|Comox Valley Nature Viewing Guide|
|Comox Lake Bluffs Ecological Reserve|
Bill Heybroek drawing
|Comox Lake Bluffs: Krista Kaptein photo||Alligator Lizard: Krista Kaptein photo|
|Visitors to Comox Lake Bluffs must tread cautiously, as this ecological reserve protects a delicate ecosystem with many rare and beautiful plants. Warm, south-facing rocky outcrops tumble steeply down to the lake. These moss-covered bluffs are quite exposed, with a few trees that are adapted to seasonally dry sites, such as arbutus, Douglas-fir and shore pine. Attractive shrubs such as hairy manzanita, seaside juniper and ground-covering kinnikinnick are common here. In the early spring, the bluffs are covered in colourful wildflowers, including common camas, shooting-stars, sea-blush, chocolate lilies, spring-gold, blue-eyed Mary and many more. Several rare plants have been documented, including least moonwort, western St. John’s-wort and Macoun’s grounsel. The red-listed Northern Goshawk has also been recorded from the site. Due to the sensitive nature of this reserve, mountain biking is not permitted. Hikers should be warned that ticks are common in the spring- do a tick-check after visiting.|
|Geographical Description||5 km SW of Courtenay, on the north shore of Comox Lake. As a result of the stunted, shrubby and predominantly evergreen plant cover and the warm lakeshore aspect, the site has a ‘Mediterranean’ character. The southwestern portion of the reserve comprises steep, south-facing slopes with predominantly very shallow soils and exposed rock outcrops of Karmutsen volcanics. In the northern and eastern parts more gentle slopes and surficial deposits prevail. The physical features are reflected in the vegetation: The south-facing portion with exposed bedrock sites shows a variety of open dry-site plant communities, while the remainder is covered by young Douglas-fir forest. The southwestern portion has the larger species and community diversity.|
|Area/ Trail Length||47 ha. protected area. Elevation from 140 to 280 m. Includes 100m offset from the natural land boundary into Comox Lake.|
Rough trail, steep bluffs.
|Habitat||Comox Lake Bluffs Ecological Reserve was established to protect unusual dry-site plant communities in the Coastal Western Hemlock Zone.|
|Highlights||Open dry-site plant communities, wildflowers, rare species.|
|Best Season||Spring and summer for flowers.|
|Main Access||Comox Logging Rd.|
|Cautions||Use caution on steep bluffs.|
|Jurisdiction||BC Ecological Reserve.|
|Birds||Bald Eagle, Turkey Vulture, Barred Owl, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Rufous Hummingbird, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Pacific Slope Flycatcher, Northwestern Crow, Common Raven, Pacific Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet,Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Varied Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Western Tanager, Townsend’s Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Chestnut-back Chickadee, Brown Creeper, Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow,White-crowned Sparrow,Golden-crowned Sparrow,Dark-eyed Junco, Red Crossbill,Pine Siskin. |
|Mammals||Red Squirrel, Black-tailed Deer, Black Bear possible.|
|Trees||High elevation: arbutus, shore pine, seaside juniper (blue-listed) |
Low elevation: Douglas-fir, one cottonwood.
|Shrubs||High elevation: hairy manzanita, kinnikkinnick, and hybrid of the two. Oregon grape, false box, one redstem ceanothus.|
Low elevation: red-flowering currant, baldhip rose, twinflower, salal.
|Flowering Plants||High elevation: miner's lettuce, chickweed monkeyflower, rusty-haired saxifrage, spring gold, chocolate lily, seablush, common camas, death camas, coast penstemon, slender sandwort, vari-leaved colomia, harvest brodiaea, small-flowered fringecup, royal rein-orchid, white triteleia, tomcat clover, silverback luina, hooded ladies' tresses, early blue violet. |
Low elevation: vanilla leaf, fairyslipper, trailing yellow violet, Lyall's anemone, candystick, spotted coralroot, broad-leaved starflower, Pacific bleeding heart, pink wintergreen, Vancouver groundcone, pinesap, Menzie's pipsissewa.
|Ferns, Lichens, Mosses||Narrow-leaved sword fern, parsley fern, Indian's-dream.|
Least moonwort (blue-listed)
Wolf lichen, devil's matchstick, brown-eyed sunshine, fairypuke.
Haircap moss, step moss, Oregon beaked moss, palm tree moss, cotton moss, broom moss.
|Other Species||Slime mold.|
|Geology||There are two types of bedrock:North-eastern, lower elevation: Cretaceous Sandstone of the Comox Formation, with large second-growth Douglas-fir forest and sand beaches.|
South-western, higher elevation: steep south-facing slopes of exposed basalt outcrops from Karmutsen volcanics, with a variety of open dry-site plant communities, dominated by arbutus, hairy manzanita, seaside juniper and shore pine.
|Regulations||Ecological reserves are not created for outdoor recreation but many are open to the public for non-destructive pursuits like hiking, nature observation and photography.|
|Consumptive uses and motorized vehicles are prohibited. No fires.|
|Facilities||Ecological Reserve signs. Roadside parking outside of Ecological Reserve.|
|History||You will be able to Click here for the Conservation History.|
|FMI||Comox Lake Bluffs Ecological Reserve|
|Comox Lake Bluffs Ecological Reserve Purpose Statement|
|Friends of Ecological Reserves|
|© 2011 Comox Valley Naturalists Society|