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  • Writer's pictureAlyce Bender

Wildlife Photography in Costa Rica


Low clouds hang in the Costa Rican cloud rainforest | A. Bender Photography LLC
San Gerardo de Dota Cloud Rainforest | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/6.3 | 1/1600 | ISO 500

Back in the fall of 2022, my husband and I decided to take our first international vacation since COVID shut down the world. Costa Rica had long been on our list of places we wanted to see in the Americas due to it's well known natural beauty, biodiversity, and as a potential place to retire to eventually. The Osa Peninsula, on the far southern Pacific coast of the country, was my number one destination within Costa Rica. The other environment I wanted to visit was the Cloud Rainforest, which can be found both northwest and southeast from the capitol of San Jose in the higher altitudes of the mountainous spine that divides the country between Pacific and Caribbean lowlands. And with that we made our plans, and by "we" I mean, I made our plans since I am by far the planner and adventurer in the family. December 2022 we boarded our flight south for a trip filled with exploration and wildlife photography in Costa Rica.


With two weeks in country (started as 12 days planned but I'll get to that), I thought it would be best to start high and work our way lower in elevation, so we started with our Cloud Rainforest destination. When it came to picking a place, I wanted to make sure there would be something for both myself and my husband. While I will sleep in a hovel if it means great photography opportunities, he prefers a few more creature comforts. Both of us prefer not to deal with crowds though. So after a night in San Jose, our driver picked us up and we made the four hour drive to the mountain valley of San Gerardo de Dota.


A rain slick highway in the south central cloud rainforest of Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic Main highway through the rainforest south of Cartago, Costa Rica

The roads were actually not nearly as bad along this route as I had been led to believe. Maybe it's because I have lived in Guam, or traveled across Texas, New Mexico, and many other parts of the US where the infrastructure is neglected...but I digress. With as many miles as I put myself through each year, I feel I am usually pretty good at reading the land for beauty even through the windshield. The drive that day was a wonderful introduction to the country, not just the natural beauty as we made our way from the capitol to the rural mountains, but it also gave a glimpse of the culture, people, and tempo of the region.


Rainforest and mountain layers in Costa Rica | A. bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic The mountains and jungles that surround San Gerardo de Dota.
A picture of the Rio Savegre from the road that runs through San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic The Rio Savegre that runs through San Gerardo de Dota.

Arriving at our accommodations, we received a warm welcome and a porter to take our things to our room. Which was about a ten minute hike from the reception, up hill, through the forest. The entire property was beautiful and I could have spent days exploring just the lodge's grounds. Not to be outdone though, the food was also amazing! It is a rare treat when I can photograph and eat well three times a day. How I tell the difference between trips with my husband and those I do solo.


A stone path through dense rainforest jungle, light by small ground lights. | A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic The jungle walkway between our bungalow and the reception/restaurant on property.
Dantica Cloud Rainforest Lodge room with a mountain jungle view. | A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic The view from our bungalow at Dantica Lodge in San Gerardo de Dota.
Dantica Lodge bungalow exterior at sunset. | A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic One of the other bungalows on the Dantica property with a beautiful sunset view.

There on the lodge's grounds, I was able to photograph a wide variety of birds (as would become common no matter where I went). These included such beauties as green toucanets, volcano hummingbirds, flame-colored tanagers, and slatey flowerpiercers.


A green toucanet swallows something with its bill parted and togue visible at Dantica Lodge, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Green Toucanet | Sony A6600 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/6.3 | 1/1600 | ISO 5000
A volcano humming bird male sits among fuchsia flowers in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Volcano Hummingbird | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/6.3 | 1/3200 | ISO 10,000
A flame-colored tanager male peers through colorful flower foliage towards the camera in Costa Rica. | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Flame-colored Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/6.3 | 1/4000 | ISO 10,000
A slaty flowerpiercer male on a branch with fuchsia flowers behind it in Costa Rica. | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Slaty Flowerpiercer | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/6.3 | 1/4000 | ISO 10,000

Over the following days, we did a series of both photography and adventure related activities. From hiking waterfall trails to horseback riding and several bird photography sessions where our local guide would teach us about the environment and point out the birds that call it home. Rain or shine we went out. You can't expect to visit a rainforest and just hit pause every time showers come along. It's part of the adventure and we had packed appropriate gear for it as well.


