Tuesday
Apr152014

Volunteer blog: Jenny Dent

Google maps informs me that I am about 12000 km from home, but to be honest, staying out here in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle feels like I’m on a different planet. It’s said that Costa Rica contains 5% of the world biodiversity and that around about half is found right here on the Osa Peninsula. By my calculations that means I still have an awful lot left to see but in my first week here I’ve certainly made a good start.

My most exciting sighting to date is probably the two toed sloth which moved into a tree just outside of camp (I’m counting on him staying there for quite some time which is a bonus). I’ve also been lucky enough to see some Pacific Green Turtle HATCHLINGS, Spider Monkeys, Tucans, Scarlet Maccaws and Tamanduas (I’ll stop my list there before I get carried away). I’m growing increasingly suspicious that I have yet to see a Fer de Lance snake as they’re apparently pretty common around this area (I’m hoping I’m not just bad at spotting them).

Life on camp is like nothing you will have experienced before but so much fun. I must say, I’m really warming to the idea of sleeping in a hammock, which, after a wee bit of “hammock-yoga” is surprisingly comfy. I’m also in love with the outdoor showers, it sounds crazy but you’ll understand when you get here. My advice to anyone coming out here is to make sure you get on as many surveys as possible. So far I’ve been involved with the turtle, bird, primate and turtle projects which have all been really interesting (and much more enjoyable when you finally embrace the fact that you will be eternally drenched in sweat). Even when you’re not out and about on a survey there’s plenty to do. I was very glad to realise that the weekly volleyball match was more about enthusiasm than skill. This weekend I’m going snorkelling which should be really cool.

All in all, just 6 days into my stay here, my biggest regret is that I not going to be staying longer (I have a sneaking suspicion that just three weeks won’t be enough!!!).

By Jenny Dent, Forest Research Assistant

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Tuesday
Apr152014

ARO Blog: Kirsty Hunter

Well my first week has been quite busy as you can imagine! New country, new culture and new set up to get used to. After an eventful 4 days of travelling to Puerto Jiménez I safely made it onto the collectivo for the bumpy hour and a half journey to camp.

I arrived at camp to be met by the staff and volunteers who all seemed very friendly. Having been at Frontier Madagascar I was surprised to see a gas stove and flushing toilets when I was given the camp tour, which was definitely a novelty for me! After my tour I settled into my hammock spot which I don’t think will take long to get used to as its pretty comfy (apart from maybe the first night when there was a tsunami warning). I don’t think the early mornings will be a problem when we have Howler monkeys as an alarm call.

I joined in on the re-vegetation that Frontier help with every week to give something back to Osa Conservation on my first morning followed by a nice walk to the beach to see the sunset. The next few days consisted of me being taken on some of the trails so I can start leading my own walks and getting to know how things work around camp. Also enjoyed a game of volleyball and a games night, which I think I will get way to competitive for. I’ve already seen so much here (pics to follow) so can’t wait to see what the next 6 months hold, especially as we are heading into rainy season which means fantastic wildlife spottings!

By Kirsty Hunter, Forest Assistant Research Officer

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Apr142014

Last of the butterflies

Wowzers! We have been sampling butterflies in our diversity and height stratification study for 18 weeks, giving volunteers the opportunity to handle these spectacular invertebrates and observe their intricate colours and forms. Here we have the last butterfly of the study! Congratulations to all, and thank you to the dedicated team of staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly for this vital research. Out work is expected to be prepared for publication in due course. Exciting!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Apr142014

Rap for turtles

"Every time that you're down the beach // There is something that I'd like to teach // You've got to take three for the sea // For turtles, you and for me // So when you're on Peje // Here's what I say // Pick up the plastic // and feel fantastic." (to be read with a spondaic meter rhythm)

A new CRF rap inspired by the beach clean conducted whilst recording turtle tracks as part of the long-term sea turtle monitoring and conservation programme.

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Apr142014

GPS mapping

Here our newest staff arrival, Assistant Research Officer Kirsty works together with volunteer Research Assistant Laura "Squirrel" as she studies the behaviour of the wild primates here at Piro! Squirrel records her observations every 10 minutes and here Kirsty is logging the GPS location so we can make maps!

