April 2021

Toño Pizote, the friendly fire-fighting coati does a song and a dance for participants of the CONUBI environmental education program. Photo credit: Elena Vargas

April has been a busy month for us here at Cloudbridge, with Earth Day, environmental education activities, and many researchers and volunteers!  We are pleased to have the fun energy here, of people who are passionate about their research projects, and enjoying each other´s company and the beautiful natural environment of Cloudbridge.  We request a Covid test before arrival of all of our participants, so they are able to freely socialize and become a tight-knit community.

Some of our GVI volunteers, enjoying a moment with water… photo credit: Anna Lena Niederauer
Our weekly potluck dinners are a fun and delicious affair! Photo credit: Paula Pebsworth.

Earth Day is an important day, and here at Cloudbridge we try to celebrate our beloved home not only on April 22, but every day! This year we decided to celebrate this special date in house, with a tree tour with Edgar in the primary forest, a climate change discussion, a presentation about the International Dark Sky Association (which we are joining as a Dark Sky Reserve!), and a lovely potluck dinner. Since the clouds didn´t really let us enjoy the meteor shower that was visible on this date, we still enjoyed some outdoor evening time, dancing with fire poi!

Photo credit: Anna-Lena Niederauer

CONUBI, which stands for Conociendo Nuestra Biodiversidad (Knowing Our Biodiversity) is an environmental education program jointly developed by various environmental organizations of the area, with the support of the UNDPs “Productive Landscapes” project. Since the program has been virtual due to Covid-19 restrictions, 5 participants were randomly selected to attend a CONUBI weekend at Cloudbridge with a parent, following all Covid-19 protocols. The activity was a huge success! Thank you Tom and Linda, for letting us use your marvelous front porch as our activity base : )

The whole Conubi team enjoyed a hike through the reserve! Photo credit: Elena Vargas
This pair of Scarlet-thighed Dacnis posed in the sunlight for a beautiful picture
The Elegant Euphonia is a delight to see, he was accompanied by his mate.

In two packed days, we played some games, ate a whole lot, went on a night hike and did some birdwatching and a day hike. It was a fun and exciting weekend!

The Common Chlorospingus is one of the birds we saw on our morning birdwatching tour.
The Silver-throated Tanager is always a favorite.
This Bay-headed Tanager was stealing some spiderwebs to use in their nest!

Volunteers and Interns

We are grateful to Michael Sojo for the wonderful effort he has been putting into our tree nursery.

Hi, my name is Harold van Riessen. I’m a student of International Forest and Nature Management at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands and I am specializing in Tropical Forestry. I am here at Cloudbridge for 2 months to write my final thesis and I am doing a research on bird diversity between different forest succession stages. The Cloudbridge reserve has an extremely high bird diversity so sometimes it’s a real challenge for me to identify all the different species. But it’s a lot of fun to go out early in the morning and look for birds and field assistants help me to spot them. This is also a nice opportunity to meet new people and make friends!

Eddo (right), looks at a bird that Harold is pointing out.

Hola, my name is Eddo, from the Netherlands. Volunteering at Cloudbridge has been such a wonderful, inspiring and above all very educational experience! Last year I graduated in environmental sciences, where I learned a lot about the physical processes that are governing our Earth. However, I felt like I was missing practical/field knowledge during my studies. Being here at Cloudbridge has helped me fill this knowledge gap by being so close to research and being involved in a reserve which has done so much in conservation. It has been a blast to wake up every morning to hike into the cloudforest to observe birds, calculate the biomass of lianes or help with any other project. This together with being surrounded by astonishing nature and lovely people makes this place especially exhilarating.

Jeff and Sylvie: We retired a little early from careers in project management and teaching in order to volunteer for charities around the world and to give something back for the lucky lives we have had. We have been nomadic for the last three years, volunteering for NGOs in Ethiopia, India, Italy and Costa Rica, generally in the areas of poverty alleviation, education, women’s empowerment and the protection of ecosystems. We adore learning new skills in one part of the world and training others in them in another. We also love all things cultural – history, heritage, music, reading, films, food, etc. We are writing about our adventures on our blog www.oldkneesyounghearts.com which includes so many beautiful memories for us to look back upon. 

Hello! My name is Madyson and I am visiting Cloudbridge from Canada. I work for Global Vision International (GVI) and supervise 5 volunteers here at Cloudbridge. I have an Undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and a Masters degree in Tourism – responsible travel is my passion! I have been living here for 5 weeks and have loved every minute. We have seen frogs, countless birds including multiple Resplendent Quetzals, spider monkeys and peccaries too. It’s been an incredible experience living in the jungle with an amazing group of dedicated volunteers and researchers from around the globe.

My name is Jann Erik Simon, I’m 23 years old and I’m from Germany.
I am volunteering in Cloudbridge for around five weeks because I love nature but my knowledge about it is very little, so I decided to search for an opportunity where I can learn from researchers and at the same time I can enjoy the nice and beautiful environment of tropical cloudforest. Cloudbridge connects both very well.
Also it’s nice to live together with other people who have similar interests in terms of nature conversation.
Cloudbridge is already my third station in Costa Rica to volunteer. Before I worked with the indigenous Bribri in the organization El Puente in Puerto Viejo and in Alajuela in the Fundación Manos Abiertas with handicap people.
Besides nature I’m a passionate football player and I like to do workouts. Also I like to explore the world, I really like remote places with people who know how to live with nature without destroying it and to live a happy life which is not based on consuming.
Back in Europe I will study International Development Management in the Netherlands and after that I want to head back to Costa Rica to search work for an NGO.

name: Anna-Lena Niederauer | birthday: 22 January 1999 | age: 22| nationality: German| I worked as an international sales support before I came to Costa Rica.

Hey everyone! My name is Patrícia, I am 21 and I am Portuguese. For the last 3 years I have been studying Animal Behaviour in England, which has been a crazy ride. For my placement year, I came to Cloudbrige to conduct a research on white-nosed coatis’ habitat preference and it has been an amazing experience. Being able to learn, discover nature and share this with all these people has been a blessing.

Pictures from around the reserve

Suggested Reading

  • Our board member Derick was invited by the National Consortium of Specialized STEM Schools (NCSSS) to write an article for their quarterly news magazine The STEM Edge about the partnership between the Gatton Academy and Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. Check it out on pages 28-33!
  • EU deputy Frans Timmerman warns of the difficult future that awaits our children if we do not take action now, in this poignant article.
  • This is a small article about a very interesting book, The Nation of Plants. The ideas presented are great food for thought!
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