April 2018

For 2018 the focus on Earth Day is to help end plastic pollution.  For now we at Cloudbridge are helping to recycle in our community by sorting and bagging items to be sent away for processing.  The problem that remains is that the world can’t keep up with recycling plastics and fewer places are accepting it. At the reserve one of our rules is to only bring reusable bags to the store to buy our groceries.  The other option is to use a cardboard box.
Some ways we can all help with the problem of plastic is:
– Consume less (Do we really need all of the STUFF we buy).
– Always take reusable shopping bags to the stores.
-When possible buy from bulk bins and stores where you are allowed to bring your own containers to use when purchasing bulk food.
-buy local.
-There is no shame in washing plastic bags such as zip locks and using them over and over again. Reusable bags made from washable materials are even better.
-In restaurants, tell them you don’t want a straw in your drink.
-Try to remember to always bring your own refillable water bottle where ever you go.
-Buy items in glass jars that can later be used for storing items and canning preserves. In general, be aware of the packaging when purchasing items.  Try talking to the store owners about your concern for packaging. (Seems drastic but why not try by speaking up!)
-Take part in organized community clean up days where plastic and other garbage is collected along river banks, highways, and along beaches.  This helps to protect wildlife and our water systems.
-Support political action in your community to eliminate single use plastics.
Shirley and Bernan from Secret Gardens
One exciting thing that happened this month took place at a local establishment where we go for brunch on Sunday mornings.  Jardines Secretos (Secret Gardens) was using plastic to wrap their utensils in when serving customers.  This seems to be a regulation for restaurants in Costa Rica.  The knives and forks are always put on the table in a plastic sleeve for health reasons. After breakfast one Sunday we asked them about this and Bernan the owner agreed that is is a bad practice but that it is a regulation.  The next Sunday when we arrived for brunch they set the table with the utensils all nestled in newly sewn cloth sleeves made by Bernan’s wife Shirley.  This kind of packaging can be used over and over again as they are washable.  What a nice surprise!  The family who own Jardines Secretos took it upon themselves to make this little change and we are so proud of them.  Pura Vida.
Trees filter the air and help reverse the impacts of climate change. In just one year, a mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen as 10 people inhale!
Chiel from the Netherlands is planting trees in Costa Rica
One of our little saplings starting life on one of the Cloudbridge slopes.
Linda Has been planting trees at Cloudbridge for 8 years.





 Research and volunteers:
Eloise Roy finished her research at Cloudbridge and presented an owl report.  Her data was collected at night through the surveys  on 5 trails in the forest.  There are 7 known species that have been seen on the reserve, with 5 of these seen or heard in Eloise’s time here doing the surveys.
 In the 335 surveys done, 117 owls were heard and the old growth forest seemed to have the most. Her research did not find any significant difference in regards to illumination, moon phases and month of the year.  She did conclude that the Mottled owl was the most abundant specie in Cloudbridge.
Eloise was grateful for all of the help she had and the enthusiasm for volunteers going out with her on those long dark nights to do the surveys.
 Toby Elliot has been at Cloudbridge since the beginning of 2018.  He completed a butterfly survey with the aims of monitoring the diversity, abundance and species composition across the  different successional habitats in Cloudbridge.  He used a combination of bait trapping and sweep netting.
More butterflies in the understory traps and less in the higher canopy traps. However, some species such as Fountainea glycerium were found only in the higher canopy traps.
 Species richness and abundance was slightly higher in the natural regeneration forest under 30 years, as compared to the planted areas and the old growth.  But it wasn’t a significant difference.
Sweep netting caught a far more diverse range of butterflies than the traps, as traps only catch butterflies that feed on bananas.
His presentation covered information on the characteristics of the Lepidoptera family, his methods of bait trapping and sweep netting, and identification of butterflies.
Toby was able to catch 8 species which are new to our Cloudbridge list.  6 by sweep netting and 2 in the traps.
Our bird monitoring program has seen a lot of enthusiastic and dedicated researchers this year.  Jeff Roth says that while he was in University a very enthusiastic professor got him hooked on birds.

 The aim of his study was to

  • Build and maintain a bird species list for Cloudbridge
  • Assess differences in species composition and abundance between different successional habitat types, and monitor how that changes as the forest continues to regenerate. The forest types that he monitored the birds in included:
  • Planted
  • Natural Regeneration over 30 years
  • Natural Regeneration under 30 years
  • Old Growth

He used walking surveys and point counts to record the data.

