I always have my eye out for interesting butterflies when traveling (and even around home, of course). These are a few of the many I was able to photograph during my 10 day tour of the Honduran Highlands with Alex Alvarado and Honduran Birds. I am not an expert on tropical butterflies…I am not even much of an amateur…but I think I have, left to right and down, a Gray Cracker (Macaw Mountain Bird Center, Copan Ruins), one of the Tiger Heliconians, though I am not sure which one (Los Naranjos Park on Lake Yojoa), Zebra Heliconian, Common Lenmark, (both also at Los Naranjos), a Glass-wing, though again I am not sure which species (the Opatoro Highlands), and a Red Postman (Los Naranjos). Perhaps someone who knows better can pin down the ids. 🙂 All taken with the Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. Processed in Polarr, and assembled in FrameMagic.
Taking a break from my pics from Honduras, though there is no end to them (in sight). It is not every day you encounter such a cooperative Red-tailed Hawk. It flew over me and beside me while I rode my eBike along the final unpaved section as you come to Alwive Road, and perched in tree right at the edge of the cutting, in plain sight. I thought for sure it would be gone before I could get off the bike (so close to the bird), get the camera unpacked, and get a few pics…but in fact, it sat there longer than I needed to stay. It was very aware of me, and gave me “the look” several times as I shot and even repositioned myself down the trail for a better angle and light, but it was not in hurry to go anywhere, and it was not impressed enough with me to do anything about it. All for the good, as I got several classic shots of the bird posing in the sun. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 160. Processed in Polarr.
Snail Kite was not the only bird we saw along the shore of Lake Yojoa in Honduras. Lake Yojoa is the largest natural body of water in Honduras, with extensive marshes along the shore, and it attracts all kinds of birds…from the mundane Red-winged Blackbird and Grove-billed Ani, to the more exotic Bare-throated Tiger-Heron. Reading top to bottom and left to right. Grove-billed Ani, Limpkin (after the same snails as the Snail Kite), Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Purple Gallinule, Red-winged Blackbird, and Great Egret…all taken from the same dock that reached out 30 yards into the lake. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
The feeders at the coffee shop at Macaw Mountain Bird Center have become a real treat for bird photographers over the last few years. Wild Toucans, Aracaris, Orioles, Motmots, and Parrots come every day to enjoy the fresh fruit the coffee shop folk put out on specially designed cantilever feeders that swing out from the deck where you can sit and sip your coffee as you watch. The feeders can be placed out away from the deck for better framing of the birds against a natural background, and then swung in for easy filling. Some photo orientated birds tours that Alex Alvarado of Honduran Birds organizes spend a full day at Macaw Mountain because of the excellent photo ops. We were there on a tighter schedule and I had about an hour with the birds, but long enough for some of my best shots of Keel-billed Toucan, Aracari, and Oropendola…and my first shots ever of Yellow-naped Parrot. This Toucan was on one of feeders mounted directly on the rail of the deck. I was able to remove the edge of the feeder bowl at the bottom of the frame for a more natural look, but this is about as close as you are likely to get to a wild Toucan. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ ISO 800 @ f4. Processed in Polarr and TouchRetouch.
On our first morning at Panacam Lodge in the Blue Mountains of Honduras, Alex had planned a hike, but as we got down to the lake it was looking more and more like rain. He decided to take me to a restaurant / recreational center on the lake shore where there were covered boat sheds, docks, etc. where we could, if necessary, shoot in the rain. It turned out to be good call…not because it rained…it never did actually…but because there were lots of birds there, and exceptional photo ops. There were at least 2 Snail Kites hunting the area, and I already posted a sequence of one of them taking and eating a snail. This one came and sat quite close to us after an unsuccessful attempt to grab a snail, and, besides a series of portrait shots, I got to see him “shake off” the water he had gotten in his feathers. Impressive bird. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 1000. Processed in Polarr.
