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Conservation and Environment in Costa Rica: Monthly Updates

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Conservation in Costa Rica - Monthly Update April 2011

Long-tailed Manakin

Mirador – Everyone who visits the Barra Honda National Park gets the chance to visit the Terciopelo Cave and also the Mirador Platform, one of the only points in the area where you can see an amazing 180 degree view of the landscape. Naturally a viewpoint made of wood in such an exposed position needs replacing after a few years so one of the jobs over the last month and a half has been pulling down the old platform and rebuilding it with new wood.

This has obviously been a tough job, those of you who remember the walk to the Mirador will know that a car can only get so close and the rest of the trip can only be done by walking! So we have been moving materials back and forth for a while now, carrying new wood to the platform, removing the old wood from the site, carrying nails, bolts, drills, saws, hammers and many other types of materials. Another thing that has been slowing us down is the strength of the wood, obviously we wanted to use something that wouldn’t fall apart in a year so we chose a wood that was very dense and this actually caused us problems when it came to joining them together, every type of nail we used either bent or broke and being so far from a plug socket meant using battery powered drills which only have a limited life span and don’t even have the same power of a normal drill...this meant some days we were only able to drill 15 holes and in total we probably drilled a few hundred holes!

But still we have progressed very well over the last few weeks and just before the end of the month we managed to get the roof back on so we only have a few more days to put the railings back on and the steps leading up to the platform. So soon we will have a nice new, stronger, better volunteer built platform.

April has been an interesting month with the weather as well, which as I have said many times before leads to direct changes with the results we get from our investigation projects. The end of the month has seen some pretty heavy rains, some higher temperatures, strong winds and very high humidity! The national weather observations have been suggesting that the rainy season might be starting early this year and the data we have been collecting is suggesting the same with 8cm of rain already falling in only a few hours this month!

Mirador platform

The effect this has had in the forest has been amazing, with everything shooting back to life, leaves springing back to life, grass changing from brown to green and of course the down side if lots of mosquitoes. This has lead to some amazing results in our bat and camera projects, with many nights providing 10 -15 different species of bats in one session which is obviously incredibly interesting and with some results being very unusual. Some bats that shouldn’t measure any bigger than 30mm are over this, some bats having different colours than they should and in one case a bat that seemed to have eaten more than his fair share of mosquitoes and was very very heavy!

We have also been seeing some great things during our early morning bird observations around the park, the other day we saw a pair of long tailed manikins doing their mating dance, and this is something that very few people are able to see in real life. We have seen some other amazing species over the last few weeks and these few occasions have really started to spike the interest of the volunteers in the park and we have all been walking around with a higher interest and understanding of the avian life flying around us during all of our activities!

Over the last few weeks we have been working a new barbeque and outside cooking area...one of the local ways of cooking many things has always been using fire wood and charcoal to cook beans, rice, meat, potatoes and anything else you can think of. We have created the barbeque with an area to keep fire wood dry during rain, an open grill, an area to use pots, an area to roast and of course an area to keep things warm.

Mirador View

We haven’t quite finished this project yet, we’ve been working on this, the Mirador and the new cabin but with a few other tiny details to complete we will be able to use it this month and have a Barbeque party with sausages, burgers, fish and steak all cooked in many different ways!

During a few rest times over the last few months we have been looking at a new camera that we have for the park which can take 360 degree panoramic photos, so far we have managed to take a great 180 degree of the Mirador view and we are working on making some 360 degree views from many other parts of the park, the Mirador, the caves, the main camp, football field and many other areas so you can all revisit the park and see how things change throughout the years. Keep your eyes out on the website and I will try and see how we can share these photos online with you as soon as possible!

Finally I also want to mention that we have been giving many different talks during the last month explaining the details of certain things we have in the park and Costa Rica, Bats, Orchids, Forest Fires, Cloud forest and soon we will be giving talking on the many other subjects like Hummingbirds and of course the mammals, birds and butterflies of the park and Costa Rica!

Richard Munday
Conservation Coordinator
Barra Honda National Park
April 2011

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