We spent a few hours at Dave and Dave’s Costa Rican Nature Pavilion while in the Sarapiqui region of Costa Rica. As I have said before, Dave and Dave, father and son, have created a rich habitat for wildlife and birds and an exceptional space for photography on the banks of the Sarapiqui River. They have feeders on the high bluff, at canopy level, that attract a wide variety of local species: from Toucans, through Tanagers and Honeycreepers, to hummingbirds. They also have a trail down the steep bluff to the river. It involves a lot of stairs up and down, and then, depending on water levels, a hike along the dry river bed. Sometimes the river is right at the foot of the stair, but the day we visited it was several hundred yards across river gravel and what must be an island at high water. Among the highlights of the hike down to the river are the Green and Black Poison Dart Frogs. They also have the much more common Blue-jean’s or Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, but Dave and Dave’s is an excellent place to find the Green and Black in high numbers. We found these in a brush pile near the foot of the stairs. According to Young Dave, the patterns are like fingerprints or Zebra stripes…no two are exactly alike. You can see that I have 5 different individuals here in the panel. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Anti-motion Blur mode to handle the low light and long zoom. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
This is an early post for tomorrow. I leave in the middle of the night for 13 days (with travel) in South Africa, in Kruger National Park, where I am not certain at all I will have wifi or internet, so this may be the last post for a while, or posts may be intermittent. I promise to catch up when I get home. 🙂
The island of Bestimeno, where Tranquilo Bay Lodge is located in Bocas del Toro, Panama, has only the red/orange variety of Poison Dart Frog. Just across the bay, on Popa, they have several varieties: ranging from orange with blue legs to yellow with turquoise legs, all the same species (so far)…and even another species altogether which is black with yellow stripes. There is a Smithsonian study going on right now to determine the pattern of genetic variation in the Poison Dart frogs of Bocas del Toro. This shot was taken on our first afternoon hike at Tranquilo…using the flash on the camera.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/60th @ ISO 200 @ f4 with on-camera flash. It was considerably dark under the canopy in the rainforest, Processed and cropped slightly in Lightroom.
There are two species of Poison Dart Frogs here in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Most are small and various shades of red, orange, and light yellow. This is the other species 🙂 It is maybe three times the size of the little ones. No two frogs have the exact same pattern of green and black. We found lots of these frogs near the bases of trees and in the litter under the low cocco trees and the tall Rainforest canopy at a shade grown cocco Plantation… Green Acres Chocolate Farm on the mainland across from Tranquilo Bay Lodge.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program with auto flash. Processed in PhotoShop Express on my Android tablet.
Before it slips totally into memory, we return to Honduras for this Red-eyed Tree Frog, found by Elmer Escoto, our guide, on the night hike at The Lodge at Pico Bonito. The Lodge has dammed a small stream just into the rainforest to form two small ponds where the frogs breed. The tree frogs are only active a night, so you have to go out with flashlights and listen for their calls and track them down among the leaves. They don’t seem to be bothered by the lights, or by the camera flash. Once found they will pose. The trick is to get someone to hold a flashlight on them so you can focus, then let the camera flash light the frog.
Sony RX10iii at 412mm equivalent field of view. 1/60th @ f4 @ ISO 2500. Processed in Lightroom.
My friend Rich went out with the New Jersey Audubon Young Birders on Saturday morning of the Cape May Autumn Bird Festival (ZEISS, who we both work for, sponsors the Young Birders), and they found a Northern Grey Tree Frog in a tree on the back side of the trails behind the Hawk Watch platform and the Lighthouse. He pointed out the spot on Sunday morning when he and I walked the same trails. Monday I was back there for one last loop around the trails before heading for Philadelphia and my flight back to Maine, and just for fun, I checked the tree. What do you know? The frog was there, tucked deep into the V where a branch rose at a sharp angle from the main trunk. The Grey Treefrog is small by North American frog standards…this is an adult and is only a bit less than 2 inches long. I was amazed at how well camouflaged the tree frog is. It matched the grey mottled, lichen covered bark of the tree almost perfectly. If I had not known where to look, I would never have seen it. And I had to look twice at that 🙂
I suspected at least some degree of chameleon like ability (color cloaking), so I had to look up the Grey Tree Frog this morning, and indeed, the males, like this specimen, can change through a range of greys and greens to match the bark or foliage where they sit. It is not a quick change like the chameleon, but over a hour or so, the male Grey Treefrog can mimic its perch, provided it picked a perch within its color pallette, most convincingly. What do you know?
