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. Night in Quebec City, near airport.
We encourage you to arrive a day prior to the tour, to enjoy Old Quebec City on your own.
Day 2 – Jacques Cartier National Park and Léon-Provancher Marsh
We take a morning-trip to Jacques Cartier National Park and spend the afternoon at Léon Provancher Marsh along the St. Lawrence River. These two sites give us an excellent introduction to Quebec birding, and can produce a variety of fall migrants and waterfowl. Night in Quebec City.
Day 3 - Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area
We begin our day with a stop at Montmorency Falls, the largest waterfall in the province. We then move to Cap Tourment, and 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 a 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. Night in Baie-Saint-Paul.
Day 4 - Baie-Saint-Paul to La Malbaie
We’ll spend most of the day in the Grand Jardins National Park looking for boreal specialties such as Spruce Grouse, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Canada 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 La Malbaie, stopping along the shore to look for migrant shorebirds and passerines. Night in La Malbaie.
Day 5 – Travel to Tadoussac
We’ll explore the superb Charlevoix landscape along the road to Tadoussac, stopping at various locations to look for forest, coastal and sea birds. Along the way, we’ll keep an eye out for Harbour Seals, Gray Seals and Beluga Whales. If time permits we may finish our day at the Tadoussac Dunes, a part of Saguenay Fjord National Park that overlooks the St. Lawrence and is home to the Tadoussac Bird Observatory. 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 and resident 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 Black Guillemots are also a strong possibility. On land we’ll explore trails in Saguenay Fjord National 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, Canada 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 of Parc Côtier Kiskotuk, including the famed Gros-Cacouna Marsh, where there will be a mix of migrant waterfowl and shorebirds, and possibly an elusive Nelson’s Sparrow. 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, Montmagny and other locations where we’ll look for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl. We’ll check flocks of Black-bellied Plover for possible American Golden-Plover, and listen for Horned Larks among the landbirds. These areas are also good for 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.