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Date: October 31st, 2006 - Entry 4

Links

Reporter: Marie Brady

2006 Migration Map

Location: LaSalle County, IL Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 27 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action - USA

Accumulated Distance 193.8 miles Craniac Kids Take Action - Canada
Subject:

 Down Day Activities

 

Another day of strong winds kept us from continuing our way through Illinois. As frustrating as down days are, they can be incredibly useful. They are not all fun and games though, because while down days offer a slight reprieve from a travel-day’s hustle and bustle, there is still lots of necessary work to be done.

Most of us can be found doing those little things that are often overlooked, or put aside because of more pressing matters on travel days. If birds have been boxed, the crates need to be cleaned and disinfected. Our own trailers can usually stand to be vacuumed and rugs shaken out, those nasty little Asian beetles sucked up, trash disposed of, and things actually put away instead of strewn about haphazardly. (Don't worry Jane, the Hornet is clean, I saw to it myself!)

Today there was plenty to be done to keep us busy. Richard and Chris fixed/replaced the furnace on one motorhome after it went 'ka-bluey'. And Charlie and I went down to the next stopover to fix the travel trailer that was set up yesterday afternoon. A wiring harness needed to be replaced because it was grounding out on the frame and blows fuses in the vehicles that tow it. I don't know what that means, but Charlie the resident Know-It-All does, and that is what is important! (And I mean 'know-it-all' in a good way.)

Meanwhile, at the bird pen, they enjoyed a nice relaxing day off. 608 has made a huge improvement with her eye. The ulcer is much reduced and she is holding her injured eye open just as much as the other. She no longer acts submissive and is back to her old self.

The other birds seem very calm, even more so then usual. Our presence at the pen usually instigates a few squabbles among the birds as they vie for position near the costume. Today however this was not the case. Most of the birds were peacefully eating and drinking together and peeping contentedly. That is until 613 picked up a golf ball sized seedpod that 604 wanted. 604 went after it as 613 ran toward a water bucket to clean off her find. Then 606 ran in to grab the seed, but 613 gulped it down too quickly. 606, obviously disgruntled that she didn’t get any, gave 613 a peck on the back. That seemed to restore the peace, and by the time we left the pen the three birds were foraging side-by-side.

THE MIGRATION CREW AT SUPPORTER'S HOME: Photo by Vi White
View the photo here in the 2006 Migration Photo Journal.

Date: October 31st, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker

2006 Migration Map

Location: LaSalle County, IL Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 27 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action - USA

Accumulated Distance 193.8 miles Craniac Kids Take Action - Canada
Subject:

 Doing an Instant Replay

Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video

No flying again today. This is all the more disappointing because it was such a beautiful day - except for too much wind from the wrong direction. It did, however, provide an opportunity to reflect on our last flight, press the mental rewind button, roll it around the mind like a smooth river-worn pebble through thumb and fingers, allowing the mind to peer into every nook and cranny of it, seeking out every last ounce of pleasure, exhilaration and meaning it might contain.

The flight started well; the birds as anxious as we were to be airborne again and on the move. Chris led the birds skyward after a beautiful takeoff. Minutes later, the birds fragmented into two groups. The second dropped lower than the others, so Joe moved in and picked them up while Richard moved into chase position behind him. I did the same behind Chris. I was treated yet again to the magical sight of a string of Whoopers flying in perfect formation off Chris’s wing.

But aerial situations are fluid by nature, and after a time the last bird in the string started to drop, perhaps due to fatigue or maybe her innate need to express her individuality. So, after a drop of 500 feet, I slowly pulled up alongside and said, "How about a lift?" Yeah, I know, it's a major violation of project protocol to talk to the birds, but I'll let you in on a little secret. I do it all the time - all the time while flying with them that is. The engine roar, of course, masks my voice, but that doesn’t prevent me from sharing my problems with them, of which I have many; or my great ideas, of which I have few, or explaining to them in my most authoritative voice why it is in their long term best interest to follow me and to do exactly as I command. I am, after all, older and wiser and, according to my mother, much better looking than they are!

So, for the next hour and twenty minutes or so, it was me and 608 occupying the same little piece of time and space, both committed to an aerial bonding, building a trust and a confidence that would hopefully last long after landing and into the next flight and the flight after that, all the way to Florida.

Flying with one bird holds a special intimacy not experienced with the larger group. It's special and powerful and it changes forever the way one thinks and feels about that bird. We climbed to 2000 feet and together gazed down as the textured rectangles of Illinois rolled out beneath us. Then is was over. We landed and it was time for each of us to rejoin our own flocks. I walked 608 into the pen with the others , and as the four of us pilots walked back towards our waiting trikes, I looked back to catch a glimpse of 608 one last time. From this day forward she will always be 'Number 608' in the Program, but 'Number One' in the hearts of the fans. This fan, anyway.

Date: October 31st, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

2006 Migration Map

Location: LaSalle County, IL Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 27 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action - USA

Accumulated Distance 193.8 miles Craniac Kids Take Action - Canada
Subject:

 Keeping Warm

Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video

The longer it takes us to reach the southern states, the colder the mornings. Already we have experienced snow, a first for the Whooping crane migrations but not for our earlier work with geese.

When it's your turn to lead, you are generally too focused to notice the cold. If they are all following one aircraft, the rest of us tag along behind with little to do but watch, so the coldest mornings are when the air is calm and the birds are behaving. The 35 mph wind begins to eat away at your heat reserves, so dressing warmly is critical.

Each of us have our own methods of maintaining body heat, but it all starts with long johns under our flight suits, with the costume as the outer layer. We wear insulated waterproof boots and keep hand warmers inside heavy mitts stuffed in fleece lined gauntlets attached to the control bar. The hard part is when you have to remove the mitts to adjust the GPS or use the camera.

If the winds are good and we can over fly a stop, we are generally airborne for 2 hours. After we land, we lead the birds off to an isolated spot until the ground crew arrives and gets the pen set up. If we have flown for 2 hours, that generally means they have to drive for 3 after packing up the pen at the last site. The set up at the new location takes roughly an hour, so the birds are not secured until sometime in the early afternoon.

By this time it is often 70 degrees and we pilots are still dressed for sub zero conditions. If you pull your arms inside the costume you can begin to remove some layers if you are desperate. I often speculate about what the birds think when their 'parents' begin to convulse and contort while standing ankle deep in mud.

