Sunday 26 September 2021

Wildlife Photography In The Time of COVID

The current pandemic is severely limiting almost all of our activities. However, that’s no reason to curl up in a ball and moan.

I am accustomed to traveling around Costa Rica regularly and dong a lot of wildlife photography. Obviously, this activity has been significantly curtailed. That said, I have found some safe limited ways to pursue wild creatures.

There are a few places I have been comfortable visiting—at least before the recent spike in new cases and the resulting lock-down. Private and hotel gardens offer a wealth of small critters to harass with a camera in hand—birds, butterflies, crabs, lizards, etc.

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Costa Rica is home to a variety of colorful land crabs. They are fairly difficult to photograph for several reasons. First, there is something about them that the camera’s auto-focus does not like. Also, they are very timid and can disappear down their burrows in a flash—a vital skill when you occupy a position so low on the food chain.

I love taking pictures of lizards. They have wonderful faces. This anole is eating a soncoya fruit—one of two fruits by that name that I know of.

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Humans also eat this fruit in the form of picadillo (finely chopped with assorted other things, usually served with tortillas).

I stumbled upon this butterfly perched on a flower in the garden of a friend. We’re still trying to identify the flower. Butterflies are difficult subjects because they, well, fly.

Mammals are tough to get without venturing farther than the garden.

However, one exception is the agouti (guatusa in Spanish). They are common in the Caribbean lowlands and are diurnal—out in the daytime. I think of them as cute little furry pigs, but a lot of people put them down as leggy rats—they are rodents.

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Finally, I would suggest trying out macro photography (very close up).

Some modern cameras are well equipped to do good macro work without any additional equipment. I use a macro adapter—just a single lens that screws into my lens filter.

I took this picture of an adult aphid by the pool of my condo—they like the orchid tree (pata de vaca) there. To be honest, I took this shot prior to the pandemic, but I wanted to illustrate that even the tiniest of wild things can be fascinating targets.

Clearly, we need to take this disease seriously and avoid endangering ourselves or others. That doesn’t mean giving up every joy—and the wildlife is still out there!

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Jack Donnelly
Jack Donnelly is a writer, photographer, and speaker living in San Pablo de Heredia. His topics of interest include Costa Rican folk culture, national traditions, traditional cuisine, ecotourism, and wildlife. Donnelly is the author of COSTA RICA: Folk Culture, Traditions, and Cuisine which is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

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