September 2016



This butterfly plate shows just how difficult it is to do identifications.


We have recently found 2 rare species (new to Cloudbridge) of butterflies- one was back in June and the other at the beginning of September. While Alex Acott was here in June he found a male Consul panariste jansoni a rare butterfly usually only found between 100- 800m but we found it way out of range at 1550m in a trap baited with rotten bananas which it was previously only thought to attract the females. Then in September I snapped a photo of a Adelpha erymanthis which was thought only to occur on the caribbean side of southern Costa Rica and which was only ever seen once by the one time creator of Lepidoptora at the Costa Rican Natural history museum and author of “The Butterflies of Costa Rica” – Philip J. DeVries.  In fact it was so unusual and so hard to identify that we thought it best to get an expert opinion and it turns out a friend of a friend is a world expert on the genus.

– Frank Spooner

Manager, Cloudbridge Nature Reserve



Alex with a Consul panariste jansoni



Adelpha erymanthis erymanthis


Volunteers and Research:

The GVI interns finished up their time at Cloudbridge with presentations in their respective research.

Jeb Hartman presented the results of the reptile study. Despite their best efforts and several sampling techniques, the study only yielded 29 reptiles most of which were found around the Cloudbridge buildings, leading to the conclusion that reptiles are present in very low densities here. The Blue-eyed Anole (Anolis woodi) was the reptile caught the most frequently, while Gunther’s Graceful Brown Snake (Urotheca guentheri) was the most common snake.

Jeb and his reptile study presentation

Jeb and his reptile study presentation




Matt Steele presented the result of the camera trapping study. Peccaries were the most spotted mammal, and they were found all around the reserve, often in small groups. Spotted Wood Quail were the most seen bird species. He shared five of his favourite videos with us which included: a tamandua, a skunk, a tayra, a coyote, and a puma.

Matt Steele

Matt Steele


Emma Noyes and Kasey Bedford presented the results from the bird study. From July-September, the highest bird abundance was on the Rio trail, and the greatest number of species was found on the Gavilan trail. The most abundant bird species in their study were: Common Chlorospingus, Sulphur-winged Parakeet, Black-faced Solitaire, Slate-throated Redstart and Yellow-thighed Finch. They also identified a new species never before found at Cloudbridge, the Buffy- Tuftedcheek.

Emma and Kasey

Emma and Kasey




New GVI Volunteers:

Barney and Oscar from England will be studying amphibians and reptiles.



Barney and Oscar

Barney and Oscar



Sam England and Sarah Australia (GVI interns)  will be working on the ongoing bird project. Here they are pictured in their first bird watching lesson – identifying a motmot previously known as the Blue-crowned motmot.





Ignacio an environmental engineer from Argentina is here to volunteer




Tizian from Germany is here also as a general volunteer.




Neža is a horticulture student from Slovenia doing her internship in Costa Rica.  She is working in our tree nursery and gardens.


Fun and Music:

One evening Frank with his friend Renato and Florian were jamming on the guitars which encouraged the volunteers to join in singing (with varying levels of success).



Website Improvements:  



This project started when Millicent Cooley and her partner Tony Duncan  came to stay at Cloudbridge for a few nights several years ago.  As often happens in this case, our visitors fell in love with the area and the project and Millicent decided to volunteer some of her time and expertise for helping us redesign and update the Cloudbridge website.  She is a professional research and web design strategist for business and customer service success.  Since their visit she has been helping us redesign and improve the website via Skype from her home in New York.

Beth Ramsey from Oregon is our web master and she has been instrumental in the development and addition of all the data and information onto the site.   Beth is going to be joining us at Cloudbridge for several months.  We look forward to her visit and the help she can provide by being on site with some hands on volunteering.

A lot of the new information had to be written or collected, arranged, and  photos gathered.  Jenn Powell our scientific coordinator and Frank Spooner the manager have been kept busy in this capacity.

Monthly Skype meetings with everyone kept the ball rolling. Websites are no simple undertaking and we are so thankful for each of you for spending countless hours to make our website more user friendly, informative and interesting.

Some of the changes and improvements include more information about the hiking trails, an updated look at our rental casitas, comprehensive species lists,  and updates to the education and volunteer pages.  Still in progress are the additions of the latest research papers and a climate change page.

This project is a great example of using the internet to do remote collaboration with volunteers.

See you on the web  ……..and don’t forget to check out the blog for a monthly report of what is happening in the jungle!

August 2016



frank uran

Traversing the river – Take off the boots and step carefully on those slippery rocks

Left to right, Emma Moore USA, Florian (Flo) Hammer & Katharina Lutz both from Germany



Jenn Powell, our biologist, attended a conference and then later a 2nd visit to our neighbors – Los Nubes Reserve.  This reserve is situated down the mountain from us at a lower elevation. (1200m to 1500m) This change in elevation revealed some new frog species for her.

Jenn Powell – “El Primero Congresso Ambiental de Las Nubes, held July 29th. The conference was organized by 3 masters students, 2 from York University in Toronto and one from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and was held at Las Nubes, York University’s Eco Campus. It featured talks by groups and projects from the Corredor Biologico Alexander Skutch, but also included talks about a wide variety of environmental projects and topics. Despite the challenge of listening to a whole day of presentations in Spanish, the talks were very interesting and I learned a lot about the environmental work going on in the area.

I gave a talk titled “Cloudbridge Nature Reserve: The evolution of a reforestation project.” Which discussed the history of the reserve, how the reforestation efforts have changed over time and how the activities at the reserve are evolving into more education focused. I was the only one presenting in English, but they provided a translator so that everyone could understand my presentation.

