Night at the Rainforest (nocturnal wildlife photography in Panama rainforest)

In this occasion we went to Panama Rainforest Discovery Center aka PRDC (www.pipelineroad.org) to participate in a night tour. This was my first time on a night adventure and was a great occasion to observe and hear certain nocturnal species.


The first thing was to take a couple of Eciton Army Ant's soldiers (Eciton burchelli) to make extreme macros with my new MP-E65 lens which can produce photos with extreme magnification. It provides 1 to 5 times magnification which multiplied by the 1.6x crop factor makes from 1.6 to 8 times magnification. Than means between 1.6 to 8 times the real size of the subject reproduced in the sensor. Working with such close focusing distances and magnifications imply really shallow depth of field. Some photographers tend to stack several photos to over come that issue. Instead, I prefer to do only one shot and use the minimum aperture of the lens (f/16) and tried to get a very particular area in focus.

The Eciton Army Ant is a species of New World army ant, their colonies consist of expansive, organized swarm raids. This species displays polymorphic caste features, with the soldier ants having much larger heads and mandibles. The colony lives in bivouacs, which are routinely moved as the foraging paths change. Colonies cycle between stationary and more active nomadic phases. The colony raids are maintained by the use of pheromones, and can be 200 metres (660 ft) long. Numerous antbirds and other birds (like the Rufous-Vented Ground Cuckoo depicted in our logo) parasitize the Eciton army ants by using their raids as a source of food. They do not eat the ants but other animals flushed by the ants. This species is found in the tropical jungles of Central and South America, from Mexico to Paraguay. This species dwells in damp and well-shaded areas, avoiding direct sunlight and high elevations.

Our tour started taking a couple of trails in the PRDC. You have to be very careful, watch were you step because the jungle can be filled with dangerous snakes like the Fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper) which have nocturnal habits. I stayed on the trails and only stepped a couple of times outside the trail, never leaving it, disregarding I had LED lights. 

A lot of animals that we observed make use of their mimetic abilities to camouflage in the environment. Fortunately Natalia (our guide) and I have good vision and spotted these species.

Perfect camouflage


 A large spider in ambush position



Land snail is a common name for any of the numerous species of snail that live on land, as opposed to those that live in salt water and fresh water. Land snails are terrestrial gastropod mollusks that have shells (those without shells are known as slugs). In reality however, it is not always easy to say which species are terrestrial, because some are more or less amphibious.

The majority of land snails are pulmonates (in the picture you can see the respiratory pore); they have a lung and breathe air. They have a strong muscular foot; they use mucus to enable them to crawl over rough surfaces, they have one or two pairs of tentacles on their head. Their internal anatomy includes a radula and a primitive brain. In terms of reproduction, the majority of land snails are hermaphrodite (have a full set of organs of both sexes). Most land snails have shells that are right-handed in their coiling.

 A beetle (Coleoptera) with mites that use it for locomotion


A stinkbug (Pentatomidae) and a weevil or snout beetle (Curculionidae) on Piper genus plant's inflorescences (Piperaceae).



 Crickets (Gryllidae)


 Insect of the Apocrita suborder, might be an ant or wasp.


Boulenger's Snouted Treefrog (Scinax boulengeri) is a species of frog found in Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, intermittent freshwater marshes, pastureland, plantations, rural gardens, and urban areas.


Toad of the Rhinella genus