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. https://jfrinkphoto.com

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 https://www.nicholashessphotography.com/

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 www.oldkneesyounghearts.com 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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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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