March 2021

We are thankful for the many research interns and volunteers who have joined us over the last couple of months, enabling us to conduct more surveys and other research tasks on the reserve. The camaraderie of our lovely group has been great!

Researchers and volunteers enjoy a night tour.

This month we have acted on the advice of one of our herping interns and dug out a boggy area in the reserve to make a shallow pond, thus providing better habitat for frogs. Many frog species lay eggs in bodies of water of this sort, and we are excited to see how it will be used over the coming months!

UNED student Gabriel Zuñiga shares with some of our interns information about his pollinator research here at the reserve.

We are pleased to be able to continue collaborating with the San Gerardo recycling project!

Another exciting development from this month is that we have now officially applied to the International Dark Sky Association, as we have beautiful dark skies free of light pollution here at the Reserve. Our first related activity will take place this coming Earth Day, April 22nd, with star-gazing and other activitis. This day there will also be a meteor shower.

Volunteers and Interns

It was such a pleasure to have our “INA girls” with us for two weeks this month.
Amongst the many lovely activities our interns can enjoy together, yoga classes with Mayi are a standout!

Hello, I am María, I am 22 years old, I am student of tourism guide in the INA Los Santos, I live in zona de los santos, but I am doing my practicum at Cloudbridge. Cloudbridge has been a great experience for me I have been able to learn so much about birds, trees, camera traps, among other things. A very important value here is companionship since we share with some other boys and girls from other countries…

Hello. I am Karol. I am 20 years old. I am student of tourism guide in the INA los Santos, but I am doing my práctice at Cloudbridge reserve. I live in the zona de los Santos. Cloudbridge is a beautiful place, it is one of my best experiences. I have learned a lot about birds, a camera trap project, something very interesting and about trees, which are my favorite natural resource. You can learn close to other cultures since you share with other girls and boys from different countries and it is something very charming and motivating.

Hello my name is Hellen Romero Calderón. I live in the “zona de los santos”. I am a tourism student and I am 20 years old. But at the moment I am in Cloudbridge where I have learned about new cultures since we share with people from different countries. Where you learn to work as a team at all times. Cloudbridge is a place where you do not stop learning new things where each tour is full of happiness. Cloudbridge is a place full of life, full of color from a small insect to a huge tree without leaving behind the beautiful hummingbirds and the restless monkeys. For me, Cloudbridge is the best experience I have had so far.

Wildlife from around the reserve

This spider monkey is just “hanging around”… It was seen with five other individuals, including a little baby!

Suggested Reading

  • Many of you may have heard about how certain types of agriculture have the capability of sequestering large amounts of carbon in the soil, an interesting movie which talks about this is Kiss the Ground. Gabe Brown, a farmer featured in this movie, recently described his experience testifying before the US congress in this article, and I believe his account can teach us quite a bit.
  • An important aspect of climate change that can potentially wreak havoc is the disruption of existing weather patterns or ocean currents. This article explores the dominant ocean currents of the Atlantic ocean.
  • This article is also quite interesting, focussing on the strategies that the city of Miami is proposing for dealing with rising sea levels.
  • As always we like to end on a positive note. This past month, Deb Haaland, the first Native American secretary of the interior of the USA, was sworn in. In this essay, Navajo journalist Len Necefer touches upon why this is important.

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February 2021

This male Resplendent Quetzal was seen on the Montaña Trail.

Quetzal season is here!  We have been lucky enough to view multiple pairs over the last month, including near the nesting boxes that we have placed around the reserve.  Over the last three years we have placed nesting boxes in strategic locations throughout the reserve, and though pairs have come to inspect them and spend time cleaning them out, we have yet to observe a full nesting in these boxes. 

Our female Quetzal, Margarita, inspects the nest box near Tom and Linda´s home.
Her partner, Chico, also has to check it out,
Here they are together, what a lovely couple! Photo credit: Haydn West.
The Trogon family has not only the Resplendent Quetzal, but also other lovely birds such as this Collared trogon, who can also be seen around the reserve.
Los Crestones, one of the emblems of Chirripó National Park and the Talamanca mountain range.

This month we have begun collaborations with the National Park Service and another researcher to support their camera trap monitoring programs within Chirripó National Park. This exciting development also led to our being able to participate in a bird monitoring activity put together by the National Park Service on February 27th. Our brigade surveyed bird point counts between kilometers 10 and 11 on the main trail up to Chirripó. Because we spent the previous night in the lodge at the base of Los Crestones, we were also able to enjoy a spectacular sunset from a lookout on the way to Sabana de los Leones.

This high-altitude sunset view was captured from the lookout on the way to Sabana de los Leones, Chirripó National Park
The full moon was captivating from the lodge at Los Crestones, though the cold wind did not lend itself to much outdoor nighttime activity.
A Collared Redstart flashes a smile during our bird count activity
In the Páramo the cold-blooded reptiles enjoy basking in the afternoon sun before the frigid nights.

This month the staff and interns were able to enjoy two “tree tours” with Edgar Madrigal, who is very knowledgeable about the local tree species. We have greatly enjoyed learning more about our friends the trees.

Paula did a great job with this group selfie at the base of a spectacular Tirrá tree (Ulmus mexicana) on the Don Victor Trail. Photo credit: Paula Pebsworth.
The beautiful, delicate leaves of the Tirrá, Ulmus mexicana, belie just how large and impressice these amazing trees can become!

Volunteers and interns

Haydn West – former press photographer for the Press Association in the UK and Ireland – cinematographer for the past 7 years with Substantial Films., with 5 low budget feature films. Likes wildlife, conservation, travel, yoga and history.

Matt has come back to cloudbridge for his 6th visit now. Matt loves his birds and herps and as been surveying for such. It is Matt’s goal to add herps to cloudbridge’s species list. High on his list are species that are critically endangered or haven’t been documented in this part of the country yet. As he continues to try to find interesting species for our species list he continues to provide day and night tours including to cloudbridge interns and volunteers. Matt is always taking photos and trying to outdo his best images of essentially all species here.