Downward picture of feet on a metal grate bridge over the Savegre River Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic Crossing the Savegre River
Two people stand in front of a waterfall in Costa Rica
#cellphonepic My husband and I at one of the waterfalls.
Clouds layer with rainforest in a moody intimate landscape of the Costa Rican cloud rainforest. | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 3200
Wild bromeliads cover a tree in the Costa Rican rainforest | A. Bender Photography LLC
Wild bromeliads | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/3200 | ISO 1600
Bender selfie while photographing birds in Costa Rica
#cellphonepic #selfie Early morning bird photography

The following are a series of birds that I photographed in the San Gerardo de Dota area.


Male White-throated Mountain-gem humming bird sitting on a branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male White-throated Mountain-gem | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.7 | 1/1250 | ISO 10,000
Collared Redstart on a small branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Collared Redstart | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.3 | 1/400 | ISO 12,800
Yellow-thighed Brushfinch foraging on the ground in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Yellow-thighed Brushfinch | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.3 | 1/1250 | ISO 10,000
Silver-throated Tanager on a mossy branch at Batsu in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Silver-throated Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/4000 | ISO 3200
Female Talamanca Hummingbird foraging in light rain in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Female Talamanca Hummingbird | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.7 | 1/2500 | ISO 5000 | Composite*

*Note the composite annotation in the image above. It is not a true composite but the frame I actually captured (seen below) had very little space at the bottom. Utilizing Photoshop's canvas extension fill AI, I was able to add more background to the bottom of the frame, giving my subject more room in the composition. From there I was able to crop into more of a vertical frame. This is something I had heard about but never tried until this image. Any image of mine with excessive processing, such as this, I disclose what I have done as I believe there should be truth in captioning when it comes to more than just developing an image. I hope this transparency helps increase the trust you, the view, has in my work as accurate representations of what I captured with the gear I use unless otherwise noted.


Female Talamanca Hummingbird foraging in light rain in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Original frame of image above.
Male Scintillant Hummingbird feeding on flowers in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Scintillant Hummingbird | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.7 | 1/3200 | ISO 10,000
Male Flame-colored Tanager in the rain in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Flame-colored Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.7 | 1/1250 | ISO 6400
Male Talamanca Hummingbird removing a feather from its bill in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Talamanca Hummingbird | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/2000 | ISO 6400
Broad-winged Hawk screeches over its shoulder while sitting in the rainforest jungle of Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Broad-winged Hawk | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.7 | 1/3200 | ISO 6400
Lesser Violetear on a branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Lesser Violetear | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/4000 | ISO 4000
Lesser Violetear defending its territory in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Lesser Violetear | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/4000 | ISO 2000
Lesser Violetear sitting on a branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Lesser Violetear | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/1600 | ISO 8000
Female Flame-colored Tanager sits on a mossy branch at Batsu in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Female Flame-colored Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/4000 | ISO 2000
Clay-colored Thrush, the Costa Rican national bird, standing on a mossy branch at Batsu Gardens in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Clay-colored Thrush (CR National Bird) | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/3200 | ISO 3200
Blue-gray Tanager on a mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Blue-gray Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/3200 | ISO 3200
Talamanca Hummingbird on a small branch against a green background in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Talamanca Hummingbird | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/2000 | ISO 10,000
Male Talamanca Hummingbird in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Talamanca Hummingbird | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/2000 | ISO 5000
Spotted wood quail head portrait from Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Spotted Wood Quail | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.7 | 1/200 | ISO 16,000
Sooty-capped Chlorospingus on a mossy branch at Batsu in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sooty-capped Chlorospingus | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/2000 | ISO 10,000
Male Flame-colored Tanager on a mossy branch at Batsu Gardens in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Flame-colored Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/2000 | ISO 5000
Green Toucanet on mossy branch at Batsu Gardens in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Green Toucanet | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/2000 | ISO 5000