Emma Noyes, one of our GVI bird research interns, came with me as well. We stayed at a homestay in Santa Elena with a lovely woman named Anna and went out dancing at a local bar with the other conference participants later that evening. A very enjoyable weekend!”


Another night at Los Nubes:

“Here’s some info on my frogging trip to Las Nubes. I was there with Felipe Montoya, Andres Jimenez, and Felipe’s nephew Aaron (who was also one of the organizers of the environmental conference). The purpose of the trip was to look for different species of frogs and toads and test out the new facilities at the centre.   I did get to see 11 new species of frogs, toads, and lizards that I’ve never seen before, including the elusive Tink Frog (Diasporus diastema) that we have at Cloudbridge (you can hear them everywhere), but I’ve never seen. ”


Frogs at Las NubesP7231669 P7231664 P7231662 P7231655 P7231653


Also some interesting insects:    P7231658 P7231657

Leo Chevillon, France   Leo has been here for several months and helped out with the owl research project.

Leo on Owl survey at night

Leo on a night survey

Final presentation on his owl research. He did this in Spanish for the community of San Gerardo.

Results:  Owls – we have found 3 species of owls in Cloudbridge South since the owl surveys started in March: the Mottled Owl (most common), Bare-shanked Screech Owl (less common), and the Tropical Screech-Owl (found once in April). He also found a Costa Rican Pygmy Owl up at the remote camp on Skutch.

Data Deficient Bird Survey – Leo was also collecting background data on the presence and distribution of several bird species previously found in the reserve using call-playbacks. These species are lacking data/information on their nesting behaviours within the scientific literature. We hope to conduct an observational study on their nesting behaviours next year but required baseline data on where to find the birds. Of the 11 bird species he was looking for, he found 7 species: Lineated Foliage-gleaner, Magenta-throated Woorstar, Resplendent Quetzal, Ruddy Treerunner, Silvery-fronted Tapaculo, Silvery-throated Jay, and Three-striped Warbler.

Leo, owl pres

IMG_8616 IMG_8625

Emma Moore is a returning volunteer after working at the US embassy in San Jose and Katarina Lutz from the University of Ulm, Germany. They did some work in the tree propagation bed planting  330 oak acorns in bags with a further 900 acorns in propagators.

Katherina, on her way to collect seed

Katherina, on her way to collect seed


Emma Moore and Katarina

Katharine and Emma


Acorns that were collected on Cloudbridge North. We are going to have lots of little oak seedlings for next season!

Acorns that were collected on Cloudbridge North. We are going to have lots of little oak seedlings for next season!


The students from Exeter UK wrapped up their trip.  They have an amazing blog that documents their experience at Cloudbridge

Part of their study saw them hiking to a remote part of the reserve, far up from the tourist trails, and staying up there to do their research.  Some of our other volunteers also used the camp site for their research.

Home sweet home - a tent on a rock

Home sweet home – a tent on a rock


The cooking and living area.


Getting down from camp was almost as much of a challenge as getting up. (Valerie and Kristina)



Matt, carrying gear up to camp


Louise taking a break at Vulture Rock. Halfway there!


Alex taking photos from camp.


Florian Hammer from Germany is here through the organization Planet Conservation.  He is staying on into December and he is doing general volunteering and assisting researchers.



Britt van Engelen from the Netherlands is doing a 5 month internship.  She is getting to know the reserve before deciding on what she will be research.  Her goal is to contribute to ensuring a secure future for wildlife and prevent extinction of (endangered) animals by protecting ecological processes. She has always felt the urge to protect the tropical forest, and therefore hopes to get the opportunity to contribute to this by doing research at Cloudbridge.





Fun and Games:

There was a 5 aside indoor mini football (soccer) tournament in San Gerardo. The guys from Cloudbridge participated and the girls went to cheer them on.  While we got thoroughly trounced, the boys put in a solid effort against some really good teams and everyone had a great time. We did manage to score one goal, which caused the whole Salon to erupt in cheers!


Team Cloudbridge From left to right: Back: Jeb, Frank and Alex. Front: Matt, Florian, and Leo

Team Cloudbridge:    From left to right: Back: Jeb, Frank and Alex. Front: Matt, Florian, and Leo



Promoting Environmental Education:

Cross country running race  –  Carrera Aguas Eternas celebrates the anniversary of the Chirripo National Park. This is its 6th year running 13 km from San Gerardo, through Cloudbridge to the Chirrpo trail and back down to San Gerardo.  They had 600 runners sign up this year. Cloudbridge volunteers and researchers helped out by directing runners along the right trails, handing out water at the Welcome Centre and taking photos of runners crossing the cabrada.

Our manager, Frank, was bothered by the use of plastic water-filled bags that are handed to the runners throughout the race.  He decided to start a petition against the use of all of this plastic and to ask the organising committee to use an alternative for water supplies for the runners next year.  Frank and some of the Cloudbridge volunteers went into town and talked to people about the use of non- recyclable plastic.  They managed to get just over 200 signatures from a variety of people.  There were ‘Celebrity’ signatures from people such as a town board member, the football Surprisa Dinosaur guy (don’t ask), an official from the MINAE parks office, members of the organising committee for the race, hotel owners, the massage girls at the race, and of all things – the guys that hand out the plastic bags of water during the race.  Frank will be taking the petition to the committee when they meet two weeks after the race.