Hello, my name is Michael and I have come from Tampa, Florida. I possess a master’s in Ecological Restoration and studied at University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation. My interests include wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, and ecology. I came to Cloudbridge to learn and develop skills in field research, analysis, and scientific reporting. In my first month here, I have taken over the camera trap project and am now doing owl surveys. It’s a pleasure to be here, and I look forward to initiating new projects, exploring the cloud forest, and collaborating with other researchers. 

Unfortunately the time always comes at some point for our interns to leave, and we always try to send them off with a potluck dinner and some fun activities. Bella Marshall had been with us for over three months, and when she left we all had some fun with fire poi. Photo credit: Laura Picado

Around the Reserve

This Silver-throated Tanager has been making a nest just outside the Welcome Center. He loves to show off his beautiful colors.
The glass-wing butterfly is always a lovely attraction for visitors of the reserve.
This adorable glass frog was quite cozy inside his leaf.
The bridges at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve are a pleasure to walk on, and the whole Don Victor loop is now accesible and connected with bridges, even one up near the Don Victo waterfall. Come check it out!
The sooty robin was one of the more common and friendly birds during our survey
A beautiful morning rainbow was part of the joy of our early morning bird surveys in Chirripó National Park
The collared redstart, a lovely little fellow

Suggested Reading

  • Those who have contributed least to the climate crisis are already feeling outsized effects of the changes that have been set in motion. This article analyzes how climate disruption can lead to social disruption and conflict, in this case in West Africa.
  • This groundbreaking study from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science has found that deaths and negative health outcomes due to fossil fuel pollution are much higher than previous thought.
  • Many of you may have heard about the flash flood in India earlier this month, caused by a melting glacier impacting a dam. As more glaciers become destabilized due to climate change, this will continue to be an issue.
  • It is important to acknowledge the role that art can play in raising awareness about the climate crisis and the critical states that many of our natural systems are in. This article highlights a beautiful homage to the Murray-Darling river system, which has been severely impacted by climate change and human use.
  • In the same vein of raising awareness through art, we are looking forward to submitting footage and otherwise support the notable effort for this movie about trees
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January 2021

We hope that this New Year of 2021 will bring many blessings, health and happiness to all! On a global scale, we trust that this year we will be able to put the Covid-19 pandemic behind us, in addition to taking aggressive action on the climate crisis.

Mt. Urán is very clearly visible during the dry season.

In this part of Costa Rica, it is now the dry season, or “summer” as we like to call it, and we have been enjoying the ability to hike all day without worrying about the rain showers that can usually be expected in the afternoon during other parts of the year. So this is a lovely time of year to visit the Reserve, for those of you who have the opportunity. We also have availability in our rental cabins, so come and enjoy the cool mountain air!

This squirrel cuckoo (Piaya cayana) was showing off his beautiful plumage and enjoying the sun recently on the reserve.
Photo Credit: Charlotte SMith and Harry Elliott, published in Ornitología Neotropical.

We are very excited to announce that two researchers from early 2019, Charlotte Smith and Harry Elliott have just gotten their paper published! They observed hummingbirds feeding on fruits which is an almost undocumented behaviour for hummingbirds and the first ever documented for these species. They submitted their manuscript back in the summer of 2019 and after a number of hiccups it’s finally been published in Ornitología Neotropical. Here’s the link: https://journals.sfu.ca/ornneo/index.php/ornneo/article/view/591

This month is also a special time because the Resplendent Quetzal is around once more. Though this picture is not the best (it was taken from a cell phone), it was taken right near the entrance to the reserve, when this handsome bird and his mate were present early one recent morning. (photo credit: Paula Pebsworth). Many migratory birds are here at the moment, as well as some beautiful local birds.

The gorgeous Lesson`s Mot Mot (Momotus lessonii) does not seem to be disturbed by human presence, even perching near the classroom area. Photo credit: Jessica Bardey
The “parakeet flower” can be found throughout the reserve at this time of year. Photo credit: Laura Picado

We are constantly improving the facilities of Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, now with the addition of picnic tables and additional benches located at scenic locations throughout the Reserve. Please feel free to come and enjoy a lovely picnic lunch with your family here at Cloudbridge, just remember to take all of your trash, including leftovers! Leaving food waste in the Reserve can be detrimental to wildlife, so it is important that you not leave organic waste to “compost” in the reserve.

Though San Gerardo´s recycling program has been temporarily suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, visitors to Chirripó and other select areas have continued generating recycling, whih still needs to be sorted and compressed. Cloudbridge has a long-standing cooperative relationship with this program, and it was a pleasure to join don Omar Garita in this task recently. Thank you don Omar, and our team, for your efforts!

Staff, Researchers and Volunteers

It is so lovely to have a nice team!

Hello, my name is Paula Pebsworth and I am from San Antonio, Texas. I am honored to be the new Scientific Coordinator here at Cloudbridge. I have a doctorate in Primatology from Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute. My areas of expertise are self-medicative behavior (how animals maintain their health) and human-wildlife conflict resolution. I have come to Cloudbridge to help others with their research and to coordinate projects that will facilitate our understanding of the fauna and flora that make their home at Cloudbridge. My time at the reserve will be spent coordinating the reserve’s scientific activities. I will also be training and supervising researchers and interns. I will also provide logistical support for independent researchers and oversee and coordinate collaborative projects with other organizations. Additionally, I will be conducting my own research. I look forward to providing researchers, interns, and volunteers with wonderful experiences while living in this beautiful cloud forest among like-minded people. I look forward to making new friends, improving my Spanish, learning to identify neotropical plants and animals, and enjoying the night sky here at Cloudbridge.

Hello! My name is Laura Picado Abarca, I am from Costa Rica and I studied Industrial Chemistry. Right now I am a chemistry teacher and I came to Cloudbridge for two weeks to help with the projects they have and also to improve my English.
During this time I participated in the project with camera traps and also collaborated with the owl survey and making a fungi booklet. During the tours I took some photos of the incredible species of animals and plants that can be found. I have had a great experience, I met incredible people and I hope to return at some point

My name is Nina, I am from Stockholm, Sweden, where I live and study a bachelor in biology . I came to cloudbridge for one month to gain some over all field experience in conservation and different survey techniques. I absolutely love it here, being surrounded by stunning nature and enthusiastic people is such an inspiration.

