One of the reasons the Tranquilo Bay Lodge experience is so wonderful, is that you can take a boat to the mainland, and be in Cloud Forest in less than an hour from the dock, on good roads (no long hikes up mountains required!) This gives access to a whole new set of species. These are Glasswing Butterflies. In my casual research this morning I found two possible English Names. Banded Peacock and Blue Transparent. I am not sure which species it is, or, indeed, if those are the same species by two different names. Banded Peacock seems unlikely as that is the name of another butterfly already. ??
Nikon P900 at 400mm equivalent field of view. 1/80th @ ISO 400 @ f5. Processed in Topaz Denoise and Lightroom.
Now that I am back from a busy week teaching Point and Shoot Nature Photography in Florida (and out shooting in the Florida light every day) I can work with my shots from Tranquilo Bay Lodge in Panama more. This is a Montezuma Oropendola…just think giant Oriole and you will have it just right. The Oropendolas, as befits the size of the bird, make huge hanging nests in colony trees. And, as befits the tropical location, the Oropendola is strikingly colored. This shot shows it all, from the pink and orange and blue wattles on the face, to the brilliant bill, to shockingly bright yellow tail. It was taken from the top of the canopy tower at Tranquilo Bay Lodge, on a deeply overcast day…eyelevel for the bird. The tower certainly adds to an already great Tranquilo Bay experience.
Nikon P900 at 850mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 400 @ f5.6. Processed in Topaz Denoise and Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.
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.
I have over 1000 images from my 6 days at Tranquilo Bay Lodge and the surrounding area in Panama…and those are only the keepers! This is a Shining Honeycreeper taken from the deck at the main Lodge building on my second day there…in a moment of lighter rain. You can see how wet the bird is. The rain was not typical of the season. April should be the beginning of the dry season, but the rains had ended early this year, and the Lodge, which exists totally on collected rain water, was in need of some rain to fill the tanks. (And I was glad I could help…I told them to just let me know the next time the tanks got low, and I would come down so it could rain for a week 🙂 The Shining Honeycreeper is one of three Honeycreepers that frequent the rain-forest around the Lodge: Shining, Green, and Red-legged. The Shining and Red-legged look very much alike, except for the legs, and the Green is not green at all (at least not the male) but a lovely turquoise with a black mask. All of the females are some shade of green, from olive for the Red-legged to leaf on the Green. They are all relatives of the Tanagers.
Nikon P900 at 1500mm equivalent field of view (cropped slightly for scale). 1/30 @ ISO 900 @ f6.3 (which makes this shot totally unlikely! Handheld at 1/30th? Not possible! The Nikon P900 not only survived the tropics, it exceeded all expectations!) 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.
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.
Despite heavy rains, I am still having lots of fun at Tranquilo Bay. The birds are right here off the deck, and yesterday I got to photograph poison dart frogs for several hours and we made it out to a Manakin leck to see males displaying and defending their little patches of bare earth in the jungle. Great stuff! This is a Masked Tityra, one of two Tityras in the area. Such a bird! About the size of a robin and related to the tropical flycatchers. You might see the overall resemblance to our Kiskadee.
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/125th @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed in Topaz Denoise and Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.