We are woken most morning about half an hour before dawn by the howls of the monkeys, it is difficult to work out where they are coming from because it sounds like we are surrounded. I understand that their cacophonous howls can be heard up to 5 km (3 miles) away. The cries are to tell any other troops that are about that this territory is taken and will be defended. It is only the male monkeys that have the large throats and vocal chamber to make the distinctive call. They can change the volume of it so it can be really loud and sometimes it just sounds like they are rumbling quietly.
ML since he arrived in Costa Rica has been fascinated by the Howler and Capuchin monkeys and is lucky to see them quite often in the trees near the quarries. So I have had to be content with looking at his photographs somewhat enviously.
A few days after we moved in late in the afternoon towards dusk there was an almighty racket from outside so we went to investigate. In the trees at the bottom of the garden were a whole troop of Howler monkeys. We could hear the males calling and tried to spot them high up in the canopy, being so close and on slightly higher ground meant we had a better chance of finding them.
It was difficult to know where to look as there were leaves rustling as the monkeys moved around the canopy looking for juicy new leaves to eat. The longer we stood the more the Howlers could be seen and we were able to watch them interact with each other. When we realised they were going to stay put we both rushed in for our cameras.
Just before we left the UK ML bought me a new lens for my camera for those who understand these things it is a Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens and other than a few butterfly pictures at the hotel I hadn’t really given it much of a test drive. This seemed the ideal opportunity but I hadn’t been able to pack my tripod as there just wasn’t any space in any of the cases and this lens weighs just over 3½ lb (1.7 kg).
I have a pathetically weak grip in both hands due in most part to carpal tunnel syndrome, I had one hand operated on 25 years ago but it came back again and has recently started up in the other hand. But I don’t let it get in the way of doing things and I just have to put up with the pins and needles, numbness and pain. I don’t suffer all the time but when it is bad it is a nuisance.
Anyway back to the monkeys, we went back out into the garden both of us brandishing our cameras – goodness only knows what the Howlers thought of us. The monkeys ignored us and just got on with what monkeys do. The Howlers have a prehensile tail which they use like a fifth limb. We watched them wrap their tail around a branch then hang upside down and stretch so that they could reach the new leaves.
We have been very lucky in that they have made many return visits to the trees and seem somewhat nonplussed when they see our cameras, they usually ignore us or the other extreme is they will sit and stare back at us especially the big male that ML calls ‘Twisty Lip’. Not very flattering but he has obviously at some point been in a fight and lost part of his lip. He reminds me a bit of Billy Idol half a lip raised as he glared out of the television singing ‘Rebel Yell’
On this occasion I think less words and more images so you can share the privilege we have of sharing some space with these beautiful animals.