You have to be impressed by the variety and the amazing colors of Central America’s tanagers. If you lump in the Honeycreepers, which are really tanagers, you have a range of color variation that just might be unequaled in the avian world. This is the Golden-hooded Tanager, one of my favorites. It is less frequently seen at feeders in Costa Rica, and therefore more of a treat when you do see it. The photo in the vegetation is from La Selva Biological Station and the photo on the branch is from Dave and Dave’s Costa Rican Nature Park, both in the Sarapiqui River drainage in the Caribbean lowlands, and both a short drive from Selva Verde Lodge where we were staying. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My birds and wildlife modifications of Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
If you sit on the dinning hall deck above the feeders at Selva Verde Lodge on the Sarapiqui River in Costa Rica long enough on any given day, the Toucans will come. Yellow-throated Toucans. They were, until recently the Chestnut-mandibled, or maybe Black-mandibled Toucans, but the bird name gods have been at work, and somehow decided that Yellow-throated was better…despite the fact that the other big toucan in Central America, the Keel-billed Toucan, also has a bright yellow throat…as do several other South American species. Yellow-throated actually lumps both Chestnut and Black-mandibled into a single species with two races, divided north and south. These big, bright birds are emblematic of the tropics. Seeing them in flight it is hard to imagine how they manage to carry that bill out in front…but I am told that it is very thin and light. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Anti-motion Blur mode (due the very dim light at the feeders). Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
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.
I have mentioned before that the Brown Violet-ear Hummingbirds were so dominent on this trip to Honduras (the Point and Shoot Nature Photographer adventure at the Lodge at Pico Bonito) that they suppressed the numbers of other species that we saw. They also got in each others’ way a lot 🙂 We saw a lot of confrontations between hummers competing for the same feeders and the same space. The Brown Violet-ear is not a flashy bird by hummingbird standards, but it makes up for it in attitude!
Sony RX10iii at 530mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 640 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom.
The avocados were ripening in the trees on the grounds of the Lodge at Pico Bonito in Honduras when I was there, and avocados attract birds…Lovely Contingas in the high canopy, and Collard Aricaris and Keel-billed Toucans lower down. This year Emerald and Yellow-eared Toucanetts joined them from higher up in the mountains. On my last morning there, waiting for my bus to the airport, shooting hummingbirds from the cover of the porches and decks at the Lodge while it rained, a group of Aricaris and Toucans came through the grounds. I love Toucans, so I put up my umbrella and chased them around the corner and out to the big trees around two of the cabins where I knew they might stop to feed on the avocados. And they were there, feeding in the rain. Shooting from under an umbrella is not easy. You have to balance the umbrella somehow while holding the camera, and you have to pay close attention to the angle of your cover while you attempt to track and frame moving birds above you. As this shot attests, however, it is possible. The rain streaks add to the portrait and the colors of the wet bird are as rich as they get.
Nikon P610 at 1330mm equivalent. 1/100th @ ISO 400 @ f6.3. Processed in Lightroom.
One of the places the folks at Tranquilo Bay take their guests, at least those who are interested, is to the home of one of the indigenous people of the islands, where, for some reason, many different color morphs of Poison Dart frog coexist. When we visited we were greeted at the dock by the 7 year old son of the owner, who acted as our unofficial frog guide while we were there. Our second greeter, however, was this large Green Basilisk Lizard on a log at the base of a plant in the family garden. Amazing creature. Pure prehistoric!
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent. 1/125th @ ISO 450 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom.
I missed a decent shot of a Toucan in Honduras so one of my goals for Panama was to get one! In Panama I had the advantage of a longer reach (2000mm equivalent on the Nikon P900), and Toucans at lower elevations…but even so it was day 3 before I found one perched within range. Then I had to crop slightly for scale. “Had to” is too strong. I decided to crop to increase the size of the bird in the frame. All in all I am happy with the results. With better weather I am sure I would have seen a lot more Toucans, but this one will do! Thank you Panama. Thank you Tranquilo Bay Lodge. We found this bird along a rushing river in pasture land on the mainland across from Tranquilo Bay. This is an odd perch…most of the time the Toucans stayed high in the trees. This one perched about 15 feet off the ground for long enough for me to catch it. 🙂
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/125 @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed in Topaz Denoise and Lightroom.
On the run this am, on my way home from Panama, but just to compete (kind of) the Tranquilo Bay experience, two White-faced Capuchin monkeys from the Traquilo Bay tower. 🙂
Nikon P900. Processed in Topaz Denoise and Lightroom.
Yesterday Jim and Alvero from Tranquilo Bay Lodge took me across to the mainland to explore an old banana canal and river by boat. The canal passes mostly through forest and is a rich habitat for all kinds of birds and wildlife. Unfortunately the mouth of the river had been blocked by floating vegetation (Water Hyacinth) so we did not get to the ducks, waders, River Otter, etc., but this butterfly alone would have been worth the trip.
There are several species of Blue Morpho butterfly, varying in size from 3 inches to 8. This one appeared to be in 6 inch range. If you have ever seen a Blue Morpho, it is an unforgettable sight. They have, as noted, huge bright blue wings, and they fly with the slowest possible wing-beats…appearing to float lazily over the low vegetation, just about never lighting. And when they do light, they close their wings to show a brown cryptic pattern with just a touch of blue showing at the wingtips. It is so rare to see one perched open like this…so very rare…that I feel incredibly blessed to have been in the right spot at the right moment. Most of the open wing shots you do see are posed at a Butterfly House…this is a wild, free-flying Blue Morpho! How great is that?
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/200th @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed in Topaz Denoise and Lightroom on my Surface Pro tablet.
The poor Sloth has gotten a bad name…or rather the Sloth’s name has be used to name one of the least desirable of human characteristics. I think. I would hate to think it was the other way around. Just imagine if the Sloth had been named the “Leisure” or the “Relax” or even the “Sleepy”…the Sleepy Bear…how great would that be! For the Sloth anyway. This Three-toed Sloth was high in the canopy at the local chocolate farm, across the channel from Tranquilo Bay Lodge…one of the regular tour destinations from the lodge for a variety of more mainland rainforest birds…birds that do not cross the water to Tranquilo Bay.
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/80th @ ISO 800 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.