Change comes slowly and sometimes it just takes a little education to get others to understand how we can improve our actions for the environment.

Plastic water bags used at water stations for runners.

Plastic water bags used at water stations for runners.


This young runner was in the first 1/4 of the runners to coming through the reserve. Running is becoming a popular sport in Costa Rica.


In Memoriam:


Don Jose Blas Monge Rojas (1939 – 2016)

Blas was one of the first settlers in the area near San Gerardo de Rivas and he was the original homesteader of Cloudbridge North.  He continued to farm on another property, running a trapiche which processes sugar cane into sugar until recently.  Most of his family still lives within the community and some have worked for Cloudbridge over the years.

July 2016



Talamancan palm-pitviper (Bothriechis nubestris) –  photo by Matt Smokoska

Researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the University of Costa Rica (UCR) discovered a new species of snake in Costa Rica.  This species resides in the cloud forests of the Talamanca mountain range, which is where our reserve is. The research has been published in the July 15 online issue of the journal Zootaxa.

The species went unrecognized for more than 150 years, likely because it looks almost identical to another species called the black-speckled palm-pitviper (Bothriechis nigroviridis). We had always believed that this was the snake we were seeing on the reserve.  Our biologist has sent photos to the researchers for confirmation on the new identity as a Talamancan palm-pitviper. The researchers think that, yes, it is the Talamancan palm-pitviper that has been seen at Cloudbridge.

Researchers also believe that this species only has a range that is about 100 sq km.  This confirms how important conservation projects like Cloudbridge are for protecting animal species.  Development of land in environments that may be inhabited by a species living in a limited area could wipe out that species forever.


Research and volunteers:

We have 4 new interns from Global Vision International (GVI),

Jeb Hartman – USA    He is studying reptiles and collecting camera trap data on mammals.

“My name is Jeb Hartman. I came to Cloudbridge to gain experience in the field of conservation and also to see all of the beauty here. I’m hoping to get a job in Costa Rica with GVI or maybe even at Cloudbridge some day. I’m from Ft Collins Colorado and I love the outdoors and nature. I got my love of nature from my dad, who is a true outdoorsman.”




Matt Steele – Birmingham, England     “I came to CloudBridge because of an internship in wildlife conservation with GVI as I have a passion for animals. I am really excited to be on the reptiles project at Cloudbridge and have already learned lots!”




“Emma Noyes- Australia    Emma is continuing the bird monitoring study.

Emma finished her degree in zoology and ecology last year and decided it was time to get some field experience. To do this she decided to  dive into the jungles of Costa Rica for a six month internship, with three months in Tortuguero National Park through GVI and then a three month  placement in the mountains at Cloudbridge.  She’s excited to see as much tropical and northern hemisphere biodiversity as possible, as Australia doesn’t even have squirrels or woodpeckers!

Kasey Bedford – Baltimore, Maryland, USA.     Casey is also working on the bird monitoring project.    ” I have come to Cloudbridge as part of a 6-month internship with GVI. I spent the first half of the internship in Tortuguero National Park and have now come to Cloudbridge to finish the internship. I am very excited to have the opportunity to work here and I hope to learn more about environmental conservation.”

Emma and Kasey

Emma and Kasey


Mélia Del Degan – Quebec City, Canada. Melia is at Cloudbridge for a month as a research assistant and general volunteer.  “I’m studying the environment in university and I’m fascinated by nature. I’m doing an internship in Cloudbridge and I wish to learn lots of new things and help to build a better world.”




Tobias Hoffmann from Germany  is staying at Cloudbridge for 2 months. He has a degree in engineering but wants a new experience – something not everybody is doing. Living and working in a wildlife environment is a new experience for him and he hopes he will learn something new and it might challenge his personal view on many things.  He wants to contribute to the conservation of an endangered ecosystem by participating in research projects and helping with maintenance on the reserve.






Marian Barz from the Netherlands finished his 3rd year internship with Cloudbridge.  He gave his final presentation on tropical forestry as a community event in the village of  San Gerardo.  He also did the presentation through Skype for Tom and Linda who are in Canada and missed the one in Costa Rica.   His research covered tree identification, measurements and fruit count in three forest types – old growth, natural regeneration and new plantings.  This was a challenging 5 months as the learning curve for identifying  the immense number of species in a tropical forest can be problematic.  He said that his time doing this internship has helped him realize that mapping for environmental research is something that he really enjoyed and would like to pursue further for future studies and employment.IMG_1704

Baptiste Saunier of France finished his 3 month internship.  He studied mushrooms and left us with some beautiful photos. He identified over 330 mushroom species in the Basidiomycota and Ascomycota groups, as well as 11 taxa in the Mycomycetes group (Slime Moulds).

Baptiste's presentation

Baptiste’s presentation

P1150780 P1170236 P1200250 P1210736 P1240299 _1220555



Expedition Cloudbridge – Students from the UK and Netherlands – University of Exeter

“As 4 students of 3 different universities we came to Cloudbridge Nature Reserve to assess the species diversity of herpetofauna and mainly frogs. We will be in the reserve for a total of 6 weeks of which half is spent surveying the existing transects and half will be in the north of the reserve at 2600m where no surveys have been done before. We hope to get some interesting results!”

This research focuses on an inventory of amphibians across the entire altitude range from 1500 m/4921 ft to 2600 m/ 8530 ft encompassed by Cloudbridge. This entails some of the most physically taxing inventory locations we have.
In preparation for this research some non existing trails in the upper altitudes had to be cleared for safe passage to do the research.

