationally threatened anatum Peregrine Falcon, with a seven-year average of 54 birds (about 1% of the North American population). American Kestrel occurs in nationally significant numbers, with a four-year average of 1,588 birds (about 1% of the Canadian population).
Other raptor species that occur here include Turkey Vulture (rare), Bald Eagle (average 70 per fall), Northern Harrier (average 285 per fall), Broad-winged Hawk (average 1,017 per fall), Golden Eagle (average 57 per fall) and Gyrfalcon (rare).
Many other birds can be seen at Tadoussac in less significant numbers. In fall, several thousand Bonaparte's Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwakes can be seen, as can numerous Black-backed and Three-toed woodpeckers, warblers and sparrows, and many Boreal and Northern Saw-whet owls (three-year average, 1997-99: 220). Spring is dominated by waterfowl and warbler migration. Finally, breeding species include Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrow and many warblers.
The Observatoire d'oiseaux de Tadoussac was founded in 1996 by a non-profit organization, Explos-Nature, with the aims of acquiring long-term data on bird populations (especially boreal species) and promoting education. The first surveys began in 1992; diurnal raptors, owls, passerines and waterbirds are all monitored. The observatory is one of the best places in eastern North America to monitor migration of northern raptors such as the Rough-Legged Hawk, Northern Goshawk and Boreal Owl.
The Observatoire d'oiseaux de Tadoussac partnered with the Parc du Saguenay to coordinate the development of bird population monitoring in the area. Since 2008, the Festival des oiseaux migrateurs de la Côte-Nord and the owl banding activity (Laissez-vous charmer par les nyctales) have drawn thousands of visitors eager to discover the birds of the region. Protection of local habitats and wildlife is undertaken through the Park; there are regulations to restrict hiking in sensitive areas (e.g. sand terraces and areas with arctic plants), and hunting is prohibited. Strong measures to restrict off-road vehicle use are planned by Park officials because there is continued concern over the deterioration of the dunes, sandy tidal flats and local environments.
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:
Green sea urchin
Stimpson's surf clam
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.
Potential or Ongoing Threats
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 :
Sea pea / Beach pea