Monday, August 19, 2013

Intern Voice: First Week in the Mountains

Written by - Kyle Shackleton,  Six month Intern

Following three months well spent in Jalova, the second half of my internship involves a placement at a cloud forest reserve named Cloudbridge, where through the vision and efforts of the owners, the previously agricultural land is being transformed back into rainforest. Despite both being Costa Rican rainforests, it is astounding how different Tortuguero and Cloudbridge are from one another. Even though I have previously visited the cloud forests at Monteverde, I have been incredibly surprised at the difference 1500 metres of elevation can make. Gone are the intense heat and humidity, gone are the days when you feel like you’re melting, here in Cloudbridge we have perfect hiking weather, at least until the clouds and rain roll in come the afternoon (which they usually do, it’s still a rainforest!).

The Emerald Toucanet often found near base
Here at Cloudbridge we are carrying out similar surveys to those at Jalova, the first of which is our bird point count survey where I am comparing bird communities between contrasting forest types. Being at altitude on the other side of the country, our avifauna is almost completely different from Jalova’s; there’s neither a Northern Jacana in sight nor a Western Slaty-Antshrike to be heard. We still have some spectacular birds however, including the Emerald Toucanet and Blue-crowned Motmot which are frequently sited near base.

The Blue-Crowned Motmot, another common sighting
Our second survey involves camera trapping in order to build up a species inventory for Cloudbridge of those animals that are cryptic and difficult to observe first hand. This includes nocturnal mammals and those which are likely to sense us and run long before we can see them. The first cameras we checked set up by previous intern Rob had some very interesting photos including baby Collared Peccaries, an Ocelot and the first Jaguarundi recorded at Cloudbridge!

While this all sounds rather fun (and it is) we also work very hard. We have a shorter but far more intense day than at Jalova, which involves a lot of hiking up and down mountains and results in very sore legs. It has been an incredible first week in the cloud forest, the first I hope of many to come!

The not-so-common Crested Eagle spotted recently in Cloudbirdge Reserve