April 2015

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After a huge conservation push and a wave of  forest regrowth, trees now blanket more than half of Costa Rica.

                                                                  -Justin Gilles, New York Times

 

Research:

Clarice Esch has received the National Science Foundation award.   The National Science Foundation received over 16,000 applications for the 2015 competition, and made 2,000 fellowship award offers. Congratulations to Clarice and all of the awardees and honorable mentions.

Clarice is here for 10 months and so besides her research activities at the reserve she has taken on many community volunteer tasks such as teaching English, teaching a business class, and helping out with the organization of a conference in San Gerardo de Rivas.  All of these activities are affiliated with ‘Project San Gerardo’ which provides  English lessons and computer classes for the communities in the valley.

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Kendall DeLyser is wrapping up her research on reforestation methods to quantify the presence of climax tree species. She has managed to also enjoy some leisure time with a few weekends to the beach, a trip to Panama, and attending a Costa Rican wedding.  Next month the blog will post her final research results.

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Jasper Van Kessel – Netherlands – His final report and presentation were given this month after completing his research and herpetology survey that looked at the abundance and diversity of frogs in various forest types.

His methods included pitfall traps, plot sampling, and night visual encounters.

His findings include 6 different species with a total of 53 frogs within a 3 month period. (These results would vary within different times of the year.) This happens to be the dry season and therefore fewer frogs are probably seen at this time.  Some interesting results are that the highest numbers of species were found in the primary forest with less in the secondary forest and new planted areas. Also it seems that there are species living in higher elevations than what was recorded in previous data from various publications. The glass frogs were even found in the primary forest at an elevation out of their normal range. They are usually found lower along streams and rivers. It has been observed that there are fewer frogs in general this year throughout the dry season. Jasper wonders if drier, warmer weather is having an effect on the amphibian population. He recommends that with variances in future climate change this should be monitored and recorded in our database annually.

Some species that were found are on the red list (threatened or endangered). This is good news as the forest here has matured enough to provide habitat for conservation of these species.

Highlights of his time at Cloudbridge include encountering the monkeys up in the primary forest (they tended to throw things at him); the experience of giving some tours to visitors; the help he received throughout his stay; and his one and only siting of a quetzal!  His research can be seen on the Cloudbridge website:

http://www.cloudbridge.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Herpetofauna-survey-secondary-and-primary-forest-Jasper-van-Kessel.pdf

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Jasper's presentation

Jasper’s presentation

 

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Emilie Kauffmann from France is continuing on where Jasper left off, collecting data of the frog populations on the reserve.

Noemie Soton also from France is working on her sustainable agriculture project and has been going out into the local community to learn more information about farming practices in the area of San Gerardo de Rivas.

Both girls have volunteered in the community and helped with the clean up of a new building for rescue dogs.

Emily and Naomie - France

Emilie and Noemie – France

 

Community Volunteer work

Community Volunteer work

 

 

Volunteers:

Fabian Konopka from Germany is a new volunteer and he brings his enthusiasm for learning about almost everything  during his 3 month stay at the reserve.  He is working in the welcome centre as well as assisting with bird point counts.  Once a week Fabian treks up to the 7km point on the Chirripo trail, spending hours documenting and filming the activity at a quetzal nest.  His interest in  journalism and producing documentaries should result in some creative pieces before he leaves.   Fabian has also been taking part in community volunteering in the area.

Fabian working the welcome centre.

Fabian working the welcome centre.

 

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James Gilpin  – England just recently arrived through the Organization GVI.  He will be doing the bird point counts and collecting camera trap data. In his first week he had seven quetzal sightings.  Not a bad start!   His first 3 months in Costa Rica were spent on the Caribbean coast doing turtle surveys.

 

James

James

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Jan and Helena who have been here for several months are doing all kinds of activities.  They have worked to expand the parking area, are helping with bird point counts, carrying lumber down the mountain,  working around the yard and gardens, and in the welcome centre.

