The town of La Malbaie-Pointe-au-Pic is situated along the St. Lawrence River north shore where the transition from fresh water to salt water begins. The site is located at the mouth of the Malbaie River, and covers the entire bay (also called La Malbaie) and an additional 10.5 kilometres of shoreline. It extends offshore (an as yet undetermined amount), and inland up to the high tide limit. The entire bay is dry at low tide except for a small channel created by the waters of the Malbaie River.
Many ducks are present here during the open-water period. Barrow’s Goldeneye, with its relatively small eastern population, exceeds the continental threshold during winter and spring with as many as 350 birds seen (7% of the population). Their peak numbers occur in March, just shortly after the ice break-up, but they can also be seen in high numbers earlier in winter (196 in 1998). Other ducks that can be seen here are American Black Duck, Mallard, Common Eider, Black Scoter (200 in 1993), Common Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser. The nationally endangered Harlequin Duck (eastern population) has also occurred here.
One species seen at this site in globally significant numbers is the Black Guillemot; thousands are regularly seen offshore in the winter. The peak number was recorded in December, 1996, when a group of 3,000 individuals was observed (2% of the world population). They can also be seen, albeit in smaller numbers, during spring migration.
The vast exposed sandflats of the bay are a resting and feeding area for gulls; there are often a few thousand birds during ice free periods. Iceland Gull is present during winter, with peak numbers of over 200 birds recorded (over 1% of the global population). Two other gull species, Great Black-backed and Glaucous, are also present at this time of year in similar numbers. Generally, though, Ring-billed and Herring Gulls are the most numerous gull species with up to 2,500 (breeding in 1995) and 1,500 individuals (fall migration, 1981), respectively.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: La Malbaie–Pointe-au-Pic. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/11/2020.