Edgar ,Oscar and Tobi at Vulture rock before sunrise to cut the border trail for the Exater research

Edgar ,Oscar and Tobi at Vulture rock before sunrise to cut the border trail for the Exeter research


And they found tapir poo on border trail up above vulture rock.

And they found tapir poo on the border trail up above vulture rock.


Exeter group from the UK and Netherlands

Exeter group from the UK and Netherlands


For the second year, Broadreach Global Summer Education Adventures studied at Cloudbridge. Seven middle-school students from around the U.S. travelled with two staff to Costa Rica. They spent four days at Cloudbridge learning about the cloud forest, planting trees, exploring camera trapping and getting an over view of tropical biology field research. For additional information on Broadreach tours visit

IMG_1642 IMG_1652 Planting trees


King Edwards High School – UK

Outlook Expeditions  organized this trip for a group of students interested in an educational travel experience. They were at Cloudbridge for 5 days experiencing tropical field research and learning about the ecology and culture in the area.


unnamedKing Edward students measuring tree volume to calculate carbon sinks in various forest types.


IMG_1752 IMG_1759 IMG_1765



From the Camera Traps:

Photo by Matt Smokoska








From inside the traps: 

A very sad face.  This coati is one of the culprits who has been steeling food and being destructive around the Cloudbridge grounds.  He was caught and moved up the mountain and across the river to the very northern most part of the reserve.  Enjoy your new home !

Caught in the act

Caught in the act

Fun and Games:

Our very own Frank Spooner is on the San Gerardo futbol (football/ soccer)  team.  He and Austin Anderson the two gringos are a little over sized by Costa Rican standards but they were allowed to play.  Maybe the Ticos appreciated their long legs after all. The team has made it to the finals.  Good luck!

Team San Gerardo

Team San Gerardo

June 2016


Across the world the earth’s living systems are experiencing extreme summer heat and other drastic weather conditions.

2016 is already the hottest year on record, with India and other regions experiencing record shattering temperatures, and scientists are speaking about the rapid melting of Arctic ice. Everyday, we witness countless clear indications of our changing world and responsibility to act.  Some simple actions everyone can do might include speaking up when you see people idling their vehicles, take your own shopping bags to the store instead of accepting plastic ones, take shorter showers to save the electricity used to heat the water, take public transportation, or bike, or walk and turn off lights when they are not needed. These might seem like small things but if everyone did it, or spoke up to those who aren’t acting responsibly, our environment would be a greener place.

Cloudbridge is actively planting trees this time of year.  This is just one of our many contributions towards mitigation. Please join us and do what you can!



Global Vision International interns – These volunteers have finished their term at Cloudbridge providing the reserve with important data for our long term projects including bird point counts and amphibian studies.

  • Victoria and Shannon presented the results of their research with the ongoing frog survey at Cloudbridge.  They spent 11 weeks working in 4 different habitat types including old growth, natural regeneration in older that 30 years and also less than 30 years, and in areas newly planted.  They conducted night surveys as well as daytime leaf litter surveys.  Over the course of their surveys they found 9 species, both leaf litter and arboreal species.
    Victoria and Shannon doing their final presentation

    Victoria and Shannon doing their final presentation



While Alex was at the reserve doing the bird point counts he identified 2 new species that haven’t been seen in this area before. These are the Gartered Trogon (Trogon caligatus) and the Buffy-crowned Wood-Partidge (Dendrortyx leucophrys).  This brings our count of bird species to 284.




For more information on the organization Global Vision International go to


New Volunteers:

Yuré Laura is a psychologist from San Jose, Costa Rica. She is also a holistic therapist (massage, reiki, shiatsu) and is experienced in field work with organic agriculture and uses and care of medicinal plants. Last year her sister, a biologist visited Cloudbridge for a weekend and insisted that Yuré come to the reserve too.  She speaks English and Spanish.

She has been helpful in identifying  traditional medicinal plants and took staff and volunteers on a medicinal tour.  We look forward to Yurés return to continue with our medicinal plant identification.



Leo Chevillon, France  –  “Wildlife conservation for me is very important, therefore I am motivated to have this volunteer experience in order to dedicate myself directly to this cause. Moreover, my studies (degree in Management and Protection of Nature) requires 11 weeks of training in a nature reserve which makes this volunteer time perfect for that.”


Baiba Matule,  Latvia –  Baiba worked on a variety of projects including preparing areas for tree planting, tree planting, and tree maintenance. In addition she worked on wild fig propagation, and a variety of small projects. Baiba is returning to Switzerland to start her masters in forestry.


Baiba (black t-shirt)  hiking with Emma


The Belafsky family from California joined us for several days to plant trees and to learn about the forest and climate change.

“Thank you for welcoming our family so warmly into your ‘magical forest’. It was inspiring, beautiful, educational, and fun. It was a privilege to plant trees at Cloudbridge, and be part of the reforestation work that you do. We look forward to returning.

Sheri, Samantha, Allie, and Cooper”



The organization ARO joined us again with 12 volunteers from Quebec, Canada. They spent several hours working and then ended the morning with a short hike and a visit to the art gallery . They put their backs into moving cement blocks and burying them in two areas of the road to improve access to Cloudbridge in the rainy season.


How to visit a cloud forest through the internet!  

The cloud forest is not as far away as you think. Video conferencing and internet communications, like Skype and Facetime, allow the cloud forest to come to you. Video conferencing makes it possible to learn about the cloud forest, forest conservation and restoration, and to speak with actual researchers about their work, from your home location.

