November 2021

The Blue-diademed motmot (Momotus lessonii) is beautiful and fairly common. Photo credit: Casey McConnell

The rainy season is coming to an end, and the Holidays are near.  November has been a great month at the Reserve, with a lovely team of Volunteers and Researchers.  One of the exciting activities that we are engaging in before the end of 2021 is a Fundraiser Campaign, to help Cloudbridge build a Research Lab.  Please visit the website and support our efforts!

In this aerial photo of our infrastructure at the entrance of Cloudbridge, we can see where the research lab will be located (upper right hand corner, in red). Photo credit: Brunca360.
Oscar Valverde poses with some of our German volunteers after a good morning’s work. Photo credit: Friedrich Frank.
Here, Oscar gives ventilations to a mannequin while Rio pumps the chest, in a CPR simulation. Photo credit: Francisco Calvo.

Most of our staff members at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve were able to participate in a Cardio-Pulmonary Reanimation course this month, as part of our ongoing safety and risk mitigation plans for the reserve.

Mayi and Valeria work as a team to keep blood circulating and hopefully allow the person to breathe again. Photo credit: Francisco Calvo.

We are happy to have Tom Gode back on the reserve. He has been spearheading some bromeliad-rescuing efforts and other fun projects around the reserve.

Annika shows of some of the bromeliads she has “rescued” and will be placing in a secure location to continue growing. Photo credit: Evie Dukes.
Program participants enjoy the beauty of the cloud forest. Photo credit: Anika
This picture shows the junction where the Urán River joins the Chirripó Pacífico River. Photo credit: Ariel Valverde

Birds at Cloudbridge

With the change of season in the Northern hemisphere, we are starting to see many migratory species who overwinter in Central America. This month has been phenomenal for birdwatching at Cloudbridge. Here is a small selection:

The magenta-throated woodstar (Philodice bryantae) is a magnificently-colored, beautiful hummingbird. Photo credit: Rio Dante Barrantes.
It is a treat to see this juvenile Ornate Hawk Eagle. Photo credit: Friedrich Frank.
Though foliage blocks a complete view of this Trogon, we can still appreciate it’s beautiful bright-red plumage. Photo credit: Casey McConnell
The Emerald Toucanet. Photo credit: Casey McConnell

A night tour

Photo credit: Anthony Garita

Exploring the reserve at night is a wonderful opportunity to see another side of the Cloud Forest. Certain animals are much easier to see at night than during the day, especially amphibians.

The emerald glass frog sometimes has dark spots, depending on the individual. Photo credit: Anthony Garita
Botriechis Lateralis, the side-striped palm pit-viper, can be seen occassionally at night. Photo credit: Maddy Peterson
Photo credit: Anthony Garita
Photo credit: Anthony Garita

Pics from around the reserve

Our bamboo bridge crosses the Chirripó River at the site where the covered bridge used to be. Photo credit: Casey McConnell
These last two images of a sloth were taken at Finca SDR in Rivas, not at the reserve. But we thought we’d share them anyway because they are such awesome animals!
The beauty of joining a covid “bubble”, as specified in our Covid-19 safety policies, is that participants are able to share meals and spend time together.
Here two of our program participants say goodbye. This sort of camaraderie and long-lasting friendships are the result of living a wonderful adventure together : ) Photo credit: Maddy Peterson.

Suggested Reading

  • Earlier this month, leaders from countries around the world met in Glasgow for a conference of the parties on the important topic of climate change. Here is an abbreviated recap of the this major event.
  • As shown in this conference, reaching consensus is rarely easy among multiple stakeholders, especially given the complexity of climate / environmental issues. An example of conflicting perspectives and struggling to find the way forward is described in this story about conflicting opinions regarding how best to protect vulnerable forests in California.
  • Fiona Watson, advocacy director of Survival International, has been defending indigenous peoples’ lives and land for over 35 years. In this interview, she explains why the climate crisis is also a crisis of human diversity.
  • And to close this blog, I would like to invite you to consider the environmental impact of your gift-giving this holiday season. As Annalese Griffin points out in this article: this is not about becoming a grinch or cancelling Christmas, but rather questioning our consumer mind-set. And might we also suggest, that a donation to Cloudbridge in the name of your loved ones will make a great gift!

