This is a dog we met while on a road trip in Costa Rica. Seeing a chocolate brown dog in front of an aqua colored wall, I just had to stop for a photo. There was only one way to describe the look on this dog’s face as he saw us pull up – utterly unimpressed. He was like a grumpy old man sitting on his porch wondering why the hell these damn tourists had to come to his country to pester him by taking his photo. In the end, no matter how much he looked like he hated me, I still love him!
I believe that what I have photographed here is a green basilisk lizard, commonly found on the Atlantic side of Costa Rica. The adult males have three crests, one on the head, back and tail (which makes them look like a mini dinosaur). Adult females only have one on the head, and juveniles don’t have any. Despite growing quite large (up to 3 feet long head to tail), they are a skittish lizard, but this particular green beauty was quite comfortable hiding deep in the protection of these tree roots. Unfortunately for me, it made for some pretty uncomfortable and awkward photography half sitting/lying in some bushes and rocks on the edge of a steamy hot spring in my bikini. I think some of the other tourists thought I was a mad person photographing tree roots! Anyway, these lizards are also called Jesus Christ lizards for their ability to run across water, usually when spooked by a predator. Knowing that this is their best method of escape, they are often found in trees along the edges of a body of water. They are also great swimmers and can reportedly spend up to 30 minutes underwater. Click here for a very cool slow motion video by National Geographic of the Jesus Christ lizard running across water. Enjoy!
Costa Rica is known for some of the most beautifully colored birds in the world. However, since I don’t own a telephoto lens, I rarely get to take bird photos unless the bird literally lands a few feet in front of me. For me, this particular bird will be forever associated in my mind with this beautiful country rather than the traditional toucan. These magnificently intimidating vultures could be seen no matter where we were, circling the skies all day, every day. This particular vulture was sitting on a farm fence post, his/her partner on the next one, both truly formidable in size and presence. Thanks to a rainy day, both had their wings fully spread to dry off their feathers. On the ground below them in the long grass, 5-6 wet chicks huddled together (and by chicks, I mean their fuzzy babies the size of medium chickens!). I would have loved to get out of my car and take a photo of the chicks too, but I envisioned my eyes being gouged out by the parents while they tear my scalp off with their talons. Needless to say, I stayed in the safety of my car, and left their chicks alone. A tribute to truly terrifying parents!
This year is Chinese zodiac year of the Monkey, and it certainly is for me. I have just spent a week with various monkeys in the jungles of Costa Rica. Of all of them, this is definitely my favorite. The Squirrel Monkey. Adorable little creatures flitting through the trees like a family of small, grey and orange birds. You can hear them calling to each other as they bounce around, the sound of content and happy chirpings. Being somewhat cheeky like most monkey can be, they swept through this tree eating the fruits, only taking a few bites of each one before throwing them to the ground. Sometimes I think they were even purposefully aiming at my head. However, I will gladly take a few fruits to the head to spend time with these cute and cheeky little monkeys.