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You are here:6.1 La Segua Marshes-Chone Lakes

6.1 La Segua Marshes-Chone Lakes

La Segua Marshes, formerly known as the “Chone Lakes”, are a 1742 hectare area that is part of the Chone River.  This estuary is located between the cities of Chone, Bahía de Caráquez, and San Vicente.  These three cities are in the northern part of Manabí Province. Despite been the fifth most important wetland in Ecuador and having been declared a Ramsar site of worldwide importance, the conservation of the site depends on the good will of various private owners.  The land owners are organized into a group that protects the lake and its surrounding wetlands.  The marsh and its surroundings are home for 158 bird species.



Freshwater Lake, Freshwater Marches, Arid Lowland Scrub, Mangrove Forest.



La Segua Marshes-Chone Lakes

No special arrangements are needed to visit the marshes.  The best places to stay are in the city of Chone or San Vicente.  The area can be visited year round.  During the rainy season from late December to early May, however, you should be aware that mosquitoes can be numerous.  There is regular bus transportation from Chone to San Vicente.  Buses in San Vicente can be boarded along the main avenue along the beachfront.  Buses in Chone can be taken from the bus terminal that is located on the south side of the city along the Chone bypass.  This spot is 0.5 km west of the roundabout where the road to “Canuto” exits the Chone bypass. 

If you take a bus from Chone to San Vicente, you get off the bus at La Segua and bird the marshes on foot.  The road from San Vicente to Chone can be driven in any kind of vehicle, but to visit the side road around the marshes a high clearance vehicle is needed.  During the rainy season you will need a four wheel drive vehicle to visit this side road.



La Segua Marshes-Chone Lakes

(Click here to download Map. La Segua Marshes)

Starting at the junction of the Chone-Tosagua-Portoviejo highway (E 30) and the Chone bypass on the west side of the city, 0.0 km; drive for 4.0 km to the small village of San Antonio.  Here in San Antonio, take the road heading to San Vicente.  Drive another 3.3 km, or 7.3 km from Chone.  At this point on your left side you will see a driveway heading to an old brick house.  Take the driveway and go beyond it along a dirt track for 600 meters.  Here you will find a tower that views the lake.

According to weather conditions and the seasonal northern migration, at this lake you can find: Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, White-cheeked Pintail, Southern Pochard, Muscovy Duck, Masked Duck, Cocoi Heron, Least Bittern, Pinnated Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Pearl Kite, Snail Kite, Savanna Hawk, Common Black-Hawk, Northern Crested Caracara, White-throated Crake, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, Wattled Jacana, Gray-hooded Gull, Gull-billed Tern and Masked Water-Tyrant.  The water hyacinth floating vegetation here was where Bernabé López-Lanús was able to view the first Ecuador record for the rare Yellow-breasted Crake.  Despite my several attempts to find this species I have been not able to locate it and I do not know of any other ornithologist that was able to.

Return back to the highway and drive toward San Vicente for 2.7 km, or 10.0 km from Chone.  At this point there is fork in the road. The main road toward San Vicente continues on to the right.  And the left fork goes to Bahía.  The scrubby habitat with scattered trees around this area is worth exploring.  Try driving a short distance toward Bahía looking for the best habitat.  You can no longer get to Bahía via this road, but you certainly can bird along it as there is very little traffic.  You can only drive a few kilometers along this old road, as several land and mudslides have obstructed and destroyed most of the road.  If you wish to go to Bahía you have to go either through San Vicente or Tosagua.  Look here for: White-throated Crake, Ecuadorian Ground-Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove, Pacific Parrotlet, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Pacific Pygmy-Owl, Amazilia Hummingbird, Pacific Hornero, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Elegant Crescentchest, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Short-tailed Field-Tyrant, Sooty-crowned Flycatcher, Baird's Flycatcher, Snowy-throated Kingbird, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Long-tailed Mockingbird, Chestnut-collared Swallow, Superciliated Wren, Streaked Saltator, Crimson-breasted Finch, Parrot-billed Seedeater, Chestnut-throated Seedeater, Scrub Blackbird, Yellow-tailed Oriole and Peruvian Meadowlark. Some of these are present only during the rainy season (Feb-Apr).

Continue toward San Vicente another 3.2 km, or 13.2 km from Chone.  Here the road goes over the top of a hill where you can stop and look for birds with your telescope.  You can see the marshes and shrimp farms no too far away on your left.

The drive toward San Vicente will give you plenty of opportunities to see hundreds of shrimp pools that can be worth exploring to look for water and shore birds, depending on the time of year of your visit.

Drive for another 18.4 km, or 31.6 km from Chone.  Here you will arrive at the small town of Portovelo.  This small community in Portovelo runs an ecoturism program which visits the mangrove forest at “Isla Corazón”.  The small port to embark to Isla Corazón is 1.7 km along the highway passed Portovelo, or 33.3 km from Chone.