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Monday
Apr142014

Dining alfresco

Like Alfresco Dining? Well you won't be let down here in Costa Rica Forest! This central deck is where all the cooking happens and is a hive of activity when you aren't busy on trails or surveys or sleeping! A home from home if you will....

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Monday
Apr142014

Toucan play at that game

Some standard sightings here in camp this week - A napping two-toed sloth and and Toucan. No big deal.... Credit to Danny Parker for the awesome pictures.

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Monday
Apr072014

Sports day and buffalos

Our beach sports day turned mainly into camp favourite beach volleyball! But we did catch a glimpse of the resident buffalo just chilling!

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Monday
Apr072014

Scary but amazing!

Take a look at this scorpion which was spotted on main deck! It's got lots of babies on its back. Thanks to Jes for the photo!

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Thursday
Apr032014

Camp update

This morning a group of volunteers went for a cool off in the river. It went swimmingly!

We were out in town this weekend saying sad goodbyes to AROs Delyth and Jes along with 7 volunteers! This is one of our favourite places to eat in town - Pizza Mail.It

We've been busy on camp making a new woodstore to keep wood supplies dry, ready to be used in our camp fireplace.

These are all the animals we were lucky enough to see in March! No April Fools!

Sometimes we are lucky enough to see the fascinating Capuchin monkeys passing through camp! They like the fruits on our trees, and spend awhile knocking them against the wood to open them.

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Wednesday
Apr022014

Communications Officer Blog: 2 April 2014

This week our surveys have been continuing as usual but it was on a night stake out on the nearby river when volunteers had the incredibly lucky sighting of a Kinkajou!

On Wednesday everyone headed up to Cerro Osa to continue with the re-vegetation work. This week it included seed collection and working in the nursery where the plants are waiting to be put out in the forest when the wet season arrives again.

A group of volunteers returned at the start of the week from a trip to the national park – Corcovado, the entrance to which is a 40 minute drive and then a few hours walk away from us. They were lucky enough to see 2 Tapiers and a pit viper!

Soundscaping with CA Hal has been continuing at the various points across our survey area. Hal takes one or two volunteers to the points, sets up a microphone and then waits for an hour at dawn and dusk. Some of the points are at the top of hills with great views and others are in the middle of lovely forest areas which are so relaxing - I may have fallen asleep! The idea of soundscaping is to record the forest sounds to measure forest disturbance.  

This week another group of volunteers headed over to Bijaguel farm. This time we were lucky enough to be given papaya and ice cream – a very very rare treat! The farm work included the usual milking cows and cheese making but also the braver volunteers helped to kill and chop up a pig! Definitely not to everyone’s liking, particularly the vegetarians, but the dissection was of interest to the aspiring biologists on camp.

Other spottings this week included the very rare white-lipped peccary!

The weekend saw a max exodus with two long-standing AROs Delyth and Jes leaving along with 7 volunteers. Everyone spent Saturday night in town eating pizza, dressing up a little more than we bother for camp and giving them a good send off!

By Jenny Collins, Communications Officer

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Mar312014

What does the jungle sound like?

Soundscaping! Conservation Apprentice Hal has started a soundscaping project which involves setting up a microphone to record the forest sounds and monitor forest disturbance. As a bonus some of the recording points have great views!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Thursday
Mar272014

Communications Officer Blog: Data Analysis

When volunteers come out onto the Frontier Costa Rica forest project, they like to get involved in the surveys in the hope of seeing interesting animals. But people don’t always realise where the data they are helping to collect goes. This week on camp ARO Delith Williams gave us a fascinating presentation about data anaylsis so that everyone understood what happens to the data.

Before any survey begins a proposal is created. This will include deciding what question it is you want to try and answer (for example are there more snakes in the dry season). This is then turned into a hypothesis which will say what it is you predict to find (i.e there are more snakes in the dry season) but will also include a null hypothesis which predicts that there will be no correlation between the seasons and the amount of snakes found.

Next, you decide how you will answer the question – the method of data collection – and then carry out a pilot study to see if it is a good way to collect the data.

If it proves successful and the proposal is approved the surveys will begin. Once enough data is collected it is put into an excel spreadsheet and then fed into various statistics programs.

