December 29, 2011: Day 5 in Nicaragua (part 2)
In the late afternoon we took a motorboat ride on Lake Nicaragua - the largest lake in Central America. We stayed close to shore, where there are hundreds of small islands with beautiful vegetation and plentiful birdlife.
This is about the closest we got to open water:
Nicaragua lays plausible claim to having more bird species than any other place in the world. In an hour, we saw many egrets and herons, an osprey, a hawk, a falcon, several jacana, and a purple gallinule.
Great blue heron
Great white heron
These bird photos show the limitations of the Olympus XZ-1 as a wildlife camera, with its maximum focal length of 112 mm (35mm equivalent). Even though our very skilled pilot got us pretty close to the skittish birds before they flew away, the birds were only a small fraction of the scene. The images above are crops probably representing 5-10% of the total picture area. They show the birds in their environment nicely, and are reasonably OK for web use, but not for more than that.
The lush vegetation was often quite striking.
This is a flower from the tree with the coconut-like fruit in the picture above. The pilot picked it, extracted it from its elaborate sheath, and gallantly presented it to my wife.
Of course, birds and vegetation appear together, as in this tree hung with oropendola nests
and this tree occupied by hundreds of egrets beginning to roost for the night.
To top off a very pleasant boat ride, we got to watch a couple of spider monkeys watching us.