One of the highlight species (as if the white-throated mountain gem wasn't enough) of the region and the one that most visitors come to the area to see is a bird that completely lives up to its name - the Resplendent Quetzal (kets-saul). In the lowest light this bird shimmers with color and vibrancy like nothing I have seen outside of jewels and a very few species in the insect world. Males have long dorsal feathers during mating season and these feathers dance in the breeze. Most days you have to be up very early to see them as once it gets bright out, the birds retreat to the protected darkness of the dense forests. Overcast, slightly misty days give photographers the best opportunities to see these birds in the open if visiting early in the mating season before there are chicks to be constantly fed.


Resplendent Quetzal in wild avocado tree in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Resplendent Quetzal | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/1250 | ISO 6400 | Manfrotto Monopod
Resplendent Quetzal in wild avocado tree in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/1250 | ISO 6400 | Manfrotto Monopod
Resplendent Quetzal in wild avocado tree in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/1250 | ISO 8000 | Manfrotto Monopod

They feed on wild avocados, which look a lot like small green olives, just growing on a very different tree. On private property, some farmers, who have been working to conserve the species, place perches near these natural food sources and allow photographers to photograph the birds from a safe distance. I was thrilled our lodge was able to arrange a session on one of our days for this experience.

Resplendent Quetzal in wild avocado tree in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 5000
Resplendent Quetzal in wild avocado tree in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.3 | 1/1000 | ISO 6400
Resplendent Quetzal sitting on a mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 5000
Resplendent Quetzal sitting on a mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 5000
Resplendent Quetzal sitting on a mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 5000

From San Gerardo de Dota, we made our way back to the San Jose for a domestic flight down to the Osa Peninsula. This remote region of the country is one of the less visited areas, though it has been gaining popularity in recent years. Access is still a bit tricky as the road network in the area is rough enough that locals don't suggest driving from San Jose to visit, but it is an option. Plan on renting a 4x4 and bringing cash to cover tolls on the way down from the capitol. The two other methods to get there are either by domestic flight (40-60ish min, option we took) or you can take a van/bus to Sierpe before catching a boat taxi to the peninsula. Transportation options also depend on where you are staying while in the Osa. We opted to stay on the northern side in Drakes Bay.


A small prop plane by Sansa Air being refueled at San Jose, Costa Rica |  A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic Our domestic flight being refueled in San Jose.
Sansa Air flight offloading passengers and luggage on the tarmac in Drakes Bay, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic Our Sansa flight baggage claim on the tarmac when landing in Drakes Bay.
Water Taxi in Drakes Bay, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic The water taxi for the last leg of our journey to the resort where we stayed on the Osa.
View from the bungalow balcony at La Paloma in Drakes Bay, Osa, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic The view from our balcony at the La Paloma Resort.

From there it was a series of boat trips out in the morning to access Corcovado National Park, the most biodiverse environment on the planet. With six ranger stations throughout the park, we visited two - Sirena and San Pedrillo. We saw the most tourists of the entire trip when we landed at Sirena. It was kind of mind blowing to be in a relatively far away spot, accessed by boat only, and then have to wait in line for 30min while rangers check permits and ensure no one is bringing in illegal items like single use plastic water bottles and food (even power bars). Food can be carried in other parts but due to the popularity of this station, there have been issues with trash and food scraps left behind by irresponsible tourists, thus the current regulation. Reusable water bottles for the win though!


Corcovado is such a special place. We were able to see all four species of primates that live in Costa Rica there, including the critically endangered spider money and the tiny, endangered, squirrel monkey.

