Quebec in Fall: Birds & Whales

  1. 2018
    Monday, September 24, 2018 to Wednesday, October 3, 2018
    Tour Duration: 
    10 days
    Tour Price:
     $3,175 CAD, $2,695 USD
    Single Supplement:
     $650 CAD, $550 USD
    Tour Starts/Ends: 
    Québec City
    + 5% GST for Canadians, + 2.5% GST for non-Canadians
    Guide: 
    Number of Persons Limit: 
    12
Highlights

• Several splendid wildlife spectacles - from thousands of Snow Geese to impressive encounters with big whales

• Charm of Quebec City

• Spectacular autumnal colours

• Scenic views of the Charlevoix region and the Laurentian Mountains

 

Overview

A fine time of year for birding and whale-watching, when autumnal colours cover the countryside, in la Belle Province, Quebec!

Starting our Quebec birding and whale tour in historic Quebec City, we first visit Jacques-Cartier Park, renowned for its vistas and beautiful fall foliage displays. We will also visit the Léon Provancher marsh near the Saint-Lawrence River.  There we will look for late residents and fall migrant birds. Next we head down along the mighty St Lawrence River first to Cap-Tourmente where thousands of Greater Snow Geese and other waterfowl have gathered at the national wildlife area, next to the remarkable Grands-Jardins park for boreal and tundra species, followed by a day along the spectacular Charlevoix landscape on to Tadoussac and the mouth of the Saguenay River for shorebirds and whale-watching. Whale-watching boat rides should put us close to many whales of several different species - Fin Whale, Minke Whale, possibly even Blue Whale, and especially Belugas.

We take the ferry across the St. Lawrence, looking for pelagics such as Razorbill, shearwaters, Common Eiders, jaegers and kittiwakes to Rivière-du-Loup, where we make an effort to find Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow. We make our way back along the St Lawrence, taking in several choice spots, and end in Quebec City.

 

 

Itinerary View Short Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Québec City

Québec City, a World Heritage City, is the beautiful capital of the province of Québec, situated on the St. Lawrence River. It will be our base for the start of our Quebec birding and whale tour, and if time permits we’ll visit the historic walled Old City, first founded almost 400 years ago. Night in Quebec City.

Day 2 – Jacques Cartier Park and Léon-Provancher Marsh

 We take a morning-trip to Jacques Cartier Park and spend the afternoon at Léon Provancher Marsh along the St. Lawrence River. Night in Quebec City.

Day 3 - Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area

We spend the day exploring the varied habitats of this important refuge; mixed-wood forests, ponds, fields, marshes (fresh and saltwater), and the St. Lawrence River. The highlight should be the southbound concentration of Greater Snow Geese, with daily counts exceeding 50,000 birds, although many other waterfowl are also expected. It’s a spectacle not to be missed. Depending on the winds there is also the chance for songbird and raptor migration as well. We then continue northeast along the scenic shoreline of the St. Lawrence River to Baie-Saint-Paul, stopping wherever seems appropriate. Night in Baie-Saint-Paul.

Day 4 - Baie-Saint-Paul to La Malbaie

We’ll spend part of the day in the Grand Jardins Park, looking for Spruce Grouse, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, several boreal warblers, and White-winged Crossbills, but also many hawks, Bald Eagle and occasionally a Golden Eagle. We then explore the stunning coastal road between Baie-Saint-Paul and Cap-a-l’Aigle, with stops at Cap-aux-Corbeaux, Cap aux Oies, and La Malbaie. We should encounter flocks of migrant shorebirds and passerines, and we’ll look for Common Eider and Great Black-Backed Gull along the estuary. Night in La Malbaie.

Day 5 – Travel to Tadoussac

We’ll explore the superb Charlevoix landscape along the road to Tadoussac, with stops at Port au Saumon, Port au Percil, Baie des Rochers and Pointe-Noire, for forest, coastal and sea birds. Along the way, we’ll keep an eye out for Harbour Seals, Gray Seals and beluga whales. Night at Tadoussac.

Days 6 and 7 - Tadoussac area

We’ll spend the next two days in the Tadoussac area. The core of our visit will be two boat trips (weather permitting) in the Laurentian Channel offshore of the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord, one of Canada’s premier whale-watching sites. Minke and Fin Whales are the main feature of these whale-watching cruises but Beluga Whales are often seen. With luck, a Blue Whale, a Humpback Whale or a pod of White-sided Dolphins could also be seen. The conditions that attract whales are also good for pelagic birds, and there should be numerous Black-legged Kittiwakes, and we’ll watch for harassing jaegers. Razorbills and Common Murres are also a strong possibility. On land we’ll explore trails in different sections of Saguenay Provincial Park, which borders Saguenay Fjord, the longest in eastern Canada, and itself a Marine Park. Boreal forest predominates here, with migrant landbirds scattered among the residents. Species lists change each day, but we’ll hope for Gray-cheeked Thrush, Fox Sparrow, Gray Jay, American Pipit, and boreal finches. Nights in Tadoussac.

Day 8 - Cross the St. Lawrence River by ferry – Saint-Simeon – Rivière du Loup

We’ll cross the St. Lawrence on a commercial ferry, across the lower estuary, home of whales, porpoises and many sea birds. Once on the south side, we’ll explore the extensive salt marshes at l'ile-Verte and Cacouna, where there will be a mix of migrant waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as Nelson’s Sparrows. Night in Rivière-du-Loup.

Day 9 - Travel Rivière-du-Loup to Québec

We’ll spend the day investigating the south shoreline of the St. Lawrence River, with stops in Kamouraska and Rivière-Ouelle where we’ll look for migrating White-rumped Sandpiper and American Golden-Plover among the shorebirds, and Horned Larks among the landbirds. These areas boast many forest species, and birds of prey, including the occasional Golden Eagle, and the salt marshes also harbour some marsh birds, particularly Marsh Wrens and Swamp Sparrows. This is a coastal region of the Saint-Lawrence where Harbour Seals and Belugas are also seen. Night in Québec City.

Day 10 - Departure

Our Quebec birding and whale tour ends today. Breakfast is available at the hotel, but you can leave anytime. You may have a chance to experience a little more of Québec City before reluctantly heading home.

 

Map
Featured Wildlife
Reviews

“The tour was a memorable one – I enjoyed the scenery and wildlife, learning also about the history and culture of the province. Our small group got along very well. The pace was easygoing – time for other activities, without losing focus on the birding.” - 2015 participant

“I very much enjoyed all aspects of this tour. The birding was very good even though the migration is late this year. We were a small but comfortable group ably led by Pierre who seemed to encourage us to have fun. I thoroughly enjoyed the Quebec experience, the people, the language and the culture.” - 2015