Jan and Helena

Jan and Helena

 

Visitors :

18 students along with 5 adults  from the Monteverde Friends school (Costa Rica)  came to spend a few days at Cloudbridge.  It was tight accommodations for such a large group.  They slept on the floor in the classroom, on the floor and in beds in the casa, and some of them even stayed in our Gavalon cabin which is up the mountain near the old growth forest. Tom did a presentation about Cloudbridge and they visited the art studio, and hiked to the waterfalls.   This class trip also included climbing Chirripo mountain.    We enjoyed learning about their unique Quaker school which hosts students from Costa Rica as well as other countries. It was founded over 60 years ago by Quakers who left the United States in search of a country and community that supported their peaceful principles. Today, the school continues to promote the universal values of peace, love and respect in the context of a challenging bilingual education and a sense of community.  Thank you to all of the adults who organized and came along to make this a great experience for the students – Kirk Amos (teacher and former Cloudbridge volunteer), Heather (teacher), Judy (school secretary), Pax (parent), and Patrick (parent).

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Visiting the art gallery

A swim in the Rio Chirripo

A swim in the Rio Chirripo

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Sleeping and eating quarters were tight!

Sleeping and eating quarters were tight!

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Presentation

 

Tom talking about the History of Cloudbridge

Tom talking about the History of Cloudbridge

Cloudbridge-Presentation for the class (3)

 

“Thank you again for our wonderful stay at Cloudbridge. My students left blown away with the project and how beautiful it is. Everyone said it was the best trip they had ever had.”

Kirk Amos
Monteverde Friends 9th & 10th grades

 

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Cloudbridge hosted the “Perez Zeledon International Womens Club” for one of their monthly walks.  For some of them the trails were challenging, but they endured and enjoyed learning about the flora and fauna of the area.  Tom lead the hike with his wealth of information and passion for the reforestation project.

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Where are they now:

Stephan Lehmann from Germany will have a series of lectures in June about forest landscape restoration on the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development in Germany.

Stephan researched reforestation methods at Cloudbridge for his PHD thesis.  He travelled to Costa Rica 3 times to complete this project.

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Siobhan McLaughlin – “I’m continuing my studies in China, I’m giving a presentation about reforestation work in Costa Rica (so a lot about Cloudbridge!) for my restoration ecology class. Just wanted to let you both know again how wonderful a time I had at Cloudbridge, and I think about the beautiful mountains often. I know I only stayed a short time at Cloudbridge, but it meant a lot to me. I like to keep up with the blog, and Matt always posts the most amazing photos!”

 

Siobhan was a volunteer at Cloudbridge in 2013

Sioban

Sioban

 

Photo Gallery:

These photos are courtesy of our volunteers, Jan and Fabian.

 

The Quetzal

 

Respendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal

This male quetzal is feeding the young in the nest.

This male quetzal is feeding the young in the nest.

Female quetzal peering out from her nest

Female quetzal peering out from her nest

Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal

A male Quetzal with his favourite food - an aguacatillo fruit

A male Quetzal with his favourite food – an aguacatillo fruit

 

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Male Trogon

Male Collared Trogan

 

Blue-crowned Motmot

Blue-crowned Motmot

Female Collared trogan

Female Collared trogan

Golden-hooded Tanagers

Golden-hooded Tanagers

Scarlet-thighed Dacnis

Scarlet-thighed Dacnis

Masked Tityra (male)

Masked Tityra (male)

Juvenile Stripe-tailed Hummingbird

Juvenile Stripe-tailed Hummingbird

Juvenile Stripe-tailed Hummingbird

Juvenile Stripe-tailed Hummingbird

Flame-colored Tanager

Flame-colored Tanager

Black Guan

Black Guan

Cherrie's Tanager (female)

Cherrie’s Tanager (female)

Stick bug - Its is not a branch

Stick bug – Its not a branch

Giant Moth - Front view

Giant Moth – Front view

Giant Moth

Giant Moth

A Catepillar on the road to San Gerardo

A Catepillar on the road to San Gerardo

Catepillar on the Road to San Gerardo (4)

Fog

Fog

On the Chirripo Trail

On the Chirripo Trail

 

 

March 2015

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Research:

Ellie and Andrea wrapped up their time at Cloudbridge with a presentation on their bird point counts and camera trap surveys.