Some images from Cloudbridge

The black guan ( Chamaepetes unicolor ) is one of the larger birds regularly seen at Cloudbridge. This beautiful bird is endemic to Costa Rica.
A male Summer tanager (Piranga rubra) hides behind a branch
This Yellow-olive Flycatcher (Tolmomyias sulpherescens) looks quite handsome in this pic.
This White-lipped Forest Racer (Dendrophidion paucicrinatum) came to pay us a visit.
The glass wing butterfly is one of the interesting attractions here at the Reserve.
This emerald toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) is backlit by the afternoon sun.

Suggested Reading

  • Just in case you did not click on the link to the hummingbird study above, we highly recommend you check it out! It is always exciting when our research interns are able to publish their results : )
  • We have been aware of the severity of the global decline of insect populations for some time, but this article just helps to hammer the point home.
  • When most people think about commodities markets, assets like gold, wheat, or cattle come to mind. But there is a growing list of environmental commodities traded on exchanges too. These commodities include things like carbon offsets and white certificates. You can learn more in this guide.
  • Designing our built environment to promote human health and wellbeing and resilience to climate change is one of the best strategies that we have as society for facing this crisis. The Global Landscape Forum has recently published a series of Policy Recommendations, we invite you to check it out.
  • Many times when large infrastructure projects are developed, little thought is put into what will happen once the infrastructure´s life span has ended. This is how we are now in a situation where over half of the world´s population will soon be living downstream from obsolete dams, a worrisome prospect.
  • The UNEP has warned that most countries are not taking enough action to adapt to climate change, warning that financing climate change adaptation measures should be a global priority. This video reinforces the importance of planning, financing and implementing adaptation measures.
  • In this month, more than 50 countries have pledged to protect biodiversity as part of the High Ambition Coalition for People and Earth.
  • And to end on a positive note, we would like to congratulate the Biden administration for the swift and concrete steps that have been taken to address the climate crisis and promote environmental justice. We are also pleased with the nomination of Representative Deb Haaland as interior secretary of the USA.
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December 2020

Catarata Don Victor, now at the end of the rainly season. Photo Credit: Clara Moreno.

Happy holidays! From all of us here at Cloudbridge, we hope you have been able to enjoy your holiday season in the company of your loved ones. 

Here on the Reserve, we are very thankful for all of the visitors who have been coming to the reserve, and for the company of our “bubble” of staff, interns and volunteers here on the Reserve.  In this way, we were able to enjoy a special Christmas dinner and games.

The December Cloudbridge “bubble” made up of staff, volunteers and researchers enjoyed a lovely Christmas dinner together : )

We are pleased to be making Cloudbridge a more accommodating place for visitors, with the addition of some picnic tables and benches within the reserve, providing a space for families to enjoy time together in nature while visiting the reserve. Come with your loved ones to share some spectacular hiking and a picnic lunch in the cloud forest. We were also able to reconstruct the bridge which connects Cloudbridge North with the rest of the reserve, so it is now possible to visit Catarata Don Victor once again!

Volunteers

Hello, my name is Sebastian Brehm, I’m 18 years old and I come from Schweinfurt, Germany. After I finished high school this summer I wanted to travel Central America and learn about new cultures. I see myself as an adventurous person so volunteering in the Nature Reserve Cloudbridge was the perfect fit for me. During the 4 weeks that I was here I have experienced the unique environment with the mountains, the animals and the rainforest. Therefore if anyone asks me about the must go places in Costa Rica, I would definitely suggest the Nature Reserve Cloudbridge. Pura Vida!

Jessica Bardey´s partner Christian enjoyed this holiday season here at Cloudbridge.

Suggested Reading

  • Many of you may have heard earlier in December how UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has characterized humanity as “waging a suicidal war against nature”. This article gives voice to some of the youth who have been part of the UN´s advisory board on important environmental issues.
  • As has become increasingly apparent, climate change is a major issue of our time. Of all the ramifications linked to this major issue, human migration is one of the consequences that we as society can choose to respond with empathy and compassion, or with callousness and closed arms.
  • An article recently published in Nature magazine has found that human-made materials now significantly outweigh Earth´s entire biomass.
  • Approaching climate change from a geopolitical perspective, it is important to note that some regions may experience benefits from a warming world, while many others will of course suffer devastating negative impacts. This article explores how “Russia could dominate a warming world.”
  • As always, we try to end on a more positive note, because unfortunately much of this suggested reading could be quite upsetting. In this beautiful essay, Terry Tempest Williams explores the idea of Unraveling, and ponders how we can reweave the world anew, “not from the places of fear and doubt, but from the intimate spaces of belonging?”
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November 2020

This Magenta-throated woodstar (Calliphlox bryantae) was enjoying the flowers of the Ian Giddy memorial garden earlier in November. Photo credit: Anthony Vitolo

All in all November has been a good month for Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. Though we got off to a wet start, thanks to Hurricane Eta, we are very thankful to have not suffered any severe effects from this storm. In the United States, November is the month of Thanksgiving. Though this holiday should be examined critically for its misrepresentation of the relationship between colonizers and those who were already living on the American continent, the concept of giving thanks is extremely important and should take place every day of the year. Here at Cloudbridge, we give thanks for the opportunity to steward this land that is home to so much biodiversity; thanks for our health, facilitated by a healthy environment; thanks for the founders of the reserve and all who have supported it for almost two decades. Thank you!

Catarata Pacífica was quite full after Hurricane Eta!

This month started off with Costa Rica suffering the indirect effects of Hurricane Eta, with over 72 hours of non-stop rainfall and some flooding, landslides and other damage.  Here at Cloudbridge we suffered minimal damage, with the river taking out two of our bridges that access Cloudbridge North and some very minor slides.  However, our hearts go out to the relatives of those who lost their lives and the thousands of displaced families in Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.  2020 has been a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season with a total of 30 named storms, and the first year there has ever been two major hurricanes recorded in November.  Central American countries were devastated by Hurricanes Eta and Iota this November, affecting an estimated 5.2 million people in this region.