Note: New photos posted to Photo Journal

Date: October 31st, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 27 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action - USA

Accumulated Distance 193.8 miles Craniac Kids Take Action - Canada
Subject:

 Wind, Wind, Wind

Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video

Joe made the call this morning just after 6:30am. It is way too windy for a flight today.

There will be an entry from Joe posted to the FJ later today, as well as those pictures for the photo journal that we have been promising.


Stopover Trivia – LaSalle County, IL (by VN (Vi) White)
A scenic feature of La Salle County is Starved Rock State Park. Atypical of Illinois topography, the beautiful wooded park includes 18 glacier-carved canyons with several scenic waterfalls. A 125-foot sandstone butte overlooking the Illinois River was an ideal spot for a fort. It is where French explorers La Salle and Tonti built Fort St. Louis in 1682-1683. Abandoned in 1702, the fort was destroyed by fire in 1720.

The subject of a LaSalle County legend, Starved Rock takes its name from a story of starving Illiniwek Indians. In the 1760s they fled to the top of the butte on the Illinois River to escape a band of Potawatomi seeking to avenge the death of Ottawa Chief Pontiac. Ottawa Indians joined them in a siege of the Illiniwek until they starved to death.

Date: October 30th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 26 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action - USA

Accumulated Distance 193.8 miles Craniac Kids Take Action - Canada
Subject:

 Kids and Teachers 'Rock'!

Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video

Now there are even more Craniac Kids In Action!!

Joining the kids at Louisville Kentucky's John F. Kennedy Montessori School in writing to ExxonMobil is a class from the Harriett Todd Public School in Orillia, Ontario (about 1.5 hours north of OM’s main office). Their teacher, Margaret Black also sent us copies of her students letters as well as some photos and we posted them to a special website page as we did for their US counterparts. (Click the link above)

What's more, Eleanor Morse, a teacher from Houston, Texas is now in touch with Louisville's Lori Trout and Orillia's Margaret Black. There's talk of the kids becoming penpals. Don't you just love it when an idea catches on? It's like it takes on a life of its own!

Thanks and kudos to the kids for their interest, support, and all their work writing the letters. Our sincere gratitude also goes to the teachers who are shaping the minds of those into whose hands we will be turning over the future of our wildlife, our environment - our world. If Lori, Margaret and Eleanor are the standard, we 'old folk' don't have a darn thing to worry about.

Date: October 30th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 26 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action - USA

Accumulated Distance 193.8 miles Craniac Kids Take Action - Canada
Subject:

 Mortality

Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video

We were advised this afternoon that the remains of yearling male 522 were found in Mason County, Michigan this past Saturday. The remains, consisting of disarticulated bones, some feathers, and a pile of gastroliths,* were overgrown by marsh vegetation, and indications were that he had been dead 2 to 4 months. Intern Tally Love pinpointed location of the transmitter during aerial radio tracking October 25th.

After being flushed June 14 during reconnaissance by the Tracking/Monitoring Team in preparation for a retrieval attempt, 522 was last seen heading for Oceana County, MI with a flock of about 30 Sandhills. He was not tracked further.

Thanks go to Windway Capital Corporation and pilots Adam Heronymus and Charles Koehler for aircraft support.

*Gastroliths, (or 'stomach stones' or 'gizzard stones') are stones or rocks which have been held inside the digestive tract of an animal. Gastroliths are common among herbivorous birds.

Date: October 30th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 26 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 193.8 miles Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video
Subject:

 No Fly Day

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

To much wind and from the wrong direction will keep the team on the ground today. Check back later for a further entry and for photos we hope to get processed and posted to the Photo Journal.

(To OM Members receiving our EarlyBird e-bulletin: Hopefully problems with our bulk email service will be resolved today and EarlyBird will appear in your inbox as usual tomorrow.)

Stopover Trivia – LaSalle County, IL (by VN (Vi) White)
Robert de la Salle, a French explorer, fur trader and fort builder is the person for whom La Salle County was named.  Most of his exploration was done by boat, searching for the illusionary western passage to China.

Date: October 29th, 2006 - Entry 4

Links

Reporter: Chris Gullikson

2006 Migration Map

Location: LaSalle County, IL Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 25 - 62.7 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 193.8 miles Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video
Subject:

 Recounting the Day

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

After being grounded for the past 5 days, we were all anxious to get moving, including the birds. I had missed my turn to lead the last flight due to an engine issue, (see note at end) but with my engine replaced, I was looking forward to flying the lead position on this beautiful cold and clear morning.

Having our trikes inside a hangar is a wonderful luxury that allows us to push out at sunrise without having to deal with frost on the wings. Joe was the first airborne and we were encouraged to hear him say it was fairly smooth with a 10mph tailwind.

After we were all aloft and in position, I landed at the pen and motioned for Laurie, and Marie to open the pen panels and release the birds. The pen was down a shallow incline with a narrow path cut through the tall grass and a good 200 feet away from me. The birds were initially slow coming out of the pen but they quickly got the idea when Laurie and Marie began to run up the hill towards me.

18 birds on the wing charging towards me was my cue to get going, so I powered up and quickly got into ground effect, staying just ahead of the lead birds. I flew down the runway towards the hangars where our hosts and a couple of friends were hiding. I angled off to the right and out over the road. 9 birds had formed up nicely on my wing, while 9 others were further back and trying hard to catch up.

Joe was in first chase position and radioed me to turn a bit to the right of course so that he could move in and pick up the 9 that had formed a gap between my 9 birds. As we cleared the road and slowly climbed out of the shallow river valley, I looked over at the lead bird flying on my right wing. I was amazed to see this bird had BOTH legs tucked up into its body feathers to keep them warm. This was the first time I had gotten to see this firsthand and it looked pretty silly. I wish I could have gotten my camera out to get a photo.

With Richard flying chase for Joe and Brooke falling in behind me, we all began a slow climb into the glass smooth air, ultimately topping out at 2000 feet above the ground. 608 lost the draft of my wing within a few miles of our departure and slowly lost altitude below me. Brooke was able to pick her up, and within 15 minutes she was back up to altitude with the rest of us.

It is a pleasure flying birds using our new topless wings. The lack of top wires allows us to let the lead birds fly over us if they want to, while still keeping the birds further back in line from falling back too far. I have found that there are some birds who want to surf the leading edge of the wing - which is a beautiful sight to the pilot - but its also a bit of a pain because the birds presence along the leading edge causes the wing to buffet and do a gentle stall. 609 did this to me a few times during this flight, and Joe was having the same experience with 610.

