January 2017

p1020546

Volunteers, researchers, guests and staff sharing information on a weekend hike.

Finally it is the New Year – 2017.   Not that we have been waiting for it to happen. But, 2016 seemed to come with its challenges – Politics, climate change impacts, race and cultural relations etc.   With world leadership uncertainties and now possible new environmental policies in the US that could effect us all worldwide, we hope for the best.   And also at the reserve as we continue to grow and expand our educational programs there has been some growing pains.  We are accepting more student groups and researchers which comes with infrastructure needs. Now we need more bathrooms, a bigger kitchen, and always newer equipment. But this is all for the better because the more research that is done and the more people we can reach the bigger the impact we will have.

Research and Volunteering:

Britt van Engelen from the Netherlands presented her 5 month research project. Her study was about the relationship and corrilation between food availability (fruits and flowers) and bird abundance on the reserve.

She used data from the ongoing bird surveys and then did her own fruit and flower counts.This was a a difficult research project and she indicated that it will require further data collection, hopefully with a future researcher. In that way more information can be collected throughout different times of the year.


 

Justin Roberts and Daniella Garvue are travelling for 3 months and volunteering along the way.  They say it gives them the opportunity to get to know the people and the area.  They have taken enough time off to travel and spend all of their money in a very rewarding way.  They are from Seattle Washington.  Daniella works in a children’s museum and Justin is a guide for tourists in the area.  They are staying 2 weeks at Cloudbridge helping out with all kinds of maintenance work and taking time to do some hiking.

p1020785

Daniella – “I decided to travel to Costa Rica because of its incredible biodiversity and natural beauty, and I wanted to do some good there as I expanded my world.”

Justin – “I see nature/habitat conservation as one of the most important remedies for a world that is rapidly losing the richness of species and ecosystems that make life on Earth so amazing.”


 

Jacob Suissa and Sylvia Kinosian are both interested in ferns. Sylvia Kinosian is working on her PhD at Utah State University. Jacob is an intern at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.

They were in the Costa Rica taking a fern course through the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). While here they decided to come up to Cloudbridge for a few days to check out the ferns and do a little identification.

P1020787.JPG


 

Laura Hollingbery from the UK is a volunteer who just finished a degree in Ecology.  Volunteering at a place like this is part of her 3 month adventure. She is interested in mosses and is going to do a project to study them while here. When she gets back home her plan is to do a one year internship before going to India to do a masters program.  There she hopes to study human rights and environmental law.

p1020835

 

 

From the Camera Traps:

 

16388219_1467506396623308_6685296589227738093_n

As you may recall several months back we captured a photo of our first jaguar at the reserve.  Well, here he is again seen on January 7th.  If you compare the markings on the left (2016 photo) to the new photo it looks like it could be our old friend.  He must have decided to stick around.

unnamed-20

unnamed-21unnamed-19

 

Also seen  this month are these characters:

2242:010317:12C:0000:BIRD CAM :2E[103:0381]G[040:0x0036]

Long Tailed Weasel

0339:121816:10C:0000:BIRD CAM :5E[101:0415]G[040:0x0036]

Cacomistle

1958:121516:12C:0000:BIRD CAM :5E[087:0762]G[040:0x0036]

Peccaries

image

Coyote

Weird Orchids

Our biologist Jenn Powell found these amazing orchids

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Angels

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Little people

 

 

Study Abroad in Costa Rica – Gatton Academy 2017

Clouds over Mountains

Clouds over Mountains – Gatton students arrive to mountain views and mesmerizing clouds.