This image is from a town relatively close to Cloudbridge, where the effects of Hurricane Eta were felt a bit more keenly…

Of course we cannot talk about this hurricane season and the devastation it brought to the Central American region, without mentioning climate change. Warmer ocean temperatures lead to more evaporation, setting the stage for wetter and stronger hurricanes. This year was the fifth consecutive above average Atlantic hurricane season from 2016 onward, and a general trend is that the season has been beginning earlier, and ending later. This month also saw devastation from extreme weather events in other parts of the world, especially from Typhoon Vamco, which caused devastation in the Phillipines and Vietnam.

After the storm, the sun will shine again. Photo credit: Andrey Fotografía Móvil.

For the past 10 years, Cloudbridge has enjoyed a unique and rewarding partnership with the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky. On November 6th, it was announced that this collaboration has received the Innovative Partnership Award from the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS). The NCSSS includes member high schools, many ranked as the best in the country, along with affiliate members (colleges, universities, summer programs, foundations, and corporations), that share the goals of transforming mathematics, science, and technology education. The NCSSS Innovative Partnership Award recognizes inventiveness in partnerships between member schools and partner organizations. To receive the award, the partnership must support and advance goals of both organizations, strengthen STEM in the partners’ communities, and provide a replicable model that can be implemented at other member schools. Over the last 10 years, 224 students have enjoyed a unique and memorable learning opportunity at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.

Photo credit: Andrey Fotografía Móvil
An example of the certificate that your loved ones will receive from your gift.

The holiday season is upon us! As you consider what to give those you care about, please try to support small, local businesses who have been greatly impacted by the global situation of this year. If you would like to give a “gift that matters”, please consider donating to Cloudbridge in the name of your loved ones. This donation is fully tax-deductible in the United States. We also offer the opportunity to give a gift certificate for a tour or a stay in Cloudbridge´s rental cabins, redeemable at any time (dependent upon availability). Write to director@cloudbridge.org to arrange your gift.

Volunteers and Interns

My name is Jessica Bardey and I am studying International Nature Conservation as my Master‘s degree at the Georg-August-University in Göttingen, Germany. As an internship in a nature conservation project is part of my studies, I came here to Cloudbridge and so far it has been amazing. Cloudbridge offers a unique environment to explore and you can learn so much about tropical forest ecosystems here. I am an intern in the camera trap monitoring project and it’s fascinating to see the variety of animals which appear on the photos. In total I will be staying for twelve weeks, and it already feels as if that is too short to see all the amazing things offered by this beautiful spot in nature. Another part of my studies will be a semester abroad in New Zealand, which I am also looking forward to quite a lot. It is so exciting to be able to see the world and learn more about conservation and how it is done in other countries!

¡Hola! My name is Valeria González, I am a student of International Commerce. I envision a more fair, harmonious and solidary commerce, my greatest dream is to help people, small producers and others with what I have learned. Over the years, I have found a great love for Yoga, which has guided me on a path of understanding and love for all of existence, and has allowed me to follow my heart´s path at all times, which is why I am now serving here at Cloudbridge. I love being in direct contact with nature, and to fully appreciate nature. To be able to breathe pure air, smell each flower, feel the water, watch birds fly, see the beauty in each part of Mother Nature is a joy that leads me to understand that we are part of the forces of nature, of each plant, tree, animal, river, the Sun and the Moon, we are part of it all. I fully believe in the philosophy of “Buen Vivir”, of living fully and with complete harmony between the individual and the collective, with balance between humans and nature, for a development with more awareness and well-being. I am grateful to continue weaving my life in this marvelous place, where I will serve each instant with all of my love. Thank you Cloudbridge for allowing me to be here.

“I dreamed that life was joy; I awoke and saw that life was service; I served and saw that service was joy”

Hello, my name is Isabella Marshall, I am from the United Kingdom. I am very excited to start the new position as Base Coordinator here at Cloudbridge. I have a degree in Biology and a Research Masters in Environmental Science and Ecology. I have come to Cloudbridge to experience living amongst the amazing cloudforest, and to learn about the wonderful fauna and flora that live within it. My time at the reserve will be spent supporting the volunteers and interns with their studies, and assisting the staff team with running the reserve. I hope to make many new friends and learn many new skills here at Cloudbridge, Pura Vida!

Born in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica, Mayi is a yoga instructor, holistic therapist and math teacher whose greatest vocation is to be of service. Lover of being surrounded by nature and admiring the sublime existence through it, he enjoys meditating and listening to the sounds of the environment, working with wood in the workshop, hiking through the different trails of the reserve and welcoming all our visitors. His vision is: “may the good practices and thoughts from the light that we evoke enter us and guide us in the right direction”. Feel free to ask him anything during the time you are with us.

Hello, everyone! My name is William, I’m 19 years old and I come from Leipzig, Germany. I would describe myself as an ambitious, sensible person, but also as a team-ready person. I just finished high school and now I want to travel around the world for a year. This trip should start in Costa Rica. I’ve been volunteering in cloudbridge for a month now and I couldn’t have chosen anything better! Because I fell in love with the reserve here in the middle of the rainforest and find it wonderful! So, if you have the chance, make a tour to the cloudbridge nature Reserve, you won’t regret it! See you soon and Pura vida!

Around the Reserve

Once again, our director and her family have participated in a course on identifying fauna of Costa Rica. Here are some of the 7 species of bats that were trapped in the nets! They were promptly released, of course. We are looking forward to having the instructor come up to Cloudbridge soon!

