Photo of an Agami Heron in Tortuguero, Costa Rica.Photo by Eduardo Libby

High sensitivity encounters

There is a lot of wildlife in the Central American jungles that we rarely see because it is nocturnal, extremely shy, or inhabits hard to reach places. In the last two weeks I was lucky to come across both, a hard to see bird and a hard to see mammal…

The Agami Heron lives on shallow borders of lowland jungle ponds and slow streams that have a lot of overhanging vegetation. If you have been to the Costa Rican jungles you will then know that this describes an extremely dark and humid habitat… and dark and humid it was the late afternoon when I got to see it!

The largest mammal in Central America, Baird’s Tapir can live in far more habitats, from sea level all the way to an altitude of 3600 m (12 000 ft). They also spend their time in thick jungles and only come out to clearings at night. Hunting and habitat loss are the main reasons they avoid human contact and only recently some Tapirs have regained back confidence in us humans and walk along dark roads at night… exactly where our paths crossed!

Image of a Baird's Tapir at night. Photo by Eduardo Libby
A small road and a Tapir caught in my headlights! I turned off my car and the Tapir slowly walked in my direction along the road bank. Got some shots: too dark to freeze motion until my ISO settings boldly went where they had never gone before, and thankfully the Tapir stopped while sniffing the air. Then it smelled me (not me, my car of course!) and decided to walk across the road into the forest. ISO 12400, Vibration Reduction and plenty of prayer.


A Baird's Tapir crossing a road at night, lighted by the car's headlights. Photo by Eduardo Libby
The sheer size of the Tapir (the Neotropical equivalent of the elephant) is only evident when compared to the width of the road. Its body is not wide as it needs to walk through thick jungle.


Photo of an Agami Heron in Tortuguero, Costa Rica.Photo by Eduardo Libby
The Agami Heron was busy trying to kill a fish in order to swallow it and this gave me enough time to get some sharp shots from a drifting small boat that was constantly rocking due to six other people scrambling to peek at this beautiful bird. Tortuguero, Costa Rica. ISO 3600, Vibration Reduction and a trashcan full of futile attempts.

Well, were it not for the high sensitivity of modern cameras, this post would be just a fisherman’s tale!


8 thoughts on “High sensitivity encounters”

      1. I agree, Eduardo. I recently was out with my camera, when a night heron flew flew directly in front of me. Luckily, I had the camera at the ready as I had been shooting owls not far away. An absolutely amazing experience.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I love your heron picture. There is a heron coming to a lake near my place sometimes and I´m obsessed with it. Unfortunately, it is, like yours, very shy, so I don´t get many opportunities to take pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

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