For the most part it was a very uneventful flight, Richard was almost able to get in a few zzz's (which appealed to me considering we were out a bit late the night before at a local Halloween party – and yes, we wore our costumes)

At one point during the flight, all 8 of my birds suddenly dropped below me and began looking skyward as if there was something over the top of us. I could see Don and Paula way off to the east so I knew it wasn’t them that had spooked the birds. As I descended to gather the birds back onto my wing, Joe comes over the radio and announces that his birds had done the exact same thing. We are mystified as to what it could have been, but the birds obviously saw something they did not like.

7 miles out we began a very gradual decent from 2000 feet. At this point, as they can just about glide all the way from that distance, we knew that we would make it with all the birds. Brooke landed with 608 followed by Joe with his 9 and finally me with my 8 birds.

For some reason, today was the easiest experience we have had putting birds into the pen. Usually we need to coax them, using treats and gentle nudges. Today they just walked down the mowed path and walked right into the pen by themselves in a neat and orderly fashion. They must have been looking forward to the food and water after the long 60 mile flight.

As I am writing this, we are driving back from setting up the pen at our next stopover location, and I think Richard is trying to make me carsick with his crazy driving. Laurie is on the phone with Robert Doyle sorting out our remaining crane food resources; Charlie is navigating Richard around the road construction that we are encountering; and Marie keeps looking over at my laptop and nudging me in the ribs to hurry up. As soon as we get into the next big town, we will find a WIFI to connect to the internet and get this update sent out to Liz, who never stops working, and is patiently waiting for me to get this finished so she can post it.

We are all looking forward to getting back to camp where I hear there will be a great dinner awaiting us. It looks like we will be down tomorrow with strong winds out of the south. Tuesday looks a bit better though with the winds going the in right direction - although they may be too strong for us to fly.

(Photos will be posted to the photo journal later tonight or tomorrow.)

Note: On hearing of our engine woes, a long time supporter stepped forward to help out. Thanks to this wonderful and generous supporter, (who wishes to remain anonymous) two of our aircraft will have new engines and the cost of Joe and Brooke's rebuilds is covered. Heartfelt thanks from the whole OM Team.

Date: October 29th, 2006 - Entry 4

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 25 - 62.7 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 193.8 miles Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video
Subject:

 Landed in LaSalle

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

All 18 birds came out of the pen just fine this morning, and with Chris in the lead, all were in the air in no time. About a mile out nine birds had gotten low and away from his trike, so Joe moved in to pick them up. This left Richard and Brooke in chase position.

After a slow climb they eventually reached a ground speed of 50mph thanks to an initial 14mph tailwind that eventually dropped off to 5mph. At around 20 miles and 1600 feet up, one bird dropped off Chris's wing and was picked up by Brooke. The 62.7 mile flight took one hour and twenty-one minutes.

Meanwhile, back at Stopover #5 in Winnebago County, the ground crew was struggling to free the aircraft trailer from the mud it had settled into. It finally took our host's help with his backhoe to free the trailer so the crew could get on their way. They are now racing to catch up with the airborne part of the OM Team.

There will be a further report later - likely from Chris.

Date: October 29th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 25 - ? Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance ? miles Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video
Subject:

 Headed for LaSalle Co. IL

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Laurie called to let us know that all 18 birds took off with the trikes. While we were talking Marie received word from the pilots that all was going fine and that the ground crew could tear down the travel pen and head for our next Stopover in LaSalle County, IL.

There will be a report on today's flight from one of the pilots posted here later today.

Date: October 29th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 25 - ? Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance ? miles Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video
Subject:

 They are OFF!

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

Joe reported they could expect a 14mph tailwind when he went up to check out flying conditions. The team is preparing to take off right now! Stay tuned.

Date: October 29th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 25 - ? Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance ? miles Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video
Subject:

 Possibility of Flying

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

The temperature in Winnebago County this morning is 25o. The skies are clear, and the winds (out of the WNW) are tolerable -at ground level at least. 2mph with gusts to 5mph. The team is putting a trike up to check out the conditions. More news as it comes to us.

There will be no EarlyBird e-bulletin again this morning. We cannot resolve the problem we are having until our bulk email delivery service people return to work at 9am Monday morning. The next EarlyBird email notice will likely be Tuesday. In the interim we will post to the FJ as quickly as possible.

Date: October 28th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

2006 Migration Map

Location: Winnegabo County Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 24 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles Watch OM on National Geographic's Wild Chronicles video
Subject:

 Supporters Extraordinare

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

Our annual migration would not be possible without the support and generosity of our stopover hosts. On the migration we are reasonably self-contained; we have all the supplies we need, including fuel and food, and each of us has a place to sleep even if it is on a fold down dinning table.

But sitting in a motor home while it pours rain for days at a time with no place to shower, or to spread out wears thin very quickly. We can unhook the two OM trucks from the trailers, and we have the Wisconsin DNR tracking van, but that is only three vehicles for eleven people so everything is done in groups.

Fortunately, our hosts along the way take pity on us and open their homes to the whole team. We arrive, en masse, at some ridiculously early hour and fill their yard with trucks and mobile homes until it looks like a trailer park. We make use of every available electrical outlet, and restrict the use of an isolated area of their property so the birds can remain undisturbed. We set up meetings with media, use their water supply, and tie down aircraft anywhere we can find shelter. On top of all of this we can’t predict when we will be on our way again and leave them in peace.

Despite the burden we place on our stopover hosts, they are generous to a fault, and they make our journey bearable. You can’t imagine what the pressure, the frustration, the tight quarters and long days of boredom would do to the resolve of the crew if not for the support of the land owners along the way.

Our current hosts have invited into their home for showers, internet connections, big screen movies, and dinner every night. They arranged for an Operation Migration PowerPoint presentation at the Burpee Museum in Rockford, and as a result, we raised almost $2,000. We would love to be on our way, but in the mean time our birds are secluded and safe, our aircraft are safely stowed in a heated hangar, and we can spread out a little.

Frost is a reoccurring problem that we face all the way to Florida. It delays our take off until the sun comes up and heats the upper surface of the wings enough to melt it away. The golden hour of calm air in the morning is short lived, and it is frustrating to waste most of it scraping frost. We tried covering the wings with surplus parachutes but they weren’t waterproof. We just ended up with frosty wings and yards of wet fabric.

