The Québec maritime Blog
Côte-Nord (Manicouagan) is home to many exceptional bird-watching sites. Whether you are a first-time or regular visitor to the region, here are four must-see sites where you can observe the birds that live and feed along the St. Lawrence.
Pointe de l’Islet in Tadoussac
Your first stop should be at Pointe de l’Islet in Tadoussac. When you get off the ferry that takes you across the Saguenay Fjord, follow the signs to the Tadoussac wharf and park alongside it. A marked trail will take you around the rocky point to the mouth of the magnificent Saguenay Fjord.
What birds you see will depend on the season. Brants regularly stop here to rest in the spring, while several species of shorebirds come to feed here in the fall. In the winter, shy purple sandpipers can be seen feeding along the water’s edge. The icy landscape during this season is a sight you won’t soon forget!
Pointe de la Croix in Les Escoumins
Bonaparte’s Gull © Yves Fabe/Tourisme Côte-Nord – Manicouagan
Located in Escoumins Bay, the cross on Pointe de la Croix is illuminated at night, much to the delight of visitors. The bay is almost dry at low tide and turns into an immense lake at high tide.
I recommend that you go for a stroll along the beach at low tide. In the spring and fall, you will be able to observe horned larks and American pipits feeding on kelp.
In the fall, Bonaparte’s gulls flock to this site. This is also probably the best place in Québec to observe Franklin’s gulls, little gulls and black-headed gulls, all of which are very rare.
Depending on the tide and the angle of the sun, you can also observe birds from behind the Pêcherie Manicouagan fish store, at the northwest end of the bay. From here you’ll have an excellent view of the rocks where the birds take refuge.
Ruddy turnstone © Yves Rabe/Tourisme Côte-Nord -Manicouagan
Next, head to Portneuf-sur-Mer to visit the Portneuf sandbar. A sand deposit created by the current of the Portneuf River, the sandbar is only accessible at low tide. Note that it’s harder to get to or return from in the fall when the tides are higher; be sure to check the tide schedule before you leave to avoid the risk of having to wait for the next tide.
Fall is the best season to visit the Portneuf sandbar as thousands of shorebirds stop here during their fall migration. Don’t forget to pack a lunch and bring water, so you can have a picnic on the sandbar. This is a site that will charm the whole family.
Keep an eye out for red knots, ruddy turnstones, buff-breasted sandpipers and black-bellied plovers. You may also be lucky enough to spot an elegant whimbrel.
Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes
© Parc nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes
Parc Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes is a must when you visit the region of Côte-Nord – Manicouagan. I recommend that you go on a guided tour (which lasts 1h30) with a naturalist who will introduce you to the wonders of this park.
Trails and boardwalks will take you through various ecosystems where you can observe a wide variety of birds. In the spring, several species of ducks stop here during their migration, as do snow geese and Canada geese.
In the fall, this is a great place to walk along the beach and observe the shorebirds.
A trip to the region of Côte-Nord – Manicouagan is a unique opportunity to discover the remarkable birds found along the north shore of the majestic St. Lawrence.
Enjoy your visit!