Suggested Reading

  • This month the local news outlet CR Actualidad has published an article about Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. We are very pleased with how it turned out and invite you to please take a look.
  • The economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been devastating for many people around the globe. This article advocates for the stimulus plans to help these economies and people be closely tied to climate change mitigation and reducing carbon emissions. Multisolving is our best bet for dealing with these layered problems.
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer´s acclaimed book Braiding Sweetgrass is a refreshing and poignant take on our relationship to the natural world written by a woman who is both a highly trained scientist and a member of the Potowatomi Nation. This timely story of Skywoman Falling is an excerpt from the introduction of a new edition of Braiding Sweetgrass.
  • We always like to end on a positive note, and truly there is much to offer hope during these trying times. For many countries it is logistically possible, and more inexpensive than previously thought, to acheive zero emissions. However, what is usually lacking is the political will.
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October 2020

Sunlight glints off of wet rock on the peak of Mt. Urán, even at the height of the rainy season, we still enjoy beautiful sunny mornings..

October is one of the rainiest months in this part of Costa Rica, and usually relatively slow in terms of visitors to the reserve.  But for the most part we continue to have beautiful sunny mornings, and visitors still come and enjoy the natural, lush beauty of Cloudbridge.  We are so thankful to be receiving some volunteers and interns once more, and invite you to join us, if you have any interest!

October 12th is generally recognized as an important date, as it commemorates the “discovery” of America. In Costa Rica, October 12th is a date in which Cultural Diversity is celebrated, with special honor for the cultures that were already here when the Europeans arrived, bringing with them diseases for which Native Americans had no immunity. The above mural was painted by Sebastián Berrios, a Chilean artist based here in Rivas at the Montaña Verde Environmental Association. Cloudbridge is happy to have some of Sebastian´s products for sale in our welcome center!

The director of Cloudbridge loves the feeling of being embraced by trees and nature. She is passionate about sparking dialog and action around the important subject of climate change.

As we mentioned in last month´s blog, our director participated with a climate change presentation in the 24 hours of reality event on the 10th and 11th of October. By all accounts, this event was quite the success, with 2370 presentations recorded in 91 countries around the world. Climate change is one of the most important topics of our time, and the importance of communication and education about this subject cannot be overestimated. We have been very pleased with the feedback from this presentation, which was in Spanish. For this reason, on November 15th we will be giving another climate change presentation on Facebook live, this time in English. We hope you will join us!

For all of the birders out there, we are sure that October 17th was a big day for you, October Big Day organized by Ebird to be precise. One 4 person group that spent the day at Cloudbridge shared their list with us: they saw 106 species of birds just in that one day, in addition to other animals.

Volunteers at Cloudbridge

Though the last few months have been quiet, in October we were pleased to receive our first two post-pandemic volunteers. Please reach out to us if you would like to come and do research internship or volunteer with us. We are accepting applications!

Hola, mi nombre es Santiago Sánchez Zúñiga, soy estudiante del C.T.P.A.I.R.A y estoy en la especialidad de turismo Ecológico
Estoy realizando práctica profesional aquí en la Reserva Natural Cloudbridge, un lugar que ofrece experiencias especiales gracias a la gran biodiversidad que posee. Hello, my name is Santiago Sánchez Zúñiga, I am a student of the Isaías Retana Environmental High School in the specialty of Ecological Tourism. I am performing my professional practicum here at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, a place that offers special experiences thanks to its great biodiversity.

Hola yo soy Jefferson Eduardo Ceciliano Hidalgo, estudiante del colegio técnico profesional ambientalista isaías retana Arias de la especialidad de turismo ecológico, y estoy realizando la práctica en la reserva Cloudbridge, el cual es un lugar hermoso y con una gran biodiversidad y también que se encuentran personas muy amigables y “pura vida” . Elegí este lugar para realizar mi práctica ya que amo la naturaleza y también con muchas ganas de protegerla, también gracias a todas las personas que trabajan en este lugar que me llenan de conocimiento. Hello I am Jefferson Eduardo Ceciliano Hidalgo, student of the Isaías Retana Environmental High School in the specialty of Ecological Tourism, and I am performing my practicum at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, which is a beautiful place with great biodiversity and where you can find very friendly and “pura vida” people. I chose this place because I love nature and wish to protect it. Thank you to all of the people who work here and help me to learn.

Suggested Reading

  • Waorani activist and leader Nemonte Nenquimo has a message to the western world that has never been so timely: “the Earth does not expect you to save her, she expects you to respect her.”
  • In the month in which Columbus “discovered” America, it is worth revisiting this interesting article about what how life on the American continent may have been before 1492
  • The SwissRe insurance group has released a disturbing report on the proximity of ecosystem collapse in many countries around the world.
  • Complex systems such as the Earth´s climate have feedback loops and tipping points that we are fast approaching, with potentially catastrophic results. This is part of why news regarding methane emissions in the arctic, and the rise of deepwater ocean temperatures contribute to the sense of urgency for climate action now.
  • This lovely article about fungi and their incredible importance is worth a look.
  • And as we always like to end on a positive note, this video about regenerative farming is incredibly inspiring, and a good indicator of what is possible even under extreme conditions, with a simple change of attitude.
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September 2020

Children gain great benefit from nature, as do we all… Here children enjoy Ian Giddy´s memorial garden at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.

September is Costa Rica´s patriotic month, when the country celebrates it´s Independence from Spanish colonization on the 15th of September of 1821.  This date is usually celebrated with parades and civic activities, but this year most of these celebrations were held virtually.  These truly are strange times we are living in, so much has moved online, even all schooling, here in Costa Rica, until the end of this school year (in November).  Another special holiday celebrated in Costa Rica this month was Children´s Day, on  September 9th.  This holiday was officially created in Costa Rica in 1946, to highlight the importance of children´s rights, and celebrate the citizens and leaders of tomorrow.

Edgar is happy to receive visitors to the Reserve at the Welcome Center.

This month we have finally been able to officially reopen Cloudbridge Nature Reserve to the general public, after three months of closure due to the pandemic. It is such a pleasure to welcome visitors to the Reserve once more, and hear of their marvelous experience on the way out! We have also expanded our souvenir stand a bit, now offering beautiful artwork by local artists, some Cloudbridge stickers and locally produced probiotic beverages, in addition to the T-shirts, key chains and coasters that we have been offering for some time now. The revamped welcome center is very welcoming to visitors, in addition to having new signage regarding proper handwashing, social bubbles and preventative measures against Covid-19.

