Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Toucans, King Vultures & Howler Monkeys - photos from my recent Costa Rica trip

I'm freshly back to cold Ontario after a great trip to Costa Rica. I've been there a couple times before, but it's been many years. It was everything I remembered and more! 

My trip started on the Nicoya Peninsula (Pacific coast) which was extremely hot and dry (drinking plenty of beer in the shade was necessary to stay refreshed). I stayed with friends in a big rental house overlooking the ocean at Playa Ostional, an area well-known for nesting sea turtles and great surfing. There were excellent opportunities to photograph waterbirds along the shoreline (see the brown pelican photo-bomb image below) and Howler Monkeys literally from our deck.  

Brown Pelican photo bomb, Nosara, Costa Rica.
Gear: Canon 1DX & 100-400 IS II
Howler Monkey, Ostional, Costa Rica
Gear: Canon 1DX & 100-400 IS II
After a week of the extreme coastal heat (including a couple down days due to heat/sun stroke), I headed inland to an ecolodge located in lowland Caribbean tropical forest. The place was amazingly well set-up for bird photographers and birders. Fruit feeders around a covered deck attracted a dizzying array of toucans, tanagers, honeycreepers and and other tropical birds. I shot thousands and thousands of photos in the span of only a couple days. At one point, I was thinking 'Come on, not another toucan." It was that good! 

Keel-billed Toucan, Costa Rica
Gear: Canon 1DX & 500/4 IS
Keel-billed Toucan, Costa Rica
Gear: Canon 1DX & 500/4 IS
Collared Aracaris, Costa Rica
Gear: Canon 1DX & 500/4 IS
King Vulture was high on my photographic wish list, so I joined up with another photographer I met at the lodge to rent a blind that was built specifically for shooting King Vultures. Spending 2 hours in there photographing this amazing vulture species up close was one of the all-time highlights in over 20 years as a bird photographer! A face only a mother can love?

King Vulture, Costa Rica
Gear: Canon 1DX & 500/4 IS + 1.34 III
The coastal scenery of Costa Rica never disappoints! San Juanillo was my favourite snorkeling location and great for sunsets too! 
Sunset at San Juanillo, Costa Rica
Gear: Canon 1DX & 24-70/4 L IS 
 I should end with a quick shout-out to the CPS (Canon Pro Servics) gang at Canon Canada, who saved my butt by loaning me a 1DX body after I had a wee accident with another body immediately before the trip. What fun it was to enjoy the blazingly fast frame rate of the 1DX.... a seriously badass camera! 


  1. Wow! Gorgeous shots. I love that first one of the pelican. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Hi Ethan,
    I just wanted to say that I love your work. Your close-up photography is really great!

    Greetings from the Netherlands!

    Gert Jan

  3. That vulture is a crack up. The opening picture is gorgeous.

  4. That vulture is a crack up. The opening picture is gorgeous.

  5. Hi
    I read your blog, you have shared amazing information about Toucans, King Vultures & Howler Monkeys - photos from my recent Costa Rica trip. I really like those pictures which you captured. I also love photography and photography is my passion. I really like your blog and information.

  6. What a treat!
    Thanks for another great posting.
    All the best in the new year Ethan.
    The Mac Leans Shell and Chris

  7. I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.
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  8. Wow! These photos are stunning. I'll be following your blog as of now. Thanks for your fine work. :-)

  9. Your work is truly inspirational Ethan. Thank you



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