 

Every year we look forward to the visit from the students of The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science (part of Western Kentucky University).  This educational institution has received numerous accolades throughout the years and is named among the top-preforming high schools across the United States.  Their visit to Costa Rica includes a turtle project, a visit along the southern coast for snorkeling, horseback riding and wildlife adventures, as well as cloud forest studies up here at  the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.  It all sounds like a great holiday; but these students are researching, doing presentations and gaining cultural and environmental experiences every step of the way.

unnamed-11

 

 

The students begin their day very early in the morning.  They have to be at breakfast by 7:00 am and then out in the field working on their research projects by 8:00 am. (This schedule differs from their time at the turtle project where they were out walking the beaches in late night shifts collecting data for turtle conservation.)  At Cloudbridge they are also studying conservation but this time it is about the forests and ecosystems at a higher elevation.  The 16 students are divided up to do group research on trees, insects, plants and butterflies.

 

Early morning at the dorms

Early morning at the dorms – every day seems to be laundry day here.

 

A hardy breakfast to get them up the mountain

A hardy breakfast to get them up the mountain

Everyone eats very well thanks to wonderful cooks.  The food is a fusion of Costa Rican flavours and student favourites – Mango chili, grilled cheese sandwiches, soups, burritos, spaghetti, pancakes, pineapple crisp, chocolate cake and fresh wholewheat bread to name a few. We shop locally for fresh fruits and veggies to provide nutritious plant based meals.

p1020751

Beth, Laura, Angie and Lou provided Cloudbridge cuisine.

p1020749

The great thing about this visit is that we are in our 7th year of this study abroad program with Gatton.  All of our staff/leaders – Tom, Frank, Jenn, Clarice, and Linda have developed long lasting friendships with the Gatton (Western Kentucky University) staff. We have as much fun (maybe more) than the students.

Martin, Derrick and Frank having a little down time at the coffee table.

Martin, Derick and Frank having a little down time at the coffee table.

p1020662

Dr. Derick Strode , Dr. Martin Stone, Linda and Tom (Cloudbridge) – Now considered long time friends.

Tom with our good friend Dr. Keith Philips

Tom with our good friend Dr. Keith Philips

 

Tom still has it when it comes to leading the long hikes - notice the students struggling behind him!

Tom still has it when it comes to leading the long hikes – notice the students struggling behind him!

Frank is our butterfly expert. As you can see he has much finess with his netting demonstration. netting.

Frank is our butterfly expert – as you can see in the finesse of this netting demonstration.

 

Early morning near the dorms

Jenn Powell has extensive experience in field research.

 

Clarice and her epyphyte group

Clarice Esch and her epiphyte group –  Clarice was a Gatton student 7 years ago.  Now she is working on her graduate degree, but returns to Cloudbridge every year as a leader for this study abroad program.

 

Linda assists with the tree group as well as teaching the jungle art class

Linda assists with the tree group as well as teaching the jungle art class and gives a climate change presentation.

 

 

Out in the field, or should I say high on the slopes, the student groups are introduced to tropical reforestation and environmental research. This is not necessarily the main interest or career focus of every student. This school has students with engineering, math and computer science minds to name a few.  Never the less everyone jumps into the particular study group that they have been assigned and the magic of nature and the challenges of biology open up new perspectives.

Clarices epiphyte group on their way up the trail

Clarice’s epiphyte group on their way up the trail

 

Collecting data

Collecting data

 

Soil evaluation - does throwing it in the air to see if it stays together count as a viable test?

Soil evaluation – does throwing it in the air to see if it stays together count as a viable test?

 

p1020587

Identifying the right plants can be a challenge

 

Research:

90% of butterfly species live in the tropics.  Research about diversity of tropical butterfly populations helps to effectively conserve them.  The students in this group didn’t know much about butterflies when they started their week long study. Using sweep nets and canopy traps they were able to catch and identify each species. There is a technique for using the nets. With a ‘swish and flick’ motion they were able to capture them and then learned how to hold them carefully for examination without injuring these delicate organisms.  Learning about coloration, wing shapes, vein patterns, and body characteristics is all part of the identification process. The students soon learn how subtle some of the differences are between species. Using tools such as the Simpsons Index of Diversity along with their collection of data they were able to make some interesting generalizations considering the short time frame and complexity of habitat for the study.