Cloudbridge is happy to arrange a ½ hour to 1 hour video conference on a topic of your interest with students and other interested groups. Typical talks include us walking the camera around to give you a glimpse of what we see everyday, a showcase of whatever interesting wildlife specimens (like frogs and giant insects) our researchers have recently collected, and the opportunity to ask questions of Cloudbridge staff and researchers.

In the spring of 2016, we talked with the fifth-grade class at Ralph R. Smith Elementary in Hyde Park, New York. The children watched and interacted with the presentation on a SmartBoard powered through an iPad as Cloudbridge staff talked to the class over an iPhone on FaceTime. Mrs. Ramsey the teacher later sent student comments about the experience. Here are a few:

Me (Emma) and my class really appreciate the time you took out of your day to facetime us and tell us about the rainforest!!!! Thank you for everything! I never knew that there was a snake called the milk snake and I learned the difference between female frogs and male frogs. I really enjoyed it. My favorite part was when you guys told the story on how the spider monkey was peeking in your window!…I’m just so glad that you guys took time out of your busy schedule to talk to us, Thank you so, so much… Personally, I want to become a Biologist when I grow up! You guys are my inspiration…
Sincerely, Emma ( :

Thank you for allowing our class to face time with you and showing us the frogs and grasshoppers you had. I learned that the grasshopper can grow so big. I liked seeing the glass frog. I learned that there are two seasons, dry and wet. I enjoyed asking the question about seeing big snakes where you are. Thank you for taking the time to face time with us, we really enjoyed it!
Sincerely, Sammy


Students may not be able to visit the forest but they can learn about it through our cyber visit and then research all of the wonders of the tropics.

Bob photo (2)Chirripotrail in den Wolken (2) DSC_0071researchers DSC02176 frog

You can also visit us on our website   and Facebook




Bird of the Month13521986_1201582453215705_8604550566304989977_n

This Mottled Owl juvenile (Ciccaba virgata) has been heard around our learning centre.  Baptiste Saunier who has been studying fungi as well as the owl populations spotted the young owl and took this photo.

May 2016


Our favorite time of year  – Tree Planting Season




New Volunteers:

Emma Moore – Conneticut, USA

“I really want to learn about Costa Rican flora and fauna. I look forward to helping the reforestation project by planting trees and maintaining existing nurseries. I am looking for a hands-on biology learning experience and an opportunity to contribute to forest conservation. It would also be cool to practice Spanish.”



Lara Van Meter from Colorado studied a non native tree species that has been extensively planted in Costa Rica for harvesting.  We do have some on the reserve as well.

 Her presentation is called  “An Analysis of the Invasive Potential of  Cupressus lusitanica and its Effects on the Chemical Properties of the Surrounding Soils.”




Melanie Thierry finished her research project and presented her final paper –

 “The Effectiveness of Tropical Forest Restoration on Bird Community at Cloudbridge Natural Reserve, Costa Rica”

She talked about why cloud forests are important, the large number of endemic species, and the importance of birds as pollinators and seed dispersers.





Information on both of these studies can be obtained by contacting




Tom and Linda travelled to Kentucky USA to talk to faculty and students from Western Kentucky University about future potential classes using Cloudbridge as a study abroad destination. Gatton Academy from this campus already comes to the reserve yearly.  Tom and Linda were treated to a tour of the new Gatton Academy building still under construction.  One of Linda’s cloud forest paintings will hang in the lobby of this building when construction is complete.  Tom gave a presentation about what the reserve offers and the potential for diverse studies. There seems to be possible interest not only from environmental studies but also  from departments such as engineering, arts and psychology.  Cloudbridge looks forward to a long relationship with this institution.


Tom - presentation at WKU

Tom – presentation at WKU

Gatton Academy tour

Gatton Academy tour


New Gatton Building


Western Kentucky Campus

Western Kentucky Campus

Western Kentucky Campus

WKU - with a focus on International studies

WKU – with a focus on International studies


Past Researcher:

Kendall DeLyser is a past researcher who has a bright future:

Kendall wrote to us with a big thank you. This is part of what she wrote;   “I wanted to let you know that I was accepted into every grad school that I applied to and I decided to go to Duke University in the fall!!! I’m beyond thrilled at having been accepted everywhere and really happy that I’ll be going to Duke and with a decent financial aid package. I know a lot of this has to do with the recommendations you wrote and submitted for me, as well as the experience I gained at Cloudbridge, so I want to say again how much I really really appreciate you taking the time to help me out with those.”

Kendalls reflection:

“One year ago, I was in the final stages of my research at Cloudbridge, struggling with tree species identifications and trying to soak up every last moment I could in the beautiful forests of the Reserve. I never would’ve imagined that in a year’s time, I would be preparing for grad school at Duke University, in one of the top Environmental Management programs in the US, but I know I now have this opportunity partly thanks to Cloudbridge.

Cloudbridge is a unique place, and I feel very lucky to have spent four months conducting research there. My project was focused on determining the effectiveness of the Reserve’s reforestation efforts, measured by the presence of certain important tree species in areas of regenerating forest. My study showed clearly that Cloudbridge’s efforts were paying off in helping the forest come back faster, and I’m still immensely proud of having been involved with such work.

I started my research with basic knowledge of scientific investigation and very big goals, and throughout the months of my work I learned enormous amounts about trees, their regeneration, and their impact on their surroundings. I’d always been interested in working with forests in some capacity, but my time at Cloudbridge really helped me fine-tune my interests and understand what I need to know and do in order to be successful in my future career. It was the final push I needed to apply to grad school, be accepted by every school I applied to, and finally choose to attend Duke.

