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You are here:3.10.2 Lita and Alto Tambo

3.10.2 Lita and Alto Tambo

Lita is a fairly good sized town at 600 m elevation.  Since its most important economic activities are farming and ranching, the habitat surrounding the town is quite disturbed.  Dense second-growth and pastureland dominates what formerly was superb primary forest.  Not far away from Lita is the small village of Alto Tambo at 770 m in elevation.  This is a more interesting area, as near Alto Tambo there are some forest patches right along the highway that still hold the important species for the area.  Some forest patch remnants were still present as of May 2009 near Alto Tambo as part of the Corredor Awacachi and Territorio Etnico Awá Protected Forest.   However the conservation of the area is problematic and their future uncertain.


Foothill Forest


Lita and Alto Tambo

You can visit these sites on your way to the lowlands along the Ibarra-San Lorenzo road or on your return to Quito. There is plenty of public transportation from Ibarra to San Lorenzo and vice versa, but at times it may be tricky to get the bus to stop for you.  The most important area for birding is just above Alto Tambo toward Lita.  Here the forest patches are near the road.  The most adventurous could camp under the protection of some of the houses in Alto Tambo.  One could also camp in one of the farm houses close to the forest, but you will have to negotiate an authorization to do it with the homeowners.  There are a few trails entering the forest and you most likely will need rubber boots to walk them.



Lita and Alto Tambo

If you are continuing from your visit to San Pablo and Yaguarcocha lakes or Palacara River and Tumbambiro, see the birding instructions on their respective chapters.   After visiting YaguarcochaLake, and from the entrance, continue driving north for 19.3 km on the Pan American highway.   After descending to the bottom of a valley you will get to the beginning of the San Lorenzo road.  This will be our point of reference, point 0.0km.

(Click here to download Map. Lita and Alto Tambo).    

Drive toward the lowlands for 72.4 km until you arrive at the town of Lita.  The grassy habitats just above the Lita gas station, and also below the town and before arriving at a bridge, are good places to look for the Ruddy-breasted Seedeater and Yellow-faced Grassquit.

In order to visit pristine habitat from Lita, you will need to organize an expedition into some remote areas.  Continue driving down the road for another 17.0 km, or 89.4 km from the Pan-American Highway, until reaching a short scrub habitat along both sides of the road.  Look here for the Large-billed Seed-Finch.  And there will be a side, dirt road on your left. This is a muddy road worth exploring on foot for after some 0.7 km you will be walking with forest along both sides and you could see most of the birds described for the following trail. Continue along the highway, and at a short distance after this point, about 0.6 km down the road, or 90.0 km from the Pan-American Highway, there is a small forest patch on the left.  Here a muddy trail starts and goes into a tall second-growth.  This forest trail is well worth exploring, as many good forest bird species occur here including Rufous-brown Solitaire, Esmeraldas Antbird, Chocó Warbler and Rufous-throated Tanager. Keep on walking down towards Alto Tambo, and at the end of this forest patch and on the left, there is farm with the name “Ponderosa.

On the right side of the road there is an abandoned tile roofed house.  Continue walking down the road from this house.  Look for birds on both sides of the road. As soon as the grassy patch on your right ends, you will see a forest trail starting up a short slope. Climb up the 1.5 meters high road cut on your right and walk into forest. The climbing part might be tricky but rewarding, for once you are on top you can follow the trail heading inside forest.

This trail will be the best chances to look for forest birds. Here inside the forest look for Chocó Screech-Owl, Indigo-crowned Quail-Dove, Chocó Trogon, Lita Woodpecker, Chocó Tapaculo, Speckled Mourner and Chocó Warbler.

After these trails, walk along the road toward Alto Tambo looking for flocks that may contain: Stripe-billed Araçari, Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Gray-mantled Wren, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Gray-and-gold Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Scarlet-and-white Tanager, Ochre-breasted Tanager and Yellow-collared Chlorophonia.  Many of these birds can also be seen inside the forest along the above mentioned trails.

The forest below Alto Tambo is pretty much degraded.   Once in Alto Tambo, 92.4 km from the Pan-American Highway, you can walk the railway up the hill toward Lita-Ibarra.   There is good forest here with most of the species mentioned above.

In order to find some good forest along the road, while taking the railway crossing in Alto Tambo as a point of reference, you have to drive for another 16.2 km, or 108.6 km from the Pan-American Highway.  Here the road goes down a deep gulley and a cliff can be seen on your right side.   Walk along this area down for 1 km until the arriving at “Mirador de la Reserva Awa”.  This spot is an overlook with views of the Awa reserve in the distance.  Look from here for: Lanceolated Monklet, Esmeraldas Antbird, Stub-tailed Antbird, Black-tipped Cotinga, Golden-chested Tanager, Dusky-faced Tanager and Tawny-crested Tanager.


Birds to look for

Lita, Alto Tambo, Mirado Awa Reserve

Pastures   (P), Second-growth (2G), Forest (F).

Common: Bronze-winged Parrot (2G, F), Chocó Toucan (2G, F),   Cinnamon Becard (2G, F),  Bay Wren (2G,   F), Brown-capped Vireo (2G, F), Olive-crowned Yellowthroat (P), White-thighed   Swallow (2G, F), Green Honeycreeper (2G, F), Blue Dacnis (2G, F),   Lemon-rumped Tanager (2G, F), Orange-bellied Euphonia (2G, F), Ruddy-breasted   Seedeater (P), Variable Seedeater (P), Yellow-bellied Seedeater (P),   Orange-billed Sparrow (2G).

Uncommon: Maroon-tailed Parakeet (2G, F), Chestnut-mandibled   Toucan (2G, F), Chocó Trogon (F), White-whiskered Hermit (2G, F),   Purple-crowned Fairy (2G, F), Lita Woodpecker (2G, F), Red-headed Barbet (2G,   F), Stripe-billed Araçari (2G, F), Lanceolated Monklet (2G, F), Immaculate   Antbird(2G, F), Chocó Tapaculo (2G, F), Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant (2G),Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher (2G, F), Masked Tityra (2G, F), Chocó Warbler (2G, F),   Tawny-faced Gnatwren (F), Rufous-throated Tanager (2G, F), Silver-throated   Tanager (2G, F), Golden-hooded Tanager (2G, F), Emerald Tanager (2G, F), Scarlet-and-white   Tanager (2G, F),Tawny-crested Tanager   (2G, F), White-winged Tanager (2G, F), Ochre-breasted Tanager (2G, F),   Dusky-faced Tanager (2G, F), Yellow-collared Chlorophonia (2G, F), Black-winged   Saltator (2G, F), Large-billed Seed-finch (2G,P).

Rare: Chocó Screech-Owl (F), Indigo-crowned Quail-Dove   (F), Stub-tailed Antbird (F),   Speckled Mourner (F),Black-tipped   Cotinga (F), Gray-mantled Wren (2G, F), Scarlet-thighed Dacnis (2G, F),   Gray-and-gold Tanager (2G, F), Golden-chested Tanager (F), Rufous-brown   Solitaire (F).

Copyright © 2010 by Lelis Navarrete

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Meet the Author

Lelis Navarrete – Birding tour leader. Lelis has 19 years of experience as a birding guide and naturalist in the field. He has led groups of birders throughout most of Latin America, guiding frequently in countries like his native country of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Panama. A Biology B.Sc. graduate from Universidad Católica in Quito, Lelis has supported Jocotoco Foundation since its founding in 1998 and was an active Board Member until 2010 supporting Ecuadorian bird and wildlife conservation. Lelis divides his time between his two great passions in life: birding and spending time with his wife Solange and son Fabian with whom he lives in Quito.


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