We have tried removing the wings, putting them flat on the ground and covering them with tarps, but the moisture in the grass just freezes everything together. Frost most often develops just before sunrise and continues to build until the air starts to warm up.

At some locations we are able to remove the wings and store them inside overnight. But then it takes time to carry them out and get the aircraft ready to fly. Sometimes, even in that short space of time, the frost forms on the wings and we are back to waiting for warm air.

We have tried propylene glycol, and warm water from a garden hose. We have tried rubbing and scrapping and cursing, but patience, despite the accompanying frustration, seems to be the only cure.

The new wings are much safer for birds, and because of the lack of upper flying wires, they are also easier to cover. And although wrapping fabric around the 35 foot wingspan of four aircraft is not an easy job, we finally decided that it is the only solution.

Our hope is that we can cover the wings, both top and bottom, while they are still on the aircraft. This way we can prepare to fly, and even start the engine before separating the Velcro and slipping the covers off the ends of the wings. Thereafter we simply jump in, belt up and take off before the frost has a chance to form. At least that's the theory.

Our current stopover host directed us to a tent and awning manufacturer yesterday where we bought 40 yards of nylon, 50 yards of Velcro, and a cheap sewing machine. In his hangar we dropped one of the wings to lay out a pattern and began to cut.

There was our host, down on his knees with a pair of scissors; next he was helping to feed yards of fabric through the overworked sewing machine. It is this kind of support, commitment, and enthusiasm that makes this migration work. And because we must keep the birds isolated and guard our hosts' privacy, we can't even mention the names of these terrific people and give credit where credit is due.

Our stopover hosts are true unsung heroes. They are our Whooping cranes' best friends, and it is our very good fortune to have them as our friends too.

Date: October 28th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker

2006 Migration Map

Location: Winnegabo County Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 24 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

 Rainy Day Ruminations

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

By far the most difficult thing about flying with birds is, NOT flying with birds. I know, sounds little Zen doesn't it? Maybe I watched one too many episodes of 'Kung Fu' as a kid. "Yes, Grasshopper. The secret of the universe lies in the sound of one hand clapping." In our case I guess it would be, 'one wing flapping'. But it's true never the less. Wind and rain conspire to ground us yet again, and here we sit, all dressed up with no place to go.

The wait is made more frustrating by the memory of our last flight; the thrill of hanging 1800 feet in the cold clear air, a dozen birds powering purposefully, with the precise, predictable 90 degree shapes of Illinois farmscapes below us.

The memory has a resonance that lingers long after the flight. At night it crowds out sleep and supercharges the morning's wakefulness. It is at once exciting and sublime; magical and mesmerizing; and there is great peace in it. But there is frustration too. Like now, sitting listening to the rain pound on the trailer roof.

Yet, if I could just force myself to listen, the message it taps out is a simple one....."Patience, Grasshopper. Patience."

Date: October 28th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 24 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

 Going Nowhere

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

1) The wind and the rain that is falling in Winnebago County means another day will be spent on the ground.

2) Apologies to the recipients of our daily EarlyBird e-bulletin. Some crossed communication wires between the team and us was the first problem this morning, followed by difficulties with our bulk email delivery service. Hope we can figure it out before tomorrow morning without their assistance because apparently they don't work weekends.

Date: October 27th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 23 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

 Want a Sneak Preview?

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

For a sneak preview of a segment featuring Operation Migration that will air in November on National Geographic’s television show Wild Chronicles, click the link below.

The link will take you to nationalgeographic.com’s special Whooping Crane Migration page. Scroll down and then click on Watch the video of Whooping cranes and a journalist as they learn to fly.”

Date: October 27th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 23 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

 No air time again today

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

No planes and cranes in the air today. Joe reported a low ceiling and winds out of the east are making it impossible to take off this morning.

Check the field journal later for a posting we expect to receive from Brooke as well as some other news.


Stopover Trivia – Winnebago County, IL (by VN (Vi) White)
The northern boundary of Winnebago County is the Wisconsin-Illinois state line. While the eastern half is more urbanized and leans toward the industrial, some of the richest farmland in the world is found in the rural western half of the county.

Rockford, the seat of Winnebago County, was first settled about 1834 at a spot in the Rock River, which could easily be forded. Now the population is about 150,000. Originally chartered as Rockford Female Seminary in 1847, Rockford College, one of its best known graduates is Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Jane Addams.

Date: October 26th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Laurie Lin

2006 Migration Map

Location: Winnebago County, IL Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 22 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

 View from the Ground

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

“Come in anytime, the house is yours,” the host of the current stop told me after I asked if I might go into the house to use their internet system. Although I had been told how nice the landowners along the migration would be, their kindness and generosity is still unbelievable touching.

The forecast said we would get about half an inch of rain today. Bev and I went to check the chicks early in the morning before it moved into the area. Bev walked carefully because she was carrying a pumpkin about the size of 2 basketballs in her arms. Though I offered to take a turn carrying it, she told me it wasn't really heavy, but that it was quite soft inside. She was trying not to squeeze it and get pumpkin all over her costume. We both laughingly agreed that if that happened, she had better stay away from the pen.

607 was a bit grumpy toward the costume. He surprised me by aggressively pecking at the puppet head just when I stepped in the pen. The next second 606 moved up to 607 and pecked him once. It seemed like 606 was telling 607 to 'chill out' or back off. Later on, 607 performed jump rack behavior toward the costume. We will keep an eye on him to see if he needs special care or attention. The medication seems to be doing the trick for 608 and she is coming along just fine.

Hide and Seek
The migration leg we did on October 24th from the 4th to the 5th Stopover was the best we have had so far. No birds dropped out, or returned, or got crated. 618 finally decided to fly alongside the lead pilot all the way. Even with her recovering right eye, 608 also made it. We were relieved.

'No news is good news' applies to the ground crew’s feelings after we release the chicks. After the departure from Necedah, 604 flew back to the pen before reuniting with the other chicks by following her private aircraft. It was a new record - all chicks flew to the first stop. The credit goes to the strategy of cutting down the distance on the first leg.

When we left Stopover #1, 618 dropped out only a few miles away from the departure pen. Then when we left Stopover #2, 618 and 606 returned to the pen. But it wasn't until the leg between the third and fourth stops on October 23rd that our tracking training was put to the test. Here are some of the exciting elements of our 'lost and found' activities.