The independent and self-motivated structure of my research at Cloudbridge was a huge advantage in my grad school applications. Whereas most volunteer research positions entail being someone else’s research assistant, at Cloudbridge I was responsible for the entire project, from the initial concept to the end result. The success of my research depended on how well I planned and carried out my study, and the report I wrote at the end of my project turned out to be very helpful in showcasing my work and my potential to grad school committees. All the acceptance letters I received commended my experience in the environmental field, and I think my work at Cloudbridge is a significant piece of that experience.

I can’t say enough about what Cloudbridge means to me, both for the vital academic experience and the unforgettable sense of community I gained there. Everyone involved with Reserve shows their own brand of dedication, and working with such an inspiring group is a wonderful feeling. Cloudbridge is a place where people see possibility instead of defeat, and they work tirelessly to make those possibilities into reality. This is another great lesson I learned from the Reserve, that a small group of people with determination and heart can truly make a difference in their own corner of the world.

One year after leaving Cloudbridge, I still feel a connection to and a sense of pride in what’s happening at the Reserve, and I’d strongly encourage anyone considering contributing to Cloudbridge’s work in any way (with a donation or as a volunteer) to stop thinking and just do it. It’s an experience you won’t regret.

Thanks for everything, Cloudbridge!”




Cloudbridge is working with the Association Community Carbon Trees Costa Rica  which is a non-profit community based organization that produces  and plants a highly diverse selection of native tropical trees. Jenny Smith, founder, was also responsible for the initial plantings at Cloudbridge. Cloudbridge is working with ACCT in a reforestation and diversification of abandoned agricultural land in neighbouring San Jose de Rivas, a small somewhat isolated community in the mountains. Jenny along with Jay & Brie  spent the weekend at Cloudbridge after working with the volunteer community members of San Jose de Rivas to establish a tree nursery and initiate the project.
In June Cloudbridge will be donating specific high altitude seedlings that are native to the area. We have come full circle from needing ACCT to direct our planting at Cloudbridge to now partnering with them to assist another community.



Brie, Jay, Jenny



Insect of the month

Insect of the month

April 2016





April showers bring April flowers.

April showers bring April flowers.

And more flowers

And more flowers

.....and even more flowers - thanks to the rain.

…..and even more flowers – thanks to the rain.



Corinna Franke – Germany

Corinna graduated from school and after this exciting break she will start university in the fall. She has been travelling for 6 months. Previous to Costa Rica she was in Guatemala where she took Spanish classes. The idea of travel was to study a new language and to enjoy new experiences that might help her decide her future.

She has been busy here helping to renovate the welcome centre. With her meticulous painting skills she redesigned some of the lettering on the building. She worked on some grounds improvements including digging out old turf, installing new signs on the trails, working in the tree nursery, and building a fence. She enjoys working outdoors and having the feeling of accomplishment.



Felix Burmann – Germany

Felix is volunteering during his gap year. He left Germany to discover Costa Rica, work in a reforestation project and to practice his Spanish. He feels that this experience will help him understand what direction to take with his life. Later this year he will attend university and he is now thinking that he wants to study environmental law.

As a volunteer he has planted trees in the nursery, helped build a bench for one of the trails, renovated the welcome centre and is working on building a fence for a future hummingbird garden.





Baptiste Saunier – France

Baptiste is a student at Universite de Limoges in France.  He is studying Landscape design and forestry.  Baptiste is here for a 3 month internship and has chosen to study mushrooms and do an owl survey.  He says he found the Cloudbridge website and liked the idea of studying in a country with a very different climate and biodiversity to France.








Global Vision International (GVI) interns:

Lucy Read – UK

She finished her undergraduate degree in geography and now wants to start a postgraduate program in biodiversity and conservation. An internship through GVI is providing research experience. Through this program she felt that the biodiversity in Costa Rica would meet her expectations, and it hasn’t disappointed. At Cloudbridge she is collecting data from bird surveys for the reserve.

Lucy and her GVI partner, Alex have an extra opportunity to collaborate with another researcher Graham who is doing a bird study throughout Costa Rica. He needs assistance with a specific study of the rare silver-throated jay. They will be monitoring the nesting process. Hopefully the data they collect will be included in his paper, This is an excellent opportunity for these young interns.




Alex Acott – UK

Alex is also on the bird survey at Cloudbridge. He has finished his degree in ecology and is keen on getting some experience. He really wanted to do wildlife surveys in a different country and through the GVI program he is getting a varied opportunity with turtles, jaguars, and now birds.

When he returns to the UK he will start the job search. Ideally he would like to work abroad where he feels there will be more opportunities with wildlife.




Shannon Boehmer – New York, USA

Shannon is a junior at Le-Moyne College.  She will be returning as a senior in the fall to study biology and business.  Through her experience with GVI she has found out that she loves animal conservation.  Here at Cloudbridge she is working on the frog survey, doing identification in transects from within several forest types.




Victoria Lang – UK

Victoria was born in Zimbabwe but now lives in the UK.  She is newly graduated with a degree in environmental science. Now comes the hard part – looking for a job.   Until then her internship with GVI is providing some hands on experience.  At Cloudbridge she is working on the frog survey with Shannon. Her next stop is Greece where she has accepted a one month position as a staff member with GVI for a turtle project.  She will also be working in collaboration with the organization Arcelon.   Marine conservation is one of her interests.