unnamed-9butterfly-group-pic

 

The correct way to examine a butterfly

The correct way to hold and examine a butterfly

 

 

Analyzing tree health is vital for reforestation projects. The students took a look at what factors effect a saplings tree health within its first 5 years of growth.  Some of the factors included canopy closure, altitude, slope, soil type and competition from other plants.  Of course there are so many other variables such as climate and insects and diseases that were not accounted for in this short term study.  Never the less they put together some interesting data and looked at correlations that might be helpful for further planting studies.  The success of reforestation projects will determine the outcome of species diversity, wildlife conservation and successful ecosystem recovery.

img_9326

Determining soil type

 

Canopy cover data is measured using a decimetre

Canopy cover data is measured using a densiometer

 

Determining tree health through measurements and observing leaves and roots within a planting plot

Determining tree health through measurements and observing leaves and roots within a planting plot

 

 

There was a couple of groups studying plants – epiphytes and understory plants.  You need to know botany basics for identification. Venation patterns, petiole length, texture and serration of the leaf edges are all important to determine the family or genus.  For the understory plants the students concluded that diversity increases as the planting plot age increased until about 15 years.  At that point it started to decrease, probably due to the canopy cover shading out some of the plants.  The epiphyte research looked at bromeliads, lichens, moss, ferns and angiosperms. One conclusion is that moss is always present and the most common of all epiphytes in the cloud forest.  Variables in elevation and slope can also be a factor when looking at plants.

Bromeliad

Bromeliad

Team work

Team work

Mapping epiphyte research areas on the reserve

Mapping epiphyte research areas on the reserve

 

Dung beetles are a good indicator of biodiversity in the area.  They exist on every continent with the exception of Antarctica.  Keith Philips is an expert on this subject and provided a wealth of information from his years of research.  The students set traps in the primary and secondary forests as well as in adjacent pasture land.   Learning how to make their own traps, collect the beetles and then ID them was all part of the process.  They concluded that there is more diversity and abundance in the primary forest.

unnamed-12 unnamed-13

Keith demonstrating how to set dung beetle traps

Keith demonstrating how to set dung beetle traps

 

 

Scientific investigations in the realm of biology and environmental studies are complex.  Often results are inconclusive and there are many variables at play. The field research provides an opportunity to explore the environment with hands on experience.  The students learn how to gather and integrate information through observations, identification, and sampling methods. Critical thinking, communicating and proposing solutions are also part of the process.  These skills will be useful for all of their future studies.

Part of what was so interesting with these young people was how innovative and creative they could be.  For instance, one group needed to measure the slope but they didn’t have any tools on site with which to do this.  Within minutes they began to collaborate on what would work and they came up with a protractor of sorts using the back of a notebook, a weight, and a string.

p1020590

Measuring slopes by improvising

Measuring slopes by improvising

 

Another group didn’t have the densiometer to measure canopy cover and so someone used their glasses to receive the reflection and then they did a % calculation from that observation.

Not too scientific but its a good example of problem solving!

Not too scientific but its a good example of problem solving!

 

Talking Climate Change

The reality of climate change at our reserve has never been clearer.  The last two years have seen much warmer temperatures on the mountain.  This equates to lower survival rates of our seedlings and changing ecosystems for wildlife.

Our solution is education. We have 3 climate leaders at Cloudbridge. Tom, Linda and Frank took the world renowned Climate Reality Leadership Corps training  and now give presentations to student groups, volunteers and researchers who come to the reserve.

We hope that educating our visiting Gatton students about climate change will inspire them to be leaders in their future careers in a way that will be sustainable and bring climate action to the forefront of their work environments.  After all, it will be within their lifetime when food and water security will be at risk along with species extinction if they don’t choose to act.

Leading by example can challenge students to make changes …

key-note-image-001

 

…and then challenging them to do what they can:

key-note-image-002

 

 

Time for some relaxation and fun!