We were very fortunate to have ICF's Sara Zimorski, an experienced crane handler/tracker to help us when we tracked and retrieved 6 chicks in the field. News about 606, 608, 615 and 618 landing in the field came through the radio shortly after departure. With the exact location of these chicks provided by our top cover pilots, Don and Paula, Bev and Sara went to them immediately to secure their safety. Marie and I stood by at the pen just in case any chicks returned. Then we went to assist Bev and Sara to transport the 4 chicks back to the pen. At that moment, we received the GPS coordinates for 602 and the rough location of another bird, number unknown.

While we were getting the first 4 chicks back to the pen, the 'location and number unknown' chick magically flew back to the pen by herself. It was 605 - what a smart girl she is. Indeed, Gerald spotted the chick in the sky and rushed to inform handlers near the pen. Her self-homing behavior allowed us to focus on searching for 602. (Remember little 602? She was one of two eggs laid in the wild but hatched in captivity.)

We finally found 602 about 3 miles from her last reported location. The owner of the corn field she was in spotted her when his dog's barking got his attention. He told us that the bird then hid in the field. A corn field may a great place for playing hide and seek- but not now. 602 obviously got startled by the barking dog and people who looked like, well – people.

Marie and Bev walked into the field and started a search pattern at one end, while Sara and I walked along the edge using a tracking device and vocalizer to send out brood calls. Eventually we spotted 602 at the far end of the field. She was struggling her way out and moving toward us in a hurry. It was a long walk to the crate but she followed us very closely and we were relieved that her adventure was over.

That night, were stories about scary humans, barking dogs, and dark boxes (crates) shared among all chicks by the naughty ones? I hope so, and then all these chicks will learn to follow their flying daddies all the way to their personal Disneyland in Florida.

Date: October 26th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled  

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance  
Subject:

 50% of the way there

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644 MileMaker miles had been sponsored by this date in October of 2005. Today, the halfway mark was passed. You great people have now sponsored 619 of the 1228 migration miles. With 609 miles as yet unsponsored we are a long way from being out of the woods - but we are still optimistic. We know that you folks have never let the Whooping cranes down yet.

Date: October 26th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 22 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

 Headwinds - again

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Cold, blustery, grey overcast day in Winnebago County. The team could not even consider flying today with the strong winds out of the south blasting the area.

Date: October 25th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 21 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

 Headwinds

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It's a heartbreaker. Beautiful day with clear skies and calm air on the ground. The trikes spent the night in a hangar, so not even any frost to hold things up this morning. However, when Joe when up to check things out he found himself fighting a 12 to 14mph headwind. Translated, that would allow only about 20mph of ground speed and give the birds about 2 3/4 hours of flying time to the next Stopover. That's beyond their current capacity.

The beautiful sun shining day also meant that there was no point waiting for a wind change. With the sun warming things up it would only be a short while before the resulting air thermals would produce dirty air.

Date: October 24th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker

2006 Migration Map

Location: Winnebago, IL Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 20 - 36.9 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

 

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Frost this morning. Lots of frost. But it was otherwise a beautiful calm and clear and cold morning. After yesterday’s ordeal, just what the doctor ordered. I guess we were due. We de-iced our wings, said goodbye to our wonderful hosts, and launched.

It was Chris's turn to lead, but it soon became apparent he was having trouble. His engine decided it was not interested in migrating birds today and was taking the day off - which is OK for engines to do, as long as they are not in the air when they make that decision. In the old days, things were different and they gave you notice. Not engines today. No respect! Chris radioed he was grounded but we didn’t hear his call because his radio also decided to take the day off also. Engine and radio! Outright desertion!

With Chris out of the line up it became my turn to lead. (Hey wait a minute! Wasn't my last update about 'Leading'?) I landed on the hillside next to the pen; Richard and Joe landed somewhere else and we let the wings thaw in the sun for 20 minutes.

This added a great deal of stress because I had to stand next to the trike looking wimpy while Bev, Marie, and Laurie along with 18 anxious birds glared at me wondering why I was waiting so long to launch - and why OM didn't just hire a pilot with the Right Stuff to begin with! By the time I decided to launch, the girls had to lift me up into the seat! Then they expertly threw open the pen doors and it was Showtime!

Not wanting to single Chris out for abuse, Fate decided to thrill the rest of us with a higher than usual stall speed due to the frost. Not a problem usually, but when flying birds low and slow, it is something that increases the 'pucker factor'.

Off the hill we went and down into the valley below. As we turned up the valley, most of the birds, free of their confinement and anxious to make up for yesterday, formed up on the wing; 12 in total. The others were picked up by Richard and Joe, each took three.

For the rest of the flight, all I had to do was remain seated as the birds worked their magic over the Wisconsin, and then the Illinois countryside. I can't believe I am getting paid for doing this, even if it is only in chilli-dogs and warm beer. How lucky can a guy get!

All three trikes and 18 birds landed within minutes of each other. The sight of those birds strutting their stuff at the end of the runway put big smiles on our costumed faces. Now THIS is what migration is supposed to be like!

Date: October 24th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 20 - 36.9 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

White Bird update & DAR 06

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The report received today from the Tracking and Monitoring team held no surprises and showed little change in the locations of the White Birds. Of note is that DAR 627 and 632 were released on the Necedah refuge on the 20th. They have been spotted associating with 311 and 301*. DAR 626 and 628 were released the following evening and have been associating with 510* and 511 as well as 307, 512, and 519.
The photos below were sent to us by Richard Urbanek

View the photos that go along with this entry here in the 2006 Migration Photo Journal.

Date: October 24th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 20 - 36.9 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

Reflections from the
Landowner Hosts at
Stopover #3

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We woke up this morning to peace and quiet - and a huge void. There were no early morning coffee drinkers, no weather checks, no trailers in our farmyard, no three meals to share today. We imagine our friends and colleagues going through a similar morning ritual at Stopover #4, as all landowner hosts are joined in spirit through this migration experience.

We salute the pilots and crew of Operation Migration who were part of our family this past 8 days. There were many wonderful moments and varied experiences we had over those days, but we will most remember one vivid scene - our four steady and determined pilots in their buzzing aircrafts facing off with 18 birds, elegant avian streaks in the early snow-laden light - cranes who simply didn’t want to leave. As the birds left the pen yesterday, our pilots buzzed through the sky circling.....dipping in hair-raising maneuvers time and time again to coax the birds to ascend, to take to their wing, to head south.