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October 2021

October has been another productive month here at Cloudbridge.  Though it’s the height of the rainy season, we have a great group of researchers and volunteers and have been keeping ourselves busy:  putting up signs, repairing bridges, helping with the recycling and of course, conducting research : )  Another exciting development this month was the publication on our youtube channel of the Agroecology module of the CONUBI Environmental Education Program.  Please check it out!

Volunteers cross the improved bridge over the Uran River, on the Don Victor trail.
Maddy with her “ducklings” on a bird survey : ) . Photo credit: Madelyn Peterson
Many hands make light work. Helping with the recycling is a learning experience for many of our volunteers, we are happy to support the community in this way!

Opening the airway for a classmate in the First Aid course. Photo credit: José Herrera

This month, our director Casey was able to participate in a five-day First Aid Training in San Jeronimo with the local Red Cross. This important skill building tool was made possible by the Productive Landscapes program that is being developed in the buffer zones of La Amistad Biosphere Reserve, by the UNDP. We are very grateful, not only for the knowledge, but also the opportunity to spend time in a beautiful community that, like San Gerardo, is a gateway to Chirripo National Park.

Thankfully this is an enacted scenario and not a real-life emergency, however, these are good skills to have! Photo credit: José Herrera

Pictures from around the reserve

Our lovely volunteers and interns pose with a gorgeous Tirrá tree (Olmus Mexicanus) on the Reserve.
Evie enjoys a moment at Vulture Rock.
After recycling, it’s nice to enjoy a drink in celebration of a job well done!
Evie enjoys her home-made Birthday cake!
The emerald toucanet is the smalles species of Toucans in Costa Rica
We have recently expanded the Sentinel trail into a loop, and this lovely spot is part of it!
The peccaries are lovely, not aggressive, large mammals on the reserve. Photo Credit: Luuck Reesink

Suggested Reading

  • The impacts of climate change will be felt on many levels, including people’s health and well-being. Ahead of the important COP 26, health workers from around the world have written an open letter to Heads of State calling for urgent climate action to protect people’s health.
  • As many scientists have recognized for years now, “natural infrastructure” can play an important role to mitigate the effects of climate change (and capture emissions). This month the IISD has published a report confirming that natural infrastructure could play an enormous role in adapting to climate change, with an estimated value in the billions of dollars.
  • It is very important to recognize that the challenges of climate change are compounded by biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse. For this reason, this article argues it is important to not let Glasgow’s COP 26 overshadow other important international conventions, such as the UN Biodiversity Conference.
  • As we know, art and storytelling play an important role in helping people feel the need and the possibility to make positive impacts on the environment. Richard Powers has touched many through his storytelling, and this essay continues to help us understand the intimate relationship that we have with the natural world.
  • To finish this blog, we have this lovely article about a practical way in which we can learn to observe and truly inhabit the natural world, through journaling.

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September 2021

The “castle tree”, which has lived in Costa Rica for nearly two millenia. Located at Las Vueltas Lodge, on the Cerro de la Muerte between San Jose and San Isidro. Photo credit: Casey McConnell

September is Costa Rica’s patriotic month, as on September 15th, 1821, Central American countries including Costa Rica were granted their sovereign independence from Spain. This year is the countries bicentennial, and though the festivities were of course quite muted given the current public health situation, it was still fondly celebrated in the hearts of those who are lucky enough to be of this peaceful country.  Amongst the many achievements of this small country, Costa Rica paralympian Sherman Güity recently achieved a gold medal in the 200 meter dash.  Closer to home, Chirripo local Eliécer Garita recently won first place in the UTCON trail-running race at the Peñon de Comasagua, in El Salvador.  Congratulations, Sherman and Eliécer!

Herradura local Eliécer Garita has distinguished himself in El Salvador : ). Photo credit: Todo Deporte PZ.