Tables and graphs provide a visual representation of the data so that it is more easily understood. You are able to test things such as correlation – whether one variable effects the results. For the current primates data Distance is being used. The data we collect represents a sample of the total forest area and the program takes this and predicts what the results would be for the whole forest to find out how many monkeys there are in the area.

The butterfly survey data is put into a program called Estimates. This has a species richness curve. When this curve levels off in the table it shows that no matter how many more surveys are carried out we are unlikely to find any further butterfly species. This helps us to know when to stop surveying.

All the programs rely on enough data being passed through them enough times to come back with the most accurate results possible. These results are then used to discover whether the initial hypothesis was correct.

The most important thing to remember is that although data and statistics can seem daunting at first, they can quickly be understood and are a vital part of scientific study – so don’t be afraid!

By Jenny Collins, Communications Officer

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Mar242014

Footy time

Our Frontier team of volunteers and staff from both our forest and teaching projects in the warm up before a soccer game in town with local players!

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Wednesday
Mar192014

Otter Survey 

This week's Otter survey ended with a nice cooling swim in the river!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Tuesday
Mar182014

what a treat! 

If you are coming to the forest in Costa Rica, be sure to bring a good head torch with you because you never know what you might find on a night walk. Last night, as well as lots of spiders and lizards, we saw this gladiator tree frog (Hyla rosenbergi). What a treat!

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Monday
Mar172014

GETTING CREATIVE! 

Dirty Day! Yesterday morning we went down to the beach to collect as much rubbish as we could from the beach. Then we returned to camp to use some of that rubbish to get creative!

The dolphin was so big from all the litter collected from the beach that we had to have a ladder to be able to see it all!

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Monday
Mar172014

POSITIVES! 

It may be sad to say goodbye to volunteers (this time the Central American Trail - Julia, Robin & Nick) but going in to town has its good points!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Mar172014

ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS DAY 2014

We took posters, games and ourselves into the local school in Puerto Jimenez to teach the children about our work and the animals of Costa Rica and why they need protecting.

We made this tipping scale out of bamboo. The idea being that people put sand in the paper basket that represents their view so that the bamboo tips towards the most popular opinions.

 

 

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Monday
Mar172014

COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER & ASSISTANT RESEARCH OFFICER: 17TH MARCH 2014

Frontier are currently studying the butterflies of Costa Rica in a bid to discover how different species of butterflies are more abundant in different heights of the forest. Invertebrates are highly understudied and many butterflies in Costa Rica don’t have even have common names. Butterflies are hugely important however, they are a useful indicator of changes in the environment and the overall health of an eco-system.

Blue Morpho


Our surveys happen 6 days a week, always at 2pm. There are traps placed around the forest at varying heights up to 10 metres. Each survey, every trap is checked and re-baited with fermenting banana.  If a butterfly is found, one person will carefully extract and hold it, and photos will be taken and a book used to help identify which species it is. The shape of the wings and the patterns rather than the colours, which can chance due to gender, are used to identify the butterflies. Because of the survey method being used, we are studying fruit-eating butterflies. The traps are tied to a rope which is looped around a tree so that it is able to be pulled down and put back up relatively easily. The surveys are undertaken at the same time each day so that the results are not bias. It also means that butterflies are not left in the traps too long before being released. The traps work because the banana attracts the butterfly into the net. It is then not able to fly down and out but it is not harmed in the process. If the trap is not being checked the next day, then they are closed so that no butterflies can get in.


It is thought that different butterflies will be found at different levels of the forest because of the variations in plants found and the amount of light that is able to reach through the trees.
Another technique to gain more comprehensive data is to net butterflies on a specific point on specific days and times, and this is something we hope to start in the coming months.

Caligo

This current survey restarted at the beginning of the current dry season and in January we captured 126 individual butterflies including 34 different species. There were several types of Morpho which feature the famous  Blue Morpho (top) as well as the Caligo (above) which have a distinctive eye like pattern on their wings.
Photo thanks to volunteer Alex Arams.

By Jenny Collins, Communications Officer & Assistant Research Officer Jess Dangerfield.

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

 

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