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Lambert Channel/Hornby Island Waters (BC061)

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Lambert Channel/Hornby Island Waters (BC061)

Courtney, British Columbia

Latitude 49.538°N
Longitude 124.667°W
Altitude 0 - 10m
Area 131.66km²

Site Description

Comox Valley IBA, Baynes Sound IBA and Lambert Channel/Hornby Island Waters IBA share common populations of waterbirds but were established as separate IBAs because they were nominated independently. In 2013, these sites were amalgamated into the K'omoks IBA; follow this link for current information for this area.

Lambert Channel is the body of water that separates Denman and Hornby Islands. These islands are located off the east coast of Vancouver Island in the central part of the Strait of Georgia. Within Lambert Channel, the IBA extends several kilometres along the entire northern shore of Denman Island (including the Seal Islets), and the northwestern, western, eastern and southern shores of Hornby Island. The shores of the channel are a mixture of gravel and rock, with the water currents in the channel being influenced by tides twice daily. The upland habitats adjacent to the channel are part of the dry Garry Oak/Douglas fir forests that are restricted in British Columbia to the Strait of Georgia. Hornby Island is forested with Douglas fir on the southeast peninsula, and has mostly rocky shores, culminating in a large rocky headland (St. Johns Point) at the tip of this peninsula. The waters within 2 km of the shores of Hornby Island are included in the IBA.

Birds

Birds concentrate in the Lambert Channel to take advantage of spawning herring, which are usually present during the first few weeks of March. Significant numbers of waterfowl, especially Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, and Long-tailed Duck, and significant numbers of waterbirds, especially Glaucous-winged Gull, Mew Gull and Thayer's Gull, are found at this time. As well, continentally important numbers of Black Brant occur during spring migration. Lambert Channel and the waters off of Hornby Island support significant concentrations of Harlequin Duck in more than one season. Aggregations of Harlequin Duck gather at a few locations on the northeast side of Hornby Island for 2-3 weeks during herring spawning. These aggregations can include 49-81% of the midwinter population of Harlequin Duck in the northern Strait of Georgia. An estimated 3400-5500 birds were present in 1996-2001. Aggregations occur in only a small fraction of the habitat area where spawn is available, indicating the importance of the site. During summer and early fall, the shores of Hornby Island are also a major roost site for moulting Harlequin Duck. The relative importance of the IBA to the other species listed in the table below is under review.

Conservation Issues

Lambert Channel and the waters surrounding Hornby Island have long been recognized as an important area for waterbirds and herring. Any activity that negatively impacts the herring spawn (e.g. reductions in water quality, foreshore development) could have significant impacts on the ability of this site to support a concentration of birds. Disturbance from increased recreational activities also poses a threat to bird populations using the area. The recent demand for expanded mariculture development will need to be monitored carefully for its impact on birds. There is limited protection in place, particularly for the marine waters; the most significant is the marine extension to Helliwell Provincial Park.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Iceland Gull (Thayer's)
Number Year Season
802017Spring
200 - 2502017Winter
110 - 2602016Winter
136 - 4002016Spring
80 - 7802015Winter
150 - 2002015Fall
150 - 1,0002015Spring
150 - 1,5002014Spring
80 - 6002014Winter
150 - 1952013Winter
120 - 1602013Spring
1052012Fall
200 - 5002012Spring
86 - 3592011Fall
4002011Spring
2002011Winter
200 - 5002010Spring
98 - 1142010Winter
105 - 3452009Fall
1502009Spring
1,5012008Spring
104 - 1202008Winter
88 - 4,0002007Fall
300 - 2,0002007Spring
150 - 2802006Spring
100 - 2522006Winter
1672005Fall
5002005Spring
1382005Winter
812004Winter
152 - 4002003Spring
300 - 1,2002003Winter
2602001Spring
100 - 1402000Spring
3592000Winter
Glaucous-winged Gull
Number Year Season
5,0002017Spring
5,0002016Spring
4,300 - 45,0002010Spring
5,1762001Winter
39,0001990Spring
41,0001989Spring
??Summer
Western Grebe
Number Year Season
6,3402005Winter
2,0002003Spring
Pelagic Cormorant
Number Year Season
9002017Winter
1032008Fall
2,0801990Spring
2021987Summer
Harlequin Duck
Number Year Season
1,0002007Spring
1,0002005Spring
4,2771999Other
2,5001998Spring
4,000 - 5,0001995Spring
1,0001995Fall
6001990Spring
Surf Scoter
Number Year Season
8,0002016Spring
6,000 - 8,0002015Spring
3,6122010Spring
Black Turnstone
Number Year Season
1,0002002Fall
Mew Gull
Number Year Season
5,0002017Spring
2,8002007Spring
2,9902001Spring
4,6872001Winter
Heermann's Gull
Number Year Season
1002014Fall
Great Blue Heron
Number Year Season
162008Fall
382007Summer
382003Spring
1101999Summer
Waterbirds
Number Year Season
23,0702010Winter
28,0001990Spring
Surfbird
Number Year Season
5302015Spring
6002013Winter
6002012Fall
Long-tailed Duck
Number Year Season
2502007Spring
8,5001990Spring
California Gull
Number Year Season
5,0002016Spring