The meditation labyrinth is one of several attractions for visitors to the reserve.
Catarata Pacífica is one of the closest and most accessible waterfalls for visitors
Cloudbridge waterfall can be seen in the distance at one of our beautiful lookouts, or from a shorter distance from the lookout on the River Trail.
Caldera waterfall is two waterfalls in one, with a round, inaccesible pool in the middle

Visitors to Cloudbridge can once again visit the memorial garden, the labyrinth, several waterfalls, and kilometres of trails through gorgeous cloudforest. The opportunity to see wildlife is always present, but even if visitors aren´t lucky enough to see a troop of white-faced monkeys or a couple of coatis, they still gain great benefit from immersion in a natural environment, breathing the fresh air and getting a bit of excercise! We are also open to receive researchers and volunteers, we are very grateful to the few people who are scheduling their internships with us soon, after the pandemic has disrupted so many plans and lives.

A recent guest at Cloudbridge enjoys the tranquility of Casita Colibrí.
Photo credit: Nelson Cordero Quirós

Our three guest cabins are a perfect space to retreat into the forest with your loved ones and get away from it all. We are very grateful to all of the visitors who have taken the time to give us a good review at Tripadvisor after your time with us, this has led to us recently receiving a Traveller´s Choice Award, placing us in the top 10% worldwide…Thank you!

Enjoy a morning coffee with these views at Casita Blanca.
Photo credit: Nelson Cordero Quirós

We are only a little over a week away from the 24 hours of Reality: Countdown to the future. The Climate Reality Project and TED are partnering for two days of presentations and discussions exploring the future we want and how we get there. It kicks off at 11am ET on October 10 with TED’s Countdown, a five-hour program of livestreamed TED talks and discussions with world-changing innovators and thought leaders confronting the climate crisis head-on and showing the way to a just, zero-carbon future. Then at 4pm ET, the activity continues with 24 full hours of digital presentations and discussions of how the climate crisis, COVID-19, and racial injustice shape our planet and this incredible moment. All led by former Vice President Al Gore and Climate Reality Leaders and happening all around the world. Cloudbridge director Casey McConnell will be participating with a climate change talk in Spanish on October 11th, at 1 pm Costa Rican time on FB live. We hope that you can join in!

On a lighter note, we have a magnificent puma that has been hanging around the reserve, it seems like every time we check the camera traps we get another glimpse of him (and we are always delighted!). We have posed the question on social media, and we would like to pose it here: What name do you suggest for him/her? Please let us know either through Facebook, Instagram, or sending us an e-mail to director@cloudbridge.org. We are looking forward to selecting a name with your help!

The puma isn´t the only amazing feline we´ve had the opportunity to see in the camera trap images this month. This ocelot put in an appearance as well!

The diversity of tropical forests never ceases to astonish and inspire, from the fungi, lichens and plants to the charismatic fauna and towering trees. In September, a local environmental group, the Fundación Sembrando Agua held a small workshop on flora and fauna inventories. The director of Cloudbridge was able to participate, along with her husband, and it was a lovely experience.

Suggested Reading

  • September has seen California and other Western States suffer unprecedented devastation from wildfires (or should we call them climate fires?), and the fire season is far from over. Portland-based writer Erica Berry explores how overlapping crisis can take a psychological toll in this opinion piece. Here is an article about “The science connecting wildfires to climate change“, though land management decisions such as fire suppression (disregarding and forbidding traditional indigenous practices) have also played a role.
  • David Attenborough is well known and loved to naturalists around the world. His newest production Extinction: The Facts is refreshingly honest and real about these facts, depressing as they may be. The Global Biodiversity Outlook report that was published mid-September confirms that our ecosystems are suffering, though progress has been made in some areas, we have basically failed to meet the Biodiversity Targets laid out in Aichi almost ten years ago.
  • Here is an interesting article about tipping points, an important concept to try and understand regarding climate change. And David Kabua, President of the Marshall Islands, speaks eloquently to the existential threat that his country is facing.
  • I understand that these articles may be causing some distress, so here are two soothing and hopeful pieces: listen to astronaut Leland Melvin read Pablo Neruda, and explore how our language shapes our relationship with nature with Robin Wall Kimmerer.
  • And finally, many of you have heard of the “Green New Deal”, in this blog we have mentioned Naomi Klein´s book on the subject. Now an intellectual heavyweight, Noam Chomsky, has joined forces with economist Robert Pollins to produce the book Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal. In this interview, they speak about this fascinating topic.

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August 2020

This handsome mottled owl was hanging out with us the other day as we were hiking through the reserve to change the camera traps. Quite inquisitive!

August has been another quiet month here at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. The classroom and dorms for the researchers have never since they were built, been so quiet and lonely for such a long period of time.  We are hopeful that now that Costa Rica has opened its borders to certain countries and US states, more researchers and volunteers will come to spend time at the reserve.  Students who are choosing to take a gap year before continuing with University are also invited to continue learning and accruing relevant experience with us at Cloudbridge during this time.  For more information about our internship and volunteer programs, please visit our website.

Volunteers and interns have the opportunity to assist with ongoing projects in the reserve, or conduct their own research, assisted by our scientific coordinator. Here, our director Casey poses with a tree on her way to changing a camera trap.

We are very thankful for all who have supported our crowdfunding campaign! This has been a lifeline for us during these trying times. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to please contribute and help us meet our operating costs during this period that we cannot depend on our usual sources of income. You can also donate on our website or contact us. Thank you once more for your support!!

This glasswing butterfly is one of many, many animals who will benefit from your generous donation!
A piglet frog (Craugastor podiciferus), blending into the leaf litter of the forest floor.

Though we have not had volunteers and interns over the last couple of months, we have been improving and building upon the infrastructure that they will be using! We are looking forward to welcoming back researchers as soon as possible, and are well-equipped to provide a safe, welcoming space!

