After the breathtaking opening to the day with the procession of cool birds coming in to feed around Urraca Lodge (which means "Jay Lodge" after the beautiful White-tailed Jay which roams the reserve), we went on a morning long hike through the reserve. Starting in the parking lot we quickly located a couple of our targets right there: male Slaty Becard and a gaudy White-edged Oriole. However, the hoped-for Watkins's Antpitta would not play ball, a pattern which would continue right until the late afternoon, when, finally, we got crackerjack looks at this dry country antpitta. That morning I experienced some of the toughest birding I had ever experienced in Jorupe, although by the end of the day we still managed to find all but one of the usual targets there, but it was a sluggish process getting them. Blackish-headed Spinetails were calling everywhere, and toyed with us for the entire morning, just showing properly just prior to lunchtime, to some relief all around. Similarly, the Henna-hooded Foliage-Gleaners remained firmly hidden all morning, and one bird did not give itself up until mid-afternoon, when at the death it lingered on an open branch, and we were all glad to see the back of it after all the effort we had put in! Gray-breasted Flycatchers were more co-operative, showing up as planned, and even posing for this photo I took during the lunch recess, when we also had this handsome Whooping Motmot, and when the feeders were again visited by Scrub Blackbird, Black-capped Sparrow and Plumbeous-backed Thrush.
Our attempt at seeing a trio of roosting Spectacled Owls ended in disaster, when each one of them flew off deeper into the woods before everyone could get them in the 'scope, and we decided to return to that one later. Other notable birds in the morning included Speckle-breasted Wren, Gray-cheeked Parakeets perched by the lodge, Collared Antshrike, Tumbes Pewee (which proved remarkably elusive for a bird that has a reputation for perching prominently), Ecuadorian Piculet, and a furtive Red-billed Scythebill that hugged the back of a tree for an age, frustrating us for quite some time. Around the lodge an Amazilia Hummingbird stood guard by the feeder, and even battled with a Long-billed Starthroat at one point that tried to sneak in unnoticed.
So it had been hard work but the long list of targets was found bar one (Rufous-naped Foliage-Gleaner, which we were to try for the following day again elsewhere)...so it was not all bad, and once we got the killer looks at the antpitta in the afternoon smiles returned all round!
More from Southern Ecuador to come as we moved on to the wet slopes of the eastern Andes...