Her dream is to find a job in which she can continue to travel.





Independent Research:

Graham Montgomery – US

Graham is a student researcher from Cornell University in the United States.  Cloudbridge is an ideal location for his work studying the response of birds to the songs of their close relatives. He is doing 15 observational trials for a few species.



Frank and Jenn went  to the Canaan School to give a presentation to the young students. Besides a slide show they were introduced to some live frog specimens and were able to look for birds through a spotting scope.

IMG_7622 IMG_7624


We have had a longstanding relationship with York University from Toronto, Canada.  This month they inaugurated their  nature reserve and ecocampus for environmental studies. This reserve is situated just a valley over from Cloudbridge near the town of Santa Elena, Costa Rica.

Tom, Frank, Linda and Jenn all attended the event.  The York students will be coming up to visit Cloudbridge in May.

P1010406 P1010413 P1010415 P1010418 P1010420




How is Cloudbridge Funded?
Cloudbridge was purchased and primarily supported annually by the founders Ian and Jenny Giddy for the first seven years. Following the death of Ian it became necessary for Cloudbridge to become more self sufficient. For the past six years staff and volunteers have worked to increase revenue coming into the reserve through donations, volunteer housing, and more recently by renting our cabins that are available to tourists. This has allowed us to channel Jenny’s contribution to infrastructure and capacity building. The funds that we have collected have allowed us to continue our reforestation program, expand research and volunteer programs, and solidify  internship opportunities while at the same time expanding our educational efforts.

In the past six years we have expanded our collaborations with many more key partners, We now host high school and university study abroad programs including Western Kentucky University, Gatton Academy, Broadreach, Outreach Expeditions, ARO, Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences ,and  AgroSup Dijon University, to name a few.

In 2012 with the completion of the Giddy Environmental Learning Centre and additional volunteer housing we began to see a significant increase in researchers and volunteers. In 2010 we hosted 14 volunteers who stayed a cumulative of 58 weeks, then by 2015 we hosted 44 volunteers for a total of 352 weeks. Thanks to the housing fee paid by volunteers we are able to employ a number of local workers and continue to expand our educational programs.

In 2015 we began renting Casita Blanca (Jenny’s house) when Jenny is not at Cloudbridge and in 2016 we have added Casita Colibri and Casita Gavilan to our rental options, as we now house all of our researchers and volunteers in new dorm style cabinas adjacent to the Education Center.

Donations at the Cloudbridge entrance have always been a small part of our budget, however in 2016 we placed a sign with a suggested minimum donation of $6 and the donations have increased significantly over 2015. We continue to be open with no fee and welcome those who choose or can not donate at that level .

2016 has started with an active 3 months and Cloudbridge continues to be an exciting place to be. We are still looking for additional high school or university classes who are interested in a study abroad program in the cloud forest and will continue to work with researchers from around the world to spread the word about climate change, environmental threats and opportunities, and provide a safe and challenging learning environment in one of the most spectacular places I have seen.

Please inform us, if you know a teacher or professor who is adventurous and interested in working with their class in the wilderness.  The opportunities are endless for college grads or under grads interested in field research or volunteering.  If you know a corporation with an interest in what we do we are always looking for partnerships. To donate go to and hit the donate button.  We very much appreciate all donations which allows us to continue our work for forest conservation and environmental education.  So join us and thanks for being a part of Cloudbridge.

Tom Gode

Giddy Environmental Learning Centre

Giddy Environmental Learning Centre

Study abroad students

Study abroad students


March 2016


As the dry season is slowly passing we are reminded of how important moisture is for our forest.  It is an extremely dry year with record warm temperatures in this normally cool moist cloud forest.  Some of our recently planted trees don’t look like they will come out of it very well.  Others are hanging in there. The oaks in particular seem to be able to handle the heat, while the Sapote does not appreciate sun bathing.  The mature trees curl their leaves on hot days, trying to conserve what moisture remains within them. Much of the undergrowth has died back revealing bare patches among the trees.  We are thankful for our rivers that still manage to provide water even in this dry time of year.



Research and Volunteers:

PicsArt_03-14-08.18.37  Laura Seidl of Germany is here for 3 weeks. “Before I go to the University I wanted to travel through Canada and Costa Rica. I am still not sure what I want to study in the environment direction, so I am here in Cloudbridge. I would like to get to know new cultures and different things about flora and fauna.”


The Easter Bunny made it up the hill and found the reserve. He left baskets for the volunteers and Frank…..although they did have to do some searching to find them.

Tropical easter egg animals

Tropical easter egg animals  – owl, quetzal, frog, spider monkey, ocelot and peccary.




P1010159 P1010156 P1010155




Max Cunningham was at Cloudbridge 2 years ago and has returned to Costa Rica for more field research.  He is a grad student at Columbia University.  Max spends most of his time up in the high altitudes of Chirripo National park.  He is studying glacial processes.  Some of the questions for his study are – How are mountains shaped and what are the processes that shape them?  What is the efficacy of glacial erosion?

You have to understand that this research is not an easy process.  He spends weeks up in the mountains in very remote areas, walking for hours, examining rock formations, and taking samples. Not to mention the eeriness of being alone in the middle of nowhere.

He gave a presentation at Cloudbridge and we got to see some amazing images of the Talamanca mountains and glacial mapping outlining the perimeters of ancient glaciers over the Chirripo area.