Nikon P610 macro at 105mm equivalent field of view. Since it was overcast with limited daylight, I used the flash for an exposure of 1/60th @ ISO 160 @ f5.3. Processed in Lightroom.
There is nothing unusual about a Northern Leopard Frog. They are common in fresh water ponds of Maine, especially at higher elevations…and evidently they are common in the lakes of Michigan as well…at least Lake Huron, at Tawas Point State Park. On the other hand, I have never seen one jeweled with sand as they all seem to be along the Huron shore. The ones I found were resting in the sand several feet from the water’s edge…two hops (and a Northern Leopard Frog is a champion hopper) at least. Since the shore is sandy, I suppose it is not strange to see that the frogs are coated with sand…just a bit outside my experience of frogs in general, and Northern Leopard Frogs in particular. 🙂
Sony HX90V at around 1000mm equivalent. 1/250th @ ISO 80 @ f6.3. Processed in Lightroom.
I think this is a Chiricahua Leopard Frog. We found it at Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, AZ. The range is right. The habitat is right. And it matches the descriptions. So that is what I am calling it until someone who knows better corrects me. 🙂
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 200 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom.
There may have been no Moose at Alwive Pond in the Alwive Pond Woods Preserve of the Kennebunk Land Trust, but there were certainly a lot of Northern Leopard Frogs. I do not know what the tipping point is, but there are ponds in Southern Maine where the Bull Frog predominates to the exclusion of Leopard Frogs, and there are ponds where the Leopard Frog appears have displaced all the Bulls. Alwive Pond is Northern Leopard Frog territory! They were everywhere along the pond edge in the boggy peat. You can actually get pretty close to a Northern Leopard Frog…much closer, in my experience, than you can get to any Bull Frog. 🙂 I love the pattern on the skin, and I find the Leopard Frog elegant, when compared to a Bull Frog. I am glad to find that they have their strongholds, places where the Northern Leopard Frog rules, and that one is in Alwive Woods.
This is a collage of 4 views, representing 3 frogs, assembled in Coolage. All images with the Sony HX90V at various equivalent fields of view, from 50mm to 200mm. Processed in Lightroom.
There is a spot on the bigger island, closer to the mainland, in the Bocas Del Torro archipelago, where a number of color morphs of one species of Poison Dart frog coexist. This is unusual. It is not a place you are going to find, or to want to go, unless you are with the excellent guides at Tranquilo Bay Lodge. And there is a second species there as well. (The black and yellow frog is the second species…all the others are the same species.) These are tiny frogs…not the Amazon Poison Dart Frogs you have seen on Nat Geo. They are about a half inch long at best. They hop about in the leaf litter all over the forest floor. The black and yellow frog has a large cluster of tadpoles on her back. She is ferrying them high into the canopy, where she will deposit them in a bromeliad. She will then tend and feed them until they morph into frogs, at which point they will then climb back down to the forest floor to live and breed. Very interesting!
Because of the low light under the heavy canopy, I had to use the flash for all these images, and because of size of the frogs (and how fast they are), all the images are cropped from full frame. Nikon P900. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Phototastic Pro.
I am not sure what this huge frog is. It was several sizes larger than the Common Frog I saw out on the trails at the Oostvaarderplassen in Holland. If it had been in the US I would have called it a Bull Frog without hesitation, but in Europe I am not so certain. In fact, the American Bull Frog is a problem in many countries in Europe…one of the most invasive of introduced species, so this could, in fact, be exactly what it looks like 🙁 A Bull Frog on the wrong side of the pond. 🙂
Canon SX50HS at 2400mm equivalent field of view. Program with -1/3EV exposure compensation and iContrast. Processed in PicSay Pro on the Nexus 7 2013.