Research is still on-going for Kendell, Clarice, and Jasper.

Arriving from France, Noemie Soton will be studying sustainable farming in Costa Rica, and Emilie Kauffmann is researching frogs in various forest types.

 

Volunteers:

Our volunteers this month are:

Malin Große-Heilmann – Germany

Jan Rosciszewski  – Germany

Helene Loy – GermanyHelene    

 Maxime Philibert – France

Milena Roxo – Brazil

Sian Clarke – England

ARO International – Quebec group of students

 

Their work:

Installed over 100 steps throughout the trail system

The Sentinel trail got improved access with more stone work

Maintenance around trees including weeding and mulching

Expansion of the parking lot

Completion of the hikers shelter at Rancho Don Victor

ARO volunteers working on trail steps

ARO volunteers working on trail steps

Aro volunteers

Aro volunteers

 

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Mileno, Helene and Sian doing tree maintenance

 

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In the welcome centre  two students from Costa Rica are helping on the weekends by providing information to visitors.

Maricela Billita is finishing her high school studies in San Gerardo.

Gabriel Arias is studying tourism at the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica – UNA

Gabriel and Marecela

Gabriel and Maricela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community work:

Jenny Moss the director of Project San Gerardo organized an international conference on sustainable communities through the organization ‘Rose Charities’.  Tom Gode represented Cloudbridge on a panel discussing environmental stewardship.

 

 

Tom, speaking at the Rose Charities conference

Tom, speaking at the Rose Charities conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A group from the conference hiking at Cloudbridge

A group from the conference hiking at Cloudbridge

 

Visitors:

This month we had many friends and family members visiting.

Jenny (Founder of the Reserve) and her partner Charles arrived along with friends from New York. Sue and Donn Critchell, Pat Bini and Louise Lebrun, intrepid hikers all. Pat declared that Cloudbridge was the highlight of their Costa Rican trip.

Sue, Donn, Pat, and Louise

Sue, Donn, Pat, and Louise

 

 

Linda And Jenny relaxing after a night hike up to the Gavalon cabin and a sleepover.  The view and the quiet up there in the remote cabin is spectacular.

Linda And Jenny relaxing after a night hike up to the Gavalon cabin and a sleepover. The view and the quiet up there in the remote cabin is spectacular.

 

Down town San Gerardo de Rivas

Down town San Gerardo de Rivas

Jenny’s comment “Seeing this horse tied up outside the Roca Dura reminded me of our early days in San Gerardo – only thirteen years ago! But then there were more steeds than SUVs in town.”

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Linda’s family came for a surprise visit and spent the first week hiking the trails and just relaxing – happy to be out of the Canadian winter.

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Tom also had a family visit.  His brother and sister in law from Florida came for their first visit to Costa Rica.

Brothers

Brothers

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Matt Smokoska’s sisters came to Costa Rica to visit him again, but this trip they spent all of their time at the coast, close to the beaches.  While the girls were catching some rays, this is what Matt was catching:

Fer de Lance  on the Osa Penninsula

Fer de Lance on the Osa Peninsula

This was Matt’s last month at the reserve before he heads back to hopefully be employed again by the DNR in Michigan – looking after the wildlife a little further north.

Matt and Jasper hanging out in front of the casa.

Matt and Jasper hanging out in front of the casa.

Here are some more of Matt’s beautiful photos taken on the reserve:

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Young trogons in their nest

Young trogons in their nest

Collared Trogon

Collared Trogon

Slate-Throated Redstart

Slate-Throated Redstart

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Black-faced Solitaire

 

Tom and Linda went along on a last night hike with Matt.  This net-casting spider was one of the favourite finds that night. He is holding his unusual net or web waiting for the prey.  When prey approaches, the spider will stretch the net to two or three times its relaxed size and propel itself onto the prey, entangling it in the web.

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