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.

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