Verano is here. That is Spanish for summer or as they like to call it in Costa Rica – ‘The Dry Season’. It is the time of year when we see migratory birds returning, many species active in building nests and attracting mates. The rains have quit for the most part and the trees now receive most of their moisture requirements from the clouds. There is an increase in the number of tourists visiting the reserve. They come to hike the trails, see the waterfalls, bird watch and just enjoy nature.
Kendall DeLyser – Colorado
I will be researching the effectiveness of the reforestation efforts here at Cloudbridge by surveying and quantifying the presence of climax tree species. These are the slow-growing, large trees that eventually make up the majority of healthy mature cloud forests, so they are the kinds of trees we want to see in regenerating forests. At three different sites throughout the Reserve, I’ll be comparing areas that have been manually replanted to areas that have been left to regrow naturally to see where there are more climax species present, or where they present a larger proportion of the tree population. Using this data, we can assess the effectiveness of manual replanting efforts in significantly accelerating forest regeneration, and in the future this knowledge can aid in management decisions for Cloudbridge.
Clarice Esch – Kentucky / Michigan State University
As the recipient of a Fulbright Research Grant to Costa Rica, Clarice Esch is working with local tomato growers to study the potential for using grafted tomatoes in commercial production. Grafting local varieties of tomatoes onto disease-resistant rootstocks has the potential to improve yields and reduce the need for applications of chemical pesticides. In this way, grafting tomatoes has the potential to provide numerous ecological and agricultural benefits.
She is also beginning to conduct research for her dissertation with an observational study examining the influence of remnant trees (large forest trees, uncut from deforestation) and their associated soil biota on the regeneration of woody species beneath their canopies.
Ellie Takhar – England Andrea Tang – Hong Kong
Ellie and Andrea are taking part in research experience with Global Vision International. They finished their time at a turtle project on the Caribbean and are now doing our biological and camera trap surveys here.
Bob Jacobs – Maine, USA
Bob is back again this year helping with a number of big projects. He has already done a little electrical work and is now rebuilding Casa Gavilon. This little cabin is nestled up the mountain and it is a hike everyday just to get to the work site. The Casa has been in need of a new roof for quite some time and now Bob is getting the job done so that we can once again use it to house volunteers and researchers. Bob’s real life occupation as a doctor has also come in handy, as he has lent advice on broken toes and flu like symptoms to visitors and volunteers.
Bob Maurer – OSA Pennisula/New Jersey, USA
Bob (AKA – Bird Man Bob) spent a couple of weeks with us in January helping with the visiting students of Gatton Academy. His expertise on snakes and birds is an asset, and he was often joined on his night hikes by students and volunteers eager to discover creatures of the night.
Vicky Schroeder – Germany
Vicky has just finished high school and is enjoying time in Costa Rica. Her volunteer experience at the reserve includes planting seeds in the tree nursery, helping with construction, and gardening.
Daniel Feuer – California, USA
Daniel was in Costa Rica on a family vacation and then decided to stay on longer and volunteer for the reserve. We were grateful to have him and his volunteer work is appreciated. He helped with construction, landscaping, and working in the tree nursery.
Resident Biologist Position:
Matt Smokoska of Michigan has accepted a position as our resident biologist for the 2nd year. He has been leading guided hikes and helping out with visiting groups and students. He works out of our welcome centre providing information to visitors about the flora and fauna of the area. He has taken many photos and his photography can be seen on the Cloudbridge Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cloudbridge-Nature-Reserve
Matt taking a photo of a salamander that he found
Students and staff of Gatton Academy, Western Kentucky University were with us for a week. This was their 5th annual Cloudbridge Research Symposium They split off into groups to study, trees, plants, insects, birds and animals. Their mornings were spent doing research projects, and then free afternoons to hike or rest. In the evenings they had class time and presentations and then sometimes night hikes. It was a busy week that also included a dinner and dance at Cafe Bambu, for the non profit «Proyecto San Gerardo». This organization provides English and computer classes as well as scholarships for local students. You could say the evening was for ‘students helping students’ – the Gatton Academy students donating to the local students!
Millicent and Tony – What a wonderful visit from these two people who were staying at our Casita Blanca. Tony is a professional juggler who volunteered some of his vacation time to put on a performance for all of us at the reserve, as well as some local people. Millicent has also volunteered her services as a remote volunteer to help out with digital design and web services. This is how she makes her living, and it is something we always struggle with. We will probably take her up on the offer. Thank you to both of you for all of your talent.
ARO International – 2 groups from this Quebec organization visited us this month. They helped with some much needed road work and also gardening.
The organization Wilderness Inquiry brought a group of adventurous folks to spend a couple of days in the San Gerardo area. Tom and Matt took a group each on a hike through the reserve. What was a amazing is that there were 3 people that had severe visual impairment that managed to navigate our rocky steep trails. Tom watched one of them navigate around a tree on her own. He asked her how she knew it was there. She replied «I couldn’t hear the river anymore, so I knew there was something in front of me».
We also spent an evening with them at Cafe Bambu to support the community students.
Comments from the Donation Box:
«For encouraging biodiversity, protecting Mother Earth’s dear forests and for giving everyone a chance to enjoy nature, here is a small token of our appreciation.» Martin & ARO (Quebec)
«Muchas gracias por una experiencia tan linda»
«Muchas gracias! El sitio es precioso! » (Spain)
«We liked it better than Chirripo. Great vistas!»
«Viva Costa Rica, mi pias! Es precioso, vive con Alehria, conoce el mundo, un solo amor.»
«Thanks a lot, donate with love and money for a tree (or two)» (Switzerland)
«Gracias por la preservation de la nature. Merci»