The San Isidro farmers market is a great place to find new and exotic fruits

The San Isidro farmers market is a great place to find new and exotic fruits

p1020734

No shopping trip is complete without purchasing some Costa Rican machetes

 

img_9250

Mountain swimming is not for the faint at heart - BRRRR

Mountain swimming is not for the faint at heart – BRRRR

 

A long hot hike into the bordering national park.

A long hot hike into the bordering national park.

 

Sketching lessons can teach observation skills and might be needed out in the field to record ideas or just for fun!

p1020731

p1020723p1020724

Sketching Classes

 

A cultural night included Costa Rican traditional food and music.

p1020771p1020683

p1020766

 

We have some strict rules for those who leave their stuff lying around and cluttering up the dining area.  At every meal there were a few who were disciplined and had  to sing a song because of their clutter bug tendencies.

Dr. Martin Stone and The Forgetful Four singing "My Old Kentucky Home'

Dr. Martin Stone and The Forgetful Four singing ‘My Old Kentucky Home’

 


2017 Gatton Academy visiting groups at the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve

p1020761

p1020658

 

“Thanks for the immersive education in all things ecological.  Makes me more committed to fight for a cleaner future than ever! Muchas gracias.”   – Tony

This place is the most amazing place I’ve been!  There is no place on earth where you will find so many different plants and animals or feel so close to nature”    – Marco Garcia

Cloudbridge is ecotourism at its finest. Conservation is key to all that they do and education is everywhere.”  – Olivia Simpson

“Amazing place! Thank you for everything.  Changed my perspective.”  – Xander Bowen

I learned more about the earth and myself everyday.”  – Sarah

“This is the seventh time visiting this magical place – one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet and recognized as a biodiversity hotspot.  There is so much more to the tropics than just the beaches!” –  Dr. Keith Philips

“Thanks for your hospitality, friendliness, and knowledge. What a great few days.  See you next year.”  – Dr. Martin Stone

Thank you all for making Cloudbridge the magical perfect place it is.  Your hospitality, teaching, and interest in our students is unmatched.” – Dr. Derick Strode

 

December 2016

 

Merry Christmas from all of us at Cloudbridge!

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner – A potluck of amazing food and good cheer.

Our Christmas and holiday celebration also included guests staying at our Casita Blanca, friends and neighbours.

Donations:

A big thank you to the Krishnan family from Conneticut who were with us over Christmas.  They enjoyed the reserve so much that they donated $500.00 to purchase some camera traps!

Volunteers and Research:

An ARO group from Ottawa was here helping to build up a section of the bank around the classroom which will one day allow us to get a truck to the vivero (tree nursery). This involved moving dirt (and some BIG rocks) from one side of the building to the other side. Their enthusiasm and good spirits while moving wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt was a pleasure to work with. We even unearthed a Cane Toad while digging, and after a brief science lesson and some photos, we safely re-homed him to a different part of the yard, well away from the digging. Afterwards they went to the local hot springs to soak their sore muscles, which was well earned!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Alice Donoghue from Toronto is a volunteer. She has no academic background in biology but is truly interested in learning more about the environment and ecology. She hopes to gain some insight into what she can do to help in this area and how her practice of being a vegan ties into the picture. Little did she know that being a vegan already has a carbon footprint that is less than ½ that of a meat loving diet. Her goal here is to better understand all of this and come up with what she can do locally to make a global impact.

Lou Eney is from California.  He is volunteering for a month.  He has a bachelors in Environmental Science and has done lots of volunteer conservation work.  He left his last job to travel. At Cloudbridge he has helped on owl surveys and is also doing general handyman projects (because he is a very handy man).  He wants to spend 2 months in Costa Rica.

Lou and Alice repairing a screen in one of the casitas

Lou and Alice repairing a screen in one of the casitas


Laura Antonaru finished her 3 month internship of plant identification on the reserve. Most were herbaceous plants and shrubs.