To visit Isla Corazón you take 5 minute boat ride across the Chone River estuary.  Once arriving to the mangrove forest you could walk inside forest along a boardwalk designed to allow visitors to see the mangrove habitat. Here in the mangrove forest you can find White Ibis and West Peruvian Dove.  While on the boat ride you should also look for water and shore birds.

On down the road 8.2 km, you will arrive to the town of San Vicente.  The highway heading north goes to Pedernales and beyond toward Esmeraldas Province.   A site of interest is near Pedernales where Clapper Rail may be seen.

Starting in San Vicente along the beachfront and at the roundabout where the main street intersects the road heading to “San Isidro” 0.0 km.  Go north toward Canoa-Jama- Pedernales, and drive for 8.8 km.  At this point during low tide you can see a mudflat that might be interesting.

Continue on for 8.8 km, or 17.6 km from San Vicente.  Here you arrive to a fork in the small town of Canoa.  The left fork goes to the beach and the right heads to Jama-Pedernales.  Take the right hand road for another 23.9 km, or 41.5 km from San Vicente, until you arrive at Jama. Drive for 41.0 km more, or 82.5 km from San Vicente, and immediately after passing by the tiny town of Coaque you will see a dirt road on your left. This dirt road goes into a big shrimp farm.  Ask for permission to enter explaining you are to look for birds. Take the road running alongside the stream with the shrimp ponds on both sides.  At this place you can find the Clapper Rail. At times you can see the bird in the empty and muddy shrimp ponds.

From La Segua marshes you can continue to Machalilla National Park.  

To get to Machalilla you have to drive from Chone to Tosagua-Rocafuerte-Portoviejo on highway E30. The distance from Chone to Potoviejo is approximately 83 kilometers.  From Portoviejo you must drive west toward Manta along the highway E40 for 26 km. Before arriving at Montecristi, you have to take a side road heading south to La Pila for 5.3 kilometers.  From La Pila you must drive south along the highway E9 for 40 kilometers to Jipijapa.  From Jipijapa you have to take the highway E1 for 49 km to Puerto López. The total distance from Chone to Puerto López is approximately 203 kilometers.


Birds to look for

La Segua Marshes-Chone Lakes.

Lakes   (L), Dry Scrub (DS), Mangrove Forest (MF).

Common: Neotropic Cormorant (L), White-cheeked Pintail (L), Cocoi Heron (L), Striated Heron (L), White-throated Crake (L,DS), Purple Gallinule (L,DS), Common Gallinule (L,DS), Wattled Jacana (L,DS), Gray-hooded Gull (L), Pale-vented Pigeon (DS), Ecuadorian Ground-Dove (DS), Croaking Ground-Dove (DS), Pacific Parrotlet (DS), Striped Cuckoo (DS), Amazilia Hummingbird (DS)¸ Pacific Hornero (DS), Streak-headed Woodcreeper (DS), Rufous-browed Peppershrike (DS), Long-tailed Mockingbird (DS), Fasciated Wren (DS), Streaked Saltator (DS), Variable Seedeater (DS), Chestnut-throated Seedeater (DS), Yellow-rumped Cacique (DS), Scrub Blackbird (DS), Great-tailed Grackle (DS), Peruvian Meadowlark (DS).

Uncommon: Pied-billed   Grebe (L), Least Grebe (L), Fulvous Whistling-Duck (L), Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (L), Least Bittern (L), White Ibis (L, MF), Pearl Kite (DS), Snail Kite (L,DS), Savanna Hawk (DS), Clapper Rail (MF), Limpkin   (L), Gull-billed Tern (L), Striped Cuckoo (DS), West Peruvian Dove (DS,MF), Pacific Pygmy-Owl (DS), Bran-colored Flycatcher (DS), Short-tailed Field-Tyrant (DS), Masked Water-Tyrant (DS), Streaked Flycatcher (DS), Baird´s Flycatcher (DS), Snowy-throated   Kingbird (DS), One-colored Becard (DS), Superciliated Wren (DS), Crimson-breasted Finch (DS), Parrot-billed   Seedeater (DS), Yellow-tailed Oriole (DS).

Rare: Rufescent Tiger-Heron (L), Southern Pochard (L), Muscovy Duck (L), Masked Duck (L), Pinnated Bittern (L), Glossy Ibis (L), Common Black-Hawk (DS,MF), Yellow-breasted Crake (L), Dark-billed Cuckoo (DS), Elegant Crescentchest (DS), Sooty-crowned   Flycatcher (DS), Chestnut-collared   Swallow (DS).


For a more comprehensive checklist on La Segua visit the web site


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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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