Spider monkey chews on a green stalk in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Spider monkey | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/500 | ISO 6400
A squirrel monkey stands among the forest of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Squirrel Monkey | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/500 | ISO 2000
A spider monkey collects fruits on the edge of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Spider Monkey | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/2000 | ISO 4000
A White-Faced Capuchin Monkey climbs a tree on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
White-Faced Capuchin Monkey | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/1000 | ISO 6400
White-Faced Capuchin Monkey eats a grasshopper with tongue  out  in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
White-Faced Capuchin Monkey | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/1000 | ISO 2000

Beyond the primates, there were all sorts of other species seen as well: all sorts of birds, sloths (though none were close enough for a great picture), tapirs, several species of ants, stingless bees, bats, and reptiles.

Chestnut-backed Antbird in the jungle of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Chestnut-backed Antbird | Sony A1 | f/6.3 | 1/200 | ISO 32,000 | Manfrotto Monopod
Great Curassow in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Great Curassow | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 20,000 | Manfrotto Monopod
Stingless bee colony deep in the jungle of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Stingless Bees (species unk) | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/160 | ISO 12,800 | Manfrotto Monopod
A Baird's tapir sleeps within the jungle of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Baird's Tapir (napping) | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/200 | ISO 12,800
A tent-making bat roosts under a leaf during the day in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Tent-making Bat | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/500 | ISO 8000
A young common basilisk suns itself on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Common Basilisk (young) | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/6.3 | 1/1600 | ISO 1000
A common black hawk sits int eh Corcovado National Park jungle in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Common Black Hawk | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/500 | ISO 2000
Male Black-throated Trogon sits int he jungle of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Black-throated Trogon | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 10,000 | Manfrotto Monopod
Slaty-tailed Trogon sits up int he trees of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Slaty-tailed Trogon | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/500 | ISO 16,000 | Manfrotto Monopod
A scarlet Macaw flies against overcast skies on the coast of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Scarlett Macaw | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/2000 | ISO 640
A scarlet macaw eats wild almonds on the coast of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/6.3 | 1/2000 | ISO 2000
A scarlet macaw harvests wild almonds on the coast of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/6.3 | 1/2000 | ISO 3200
An agouti's face is seen through a tunnel of tropical vegetation on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Agouti | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/640 | ISO 6400
A roadside hawk eats a bess beetle in the canopy of the Osa Peninsula forest | A. Bender Photography LLC
Roadside Hawk with Bess Beetle | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/500 | ISO 8000
A roadside hawk eats a bess beetle in the canopy of the Osa Peninsula forest | A. Bender Photography LLC
Roadside Hawk | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/500 | ISO 8000
A border anole eyes an ant in the Osa Peninsula rainforest, Costa  Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Border Anole | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/250 | ISO 5000
Male Spotted-crowned Euphonia seen at La Paloma Lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Spotted-crowned Euphonia | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/ 6.3 | 1/1600 | ISO 1250
A hermit crab on a palm trunk on the coast of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica | A. bender Photography LLC
Hermit Crab (species unk) | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 4000
A leaf-cutter ant carries a piece of leaf down the trunk of a tree in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Leaf-cutter Ant | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/5.6 | 1/1600 | ISO 12,800

While on the Osa we also did a night bug walk. Now I have no issue with bugs. My first job ever was actually as a teen in insect research with the USDA. But this was a whole different level. The various frogs were super cool and I was able to capture an obligatory red-eye tree frog image. Might not be as picturesque as some but this frog was not staged and I used the deflected light of our guide's headlamp to capture this picture.


A red-eyed tree frog photographed while on a night walk on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/5 | 1/50 | ISO 16,000 | Manfrotto Monopod | diffused headlamp

Then there were the cat-eyed snakes. We saw multiple individuals throughout the walk. Personally, I think they are super cute but then again I had snakes as pets growing up so, again, not something that freaks me out. They eat small prey like frogs, beetles, and mice. Yet they are frequently persecuted by locals as they look somewhat similar (I guess, maybe at a glance) to the very feared and venomous Fer-de-lance which also inhabits this region.