Our pilots simply wouldn't give up. They kept going back for the birds. Back for the one just dropped off. Back for the one off to their left wing that was descending again. Back for the one that went down in the field on the bluff. Our pilots weren’t going to give up! Most people would have given up. It was tough going, but the unruffled men of OM kept on relentlessly. We were in awe. Our men in flapping white costumes must be cut from some kind of kryptonite. They were going to make this migration happen out of sheer will, not to mention astonishing flying skills.

We were blown away witnessing yesterday's departure. However, almost every other morning we had been surrounded by so many other supporters and fans who have given generously to this effort. So, we also salute all of our friends and fellow crane supporters who tirelessly arrived early morning after early morning to watch in awe the departure which never happened. But they always left knowing this skilled team will deliver these magnificent birds to Florida.

Make no mistake, the dauntless crew of Operation Migration WILL guide this year's Whoopers safely to Florida where they will join the never-ending cycle of renewal in nature's grand plan.

Date: October 24th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 20 - 36.9 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 131.1 miles
Subject:

Today is a sharp contrast to yesterday

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Today we finally said goodbye to Wisconsin and crossed into Illinois. The ultralights are down and all the birds are safely in the pen at Stopover #5 in Winnebago County. All the chicks flew beautifully. Brooke had 12, and Richard and Joe 3 each. No one dropped out and Charlie commented that everything went so well, "It was almost boring." (Bite your tongue Charlie!)

With the temperature at 26F degrees there was frost on the wings this morning, but once that was cleared off, it was a great fly day. The 36.9 mile, 54 minute flight was made in clear skies with a 6 to 8 knot tailwind.

That's the good news. The bad news is that Chris's engine is done in. He and Bev have gone off to see if they can find someone nearby with the ability to rebuild it - and quickly.

Date: October 23rd, 2006 - Entry 4

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

2006 Migration Map

Location: Green County, WI Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 19 - 48.7 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 94.2 miles
Subject:

48.7 miles WERE NOT in a straight line!

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Note: Correction from last entry. Don and Paula's problem with their aircraft's fuel bladder came at the end of the day.  Liz

Cranes are creatures of habit. I am sure they woke in the morning expecting to spend the day foraging in the muck just like they have spent the last week - until they heard the sound of our engines. Maybe they were content in their pen and familiar with their surroundings and the sound invoked annoyance instead of the usual excitement. Maybe when the gates were opened they were not all that crazy about following Richard’s aircraft into the cold bleak sky. That would explain why so few of them wanted to participate.

There is a makeshift runway cut into a pasture next to the pen to allow us to launch the birds directly from the enclosure. Richard took off to the west, and although the birds appeared to make an effort to follow, the line was strung out for at least a ¼ mile, and several birds simply landed.

We circled, corralled, and intercepted, but there were too many to gather so Richard landed with a few birds on the main runway a hundred yards to the west, and waited of the rest to join him. We radioed the ground crew to don their swamp monster costumes to flush the birds that had landed next to the pen. Eventually they too joined Richard on the big runway. With all the birds away from the pen and concentrating more on the aircraft, they all took off and we headed for the ridge.

This 800 foot obstacle is only a few miles to the south and forces the birds to climb hard to clear it. Half way up they began to break off and Richard had to turn parallel to the ridge to collect the drop outs. When they all formed on his wing he would try again, but soon his long line of bird had dwindled to only few.

Four broke off and I chased them, but before I could catch up, they landed in a field. I circled and called the ground crew but they were too busy dealing with the birds that were now returning to the pen. Our top cover pilots Don and Paula Lounsbury were soon on station and able to watch the birds while I headed east to find Richard.

Meanwhile Brooke was collecting a few more, while Chris was still on the ground draining his fuel. Apparently over the last few days of rain, some of the moisture collected in a fuel tank and his engine refused to start. He had to empty the tank, flush the carburetors and replace the fuel filter before he could join us.

I found Richard farther to the east still struggling to clear the ridge. He was down in a valley and suffering the abusive winds that were rolling over the top. After a few more circles he finally had enough altitude to turn on course. Unfortunately three birds could not keep up and I tried to collect them.

Richard headed south while the three birds and I made it to the crest of the ridge. They were spread out so far that I could not collect them all, so I decided to land and gather them together. The field I chose was covered with 10 inch high grass matted in wet snow. It was smooth enough, but I had to use full power just to taxi the trike. I sat for 15 minutes to let the birds catch their breath when I saw Brooke fly right over head with 7 birds on his wing.

Richard was a few miles ahead with 4 birds and Brooke was on course with seven. I had three but was still stuck in the field. Don and Paula were circling 4 others, and Chris was still cleaning his fuel system.

When all my birds appeared to have recovered I took off to the east and circled back to let them catch me. Number 604 and 619 each found a wingtip and climbed with me, but number 602 was unwilling or unable to follow and landed back in the field.

I headed on course and radioed GPS coordinates to Don and Paula - who relayed them to Chris, who, after a champion effort, was back in the air. With only two birds I was able to climb steadily and eventually reached 2500 feet.

Richard was up at 1500 feet, but Brooke was struggling to get his birds above a few hundred. At 2500 feet, I had picked up a good tailwind and was covering ground at 50 to 55 miles per hour. Meanwhile Chris had given up trying to encourage 602 into the air and instead landed next to him. He tried to get the bird to follow him but eventually had to abandon it to the ground crew who would load it into a crate and drive it to the next stop.

Now free of 602, Chris headed on course and Dona and Paula went looking for Brooke. They found him sitting in a field with all 7 birds ten miles from our destination. I flew high overhead while Richard was almost at the pen site. A mile from Stopover #4, one of  his birds decided to land on its own, so Richard landed with the other 3 and walked them into the pen. Then he headed back to collect the errant 611.

I circled down from 2000 feet
as I approached the pen site, while 19 miles out, Brooke was again forced to land. Each time he landed to let the birds rest, he lost more on the take-off and Chris would try to collect them.

Richard flew to where we keep the aircraft and tied them down against increasing winds. Then we recruited our landowner host to drive us north. We were headed for the last known coordinates of one of Brooke's drop outs, 614, when we saw him (Brooke) flying over head. He was on his way to the destination with 4 birds in tow.

Eventually Richard, our landowner and I rendezvoused with Charlie Shafer who was driving the Wisconsin DNR van and tracking birds with the large antenna sticking out the roof. We were able to locate 620 and loaded him into a crate. He joined 623 who was already riding in the back of the van. The crated birds were approaching their limits of confinement so we headed back to our destination. Once these two birds were safely in the pen, Richard and Charlie headed north to try and find 614 while Brooke, Chris and I headed south to Stopover #5 to set up the pen.

