Eagle, Namaka and Stobart lakes are located in south-central Alberta approximately 5 to 10 km southeast of the town of Strathmore. The site also includes Ballina Lake, which is a small Ducks Unlimited wetland project located between Namaka and Stobart lakes. Eagle Lake is the largest of the four and is surrounded mainly by agricultural land, as well as some country residential development along the northwest shore, and a small recreational area on the east shore. Most of the shoreline cover has been removed by grazing, while only the southwest corner has any emergent vegetation. Stobart Lake, which is immediately southeast of Namaka Lake, is the most natural of the three lakes and has extensive development of nearshore and offshore emergents such as cattails and bulrushes. Highway 1 (TransCanada) runs east-west 1.6 km north of Eagle Lake, although road access to most of the lakes is limited.
This network of lakes are considered globally significant for migrating waterbirds. Congregations of over 1,500 Western Grebes stage here in migration (over 1% of the global population). Tundra Swans pass through during fall migration in significant numbers; 2,000 were recorded on the lakes in October, 1994 (almost 1% of the North American population and 1.6% of the western population). Also, globally significant are the 50,000 waterfowl (ducks) that stage regularly in fall at the three main lakes. Two of the lakes (Eagle and Namaka) often stay ice-free longer than other lakes in the area due to their depths, and occasionally harbour large numbers of waterfowl through late fall and early winter. An amazing 300,000 or more Mallards were seen on Eagle Lake until January, 1970; the lake froze up around January 8, forcing the ducks to migrate south. In the atypical winter of 1987/88, 50,000 Mallards did manage to over-winter on Lake Namaka, and were attended by 40 or so Bald Eagles. Wilsons Phalarope appears here in late summer in high (but non-significant) numbers - 2,000 were observed on August 4, 1996.
Birds found nesting at this site include Ring-billed (historical), California (historical) and Franklins gulls, Common and Black terns, Eared and Western grebes, and Canada Geese. Three adult Piping Plovers were present on Namaka Lake in 1973, and two adults in 1974 and 1975. More recently, there was an adult at Eagle Lake in 1988, and Namaka Lake in 1992. Over 50 non-breeding American White Pelicans loaf here in the summer, while Spragues Pipit (nationally threatened) nest in remnant native habitat on the backshore of Eagle Lake. Finally, in winter, up to 40 Bald Eagles can be found here preying on the over-wintering ducks.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Most of the land around the lakes is used for agriculture or pasture, while some fishing and recreation activities occur on the lake. The land around the lakes range from mostly private (Eagle) or all Crown (Namaka), to entirely contained within the Siksika Indian Reserve (Stobart). Housing and recreational developments, primarily around Eagle Lake, have been discussed for many years while cultivation of the lakeshores has reduced the importance of uplands for localized grassland birds.
There have been nine outbreaks of avian botulism since 1933, with 10,939 dead dabbling ducks being collected after the last outbreak in 1998.
Some of the conservation measures taken to date include a bait station set up adjacent to Namaka Lake. The Namaka, Ballina, and Stobart wetlands are all Ducks Unlimited Canada projects. Stobart Lake is under agreement between Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Siksika Nation.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Eagle, Namaka and Stobart Lakes. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 20/04/2021.