New Safety Measures

New Safety Measures at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve include a sturdy safety railing at Catarata Pacífica. We are very happy with this new protection for the general public at this beautiful lookout. The other safety measure that we are very happy to announce is the new Covid-19 safety policies developed for researchers and volunteers who will be sharing the dorms, classroom and common areas of the “Cloudbridge Bubble.” This allows our participants to feel more secure about travelling during these difficult times. If you are interested in knowing more about our volunteering or research programs, please visit our website : )

Marshall Culbreth’s son Sebastian first came to Cloudbridge as a volunteer in 2006. Now, Sebastian is the architect and welder for this 2×2″ metal structure.
Edgar and Oscar were of course a very big part of this construction project.
We highly recommend Sebastian as a welder for any project you need done in the Rivas area : )

We are happy to continue with the camera trap project collaboration with Dr. Mike Mooring and the Chirripo park authorities. This month it was Río, Daan and Mayi who went over Mt. Urán to Chirripó and down the main trail to San Gerardo.

Researchers and volunteers

My name is Luuck Reessink, I study tropical forestry at the Van Hall Larenstein University in the Netherlands. I’m very grateful that I got the chance to do my internship at the Cloudbridge reserve. So far I have been enjoying my time here, and I hope to learn a lot during the five months that I will be here.

Hello, my name is Daan Lichtenberg. I have always been very interested in the systems of earth, apex predators, and much more. My fascination for nature has brought me to Cloudbridge to carry out research. I’m glad I got the opportunity to be at Cloudbridge for five months and share this experience with a knowledgeable and kind team!

Pictures from around the reserve

The Castle Tree

Located at km 71 of the 135 km journey between San José and San Isidro, Las Vueltas Lodge is a family-run nature reserve / working farm, where visitors can enjoy delicious home-sourced meals or adventure on beautiful trails. Please check out their website for more information.

Suggested reading

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August 2021

A handsome male emerald glass frog. Notice the humeral spine near his shoulder, which is used during combat with other male frogs. Photo credit: Río Dante Barrantes

August has been a rainy and relatively quiet month here at Cloudbridge.  We are quite happy to have welcomed Río Dante Barrantes Para as our new science coordinator, his knowledge of local fauna is a constant source of inspiration.  And of course, we wish the best to our previous coordinator, Paula Pebsworth.  We feel quite honored to have had Paula with us for the time that we did, and wish her the best of luck with future endeavors!  Thank you for everything, Paula : )

Rio has been able to familiarize himself with all the different parts of Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. Here he visits Catarata Don Victor, in Cloudbridge North.

For some time now, Dr. Michael Mooring has been collaborating with the National Park Service to monitor the presence of mammals, especially carnivores such as felines, in the Talamanca mountains. Cloudbridge has also been helping with this exciting project, and we were very happy this month to have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Mooring and others to establish clear guidelines for the collaboration. Later in the month, a team from Cloudbridge made the trek from San Jerónimo up to Chirripó, and back again along the main (San Gerardo) trail, to change the batteries and SD cards and in some cases even replace cameras that were not functioning.

The trail from San Jerónimo goes through the Sabana de los Leones, one of Chirripó National Park´s distinctive features.
“Los Crestones” are another salient feature of Chirripó National Park. This picture shows “la Aguja (the needle)”, the Creston that stands alone.
Valeria and Greivin were able to enjoy the diverse and whimsical landscapes that attract people from around the world to this beautiful National Park.
Though the objective of the trak was to check on the camera traps and change the SD cards, we were also fortunate to have a moment to relax and enjoy ourselves.
Photo credit: Valeria González

We are very pleased to be able to continue supporting and collaborating with the local recycling program. With the amount of visitors at Chirripó National Park, there is always recycling to be sorted and smashed!

It is always sad when our longstanding researchers or volunteers leave us. This picture was taken on Justin and Philip´s last night at Cloudbridge. We miss you guys : ) Of course, we are also thankful and have been enjoying the company of the new participants who have joined our team.

Hanna does a great selfie, with the lovely group who have been here at Cloudbridge behind her.

Staff, researchers and Volunteers

My name is Rio Dante, I’m currently the scientific coordinator at Cloudbridge Reserve and am finishing my Tropical Biology degree at the National University of Costa Rica. I’ve been a Biologist at heart since I was a child and would explore the jungles looking for all kinds of animals like snakes, bats, snakes etc. While also always trying to protect the environment as much as possible.

Hi! My name is Elías Calderon Morales, I am a 22 year-old student at the National University of Costa Rica. I am studying Sustainable Tourism Management, and am happy to be able to do my practicum at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.