A cat-eye snake found hunting while on a night walk on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/5 | 1/100 | ISO 8000 | Manfrotto Monopod | diffused headlamp

But what got me was the focus on arachnids. I like to say I do zero to six legs. Beyond that nah! Yet during that evening we were shown everything from the rather benign trap-door spiders to the highly venomous Brazilian wandering spider and what our guide suspected to be a bark scorpion. Yeah, not my favorite part of the trip, yet I am thankful I did it and saw what I saw and am more knowledgeable for it. We fear what we don't know or understand and I have been working very hard for years now to overcome my fear of arachnids since I work so much in their home.


In too short a time, we were packing up to leave this wonderous piece of the planet. Taking off from the tiny airport with brilliant colored parrots flitting along the perimeter fence, I vowed I will return at some point, sooner than later.


View from Sansa Flight between Drakes Bay and San Jose, Costa Rica. | A. Bender Photography LLC
#cellphonepic View from the small plane heading north from Drakes Bay.

Due to a snafu with the airlines, instead of departing as planned on day 12, we remained in country another day and a half longer than we originally anticipated. Thanks to my good friend Linda, who has traveled to Costa Rica quite a bit, she was able to suggest a local guide out of San Jose. While my husband stayed back at in town with a good book and even better local Costa Rican coffee served at a great little café we had visited the day before, I was shown a new part of the country northwest of San Jose, Sarapiquí, one of the birding meccas of the country.


My guide knew just where to go both for birds and breakfast. We stopped at a truck stop cafeteria but it was great food. Travel eating 101: eat where there are lines of locals. This was one of those places. It also wasn't far from the property where I would spend the rest of the day. There it was just my guide, his wife, and the owner of the property sitting on the owner's back porch which looked upon a stretch of forest and was bordered by a neighbor's banana tree grove.


Below are the images I captured of the various birds that visited his backyard where he had perches of various sizes and the left over fruit from his family's breakfast. The variety of "backyard birds" was just spectacular.


Clay-colored Thrush on a mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Clay-colored Thrush | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.3 | 1/100 | ISO 12,800 | Manfrotto monopod
Male Scarlet-rumped tanager on a mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Scarlet-rumped Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.7 | 1/200 | ISO 12,800 | Manfrotto Monopod
Female Scarlet-rumped tanager on a mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Female Scarlet-rumped Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 12,800 | Manfrotto Monopod
Male scarlet-rumped tanager on a mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Scarlet-rumped Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/250 | ISO 16,000 | Manfrotto Monopod
Male and female scarlet-rumped tanager on a mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male (L) and Female (R) Scarlet-rumped Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/200 | ISO 16,000 | Manfrotto Monopod
Blue-gray Tanager on a branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Blue-gray Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 4000 | Manfrotto Monopod
Chestnut-headed Oropendola on mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Chestnut-headed Oropendola | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 5000 | Manfrotto Monopod
Russet-napped Wood Rail  on mossy root in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Russet-napped Wood Rail | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 5000
Russet-napped Wood Rail portrait in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 5000
A female summer tanager on a mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Female Summer Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 16,000
Collared aracari in the jungle of Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Collared Aracari | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 10,000
Golden-hooded Tanager on branch with bromeliads in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Golden-hooded Tanager | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 1000
Male Green Honeycreeper on mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Green Honeycreeper | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 10,000
Male Red-legged Honeycreepers posturing on mossy branch in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Male Red-legged Honeycreepers | Sony A1 | Tamron 150-500mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 12,800

Overall, Costa Rica and the biodiversity along with the welcoming culture really drew me in and, much like Japan, is calling me back. I'm super excited to announce that I will be co-leading Wildside Nature Tour's 2024 Costa Rican photography tour with Lee Hoy, who has been a regular visitor of the country for years now. Many of the locations I visited are on the itinerary along with some of the places I had researched but did not make it to; however, Lee has been to all of them multiple times. So if you would like to see Costa Rica and the stunning display of biodiversity the various jungle environments have to offer, consider joining me next March on my return visit to Costa Rica.


A bess beetle crawls across the rocky hiking trail in Costa Rica | A. Bender Photography LLC
Bess Beetle | Sony A1 | Tamron 50-400mm | f/10 | 1/320 | ISO 6400

Pura Vida!


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