The tree ferns are a taxonomic division of the fern class. They are different from ferns in that they have a type of trunk that holds up the huge fronds, up to 12 meters high. It is not a true trunk but rather rhizomes from which the fronds develop. On Cloudbridge the species probably fall into the family Cyathaceae or Dicksoniaceae. They can be seen colonizing areas on most of the trails here. They lend a very exotic feel with their distinctive and graceful form which can almost make one feel like you are living in the Jurrasic period!
Julia Mutere from Ohio USA and Ellouise Goodger from the United Kingdom are our new interns from the Global Vision International program. Julia has a bachelors degree in biology. She is doing multiple internships to explore possible career paths. She has travelled to many places but Costa Rica remains one of her favorites. Ellouise has just finished a 2 year animal management diploma. She is trying to decide what to do as a career concerning animals and is hoping this internship will provide some answers. The girls have just arrived and already their enthusiasm for learning the bird and animal species in the area has paid off. They have already spotted quetzals, a trogan, many of the smaller song birds, and monkeys on some of their first hikes. Even with the difficulty of the altitude and steep trails they are excited to collect data from the bird point counts and the monitoring of camera traps.
Janine Zibi from Germany is in her third semester of a bachelors degree in ‘Ecosystem Management’ at Georg-August University in Gollingen Germany. This is an internship semester in which she wants to learn more about rainforest flora and fauna and the practice of forest restoration.
Genevieve and Charles back at Cloudbridge
«A Night Hike with John» by Jennifer Giddy
Charles and I flew in for a quick ten day visit to Cloudbridge. It is important to us to maintain our connection with this beautiful cloud forest, see the progress of the reforestation and the research program, and meet the new manager, Dr. John Himes. John is a herpetologist first and foremost, and up here in the mountains of Costa Rica he is delighting in finding snakes, lizards, and frogs, some of which are life-listers for him. Intrigued by his passion for these quiet secretive forest dwellers, Charles and I decided to accompany him on a night hike in search of reptiles. John, now the happy recipient of an extremely bright flashlight, and a super bright head lamp, led the way into the darkness of the jungle. Little peeps and squeaks accompanied our passage, and John replied in kind, sometimes eliciting an echo from one of the small frogs hiding in the leaf litter. With a triumphant «aha!» He scooped up a small brown frog and popped it into a plastic container. Shortly thereafter, it was a female lizard peacefully asleep on a brownish fern frond which excited his attention -» Ah – short legs! Yes, I think this is a species I have never seen before!» – and the little creature suddenly found itself deposited, leaf and all, into his container. There they would remain for 24 yours to be shown to the next day’s hiking contingent.
But it was the three snakes that brought him the most satisfaction -» Excellent! Colombian Earth Snakes!» he cried, and explained how these tiny little snakes dined on large earthworms, almost half their size. But another find that evening brought the most excitement – a large female tarantula, just minding her own business, waiting for unsuspecting prey on the bank, found herself seized and imprisoned. Not for long! A veritable Houdini of a spider, she managed to escape her confines and wriggled her way out of the backpack, right into the center of John’s back where even an ardent arachnologist might feel somewhat discomfited by a large hairy eight-legged presence. To his chagrin she scampered off and vanished into the night.
After the loss of an earlier snake in the grass we now are wary when John comes to visit. Alonso, Cloudbridge’s maintenance man is particularly suspicious at his approach, feeling that snakes should not be worn on the wrist, but kept at a safe distance. However, the tourists, particularly the young boys, are thrilled to be shown snakes when they arrive for a hike, and the new manager’s enthusiasm for reptiles and amphibians is helping to educate a new generation of hikers.