Costa Rica Mammals

This is the second in a series of three Galleries from our trip to Costa Rica in early March, 2004. The first consisted entirely of birds, while the third one will include a collection of various vertebrate and invertebrate species.

While I greatly enjoyed and photographing the various birds and other species in Costa Rica, I had perhaps the greatest fun and excitement shooting the monkeys in the wild. This was a completely new experience for me. We only had opportunity to photograph them during the two boat trips we took in the Tortuguero National Park. The first was fairly limited, seeing a small group of Howler monkeys (deep in the shadows, as usual!), but the second was a feast. We came across a somewhat large band of monkeys, which included the three different species included here. They were feeding as they moved along the trees at the edge of the river, and we were able to follow them on our boat. We must have shot them for 30 to 45 minutes. And two of the females were even carrying babies with them, which was more than we could have asked for.

Seeing them in their natural environment, and exhibiting their incredible climbing skills, was truly an experience of a lifetime.

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White Faced Monkey in the Open

Image # 02457

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 400, f/4, 1/1250 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

The monkeys seemed to be constantly on the move, usually deep within trees and vines, and only rarely came out in the open. We were quite fortunate to get a few shots of them virtually completely in the clear.


 

White Faced Monkey in the Trees

Image # 02416

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 500, f/4, 1/1000 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

This is a more typical setting for these monkeys, and while there's not much of him visible, I'm hoping this image captures in some way the experience of seeing them in their natural habitat.


 

2-Toed Sloth ?

Image # 02390

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 400, f/4, 1/80 second

Evaluative Metering at +1

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

We saw several sloths on our trip, and this image is quite typical for where we saw them. Certainly this photograph has some technical shortcomings, but really does convey a sense of the experience of seeing a sloth in its natural environment. With heavy back-lighting, Photoshop CS was again very useful in achieving a more balanced image. (Also, the very slow movements of this species certainly helped get a reasonably sharp image, at this distance, in a boat, at 1/80 second!) I received email from an excellent wildlife photographer, Milo Burcham, who feel this could be a 2-toed sloth, rather than the 3-toed which I originally thought.


 

Spider Monkey Upside Down

Image # 02430

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/200 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

The acrobatics displayed by these monkeys was just thrilling to watch. They make abundant use of their "prehensile" tail as they moved about, often suspending themselves from their tail around while feeding.


 

Spider Monkey in Profile

Image # 02433

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 400, f/4, 1/640 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick


This represented a very rare glimpse of this species when it was relatively out in the open.
 

Spider Monkey Upright

Image # 02444

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 400, f/4, 1/400 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

One more image of these beautiful monkeys, with a reasonable look at its long, powerful tail.


 

Howler Monkey Resting

Image # 02467

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/250 second

Evaluative Metering at +2/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

We saw fewer of this species, and they tended to be a bit more elusive, so I don't have as many images of these as of the white faced monkeys. Their dark fur also necessitated some + EV compensation to try and capture the detail.


 

Spider Monkey with Baby

Image # 02429

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 500, f/4, 1/1600 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

This is one of my favorites from this entire trip. The mother hung from some branches in this area for a brief period, allowing me to get off several shots. Most of them had various branches obscuring her or her baby, but I was very happy to get this one shot which is relatively clear of vegetation blocking either of them.


 

White Faced Monkey with Baby

Image # 02448

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 400, f/4, 1/800 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

Also one of my favorites, it was a real treat to see and shoot this mother and baby. Composition was tough with the boat rocking and the monkeys moving, so even though this is a bit tight on top, I was glad to get it.


 

White Faced Monkey and Wasp Nest

Image # 02453

Tortuguero National Park

Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 400, f/4, 1/1000 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

As the monkeys moved from tree to tree, this one found a wasp's nest, and ate some of it before being attacked by the wasps and quickly scurrying off. Its expression here suggests that this was taken about the time the wasps started stinging.


 

Coatimundi in Tree

Image # 02649

Eco-farm

Monteverde, Costa Rica

Canon 600L/f4 IS

ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/200 second

Manual Metering, 550EX/BB at -2/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

We ran into groups of these in a few different locations. We were at a local 'eco-farm' looking for birds, but behind the store there were quite a number of these doing some scavenging on the ground. To create a better photographic opportunity, Tom convinced Jonathan to climb up a tree and place some food there to attract the Coati's up the tree. As indicated here, this worked quite well.


 

Coatimundi Portrait

Image # 02547

Grounds of Monteverde Lodge

Costa Rica

Canon 100-400L at 400 mm

ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/500 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Handheld

The feeders Tom had arranged to be set up on the grounds of the Monteverde Lodge in order to attract birds were of greater interest to the Coati's, and this shot was taken as they foraged around and on the feeders.