She concentrated on plants that grew near the trails and had the opportunity to thrive because of the light gaps. She started her presentation by saying ‘Trees can be bad”.  We were all a little taken aback by this comment as we are big tree lovers.  But then she went on to say –  meaning that other plants don’t always appreciate the shade and lack of sunlight for them to grow.  That is how forest successions evolve – from herbaceous and small treelets that are eventually out competed by larger trees.

Laura identified 110 herbaceous species and left us with a list including photos to add to our website.

Laura's presentation

Laura’s presentation

————————————————————————————————————————————————

Our three new GVI interns started this month.

Training Day

Training Day

Not long after they arrived and started studying the birds these guys put together a presentation called ‘Little Birdies – the difficulties of identifying them’  This is so true.  With 300 species at the reserve and many of them with very similar features and color it is a difficult task to make accurate identifications. It can be the slightest variation that distigueshes them. The presentation reminded all of us of how challenging birding is.

Neil, Spencer and Nicholas

Neil, Spencer and Nicholas

Neil Hancart was born in Belgium, lived in Spain for awhile and now calls the US home.  He finished high school and was not sure what he wanted to pursue.  He loves nature and decided to join GVI in Costa Rica to do an internship.  This brought him to Cloudbridge where he will help with the bird surveys but also be the primary researcher for the butterfly survey.

Spencer Kane from Wisconsin USA is doing an internship with GVI so that he can figure out what direction he wants to go next with his education. He is enjoying environmental work.  His responsibility at Cloudbridge is the bird survey and he says “I didn’t used to be interested in birds but now they are cool”.

Nicholas Flood from Sweden is also here through his GVI internship.  He has studied natural science, animal husbandry, and ecology.  When he goes back to Europe he wants to continue to travel a little longer…..if his mother agrees to look after his cats.

Global Vision International (GVI) is multi-award wining social enterprise that runs high impact volunteer and international education programs. 

Where Are They Now?

 Marloes Froling - Netherlands


Marloes Froling – Netherlands

Marloes Froling -A former researcher who did an internship at Cloudbridge in 2012 recently graduated from University.

“After I left cloudbridge, now more than 4 years ago, I also have been on a fieldtrip to Surinam with our class of tropical forestry. Here we performed a forest management plan for a local community. I have finished my bachelors in 2014, by writing a final thesis at my internship at Centre ValBio in Madagascar about tree development of replanted areas. This was actually a place that Drew (another former Cloudbridge researcher) recommended to me during my stay in Costa Rica. After finishing my bachelors, I went to the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, where I entered the master’s program Environmental Sciences. At first I wanted to continue with forest and nature conservation at the university, but when I came across the Environmental Sciences program I figured out that this was also a big passion of mine and that together with tropical forestry it would make a great fit. During the last two years I followed many Environmental Sciences related courses in the major Environmental Systems Analysis. I figured out how important the connection of economy with ecology sometimes is and therefore I followed some economic courses as well. My final thesis at Wageningen contained an analysis study towards the global effects of changing diets on the N and P runoff to surface waters. It was quite interesting to analyse the N and P flows in our agricultural systems.

Since October I finished my final internship at a project based company called ‘nature doublers’ in Amsterdam that focusses on biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural capital. Here I worked on an action plan to measure and decrease the biodiversity impact of mining practices in the beverage can supply chain. I figured out my passion for analysing supply chains (cradle to cradle) and how to make them more sustainable. I might be able to help this company a little bit more on some projects in the future, but this is not certain due to their company size. For the rest, I am focussing of finding a job in my field of study, which is not so easy unfortunately. Due to my lack in technical or policy based background I am not qualified enough for most of the vacancies. But it has only been a couple of weeks yet, so I will not lose hope and keep looking. An ideal job for me would hopefully also include some fieldwork abroad because I still want to see a lot more of the world. For example, I now am trying to connect into the world of sustainable palm oil and other products, which is very interesting because here I can combine my knowledge of sustainability and tropical forestry. Well this was more or less what I have done the past couple of years and what I am hoping to do in the future.”