 Jeff was very busy.  He also wanted to continue a mixed flock study that had been started earlier by another researcher. This meant that he had to do that research every day as well and he spent countless hours out on the trails keeping up with both studies.
Maddy Skinner

‘Hey there! My name’s Maddy. I graduated last August from the University of Queensland, Australia, with a BSc in Ecology. During university, I worked in planting and weed management in National Parks, but since graduation I’ve been wandering the world. I spent two months living on a reserve in Aotearoa/New Zealand, volunteering with a captive breeding program for some of their endangered birds. I’m thrilled to have landed at Cloudbridge and to start getting my hands dirty – literally – with some research! I’ll be a field intern for my stay at Cloudbridge, taking over the owl surveys and quetzal nest box monitoring, as well as helping out with data collection on forest assessment and other projects.’

Maddy in the cloud forest

Izzy Gavel

‘My name is Izzy and I’m from Sydney, Australia. I first came to Costa Rica in January 2017 where I fell in love with the country and have since been eager to return. I’ve always had a passion for conservation and restoration, something that I think can be attributed to growing up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches where native bushland is constantly under threat from urban development. I recently graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Biology, however I will be heading back to Uni in July to complete an Honours year of study. I decided that in the meantime, a Cloudbridge internship would provide me with the opportunity to gain some extra field experience and enjoy the diverse wildlife that Costa Rica has to offer. During my ten weeks here at Cloudbridge, I will be researching into cardboard mulch and whether  soil invertebrate assemblages differ between tree saplings that use cardboard as mulch and those that don’t 🙂 




Nina Champion

‘ I’m from London, England.  After years of wanting to change my career I finally took the leap and found myself here in Costa Rica on a 6 month internship.  After 3 months in Tortuguero National park I am now settling into my 3 month work placement at Cloudbridge.  While I am here I will be looking after the ongoing Butterfly project.  This involves setting up Banana bait traps and sweep netting on different trails each week to monitor the abundance of different species between the different habitat types.  I hope the experience and knowledge I gain here will help me further my career in conservation.’



Victor Robinson – South Africa/Belgium
‘I’m Victor, just started volunteering at Cloudbridge and I’m passionate about conservation. I’ve been travelling for 6 months, I love everything concerning animal rehab and I’m intending to start a leopard sanctuary on the long term in South Africa !
I’m also very fond of permaculture, eco-tourism and eating consciously and in my opinion it’s in second world countries (like Costa Rica) that are the best opportunities to study and learn about these subjects.’
Victor  (before Cloudbridge)



Anna Bowland

‘I’m 19 years old, from the UK. I have always loved nature and wildlife so in September I am going to study Conservation biology and ecology, in hopes of becoming a wildlife conservationist in the future. I came to Cloudbridge to gain a greater insight into conservational fieldwork and techniques. While here I am taking part in Cloudbridge’s long-term bird monitoring project, which looks at the species diversity within the park. Although I have only been here for a few weeks, I have already learnt so much and loved every minute of it, here’s to the next 2 months!’

Nicola and Dan Woodward   – UK

‘I’m Nicola and I’ve come to Cloudbridge as a volunteer to help with the reforestation projects and other work they do here. I’ve been a geography teacher for the last 12 years and I’m now taking a career break to travel and volunteer in environmental conservation.’

‘I’m Dan and having a crisis. I have been trapped in an office for far too long and fuelled by my sedentary sentence I have come to frantically reforest the rainforest like a reversing Pac-Man.’
(We are not sure about Dan frantically reforesting – he is terrified of things here, like spiders.  We will see how far he will venture out in the forest.)
Dan in the foreground working with Victor


Nicola, probably supervising.







Camera trap photo of the possibly culprit that is killing livestock in the Herradura area.  


We participated in a meeting in the neighboring community Herredura with the Feline Conflict Attention Unit (UAC/fel), ranchers who have suffered depredations and other community members.  The Unit offered various proposals, such as collars for the cattle with bells and intermittent lights, pasture rotation, etc.  Together with the organization Panthera, the National Park System and other organizations, there are funds available to implement these solutions.  If you wish to donate to this initiative, please do so at
Cloudbridge or select hotels in the area.


Liesure Time:

New butterfly species



Near our Sunday Brunch spot is also a warm springs along the river.




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