During all of this effort the rest of the ground crew back at our last location were collecting birds that never really got started. They crated them and returned them to the pen. Eventually 6 birds were crated and loaded into our small motorhome and Marie Brady drove it south. That meant the crew was now able to disassemble the pen and prepare the camp to move south.

Unfortunately our trailers and motorhome had been sitting in wet soggy grass for the last week and several were stuck. This added insult to an already very long day. Eventually Charlie and Richard found number 614 and delivered him to the pen.

By 6:30pm or so, all the bird were finally at the new site. It was a very long day for all of us, and a very testing one for some of our inexperienced crew. Quite a day. But in the end, all the birds were safe; all the crew uninjured; and all of the vehicles are reusable. Now, on to the next challenge.

Date: October 23rd, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office / Green County Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 19 - 48.7 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 94.2 miles
Subject:

48.7 miles WERE NOT in a straight line!

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Have you too been on pins and needles all day wondering what was happening? What a nail biter!

The long story will come later, in the meantime here's the short version. The chicks are all safe in the pen at Stopover #4 in Green County - with the exception of 614. Charlie and Richard have gone back to hunt for him. 620 and 623 traveled this leg of the migration in a crate in the back of the van.

The ground crew is looking after the chicks while Brooke, Chris, and Joe are headed to Stopover #5 hauling our second travel pen. They will set it up in hope that we can make it to Winnebago County tomorrow.

Adding to the wildness of today's flight was that it had to be made with out top cover. Don and Paula Lounsbury's aircraft had a problem with a fuel bladder and was out of commission. All is fixed now and they are set to fly tomorrow - assuming we can.

There will be a tired bunch of folks tonight no doubt. When they were chafing at the inactivity of down days I'm sure today's rodeo/round up wasn't what they had in mind as an alternative.

No promises, but we will try to get you 'the rest of the story' later this evening. You'll understand I know (I hope) if it doesn't appear here until tomorrow morning.

Date: October 23rd, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled  

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance  
Subject:

Wood Buffalo/Aransas Flock

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Tom Stehn, USFWS Whooping Crane Coordinator at Aransas NWR, Texas, has sent his first report of the 2006 migration season.

On the aerial census conducted of the refuge and surrounding area on October 20, seven Whooping cranes were spotted. One additional adult not sighted during the census flight was observed October 21 near Port O’Connor.

Tom, along with pilot Jim Bredy and biologist Patrick Walther surveyed key whooping crane areas in the USFWS regional aircraft.  With the retirement this past summer of pilot Tom Taylor, who has flown the Whooping crane census flights for the past 12 years, Tom plans to do about 2 flights per month from November through March.

"The three cranes that over-summered at Aransas were still together" said Tom. "The 5 Whooping cranes that had completed the migration were split as two singles on opposite ends of the refuge, a single near Port O’Connor, and a duo on San Jose Island."

Stehn noted that, "These first migratory cranes presumably arrived with a strong cold front that reached the Texas coast in the early morning hours of October 19, which is just 3 days later than the Whooping cranes' average first arrival date of October 16th."

“The additional Whooping cranes presumably arrived during the early morning hours of October 22 when a second and stronger cold front, pushed by northwest winds gusting around 30 mph, crossed the Texas coast."

Date: October 23rd, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 19 - ? Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance ? miles
Subject:

Up, Up and Away

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Finally, a migration day on which we are actually able to migrate!

Take-off was delayed this morning due to Chris G.'s ultralight having water in the fuel line.

The birds were reluctant to fly / follow and the pilots had a time of it this morning - they had a huge 'crane rodeo' happening.

The crane rodeo eventually transitioned into a crane round up. Six chicks are at our Stopover #4 location in Green County. Two are back at the travel pen site in Sauk County. Richard is down in a field with 4 birds about 20 miles north of Stopover #4. Brooke is also down with some birds - somewhere....

"Where are the rest of the birds in the cohort," I asked Joe. "Everywhere!" was his harried answer. "But don't worry," he added, "they are all safe and accounted for, we just haven't got enough people to go around to have someone with all of them at the moment."

Stay tuned - - more news as soon as things settle down.

Date: October 22nd, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

2006 Migration Map

Location: Sauk County, WI Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 18 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

The Pros and Cons

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We have only flown 8 times in the last month and only three times since the migration began 18 days ago.

The advantages of not going:
Stalled as we are on this migration it is hard to look on the bright side, but we are the guests of generous hosts who actually serve on the Board of Operation Migration and the International Crane Foundation. They, as well as anyone, understand the problems we face and have made us feel welcome even throughout our extended stay.

They have opened their doors and we come and go like members of the family. They arrange meals, grant us access to all of their many facilities and entertain us beyond the limits of normal generosity. On each morning when the weather looks promising, they host a growing number of friends and neighbours who are coaxed and cajoled into supporting our worthy cause. Despite the snow and wind that eat away at our resolve, they are encouraging, supportive and optimistic.

The disadvantages of not going:
The longer the birds are confined to the pen the more we have to contend with boredom and displaced aggression. When we are grounded for a few days we let the birds out occasionally to stretch their wings and get some exercise.

They fly a few circuits and land back next to the handlers but we are reluctant to do it too often in case they get in the habit of returning to this location. The departure from here should be a one way trip and we need to minimize any tendency to turn back. We balance that against their need to for freedom and a chance to fly, but there is also the fear of power line collision or the possibility that they may see the aircraft and land somewhere inappropriate to our isolation protocol.

Birds are creatures of habit and very wiling to follow our aircraft if it is part of their daily routine. But the same characteristic makes them reluctant to leave if flying is only an occasional event. The longer we are down, the less likely they are to follow us much beyond the horizon.

The longer we are delayed the greater chance we have of encountering deep snow. We have had flurries the last few days and last evening even rose in the middle of the night to clean the wings of excessive weight. As winter gets closer we face the real concern of a foot of snow that would make taking off and landing difficult.

Some members of our migration team are volunteers and have limited tolerance for a migration that could extend past Christmas. Some of us have families at home who have suffer our absence for long enough, and each day on the ground brings more disappointment.

Whether we fly or not expenses continue to mount. There is the cost of propane to heat the trailers, gas to fuel the trucks, aviation fuel for the trikes to test the morning skies, and other expenses for general supplies for man and bird. All add to the cost of migration despite our not going anywhere.