Graduation Day

Graduation Day

Congratulations Marloes on all of your hard work!


scintillant-humming-bird-blog

November 2016

p1010285

 

 

 

Community Tree Planting:

We had our annual community tree planting day a little later than usual this year.  With all of the rain this season the trees should have sufficient moisture to establish in an area surrounded by secondary forest on the reserve. We planted about 70 trees along the Gavilan trail.  The tree planters included Cloudbridge employees and volunteers, tourists from Spain, and community members from San Gerardo.

Edgar preparing the site by cutting away invasive ferns and shrubs.

Edgar preparing the site by cutting away invasive ferns and shrubs.

 

20161105_111644  Planting crew

 

Research:

DK Nicol (with the bug), and Oli Aylen (with the camera). They are here studying the role of downed woody material (i.e. logs) as habitat for saproxylic invertebrates (i.e. invertebrates that depending on dead or dying wood). Both are Bachelor’s students from Otago University in New Zealand. Oli is currently undertaking a Bachelor degree with a major in Zoology and a minor in Ecology and is an accomplished photographer. DK has previously taught English in schools around the world, is an avid cyclist and outdoorsman, and is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Ecology degree.

 

 

img_6145edit

DK Nicol

Oli Alyen

Oli Aylen


Fredie From England is here on an internship studying Dung Beetles. Using a variety of traps throughout the reserve she is studying the diversity and relative abundance of beetles. The design of the trap pictured is called a flight intercept trap and aims at catching dung beetles as they fly over the bait rather than the beetles that just make a direct landing. The best bait so far has proved to be human poop which brings in the dung beetles in much greater numbers.  Rotten fruit and coati poop are also used as bait. Still to try are rotten fish and fungi which might attract some specialist species.

Fredie

Fredie

Dung Beetle Trap

Dung Beetle Trap

 

Amazing Nature – Colors, Patterns, Texture

p1010350

p1010348

p1010337

 

p1010352

p1010353

p1010341

p1010300

p1010296

p1010294

p1010291

p1010289

p1010288

p1010279-001

 

October 2016

Jaguar

After many years of camera trapping now all 6 of Costa Ricas cats have now been seen here. The Jaguar (Panthera onca) saving the the best till last!

Capturing the photo of the Jaguar at Cloudbrdge marks the return of Central America’s ultimate predator and a sign of the improved health of the Cloudbridge environment. It has been amazing to watch the wildlife return as Cloudbridge has transitioned from barren cattle pastures to an evolving secondary cloud forest. To see what two individuals, Ian & Jenny Giddy, have accomplished over just 14 years since they purchased Cloudbridge North is an example of what individuals can do to rebuild a landscape that has been decimated by human misguided actions. In todays world as we all begin to face our changing climate due to over-extraction of natural resources we need to ask ourselves how can we make a difference. There is so much that we all can do. We can write a letter to the editor of a local paper or educate our political leaders. We can even get radical and give up eating meat and transition to a plant based diet or we could join the protest at Standing Rock. Regardless of what we do, it has passed the time to do nothing, so each of us needs to step up to the greatest challenge facing mankind in our lifetime and take action.  Wildlife like this jaguar might then have a chance to be a viable species on this planet. 

    Tom Gode

 

Volunteers and Research:

Laura Antonaru is a masters student in Molecular Plant and Microbial Sciences from the Imperial College London. She is studying the understory, both the herbaceous and shrub layers. She is looking at those plants eaten by catapillars and trying to map an association between the two.

Laura

Laura

Geometridae caterpillar

Geometridae caterpillar

 

Kristin Bell is on a scientific illustration internship from the Science Illustration program at California State University. She has just finished an art degree in illustration and is making some beautiful images for printed material. Here is a shot of her with an rhinoceros beetle.