The beauty of the cloudforest never fails to impress. Since it is difficult to photograph the magnificence of these gorgeous trees, sometimes it is useful to focus on the details…

One of the perks of reaching out to people with our fundraising campaign, has been hearing back from people who spent time at Cloudbridge years ago. We are grateful to Joel Firebrace, who had this to say: ” Send my regards to the compost bin. I helped bring him into the world. Don’t forget to feed him regularly. He likes eating banana peel, egg shells, and orange skins. He’s vegetarian, so don’t give him any meat since it attracts coatis who like to clamber into his tummy and have a good rummage around inside. That said, he does like a good belly scratch from the inside using a pitchfork – it helps him digest. Oh and make sure his tummy worms are happy.” Yes, Joel, we have been taking good care of the compost bins, thank you for your efforts!

Community Carbon Trees has a long history of supporting rural communities in their reforestation efforts, with an innovative model that supports people as well as the environment. They were involved in reforestation efforts at Cloudbridge many years ago, and continue to support us, most recently with a generous donation of trees. We are very grateful, and have already put them into the ground, taking advantage that we still have some months of rainy season left!

We hope that you are coming to expect a special fungi section in each of our monthly blogs, because we are always blessed with a diverse abundance of these important organisms that fulfill important roles in the ecosystem of the cloudforest. The interconnected mycelium of fungi provide an interconnected network, sometimes called the wood-wide web… We are very excited to announce that along with the local interns Leonardo and Daniel Valverde, we are hoping to put together a field guide to the mushrooms of Cloudbridge soon. Until then, you will just need to be patient with the lack of names!

Suggested Reading

  • Though this article by Bill McKibben is written with a focus of perspective from the United States, it is a very interesting article on the urgency of political action regarding climate change.
  • Given the state of climate emergency and the many people whose lives have been affected, sometimes to the point of migration, this exploration of the term climate refugee seems quite relevant.
  • As has become increasingly apparent, Australia is at the frontlines of the climate crisis. Australian youth are demanding an education that will equip them with the tools to face the new reality they will face as the leaders of tomorrow. Read more here.
  • On a brighter note, did you know that bees can manage their sources of pollen? In this study, researchers observed bees biting plants, prompting them to flower 7 days earlier.
  • This lovely interview with author Richard Powers touches on many of the topics he explored in his lovely book The Overstory.
  • Just in case you missed it, please be sure to check out this lovely video of Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. Feel free to comment or like!

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July 2020

Edgar Madrigal has been working for Cloudbridge for over five years. We are very grateful to him for his consistently friendly and agreeable demeanor in addition to his amazing work. Thank you, Edgar!

July has been a busy month here at Cloudbridge. Though we are still officially closed, and don´t have any researchers or volunteers at the moment, we have kept our camera trap program going and made some improvements around base, including a new social area (for once the researchers return!). We have also launched a crowdfunding campaign to help us through this difficult time, and perhaps most excitingly, some of our staff have participated in the climate reality leadership training led by Al Gore!!

Many of you may have heard of former US Vicepresident Al Gore´s Climate Reality Project. Our previous director Tom Gode and his partner (and Cloudbridge´s artist in residence) Linda Moskalyk have been climate reality leaders for a number of years now. This month they were both able to participate as mentors in the first-ever virtual Climate Reality Leadership Corps: Global Training 2020. Along with 10,000 other participants, the co-founder of Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, Jenny Giddy, and the reserve´s current director, Casey Ella McConnell were able to participate as trainees. It was a very rewarding experience!

Ian and Genevieve Giddy fell in love with the rainforest of the Talamanca mountains and decided to protect what they could, founding Cloudbridge Nature Reserve in 2002

On June 23rd, 1988, climate scientist James Hansen testified to the U.S. senate about the effects of greenhouse gas emissions: “the greenhouse effect has been detected and is changing our climate now.” 22 years later, these changes to our climate have become all too visible: Wildfires, “rain bombs“, heat waves and drought have caused tremendous upheaval and human suffering, in addition to an economic impact of over $120 billion US dollars in 2019 alone. But the problems are beyond economic: how could we put a price on the anxiety that young people around the world are experiencing, the cultural loss of island nations who have been forced to relocate, or the food insecurity experienced by already vulnerable populations whose crops are being ravaged by locusts?

In 2019, teenager Greta Thunberg made an impassioned speech to the World Economic Forum highlighting the urgency of the climate crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that the world is capable of reacting decisively and drastically to a perceived crisis, but it remains to be seen if we will collectively respond in this way to the enormous threat posed by the climate crisis. This is part of why it was so heartening for us to participate in the Climate Reality Training and come in contact with so many people who also feel passionate about the subject. As Mr. Gore has stated, the economic and environmental advantages of renewable energy sources are on our side, and we must continue to have hope, and push for environmental justice, honor indigenous knowledge and work together to make our world a better place. I invite anybody who is interested, to sign up and join the next virtual Global Training which will take place in August.

Nutrient cycling, production of water and oxygen and microclimate regulation are some of the ecosystem services provided by a healthy cloudforest.

The climate crisis is not the only current threat to biodiversity: the pressure posed by human development on natural ecosystems around the world can have severe and direct consequences on our own health and well-being. The ecosystem services provided by healthy ecosystems are literally the basis of our own health and well-being, and by threatening the world´s biodiversity we are also threatening the survival of the human species.

This is why organizations such as Cloudbridge Nature Reserve are playing such an important role in assuring that future generations will be able to enjoy the same privileges that we have taken for granted. As with most businesses and organizations, Cloudbridge has suffered great financial losses due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is why we have set up a crowdfunding campaign, which we encourage you to share widely, and if possible, please make a donation (for Spanish, look here). We are very grateful to all who have already contributed, thank you for your support!

In addition to providing essential ecosystem services, the biodiverse cloudforest is a source of wonder and awe, contributing also to our emotional and mental health. Here, our scientific coordinator Clara Moreno enjoys a moment in the forest.
The Cloudforest is known for the wonderful mist which envelopes its visitors, allowing you the experience of literally being in the clouds!
Tree ferns are vascular plants which do not produce flowers or seeds, making them one of the most ancient plant forms. They reproduce via spores, which are located on the bottom of the leaves.
These white-faced capuchin monkeys are cuddling on a branch in the reserve. When you donate to Cloudbridge, you are helping to protect these and many other species of the cloudforest.