My name is Hanna Höffner and I am 19 years old. Last year I finished Highschool in Germany and started working to collect money for travelling. The last four weeks I was here at Cloudbridge as a Volunteer. My dream is to become a researcher and that’s why this Nature reserve was the best choice. I enjoyed the nature and going on Surveys so much, that I really want to keep working for my dream. Here in Cloudbridge my favourite animals I saw were the Emerald Toucanets, the Coatis, the Butterflies, the fireflies and the Milksnake. Everyone here was very open, nice and friendly to me and I am so glad to had the possibility to be part of this team for a month.

Pics from around the reserve

The glasswing butterflies blend in nicely with these beautiful flowers.

Suggested Reading

  • This summer has been devastating in the “natural” disasters that have affected so many countries around the world, from flooding and storms to fire and heat waves. This only serves to remind us all of the urgency with which we need to address the climate crisis. This month, the newly published IPCC report makes this crystal clear, with what has been called a code red for humanity. This New York Times piece highlights 5 takeaways from the report.
  • The longstanding drought in the Western United States is reaching a critical point, as demonstrated in these excellent articles from The Atlantic and The New York Times.
  • To face these unprecedented situations, solutions may come from a different approach than what many people are used to, for example, in Spain there is a push to grant the Mar Menor with personhood status.
  • To end on a positive note, Costa Rica provides an inspiring blueprint of how to achieve better health outcomes with limited resources.
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July 2021

This juvenile Bi-colored hawk (Accipiter bicolor) was perched quite close to us, on the R̀io trail. Photo credit: Casey Ella McConnell

July has been a great month here at Cloudbridge. What with participating in the Latin American Climate Reality Virtual Training, hosting a wilderness safety course, tree-planting, and interesting research projects, the month has passed in a blur…

This Blacḵhanded Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) was contemplative and calm, but the other monkey was making a very loud and mournful ̱ sounding) cry. Photo credit: Casey Ella McConnell.

In July 2020, Cloudbridge ́s executive director completed the Global Virtual Climate Reality Training. One year later, she was able to participate in the Latin American training, as a mentor. She greatly enjoyed the experience of moderating the discussions had by her group, who consisted of smart, engaged participants from Costa Rica and Panama. The next virtual global training will be taking place in October. If you would like to learn more please visit their website.

Cloudbridge was happy to provide a space for the field section of a recent Wilderness Safety Course held by Montaña Verde Ecological Association. Participants learned how to be prepared and safety conscious for their time in the mountains of Costa Rica. The instructor, Santiago Montoya, is an avid nature lover who has been teaching these skills for many years.

Participants in the wilderness safety course enjoy a rest at the Mirador of Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.
Participants built a stretcher with materials they had on hand and carried their team-mate in this emergency preparedness simulation.
The beautiful colors of the lotus flower are just one of the attractions found at Jardines Secretos.

The whole Cloudbridge group was able to enjoy a delicious Sunday-morning brunch at Jardines Secretos, in San Gerardo. Not only was the food delicious, but the scenery is spectacular. Highly recommended!

Tree-planting is one of our favorite activities here at Cloudbridge! We were delighted to have Paula´s son Bryce, and one of our neighbors from San Gerardo join in the tree-planting activity this month : )

After planting some trees, Nonie and Amada took a moment to enjoy the river : )
Another fun activity this month was a nice tree-tour with Edgar. Here, he is delighted to find a Kioro tree in the primary forest at Cloudbridge : )

Research interns and volunteers

Hello! my name is Justin Philbois, from France. I’m here to study the diversity of beetles between the different part of the forest.
I’ve always been very interested in all invertebrates and I think that people are afraid of them because we don’t know them very well. I’m here to remedy that!

Justin looks at beetles that have fallen into his Japanese umbrella.

Hello! My name is Alexandra and I came to Cloudbridge from Dakar, Senegal because I wanted to learn more about wildlife research and the cloud forest. I am an Environmental Science and Public Health student at the University of California, Los Angeles and I am especially interested in the intersection between environmental and human health. I am so happy to be here and am learning so much already! 🙂

After his time at Cloudbridge, Nicholas Hess travelled around Costa Rica before returning home. Though this picture was not taken at Cloudbridge, Nicholas has kindly allowed us to share it here. Check out more of his photography at Photo credit: Nicholas Hess

It has been a wonderful privilege and a pleasure to have Dr. Paula Pebsworth be our science coordinator for the last six months. We are quite sad to see her return to the USA, for personal reasons. However, we are very happy that she will remain a long-term member of Cloud Forest Conservation Alliance. And of course, we are grateful for all of Paula´s enthusiasm and warmth that she brought to her position with us. We wish you all the best, Paula!