Max showing us his area of research near Chirripo

Max showing us his area of research near Chirripo

Chirripo National Park. You can see the park trail

Chirripo National Park. You can see the park trail

Mapping the location of the glacier that covered Chirripo and area 18,000 years ago

Mapping the location of the glacier that covered Chirripo and area 18,000 years ago




Not everyone can have the luxury of spending time in the tropics and so thank goodness for Skype and FaceTime!  We shared what we do here through distance learning sessions with a couple of schools this month.  It is an opportunity for young students to experience environmental studies in a different country.

The fifth-grade class at Ralph R. Smith elementary in the Hyde Park Central school District, Hyde Park, New York. The children watched and interacted with the presentation on a SmartBoard powered through an iPad as Charles and Jenn talked to the class over Charles’ iPhone on face time.  Mrs. Ramsey the teacher later sent student comments about the experience.  Here are a few:

“Thank you for taking time and facetiming us and teaching us about some cool stuff. I learned some cool stuff about frogs today like; how male frogs have a hook on their shoulder and female frogs don’t. So now I know if I ever see one I could figure it out.  I enjoyed and thought it was funny when the frogs kept jumping out of Jenn’s hand. I also learned that you put flags down and a number them so you know the exact place to put the frog back. I enjoyed seeing the HUGE grasshopper it was really cool and also how Jenn said she saw a snake about as big as her arm. When you facetimed us today it really inspired me to think about being someone who goes to the rainforest to study cool animals. Thanks for taking time to teach us cool stuff. I really enjoyed it!”           Sincerely,  Gaven

“Me (Emma) and my class really appreciate the time you took out of your day to  facetime us and tell us about the rainforest!!!! Thank you for everything! I never knew that there was a snake called the milk snake and I learned the difference between female frogs and male frogs. I really enjoyed it. My favorite part was when you guys told the story on how the spider monkey was peeking  in your window! ( P.S. I was the girl who asked If you ever interacted with a monkey) I’m just so glad that you guys took time out of your busy schedule to talk to us, Thank you so, so much…  Personally, I want to become a Biologist when I grow up! You guys are my inspiration….”       Sincerely,   Emma ( :

“Thank you for FaceTiming us today. It was really cool that the whole class got to see a tree frog and the glass frog. I learned that the cloud forest is really big and has a lot of trees. Also it was fun learning about the tree frog and the glass frog. I always wanted to do research on the rainforest because you can meet lots of different kinds of animals like sloths and monkeys it just looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for telling us a lot of cool things about the rainforest! Bye.”     
From,    Chase


We also enjoyed talking to Julie Johnson’s grade 8 class class at Shanty Bay Public School in Oro Medonte which is located 1 and 1/2 hours north of Toronto!

We discussed  frogs and other animals at the reserve, history of cloudbridge, volunteer opportunities and eco art. The students are working on a report for a blog.

Some of the questions that they sent to us at the reserve before the call were:unnamed




Art Exhibition about climate change at the National Gallery in San Jose, Costa Rica:


Climate Warriors

Two Artists – Gibrán Tabash & Linda Moskalyk

Two Countries – Costa Rica & Canada

One united issue

 Our earth is warming.

This is a man made problem.

We can all make a difference if we choose.

This exhibition focuses on conservation of forests for the mitigation of the climate.

 Recognizing that forests are the lungs of the planet can lead us to make changes that will slow or halt deforestation. The impact on climate through

activities such as agriculture, palm oil plantations, logging, and mining can all be reduced by our consumer choices and better land-use policies for forest protection.

 The exhibition gives a voice to artists as agents of change to move the climate conversation in a new direction. Forests are essential for our survival and will be our climate warriors!

Linda and Gibran at the opening night

Linda and Gibran at the opening night

Exhibition National Gallery4P1000965

National Gallery, San Jose, Costa Rica

National Gallery, San Jose, Costa Rica

Painting by Gibran Tabash

Painting by Gibran Tabash


Our manager Frank Spooner took some time off to travel back to the UK and visit family.  While he was there he managed to connect with his old seconday/high school – Petersfield School.  Wearing his original school tie and dressed in a jacket (never before seen at Cloudbridge) he gave the students presentations on climate change.  The results were: 5 presentations, 200 students, 2 cups of tea, 9 former teachers, 4 slides that didn’t want to work (which were resolved) and a sore throat the next day.  Great work Frank!

Frank - back in school

Frank – back in school


Photo Gallery:

DSC_0133 Photo by Steve Britten


DSC_0816-2Photo by Steve Britten

DSC_0134Photo by Steve Britten


Community Service

donation poster

Our day of collections for the Perez Zeledon International Women’s Group amounted to almost $100.00 .   The money will buy a few more books for the mobile library.  This project delivers books to schools in the Perez Zeledon area of Costa rica.  Since it started a year ago 550 books have been added to the collection.  There are 11 schools on the rotation and 600 students.  There is now 14 more schools asking to be included in this project and so more books are needed.  Education is a big part of what we do at Cloudbridge and reading is the the best start for an academic future.

Thank you:

Thank you to a few people who sent in donations through our website   We assume you were here and had enjoyed the reserve and appreciated the project.  Your donations are much appreciated and will be used to further our conservation efforts.


Theresa Juedes
Joanna Skinner
Katherine Taylor


Martha Roberts is volunteering in the Canaan school here in Costa Rica. She connected Cloudbridge with the Interact Club of Morse High School, in Bath, Maine. The Interact Club donated a camera trap to our mammal monitoring project. Thanks to all of the students and to Martha for setting this up. These cameras are a vital part of our mammal research on the reserve.