Panama’s Lake Gatun: Monkeys, Monkeys, Monkeys

Geoffroys Tamarin
Geoffroy’s Tamarin Eating a Grape

We Traveled on Lake Gatun after our walk along the Pipeline Road. The Lake has a touch of Disneyland to it, but it is well-worth the visit. People have likely been visiting the Lake because of the ease of seeing wildlife for hundreds of years, so the animals don’t seem to be bothered by us.  It didn’t hurt that the gentleman piloting our small boat came with a supply of grapes, something that seems legal in Panama. The Geoffroy’s Tamarin in the trees have been a look out:

Once it let the troop know, about a dozen or so of these small monkeys boarded our boat. In exchange for grapes, they pose for photos.

Waiting For a Grape

We also encountered more White-headed Capuchins, though they stayed up in the canopy.

The canopy around Lake Gatun also held quite the assortment of wildlife. Fabio, my EcoCircuitos guide, who accompanied me on the boat (the boat captain didn’t speak English) spotted these tiny bats (definitely taking to the limit of the capability of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm lens here).

This next photo is interesting. I was going through my photos at the end of the trip and I couldn’t quite remember why I took it and nearly deleted it.

Before: Can you see anything?

As I looked at it a bit more closely, I started enlarging sections. Much to my surprise, I found this Green Iguana. These guys grow to six feet in Panama.  Unlike here in Florida they are Panamanian natives.

After: A Green Iguana

Given that I live in Florida, I tend to be selective in the birds I photograph. Egrets for example; well let’s just say an egret needs to be doing something pretty special to garner my attention. And, well some birds are just too fast for me (I do keep trying). This Broad-winged hawk, on the other hand, was neither too common nor too fast for me. It  just sat and stared at us, so I had to take this photo.

Broad-winged Hawk

We only spent about an hour on Lake Gatun before we headed out to the Panama Canal to take photos of a very different sort. It was well worth the visit.

Jungle Boat

 

 

Lettuce Lake Park-A Photographer’s Dream

About a month ago for one of our weekly field trip, the Florida Center for Creative Photography sponsored a photo walk to the Lettuce Lake Regional Park, north of Tampa. I’d been to the park a few years back sans camera, however, this visit found me well-equipped, with lenses in hand and accompanied by three expert members of the club. We got some great shots, so I decided to head back  to the park with my daughter and see it from the river in one of the park’s rental kayaks. Most of these shots are from the first visit, since I didn’t take my Olympus OMD out on the water and instead used my Windows 920 cell phone camera.

The Hillsborough River creates Lettuce Lake, via an overflow of river water. The river creates the swamp, named for the ubiquitous water lettuce plants.

Lettuce Lake
A peaceful morning paddle on the lake

In addition to lovely lake vistas, birds abound here.  Just a few minutes into my walk with the club, we came upon these two Limpkins.  They seemed to be literally posing for us for a good twenty minutes, until they finally caught some food and scuttled away.

 

Cyprus knees along the lake
Haunting Cypress Knees

The park has quite the collection of massive old cypress. pine and hardwood trees.  These trees seemed to have avoided the clearcutting that took out most of the woodlands during the 1920s and 30s. Perhaps because the area remains under water much of the year.

 

Swamp lily
Swamp lily hiding a cypress knob
Boardwalks
Boardwalks keep us above the swamp but allow for safe viewing

 

 

 

 

Swamp lilies, a native Florida plant, grow throughout, with waves of flowers bordering the river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirty-five hundred feet of boardwalks, a multistory viewing tower, and a 1.25-mile paved trail allow easy access to wildlife, views of the lake and picnics.

canoes and kayaks
Rental boats make for great views of the park from the river

 

 

Kayaks and canoes can be rented here. We rented kayaks for four hours at the bargain price of $25. Rentals include all safety equipment and paddles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The park is home to the Audubon Resource Center where folks can find more information about the park. The website provides information on kayak and canoe rentals here and in other Hillsborough County parks.