Kristen

Kristen

 

Danny Guy is an intern from Global Vision International, Jalova base in Tortuguero Natinoal Park where he worked on the jaguar project. He is with us for 3 weeks working with the camera traps. In this photo he is spraying Calvin Klein Obssession on the scent stick which seems to attract the cats close to the camera trap.

Danny

Danny

 

 

Beth Ramsey – Oregon, USA    Beth has come to Cloudbridge to volunteer and spend some time relaxing.  She says ” I am anxious to get some plant species knowledge and help out on that front as much as possible. I have been out clearing spots for reforestation and planting. Plus working in the garden and working on trail maps and web stuff. I am going to help out with cleaning up the rentals too.”

Beth is also assisting the researchers and gathering information for the blog.

The relaxation must be kicking in as she has already written a poem.  This is the first poem she has ever written, at least the first outside of a school assignment.

 

Beth

Beth

 

 

Giving Presence at Cloudbridge 

unnamed-2

 

Often the force is too great,

there is a no choice but to rush,

inadvertently making the calm

so much more indulgent.

 

River over slippery rock and moss,

free-falling into the next challenge,

busy, breaking logs, crashing stone,

until eddy lullabies a sweet circular trance.

 

Hummingbird practices dance,

white oak bends, stretched downward,

butterfly quickly sips nectar and retreats,

as the daily afternoon rain comes down.

 

A wild rodeo of nature,

owned by none, no need for influence,

simple opportunity for lathering the soul,

humbling the experience as larger than our own.

 

-Beth Ramsey

 

 

Fun at the Reserve:

Weekly potluck dinner at Cloudbridge

Weekly potluck dinner at Cloudbridge

 

Clockwise from Jenn in the blue shirt, we have Sam (England, Birds), Neza (Slovenia, horticulture), Oscar and Barney (England, Frogs), Sarah (Australia, Birds), Kristen (Oregon, Illustration for publications and maps), Britt (Netherlands, Fruit around Bird plots), Ignatio (Argentina, Volunteer), Laura (Romania – Plants), Beth (USA), Sam (England, Cats ), Philip and his wife (temporary visitors) – did a couple bat surveys. They caught 10 bats, one of which was new to cloudbridge.

 

Happy Birthday this month to Jenny Giddy, owner of Cloudbridge and longtime environmentalist.  She is an inspiration to all of us!

Jenny with her partner, Charles at Cloudbridge

Jenny with her partner, Charles at Cloudbridge

 

Jenny visiting the trout farm in San Gerardo.

Jenny visiting the trout farm in San Gerardo.

 

From the camera traps.

puma-g2-01-09-16

Puma

 

Tamandua

Tamandua

 

Paca

Paca

 

Margay

Margay

 

Coati baby

Coati baby

 

Tayra

Tayra

September 2016

 

img_1785

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

 

unnamed

Alex with a Consul panariste jansoni

 

fts_5866-copy

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

img_2792

unnamed

 

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

Buffy-tuftedcheek

Buffy-Tuftedcheek

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

New GVI Volunteers:

Barney and Oscar from England will be studying amphibians and reptiles.   http://www.gviworld.com

 

 

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.

unnamed-2

 

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

 

Ignacio an environmental engineer from Argentina is here to volunteer

img_1790

 

 

Tizian from Germany is here also as a general volunteer.

Tizian

Tizian

 

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

unnamed

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).


wcac7620

 

Website Improvements:  

images

 

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    www.cloudbridge.org  ……..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

 

Research:

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 http://expeditioncloudbridge.blogspot.ca

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

P8181749

The cooking and living area.

P8191756

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

 

P8031686

Matt, carrying gear up to camp

P8031693

Louise taking a break at Vulture Rock. Halfway there!

P8181745

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.

Florian

Florian


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.

Britt

Britt

 

 

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

DSC_0284

 

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.

_DSC7777

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.

_DSC7997


In Memoriam:

14079618_10154568283521414_7605840351196447699_n

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.