IBA Gooseberry Lake
Consort, Alberta
Site Summary
AB090 Latitude
52.119° N
110.741° W
695 - 700 m
18.77 km²
deciduous woods (temperate), scrub/shrub, native grassland, inland saline lake
Land Use:
Rangeland/pastureland, Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Disturbance, Dykes/dam/barrages, Drought, Grazing, Oil slicks, Recreation/tourism
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Nationally Significant: Shorebird Concentrations
Conservation status: Provincial Park (including Marine), Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (potential)
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Site Description
Gooseberry Lake is located roughly 12 km north of Consort, Alberta, near the northern edge of the province's grassland region. The lake is saline, with a major seepage area at the west end, and with temporary seepage areas along the eastern end of the north shore. Unlike most saline lakes in Alberta, Gooseberry Lake is permanent, although seasonal water level fluctuations result in extensive mudflats along the shore. The surrounding landscape is characterized by fescue-dominated grasslands, with scattered Trembling Aspen groves and areas of scrub vegetation also being present.
Large numbers of shorebirds have been recorded at Gooseberry Lake during both the spring and fall migrations. A peak count of 14,719 shorebirds was recorded during the spring of 1989, while other large counts include 10,765 shorebirds during the spring of 1987, and 13,503 shorebirds during the spring of 1988. Sanderlings and Red-necked Phalaropes are two of the more common species, with 2,500 Sanderlings being recorded during the spring of 1989 (about 1.5 % of the North American population), and 7,500 Red-necked Phalaropes being recorded during the spring of 1987. Although numbers of shorebirds recorded during the fall are generally lower, an estimate of 10,000 Red-necked Phalaropes in the fall of 1987 is notable.

In addition to its importance to staging shorebirds, Gooseberry Lake also supports small numbers of the nationally endangered and globally vulnerable Piping

Plover. Numbers of breeding plovers have fluctuated from a high of 9 adults in 1991, to a total lack of breeding adults in 1996. Grassland bird species are also present in the habitats surrounding the lake; a Sharp-tailed Grouse lek is located in the immediate vicinity of the lake.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Sanderling 1989 SP 3,000
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
Gooseberry Lake Provincial Park is situated on the northwestern shore of the lake, but its boundaries only include a small portion of the lake. Most of the remaining land is privately owned and used for cattle grazing. For the nesting Piping Plovers, disturbance and trampling by the cattle is one of the major concerns. There has been some discussion with landholders and leaseholders about the possibility of delaying grazing to protect the shorelines along some of the key Piping Plover nesting areas. Water management projects could cause problems if lake levels are stabilized and the required fluctuating water levels are not managed for Piping Plovers and shorebirds. Gooseberry Lake has been identified as part of a complex of lakes on the border region identified as a potential WHSRN site because of its regional importance to shorebirds, and it has also been identified as critical moulting and staging wetland by Ducks Unlimited.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
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