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Birdwatching at Summit Hotel

Some time ago our photographer Miguel “Siu” spent a weekend at Summit Hotel & Club Golf (, and of course, instead of spending time with clubs and balls, he took his tripod and camera and went searching birds on the trails and forested areas surrounding the facilities.
Suddenly, Siu heard a raptor whistle call that he immediately recognized as a Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus). He had heard it so many times while watching this bird soaring high, but to his surprise this time it was perched on a cecropia dead branch, just looking to the golf course. It only took seconds to draw this large bird’s attention and get a decent shot before it decided to soar to a farthest perch.

The Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus) is a large, black raptor of Neotropical forests. It has a prominent crest, is blackish with narrow white barring below, and broad gray bars on the tail. This hawk-eagle occurs in both open and dense forests. Individuals often soa…

Macro-adventure at Camino de Plantación (Plantation Road)

Plantion Road is a good, easy graded dirt road that passes through a mature forest for about six and a half kilometres (four miles). The road follows a small creek (Río Chico Masambi), has a gentle slope and you can see waterfalls and a variety of tropical plants and wildlife. It starts right by the entrance to the road to the Canopy Tower and reaches to an intersection with the Camino de Cruces trail at it's end.

The bad thing about this road is that it is frequently used by mountain bikers who has ruined the wildlife observation experience. They usually get there early, in the morning, so we went to the trail by 11:00 am expecting not to find too much bikers. Here, we spent several hours until we got hungry making some macro photographs, and testing our new improved rig which includes a better flash diffuser design.

We built the diffuser using two white 8.5x11" (letter size) sheets of a flexible polymer know as "fomy", a slim foam used for handicraft. We glued both sheets together to make a larger screen and attached a frame made of sweet wire to the screen in order to make it malleable. The twin flash is aimed to the foam screen which then reflects the light to the subject. The concept is practically the same as using bounced flash on a portrait picture.

Setting the macro rig with the 100mm macro lens

In the field with the 65mm macro lens and monopod

Mutualism between black treehopper (Membracid) and turtle ants (Cephalotes atratus) 
Treehoppers pierce plant stems with their beaks, and feed upon sap. Excess sap becomes concentrated as honeydew (which can be observed in the picture a small drop) which often attracts ants. The ants then provide protection from predators. The curious thing about this species of treehopper is that it somehow "mimics" an ant. 

 Beetles (Coleoptera)

Very small flowers

 Ant (Formicidae)

 Treehoppers (Membracid) at different maturity stages

Fly (Diptera)

 Harvestmen (Opiliones)
Opiliones have no venom glands and therefore pose no danger to humans. They also have no silk glands and therefore do not build webs. Because their eyes cannot form images, they use their second pair of legs as antennae to explore their environment.

 Very small moth (Lepidoptera)

Grasshopper nymph (Caelifera)
Grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis: they repeatedly moult, becoming larger and more like an adult, with for instance larger wing-buds, in each instar. The number of instars varies between species. At the final moult, the wings are inflated and become fully functional.

Jumping spiders (Salticidae) are among the easiest to distinguish from similar spider families because of the shape of the cephalothorax and their eye patternsThe jumping spiders, unlike the other families, have faces that are roughly rectangular surfaces perpendicular to their direction of motion. In effect this means that their forward-looking, anterior eyes are on "flat faces", as shown in the photographs. They have eight eyes, being the most diagnostic the front row of four eyes, in which the anterior median pair are more dramatically prominent than any other spider eyes. The rear row of four eyes serve for lateral vision.

Thread-legged Bug (Emesinae) is a subfamily of the Reduviidae (assassin bugs). They are conspicuously different from the other reduviids by their very slender body form. They walk on their mid and hind legs while the front pair is raptorial.