We are very pleased to be able to offer our sincere CONGRATULATIONS to Brittany Beagle & Marian Barz for their recent marriage.  Brittany and Marian are currently both working in the Netherlands for companies that do mapping and have recently purchased their first home.  They both did internships at Cloudbridge in 2016, which is where they met : )

Love is in the air…Congratulations to the newly-weds!

Suggested Viewing / Reading

  • We are very grateful to Amiram Roth and his family, who have generously put together this wonderful video about Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.
  • A recent study found great promise for mitigating climate change through an innovative, low-cost carbon-capture strategy.
  • We have barely mentioned the pandemic in this blog post, and now that we will, it´s positive news! Costa Rica´s Clodomiro Picado Institute has developed a serum to help Covid-19 patients, which testing in the US has confirmed to be effective.
  • We would like to give a shout-out to the excellent work being done by Jenny Smith and Community Carbon Trees for ethical reforestation here in our area.
  • And last but not least, this blog post from 2007 shows how our interns have been enjoying Cloudbridge for well over a decade! Thank you Ryan, for giving us permission to share.
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June 2020

Intergenerational planting is the latest trend! Here Marshall Culbreth and his granddaughter Amada Luz plant a tree together.

Though June has been another difficult month for many people around the world who have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, here at Cloudbridge we have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by nature and have the opportunity to practice some reforestation! Keeping to our own social bubbles, we have been able to plant about 100 trees this month, and have lots of fun while we´re at it. We are very grateful to the supporters at HELPCA who have donated to the reserve to support our reforestation efforts! Thank you.

Trees of the cloudforest provide valuable ecosystem services

Here in Costa Rica, June 15th is National Tree Day, which of course here at Cloudbridge we are happy to observe with a hike among the forest and hugging trees. Seriously. The creation of this holiday in 1915 by President Alfredo González Flores makes it one of the first pieces of environmental legislation in the country. As we all know, trees provide us with oxygen, shade, habitat for wildlife, soil and water protection and much more. As many of us know from experience, trees also provide us with an intangible sense of calm and well-being, as anyone who has tried “forest-bathing” can attest.

We love trees!!
The path ahead may be winding and hard, but we will get through this difficult time!

The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to wreak havoc upon the citizens of many countries.  While Costa Rica has been handling this crisis relatively well, the social and economic cost has been quite high.  Though we consider the risk of contagion in a nature reserve to be quite low, we have been informed that we are not yet permitted to open the reserve to the general public.  In addition, Costa Rica´s border restrictions have now been extended until at least August 1st, at which point restrictions may remain in place for visitors from certain countries.  All of this is necessary and good for protecting the health of Costa Rican citizens and not overwhelming our health care system, but unfortunately the economic impact is being felt around the country, including at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.  For this reason, please consider making a donation to Cloudbridge if you are able, to help us continue operating throughout this difficult time.

This male white-throated mountain gem is one of many, many animals that you could help protect with a donation
The morning light shines on the haze created from dust from the Sahara Desert over the Talamanca Mountains. Photo credit: José Fernández

The Sahara Desert is located halfway around the world from Costa Rica, but even so, we have lately been affected by giant dust clouds that have travelled over 7000 kms to create haze and possibly even drive away the rain. This is a perfect example of how interconnected our planet is, and why the tropical cloudforest is of benefit not only for Costa Rica, but for the whole planet!

Greg, Clara and Casey, part of the staff team at Cloudbridge right now, on our way to plant some trees! (not pictured are Edgar and Oscar, who are also essential staff).

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our researchers and volunteers who were scheduled to arrive over the last few months have not been able to do so, and it may be a couple more months until we are able to receive interns once more. Of course, we will have safety protocols in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19, but we are looking forward to receiving interns once more. In the meantime, we have had to take on the basic research tasks that are usually performed by interns, such as moving the camera traps. For this reason, we are pleased to have two volunteers currently with us, who have been a great help!

Greg, Junior and Ismael cooperate on rebuilding one of our bamboo bridges.
Ismael Moore and Roberto Culbreth plant a tree together.
Junior Brathwaite has a bird in his sights.
The deck of Gavilán cabin is bathed by the morning light.

We know that many of you are stuck at home and dreaming about where you will go once we are able to travel once more. We would just like to whet your appetite with these pictures of our remote Gavilán cabin, located within the reserve, surrounded by forest and spectacular views

Gavilán cabin has an equipped kitchen and sleeps 4 people comfortably.

Pictures from around the reserve

The morning light illuminates this beautiful Sphaeropteris brunei. The tree fern is a unique plant that is much the same as it was in the time of the dinosaurs!
The luxuriant foliage of philodendron plants is emblematic of the tropical rainforest. Here, a Monstera deliciosa catches the morning light.
This non-poisonous dark wood snake, Ninia psephota, is a very handsome little fellow!
The striped glass-tail, Urotheca guentheri, is another non-poisonous snake who is part of the wonderfully diverse ecosystem of Cloudbridge
The sun peaks out from behind a stand of trees.
Elves in the forest, with the morning light behind them. Companionship and nature will ease our souls!
Of course we can´t put up a whole monthly blog post without a single picture of the spectacular fungi of the reserve. : )

Suggested Reading

  • A “natural laboratory” with unique conditions of elevated carbon dioxide created by volcanic activity provides an important research opportunity at the Rincón de la Vieja in Northern Costa Rica. Read about it here.
  • As you may have heard, Costa Rica has ambitions to become one of the first carbon neutral countries in the world. This article explores some of the strengths and challenges of our small Central American country.
  • In previous blog posts we have linked to articles about the devastating locust swarms that are putting millions of people at risk of hunger in certain parts of the world. It is easy to forget about this topic, with all of the other turmoil going on, but unfortunately the problem has not gone away.
  • Though he has long passed away, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda captured the current global sentiment quite well in the beautiful poem “Keeping Quiet”. This video of the poem was shared with us, and we also found it worth sharing.

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