We are also excited to receive our new science coordinator, Rio Dante Barrantes Para. Welcome to the team, Rio!

Paula´s last potluck…until you return!

Pics from around the reserve

This jumping pitviper, “mano de piedra” (Metlapilcoatlus mexicanus) was seen just over the ridge from Cloudbridge, in the valley of Los Angeles. (Photo credit: Orianna Alvarado)

Suggested Reading

  • This month has seen many places around the world suffer unprecedented climatological effects, such as profound heat waves and drought in the American Northwest, with attendant wildfires, or severe flooding in Germany and parts of China. Government leaders have recognized in these events a sign of the climate crisis, and advocated for stronger infrastructure to withstand these catastrophes.
  • Tragically, it is estimated that a billion marine animals perished due to the high temperatures of the “heat dome” over British Columbia.
  • This essay explores the traces of humans on the arctic environment, a place that is showing startling impacts of climate change.
  • Jeff Lowenfells has been writing a gardening column for the Anchorage Daily News since 1976. He has inadvertently been documenting climate change in real time.

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June 2021

Thank you Jax Frink for this beautiful view of the Milky Way above the Talamanca mountains. Photo credit: Jax Frink

June has been another great month at Cloudbridge, with talented photographers taking great pictures, and fun activities. From astrophotography to the “heart of the cloudforest”, take a look at what has been going on at Coudbridge this month!

This magnificent Puma concolor was captured by Ben Luke´s high-quality camera-trap setup. We have named her Paula! Photo credit: Ben Luke. IG: @benjamin_wildlifeimages

Feeling the love of the Cloudforest, with this aerial view of a living heart. Photo credit: Leonardo Valverde.

June 15th was National Tree Day here in Costa Rica. And followers of the blog don´t need to be reminded how much we love trees here at Cloudbridge : )

Catarata Cloudbridge is seen from an aerial shot of this beautiful section of Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. Photo credit: Leonardo Valverde
This birds eye view allows us to appreciate tree ferns from a different angle. Photo credit: Leonardo Valverde
Greilin Fallas helps our intern Jared Ward to collect nectar from some flowers on the reserve.

We are very grateful to Greilin Fallas and her colleague Yendry, who have been participating in a hummingbird study at the reserve, and recently came to share their experience with us. We learned how to extract the nectar from the plants and measure it´s glucose.

The early morning light colors the sky above the Pacific ocean, as seen from near the Refugio Paso de los Indios, by Mt. Uran.

This June some of our staff members and allies hiked up to Mt. Uran to change the SD cards and make sure that the camera traps placed by Dr. Michael Mooring are in good working order. It was a marvelous opportunity to enjoy this less explored part of Chirripó National Park.

Photo credit: Paula Pebsworth.

This month again we had the great pleasure of helping Omar Garita who is in charge of the local recycling project. Thank you Omar, and thank you to our participants.

Photo credit: Paula Pebsworth.
After the hard work of sorting the recycling, everyone deserves a drink at Roca Dura! Photo credit: Marvin Biedermann.
When visiting Finca SDR agroecological farm, we got the participants to join in sorting beans! Photo credit: Paula Pebsworth

Many of our participants have enjoyed some weekend activities this month, including a short visit to Finca SDR. The bigger weekend activity was a visit to Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula, which was a wonderful adventure.

Diving near Corcovado… Photo credit_ Marvin Biedermann.
Photo credit: Jax Frink.
To get there, participants took a boat ride through the mangroves. Photo credit: Jax Frink.

Volunteers and interns

Hi, my name is Jared Ward, from the United States. I’ve worked in supply chain consulting for the past 10 years, and came to Cloudbridge as a research assistant to learn more about field research and conservation. It’s been a great experience learning various research techniques, being surrounded by nature on a daily basis, and working with such a great group of people from across the globe. I’m looking forward to applying the knowledge I’ve gained over the past months to a career in environmental sustainability.

