November 2016





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



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.




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.



Dung Beetle Trap

Dung Beetle Trap


Amazing Nature – Colors, Patterns, Texture
















October 2016


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.



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.




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.





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.






Giving Presence at Cloudbridge 



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.













Coati baby

Coati baby




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