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Cap Tourmente (QC002)

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Cap Tourmente (QC002)

Saint-Joachim, Québec

Latitude 47.075°N
Longitude 70.783°W
Altitude 0 - 370m
Area 42.57km²

Site Description

Cap Tourmente is located on the north shore of the St Lawrence River approximately 55 km downstream from Québec City. Within the site there are four main habitat types: intertidal marsh, coastal marsh, coastal plain, and a mixed-forest plateau. The Cap Tourmente intertidal marsh, which is especially significant for staging Snow Geese, is part of the vast bulrush marshes that have developed along the North Channel of Ile d'Orléans, and Montmagny Islands in the St Lawrence River. In all, these marshes occupy 2,500 ha and include close to 60% of all the bulrush marshes in Québec.

The heterogeneous habitats within the Cap Tourmente site support a diverse vascular plant community with nearly 700 species having been identified. Several of these plant species are rare in both Quebec and Canada with Cap Tourmente representing the northernmost recorded site for several of these species.

Birds

During spring and fall migration, cap Tourmente is a key stopover site hosting a considerable portion of Greater Snow Geese population. At the turn of the century fewer than 3,000 individuals were reported, but since then the population has increased: a census conducted in the spring of 1996 estimated there to be 585,100 individuals. During peak migration, more than 50,000 Greater Snow Geese can be observed daily in the mudflats and marshes. In recent years geese have expanded their staging and range areas to include Lac Saint-Pierre (lake) and the area stretching north from Lake Champlain to the south-west; this is especially notable in spring. The lowlands of cap Tourmente are also important for migrating waterfowl and is home to many species of breeding waterfowl too; the more common are American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, and Wood Duck.

The site also hosts a number of landbirds, including Peregrine Falcons (ssp. anatum), which is nationally identified as a species at risk (COSEWIC Special Concern). In total, over 250 bird species have been identified within the reserve.

Conservation Issues

Cap Tourmente was acquired by the Canadian Government in 1969 and identified as a National Wildlife Area in 1978. In 1981, it was also recognized as a wetland of international significance under the Ramsar convention.

Due to the large concentration of Snow Geese at this site, this species is particularily vulnerable to threats such as oil pollution and disease. In addition, given the site's location downstream from the heavily industrialized St. Lawrence River valley, chronic water and air pollution is also a concern. The scirpus marshes being the main food source for the Greater Snow Goose population during migration, the survival and preservation of a healthy habitat are critical.

Approximately 60,000 people visit cap Tourmente each year to watch the spectacular flocks of migrating geese. Disturbance is minimal, however, since most sites have restricted access. Some hunting and agriculture is permitted under closely monitored systems, and the impacts on this population are considered minimal.

Fish Habitat

Habitats in the region are shaped by the strong tides and the intrusion of the salinity in the river. The habitats are composed mainly of bare mudflats, marsh bulrush and wetlands. In spring, several species of fish, such as yellow perch, the northern pike and the three-spined stickleback, use herbaceous areas in shallow water to spawn. Other species, such as American shad and Atlantic tomcod, used the brackish water during their first summer.

Two nationally endanged species are found in this area: the lake sturgeon and the American eel. Deterioration and loss of habitats, whether they are caused by deforestation, erosion of banks, sedimentation, or by the deterioration of water quality are the main threats for those species. Sources of pollution in the area come mainly from the agricultural industry, the industrial wastes, and sewages flowing directly into the river (either sanitary or pluvial). Hydroelectric dams are a major cause of mortality during the seaward migration of American eel, while they may also impede the upstream migration of glass eels / elvers.

Habitat loss is a threat to many aquatic species exploiting the site, whether by direct destruction or by creating obstacles to migration. The residential and commercial development, backfilling, dams, ports and recreational and commercial boating (bank erosion by waves) are some examples. Finally, the presence of invasive species endangers the natural dynamics of the ecosystem and its inhabitants.

Major species present:
American eel
American shad
Atlantic sturgeon
Atlantic tomcod
Lake sturgeon
Northern pike
Sauger
Walleye
White sucker
Yellow perch

Plants

Coastal habitats of this area are soaked by generally turbid and lightly salted water. We found mostly brackish marshes, dominated by American bulrush, sessilefruit arrowhead and broad-leafed arrowhead. With there large root system, theses plants retain the soil in place, helping to protect the banks against coastal erosion. In addition, the underground parts are used as a food source by the snow geese during their migrations.

The destruction and loss of habitat (shoreline fill, draining wetlands, urbanization) are the main threats affecting this ecosystem. Water pollution and the risks of oil spills are issues of concern. The spread of invasive species is to be monitored. This region is hosting 18 endemic plant species, including three endangered species in Québec.

