|Comox Valley Nature Viewing Guide|
|Courtenay River Estuary, Courtenay Riverway and Airpark|
|Great Blue Heron: |
Bill Heybroek drawing
|Estuary with Shooting Stars: Krista Kaptein photo||Trumpeter Swans: fr. Charles Brandt photo|
|The Courtenay River Estuary and Courtenay Riverway Airpark is a unique area featuring an estuary, lagoon, tidal flats and salt marsh, as well as a Sitka spruce forest and Garry oak ecosystem being restored by the Comox Valley Naturalists Society. Low tide exposes an extensive tidal flat encompassing the entire Courtenay River estuary also known as Comox Bay. The estuary is an important bird area as many species of water birds, including Trumpeter Swans, overwinter there. Eagles, herons and various water birds can be seen year-round and seals regularly travel and fish for salmon in the river. Shooting stars and marsh hollyhock grow in the marsh. The Airpark’s paved walkway is suitable for baby strollers and wheelchairs while a walk on the tidal flats is best done in waterproof footwear.|
|Geographical Description||13 km shoreline from Trent River Estuary to Goose Spit Regional Park; enclosing 1000 ha. Courtenay River Estuary (Comox Bay) ; 250 ha. adjacent floodplain fields, 2.3 km Courtenay River from Estuary to confluence of Tsolum & Puntledge Rivers.|
|Area/ Trail Length||Airpark: 9.4 ha. reclaimed sewage lagoon, uplands being restored to Garry oak ecosystem. |
Hollyhock Flats: 15.3 ha. salt marsh.
1.8 km loop around Airpark; 1.5 km one-way south to Millard Rd. Flat paved paths.
1.8 km one-way north across 17th St. Bridge to Rotary Viewing Stand , to estuary viewing from east side.
|Habitat||Tidal flats, salt marsh, Sitka spruce forest in Hollyhock Flats, Garry oak ecosystem restoration in Airpark.|
|Highlights||Extensive tidal flats & intertidal life at low tide; seals; Bald Eagle & nest, herons, Trumpeter Swans in winter, numerous waterbirds; shooting stars, camas & marsh hollyhock in salt marsh; restoration of Garry oak ecosystem by Comox Valley Naturalists Society.|
|Best Season||Spring for flowers, Late autumn for fish & seals; Winter for waterbirds; Summer for low tide & intertidal life.|
|Main Access||Riverway & Estuary: east end 20th St. Courtenay; along Mansfield Dr.,Courtenay. |
Estuary: Rotary Viewing Stand at 2000 Comox Rd.,Courtenay.
|Secondary Accesses||Riverway: east end 6th St; east end 11th St; east end 14th St; east end 19th St; 2788 Mansfield Dr.|
|Cautions||Airpark path can flood in winter w/ driftwood debris. Busy traffic along Comox (Dike) Road.|
|Jurisdiction||Airpark: City of Courtenay Parks; |
Hollyhock Flats: City of Courtenay & Comox Valley Regional District;
Intertidal zone: Provincial MOE;
Fish & fish habitat: Federal DFO.
|Mammals||Harbour Seal, Raccoon.|
|Birds||Bald Eagle & nest, Great Blue Heron, Glaucous-winged Gull, Mew Gull, Merlin, Mallard, American Widgeon, Green-winged Teal, Canada Goose, Cackling Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Killdeer, Spotted Towhee, Northern Flicker, Rufous Hummingbird, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Red-winged Blackbird, American Robin, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Junco, Common Yellowthroat, Northwestern Crow, European Starling, English Sparrow.|
|Fish||Juvenile sockeye, Chinook, pink, chum, cutthroat trout, steelhead, sculpin, ghost shrimp.|
|Trees||Sitka spruce, Douglas maple, arbutus, trembling aspen, bigleaf maple, cascara, black hawthorn, Pacific ninebark, bitter cherry, crabapple, red alder, Garry oak.|
|Shrubs||Salmonberry, red-flowering currant, common snowberry, tall Oregon grape, oceanspray, thimbleberry, Saskatoon, red-osier dogwood, rose sp., black twinberry.|
|Flowering Plants||Henderson's checker-mallow, shooting star, camas, northern rice-root, cattail, white bog-orchid, skunk cabbage.|
|Ferns, Lichens, Mosses|
|Invasive/Non-native species||Invasive: Scotch broom, purple loosestrife, yellow-flag iris, Himalayan blackberry, Japanese knotweed, yellow archangel. |
Non-native: English oak.
Japanese oysters, varnish clam.
|Geology||Seven creeks & rivers flow into estuary. River was once more braided with larger floodplain; 50% of shoreline has been modified.|
|Regulations||Dogs on leash. Bicycles & rollerblades use paved paths.|
|Facilities||Parking lots, benches; Interpretive signs; Viewing stands; Picnic shelter; Indoor Washrooms at adjacent businesses; Playground; Distance sign markers.|
|Other Features||Sewage pumping station; Marina & boat/kayak launch; Signs installed by Comox Valley Naturalists Society; Commemorative signs .|
|Other Connections||To Millard Nature Park (south) |
To Duck Slough (across river)
Along Courtenay Riverway 1.6 km one-way north to Simms & Lewis Parks.
|History||You will be able to Click here for the Conservation History.|
|FMI||CVNS Wetland Habitat Restoration Project Reports|
|K'omoks Important Bird Area|
|City of Courtenay Parks|
|City of Courtenay Official Community Plan|
|Courtenay River Estuary Management Plan 1998|
|Nature Trust of BC|
|Fish Species in the Courtenay River Estuary and Baynes Sound 2001|
|Comox Tide Tables|
|WSU Intertidal Life Identification|
|© 2011 Comox Valley Naturalists Society|