Canopy Critters from Panama
In an earlier post I'd mentioned how Canopy Tower was an ideal location for digiscoping, but didn't explain fully perhaps as I've had some additional questions on why that is. I was hoping to explain that and share some of the many pictures I was able to capture from the tower as well! Let me backtrack and review a bit for those that are perhaps just joining us. Digiscoping (at least as I practice it) is coupling a digital point & shoot camera like the Leica C-Lux 2 that I use with a spotting scope. Again my primary aim here (pun intended) is to capture wildlife images with the spotting scope that I carry most of the time in my pursuit of birds and wildlife anyway. As such, by simply adding a tiny camera and digital adapter to a hip pouch I'm ready to take stunning images at a moment's notice!
(see http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/leica/2007/01/what-is-digiscope.html for more of the basics)
The Canopy Tower offers an ideal situation for digiscoping not only because you are in the tree tops in a safe, stable structure with the creatures that utilize the canopy, but because many of these creatures are anywhere from 50 to 150 feet away. With patience most will come close enough for standard SLR and telephoto lenses, but I tend to be impatient and love the fact that with my present digiscoping set up I can achieve the equivalent of a 6,000 mm lens!
This allows me to get up close and personal with the wildlife even when it is farther away. The Geoffrey's Tamarin above was actually much closer but I still shot this at a 35 mm equivalent of a 1720 mm lens because I wanted to see it's whiskers! ;)
35 mm equivalent on camera = 86 mm
scope zoom eyepice at 20 power
or 86 mm x 20x = 1720 mm equivalent lens.
To put that into perspective, the longest telephoto lens readily available on the commercial market is an 800 mm lens. So even at nominal camera zoom I'm far exceeding the capabilities of most telephoto systems. The Sloth above was actually scratching but I've entitled this shot "the Thinker!"
There were always a good assortment of mammals "hanging out" in the trees surrounding the Canopy Tower. Both of the aforementioned sloth species, preferred the loner approach but the troops of Monkeys always came through en masse. The small Tamarins were less numerous and came and went quickly during our stay, but the Howlers seemed regular and numerous throughout our stay. I was told that the large wound on the male above was a Bot Fly by one of the guests but don't know this for certain. Seems plausible. He explained that Vampire Bats can often make the initial wound and allow the Bot Fly to get under the flesh. Makes for a good story but I can't say for certain if this is the case. Anyone reading know more about this relationship or hypothesis... would love some feedback.
The ever vociferous and social Howlers were a treat to watch. Even though they are a common species throughout much of the Neotropics, I don't see these in the wild here in Florida so it was a great treat.
The female Howlers were notably slimmer and smaller than the mature males lacking the distinct "mane" shown by the latter. The animal above was taking full advantage of fruiting Cecropia that surrounded the Tower. It is also worthy of note that this is not a tower in the typical sense (a narrow spire sticking up) but more of a very wide 4 story building with large observation deck ringing the top. This also allows panoramic viewing options in any direction which is also advantageous to viewing the birds and wildlife moving through the tree-tops. It's a very unique and beautiful perspective.
So far I've just seen some of the MANY images I was able to get on our 8 day trip. I will share more never fear, but for now I'll wrap it up by saying the trip was more fun than a Barrel full of Monkeys (or better yet a wild troop in their natural habitat), and we are already planning on offering this workshop again next year.
I can't wait!