Jax Frink is a visual journalist from Eugene, Ore., United States, with a passion for telling stories centered around human rights, social justice and environmental issues. They explore the human connection with their environment and roles within society, telling stories of people, place and time.

My name is Nicholas Hess. I’ve spent my time at Cloudbridge recording fluorescence in the amphibian species here. I am very interested in all things herpetology, especially finding snakes. I am also a wildlife photographer and have been having an amazing time here!

Pictures from around the Reserve

Nicholas has been heading out almost every night looking for snakes. In addition to many side-striped pit vipers, he came across this black-speckled palm-pit viper (Botriechis nigroviridis). Photo credit: Michael Sojo
Using a filter, we are able to see the fluorescent markings of this glass frog. Photo Credit: Jax Frink
The Velvet Worm (Onychophora) is an interesting and unique animal.
This poor frog is being devoured by a spider… Photo credit: Jared Ward
These beautiful orchids have been flowering over the past month on the Gavilan trail.

Suggested Reading

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May 2021

The side-striped palm-pit viper (Bothriechis lateralis) is one of several pit-vipers found on the Reserve. They are not exactly easy to find, unless you know where to look. Photo credit: Nicholas Hess

May has been another good month for us here at Cloudbridge, we have some great researchers who have been enjoying their time here on the reserve, and getting some great shots. 

These pumas were captured by Ben Luke´s excellent camera trap set-up. Photo credit: Benjamin Luke Photography
Photo credit: Jax Frink
Photo credit: Paul Bischof
This magnificent ocelot was also captured by Ben´s amazing camera trap set-up. Photo credit: Benjamin Luke Photography

This month we have also continued with some ongoing research collaboration with Dr. Michael Mooring, evaluating carnivores in Chirripó National Park using camera traps. Our researchers took advantage of the trip to visit the summit, as well : )

As with any time of year, it is fascinating to see what is flowering and fruiting. This Gesneriaceae still hasn´t been named, though botanists have identified it as a separate species from Drymonia macrantha, with which it has been confused in the past.

This female Green hermit (Phaetornis Guy) sips nectar and pollinates the flowers. Photo credit: Gabriel Zuñiga

The UNED student Gabriel Zúñiga has been studying the pollination of these flowers, and in the process he has found an insect of the Curculionidae family that they are still in process of identifying. It may be a new species!

Photo credit: Gabriel Zuñiga
Another great fruit we have been seeing around is the aguacatillo, or “little avocado”, which is one of the Quetzal´s favorite foods!
The “poró criollo” (Erythrina berteroana) has also been impressing with it´s spiky flowers. This native relative to the well-known Poró gigante (Erythrina poeppigiana) has edible flowers and produces beautiful seeds that are used in handicrafts.

Though the Covid-19 pandemic has put a pause on San Gerardo´s great recycling program, we are still helping to process the recycling that is generated by the Chirripó National Park. Cloudbridge has a very longstanding collaborative relationship with the community association in charge of recycling.

Interns and Volunteers

My name is Marvin Andreas Biedermann. I’m a undergraduate student here at Cloudbridge doing research for my thesis. I’m studying the effects of human abundance on the frequency of species in Cloudbridge. I’m really interested in seeing how we directly affect the presence of animals on trails, whether it differs with species. Since I’ve been here I’ve developed a whole new array of skills ranging from camera trap knowledge to animal identification. I’m happy to be here and hopefully learn some new things and teach others about wildlife conservation.

Photo credit: Jax Frink
Photo credit: Luke Schwedler
Photo credit: Paul Bischof
Photo credit: Luke Schwedler
Photo credit: Luke Schwedler
Photo credit: Paul Bischof

Suggested Reading

  • Earlier this month, EU deputy Fran Timmermans issued a stark warning for the future of our children.
  • In this ultimately hopeful essay, a climate scientist reflects on burnout, optimism and taking the steps that we can in the face of overwhelming circumstances.
  • The last couple of weeks we have seen groundbreaking pushback and victories against the oil extraction giants, signalling a decisive shift.
  • Suzanne Simard has done groundbreaking work to further our understanding of the web of life, specifically how trees communicate through fungal networkds. This month we had the pleasure of listening to two of her conversations, with the editor of Emergence magazine, and on NPR´s Fresh Air Tonight
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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 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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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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