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You are here:5.3.3 Valladolid to Zumba

5.3.3 Valladolid to Zumba

The Marañon drainage valleys in Ecuador lack of any kind of formal protection and is an area heavy developed for farming and ranching. This region is home to a handful of restricted birds species only shared with extreme northern Perú. The birding areas are located in the Zamora Chinchipe Province at an elevation between 680 to 1600 meters.



Foothill Forest, Marañon River drainage.



Valladolid to Zumba

The only way to access this region in Ecuador is by taking the Loja-Vilcabamba-Valladolid-Zumba Road (E39). The best place to stay during a visit to the Zumba region is the Casa Simpson Lodge in Tapichalaca Reserve. There is regular bus transportation from Loja to Zumba and vice versa but to bird this region the only effective way is driving your own vehicle. A four wheel driving vehicle is not necessary but a high clearance one is recommended. No special arrangements are needed in order to visit this site. Due the area is very close to the Peruvian border and there are a couple of military check points that could request identifications at any moment; it is important to have your passport or identification card always with you.



Valladolid to Zumba

If you are continuing from your visit to Tapichalaca Reserve please see the birding instructions on the respective subchapter on how to get here.

(Click here to download Map. Valladolid to Zumba)

Starting in the town of Valladolid in the south side at the fork where you find the roads leading to Tapala and Zumba 0.0 km. Drive toward Zumba for 4.9 km. At this point there will be some farm area with palm trees, fruiting trees and grasslands. This is a good place to start looking for birds. Walk along the road for a while and look for Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Blackish Rail, Russet-crowned Crake, Andean Emerald, Long-billed Starthroat, Red-headed Barbet, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Lined Antshrike, Loja Tyrannulet, Mottle-backed Elaenia, Lesser Elaenia, Yellow-cheeked Becard, Olivaceous Greenlet, Marañon Thrush, Speckle-breasted Wren, Blue Dacnis, Black-faced Dacnis, Golden-eared Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Silver-backed Tanager, Paradise Tanager, White-lined Tanager, Black-faced Tanager, Streaked Saltator, Dull-colored Grassquit, Lesser Seed-Finch, Black-billed Seed-Finch, Black-and-white Seedeater, Red Pileated-Finch and Purple-throated Euphonia.

The White-eyed Parakeets from this region seem atypical and while looking at them you should practice a meticulous study as to avoid confusion with any other Aratinga species.

Drive for further 14.6 km or 19.5 km from Valladolid. Here you will be driving through the small town of Palanda. Keep on driving toward Zumba for further 37.0 km or 56.5 km from Valladolid. At this point you will find a fork on the road. Stay on the main road on the right. Continue for further 14.3 km or 60.8 km from Valladolid. At this point you will be driving through Zumba. Keep on driving down hill heading to the abandoned Zumba’s airstrip and beyond toward “La Balsa” for further 5.3 km or 65.9 km from Valladolid. Here after crossing over a bridge there will be a dense second growth on your left. These tall trees and the thick vegetation are a good place to look for Tataupa Tinamou, Speckled Chachalaca, Marañon Pigeon, Marañon Spinetail, Golden-headed Manakin, Marañon Thrush, Buff-bellied Tanager and Red Pileated-Finch. The scrubby and grassy habitat opposite to this forest should be searched looking for Marañon Crescentchest. Drive for further 8.2 km or 74.1 km from Valladolid. At this point you will be driving through the small town of “El Chorro”. Drive for further 6.1 km or 80.2 km from Valladolid. Here you will find a military checkpoint before getting to a fork. Park close to this military check point and walk back along the road looking for Marañon Crescentchest and Russet-crowned Crake in the scrubby and grassy vegetation on both sides of the road. At the fork reset your odometer to 0.0 km for future references. The right hand fork goes to “La Balsa” which is at the Peruvian border with a migration check point, and the left fork goes to Mayo River.

Taking the road to La Balsa on your right will get through some grassy and scrubby habitat. Here is where the Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch had been recorded. La Balsa is 8.8 km ahead.

If you take the left hand road heading to Rio Mayo and drive for 2.7 km you will be driving through the small town of “La Chonta”. Drive for further 5.5 km or 8.2 km from the military checkpoint. At this point you will get to the Mayo River. The scrubby dense vegetation along the gullies before reaching to the Mayo River look for Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Northern Slaty-Antshrike, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant,  Sooty-crowned Flycatcher, Drab Seedeater and Black-capped Sparrow.


Birds to look for

Valladolid to Zumba

Second-growth (2G), Forest (F), Dry Scrub (DS), Pastures (P), River   (R).

Common: Andean   Emerald (2G,DS), Rufous-fronted Thornbird (2G,DS), Loja Tyrannulet (2G,F), Southern   Beardless-Tyrannulet (2G,DS), Yellow-bellied Elaenia (2G,DS), Lesser Elaenia (2G,DS), Social Flycatcher (2G,DS), Piratic Flycatcher (2G,F), Red-eyed Vireo (2G,F), Marañon Thrush (2G,F), Golden Tanager (2G,F), Silver-backed Tanager (2G,F), Silver-beaked Tanager (2G), Magpie Tanager (2G), Grayish Saltator (2G), Streaked Saltator (2G,F), Blue-black Grassquit (2G,DS), Dull-colored Grassquit (2G,DS), Lesser Seed-Finch (2G,DS), Yellow-bellied Seedeater (2G,DS), Chestnut-bellied Seedeater   (2G,DS), Yellow-browed Sparrow (2G,DS), Purple-throated Euphonia (2G,F).

Uncommon: Speckled   Chachalaca (2G,F), White-eyed Parakeet (2G,F), Long-billed Starthroat (2G,F), Red-headed Barbet (2G,F), Marañon Spinetail (2G,F), Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper   (2G,F), Lined Antshrike (2G,F), Mottle-backed Elaenia (2G,DS), Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant   (2G,DS), Yellow-cheeked Becard (2G,F), Olivaceous Greenlet (2G,F), Speckle-breasted Wren (2G,F), Blue Dacnis (2G,F), Black-faced Dacnis (2G,F), Golden-eared Tanager (2G,F), Golden-naped Tanager (2G,F), Paradise Tanager (2G,F), Buff-bellied Tanager (2G,F), White-lined Tanager (2G,DS), Black-faced Tanager (2G,DS), Black-and-white Seedeater (2G,DS), Band-tailed Seedeater (2G,DS), Drab Seedeater (2G,DS), Red Pileated-Finch (2G,DS), Black-capped Sparrow (2G,DS).

Rare: Tataupa   Tinamou (2G,F), Fasciated Tiger-Heron (R), Blackish Rail (P), Russet-crowned Crake (2G,DS), Marañon Pigeon (2G,F),  Black-billed Seed-Finch (P).

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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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