The Opatoro Highlands, exceptional coffee country, is the highest forest accessible by road in Honduras. Of course, calling them roads is a stretch…especially after a season of heavy coffee truck traffic. They do carry you high. The day we visited, I had a bout of Traveler’s Disease, so I was not at my best. We hiked down off the road a quarter mile to see this Fulvous Owl (or Guatemalan Barred Owl) admittedly a life bird for me, and I was really not sure I was going to make it back up. I had to pass my photo vest and my gear to the willing (young and strong) Older Rodrigues to carry the last 100 years up the very steep hill, while I climbed 15 steps, and rested for 3 minutes, the rest of the way up. Still, the owl was worth it. It’s range is limited to the mountains of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and though it is common there, and often responds to recorded calls, you have to climb high to see it. Alex Alvarado, our guide for the trip, got some excellent video through my scope of the owl calling, and I certainly enjoyed my encounter. And I survived the hill, and the day, and the Traveler’s Disease, so all is well. Later in the day, while looking for a Resplendent Quetzal nest right next to the road, another Fulvous Owl flew in and perched right over our heads…but that does not diminish the life bird sighting or my efforts on the hill. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm. 1/320th @ f4 @ ISO 6400. Processed in Polarr. (I found myself at ISO 6400 way too often in the dim light under the heavy canopy of Rain- and Cloud-forest in Honduras. The Sony’s one inch sensor does better than the small sensor in your average P&S, but still not as well as a full frame sensor might have. I am still happy with the compromise though…as I would not have gotten a full frame camera and lens down and back up that mountain.)
While we are on the subject of the Scarlet Macaws at Copan Ruins in Honduras…once again, the living proof of a successful reintroduction program…here is your classic shot of two Macaws doing that kissy kissy thing that parrots do. If you look closely you will see that their beaks are actually intwined. In the hour or so we observed the Macaws around the feeders we got to see a variety of different behaviors. At the end of the hour they all got up as a group and flew away up the open aisle between the trees, to disperse back to forest feeding and nest tending. Sony RX10iv at 95mm. Program mode. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 640. Processed in Polarr.
There is a carved pillar set up next to the pyramid structure in the main courtyard where you enter Copan Ruins in far western Honduras. The Ruins, I have to say, are impressive…especially if, like me, they are your first experience of a Mayan site. I hear that the ruins in Mexico and Guatemala are even more impressive, but I have not been there. Anyway, the pillar. When we visited there was a Scarlet Macaw sitting on top of it, posing in the early morning sun. We worked our way cautiously around the pillar and the bird and got many memorable photos. I have told the story of the Scarlet Macaw reintroduction before…but it still amazes me to see these big, brilliant, noisy birds flying free in their old home after perhaps centuries. And to see one in this proximity to the stone-work of the ruins, in which the Macaw motif figures large, is doubly special. Sony RX10iv at 530mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 200. Processed in Polarr.
As promised, here is the full sequence of the Snail Kite at Lake Yojoa in Honduras taking and eating a snail. It is a video slide-show of images from the Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Image quality is somewhat constrained by the video format, but you will get the idea. Images processed in Polarr and the slide show assembled and saved in FrameMagic. Unfortunately uploading the file to YouTube for display on WordPress results in a very low quality video, so I am going to have to ask you to use the link to view it on Google Photos, where the quality is much better.
Here is a teaser frame.
I saw 4 different species of daylight owl during my 10 days in the highlands of Honduras with Alex Alvarado of Honduran Birds, and at least 6 different individuals. The one we saw the most often was the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, which has to be the most common of the Pygmy-Owls, and perhaps the most common Owl of any kind, in Honduras. This was from an early morning walk on my last day in Honduras, before we headed back to the airport. Such a great pose. And it looks like he has prey in his talon as well. Looks to be a very large bug…perhaps a dragonfly. This is a tiny owl. When you see them in flight they look smaller than an American Robin. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 320. Processed in Polarr.