Major species present :
American bulrush
Broad-leafed arrowhead
Sessilefruit arrowhead

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Snow Goose
Number Year Season
100,0002014Fall
30,000 - 50,0002013Fall
20,0002013Spring
20,0002012Fall
20,000 - 30,0002011Fall
20,000 - 80,0002010Fall
35,0002010Spring
20,000 - 45,0002009Fall
20,0002009Spring
20,0002008Spring
18,000 - 100,0002007Spring
30,000 - 100,0002006Fall
60,0002006Spring
33,5002005Fall
20,0002002Fall
25,000 - 50,0002000Fall
80,0002000Spring
20,000 - 170,0001999Fall
75,0001999Spring
100,000 - 104,0001998Fall
10,0001997Winter
20,000 - 60,0001997Fall
5,000 - 80,0001997Spring
5,000 - 50,0001996Winter
5,000 - 30,0001996Fall
5,000 - 75,0001996Spring
60,000 - 70,0001995Winter
5,000 - 55,0001995Fall
5,000 - 50,0001995Spring
5,0001994Winter
5,000 - 55,0001994Fall
5,000 - 50,0001994Spring
10,000 - 40,0001993Winter
5,000 - 150,0001993Fall
5,000 - 40,0001993Spring
5,000 - 10,0001992Winter
5,000 - 80,0001992Fall
5,000 - 30,0001992Spring
6,000 - 40,0001991Winter
5,000 - 100,0001991Fall
5,000 - 15,0001991Spring
5,000 - 10,0001990Winter
5,000 - 130,0001990Fall
5,000 - 10,0001990Spring
5,000 - 100,0001989Fall
20,0001989Summer
5,000 - 10,0001989Spring
15,000 - 20,0001988Winter
5,000 - 125,0001988Fall
8,000 - 20,0001988Spring
7,000 - 100,0001987Winter
5,000 - 150,0001987Fall
5,000 - 12,0001987Spring
80,000 - 100,0001986Winter
5,000 - 95,0001986Fall
5,000 - 20,0001986Spring
10,0001985Winter
5,000 - 120,0001985Fall
5,000 - 20,0001985Spring
30,0001984Winter
5,000 - 125,0001984Fall
5,000 - 50,0001984Spring
5,000 - 100,0001983Fall
5,0001983Spring
5,000 - 100,0001982Fall
5,000 - 50,0001982Spring
60,000 - 80,0001981Winter
6,000 - 50,0001981Fall
5,000 - 30,0001981Spring
6,000 - 200,0001980Fall
6,000 - 50,0001980Spring
5,000 - 70,0001979Fall
5,000 - 100,0001979Spring
14,0001978Winter
12,000 - 150,0001978Fall
5,000 - 50,0001978Spring
15,0001977Winter
8,500 - 150,0001977Fall
5,000 - 111,0001977Spring
100,0001976Winter
5,000 - 150,0001976Fall
30,0001976Summer
5,000 - 100,0001976Spring
10,0001975Winter
10,000 - 200,0001975Fall
5,000 - 60,0001975Spring
15,0001974Winter
5,000 - 100,0001974Fall
5,000 - 20,0001974Spring
35,0001973Winter
20,000 - 100,0001973Fall
5,000 - 20,0001973Spring
6,000 - 100,0001972Fall
10,000 - 80,0001972Spring
10,000 - 120,0001971Fall
5,000 - 10,0001971Spring
5,000 - 50,0001970Fall
8,000 - 10,0001970Spring
5,0001969Winter
5,000 - 30,0001969Spring
5,0001968Fall
8,000 - 20,0001968Spring
5,000 - 20,0001967Spring
8,000 - 20,0001965Fall
5,000 - 60,0001964Fall
5,000 - 20,0001964Spring
5,000 - 30,0001963Winter
10,000 - 50,0001963Fall
10,000 - 20,0001963Spring
5,000 - 42,9681962Fall
5,000 - 30,0001962Spring
7,5001961Winter
15,000 - 47,5651961Fall
5,000 - 52,8001961Spring
15,000 - 20,0001960Fall
5,000 - 9,0001960Spring
20,0001959Fall
5,000 - 20,0001958Spring
10,000 - 30,0001955Fall
8,0001955Spring
10,0001954Spring
10,000 - 60,0001953Fall
8,4001952Fall
20,0001951Spring
10,0001950Fall
40,0001950Spring
10,0001949Fall
20,0001949Spring
20,0001943Fall
5,0001942Winter
American Black Duck
Number Year Season
5,0002014Fall
10,0001999Fall
1,000 - 7,0001996Fall
750 - 3,5001995Fall
800 - 1,5001994Winter
750 - 1,5001994Fall
1,000 - 8,0001993Fall
750 - 2,0001992Fall
10,0001991Fall
1,0001989Fall
800 - 8,0001988Fall
1,0001987Fall
2,0001986Fall
2,000 - 5,0001985Fall
1,000 - 10,0001984Fall
1,000 - 5,0001982Fall
5,000 - 10,0001981Fall
2,000 - 10,0001980Fall
4,000 - 6,0001979Fall
3,000 - 10,0001978Fall
1,5001977Fall
8001976Fall
1,0001975Fall
7,0001974Fall
900 - 1,0001973Fall
1,000 - 5,0001972Fall
2,0001971Fall
1,000 - 3,0001970Fall
2,6001960Fall
2,2001959Fall
1,0001957Fall
Rusty Blackbird
Number Year Season
25 - 342016Fall
302015Spring
30 - 502014Fall
32 - 402014Spring
452013Fall
402012Fall
30 - 502010Fall
1002010Spring
252008Fall
922007Fall
1252006Fall
402006Spring
502005Spring
282004Fall
302004Spring
252002Fall
25 - 352002Spring
452000Fall
242000Summer
251994Spring
301993Spring
301992Spring
501991Spring
Peregrine Falcon
Number Year Season
151984Summer
??Other
Barn Owl
Number Year Season
11993Summer
Herring Gull
Number Year Season
3,0001971Fall