As the down days accumulate into down weeks we begin to lose our web audience. The excitement of a day of migration news is hard to replace with yet another posting about bad weather. It just doesn't cut it. With this reduction in interest comes a slowdown in our support - and it becomes harder to cover the cost of a migration that grows increasingly expensive.

But.....the winds can't blow forever, and as likely as we are to break records for not moving, there is just as much chance we could set records for the number of day we could fly. Maybe, just maybe, this is the year we will be able to fly on more than 6 consecutive days, or cover more than 200 miles in a morning.

View the photo here in the 2006 Migration Photo Journal.

Date: October 22nd, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Marie Brady

2006 Migration Map

Location: Sauk County, WI Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 18 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Same old, same old

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Not much has changed; although last night's snow all melted, the winds kept us down again. Both birds and crew are doing pretty well, but everyone is long since ready for a change of location.

For the last two days 608 was holding her right eye shut most the time. She was lethargic, slept most of the time, and spent most of the time off by herself. When she was around the other birds she was very submissive.

This morning, both she and her disposition seemed much improved. She is blinking her ulcerated eye much more than she was, and is more alert and active, holding her head up and being less submissive to the other birds. If nothing else, at least one good thing has come from all these down days. It has given 608 a chance to rest up and get better. Hopefully by the time the weather changes she will be well enough to fly with her cohort.

Date: October 22nd, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 18 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Record Tied

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Today we tied a record we would have rather not.

It is Sunday, October 22nd and it is the Team's 7th down day in Sauk County. This matches the previous record for consecutive down days in Wisconsin. That happened during the 2004 migration when we were stuck on the ground for a solid week in Green County.

While there were clear skies overhead, there were also very high winds. The rest of the weather conditions were not great either. The team was up in the middle of the night cleaning snow off the aircraft wings.

Other records we'd rather not beat:
Most Consecutive Down Days overall       =   8     in Morgan County, IN in 2005
Most Total Down Days                            =  38    on the 2005 Migration

Check the FJ later in the day when we expect to receive an update from the field and also some photos.

Date: October 21st, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: OM Team

2006 Migration Map

Location: Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled  

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance  
Subject:

Miles and Miles and Miles To Go

WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

Thanks to many of you, things have changed since September 6th when we posted the first photo depiction of where MileMaker 2006 stood. But as you can see from the updated photo below, we still have miles and miles to go before the empty sky over the rest of Kentucky, and Tennessee, Georgia and Florida can be filled with ultralights leading the young Whooping cranes in the Class of '06.


As of today, less than half  of the 1,228 Migration miles are sponsored - 655 to go!
Click here and become a MileMaker Sponsor

 

Date: October 21st, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 17 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Crazy Glued To Wisconsin

WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

Wisconsin won't let us go! This is the sixth day on the ground in Sauk County.

The OM Team woke to discover the landscape covered by a dense fog. They decided to wait it out.

Waiting, waiting... but to no avail. While the fog started to lift, and the winds were very light and out of the north, there was rain just to the south of them (right in their path) and the radar showed that it's coverage was increasing.

 

Date: October 20th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Chris Gullikson / Marie Brady

2006 Migration Map

Location: Sauk County, WI Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 16 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Tomorrow looks good....

WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

From Chris:
'Tomorrow looks good,' has been our mantra for the last several days, and each morning when we don’t get off the ground we again say in disgust, 'tommorow looks good.'

This morning started almost perfect - cold and clear with a very light north wind. Frost was quickly forming on every surface, including our wings. We were delayed a bit as our trikes are tied down outside and needed to be de-iced. Unfortunately the local conditions were deceiving. The wind was actually out of the south - there must have been some local condition that was fooling us into thinking we had a north wind.

After waiting an hour for the sun to rise and then getting our wings cleaned off, the four of us lifted off into the sky and promptly realized we would be down yet another day. The south winds coming over the ridge created strong mechanical turbulence, tossing our light aircraft to and fro. The conditions smoothed out 1500 feet above the ground, but there was no way we could get that high with birds in tow - and we would be fighting a headwind anyway.

Our very generous hosts are keeping us encouraged and it is great to see their friends gather every morning to watch us try and depart. A storm system is moving through the Midwest bringing stronger winds and precipitation to our area so it looks like we may be down for the next few days. There is hope on the horizon though, as a ridge of high pressure bringing us good migrating weather is forecasted to move into the area by next week.

From Marie:
From the ground crew's perspective:  As the pilots were taking off the ground crew was rushing in to ready the pen and birds for departure. Our adrenaline was pumping and keeping us warm in the near-freezing conditions.

With the radio volume turned so low the birds could not hear, I heard Joe say "I'm getting my butt kicked up here."  He then made the call that it was too windy and it would be a no-go. Hearing this, we fell into our normal routine of rinsing muddy water buckets and filling feeders. Then Charlie came along to help medicate one of the birds.

Yesterday afternoon we let the chicks out of the pen for a little exercise. They leapt into the air, anxious to get back to the skies. They flew a few circuits and would then be content to forage in a nearby mud puddle until another bird started flying and they’d be off again. After a few flights, 608 was foraging next to Laurie and she noticed that she was holding her right eye closed more often than normal. Laurie told Charlie who immediately called the vets at ICF. After a quick vet visit it was determined that 608 had a small ulcer in her eye that may be a day or two old. We were given some ointment to apply twice a day and we hope she will make a quick and full recovery.

For the past few mornings we have gotten up at dawn hoping for good weather. And each morning we, and those who have faithfully gathered to watch, have been sadly disappointed. Some one suggested we make a sacrifice to the Wind Gods - but alas! there are no fair maidens available.

With the possibility of more bad weather coming it could be that we'll be down even longer. But if we have to get stuck somewhere this is the place to do it. With great friends, great food, and a warm fireplace, who could ask for anything more?

There is still plenty of work to be done here. The boys are currently out getting a delivery truck unstuck from the mud. Charlie is off helping to dump some horse manure, while I faithfully sit indoors in a comfy chair to bring you this update. Yes, tough job but.....

Date: October 20th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Sauk County, WI Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 16 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Still Stuck

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Laurie called very early to say that it was a beautiful clear morning in Sauk County. The weather forecast promised calm conditions, and at ground level at least, this was the case.

With everyone encouraged and hopeful, Joe took off to check out the conditions 'upstairs'. In short order he radioed down to the crew, "It's a no go; I'm getting my butt kicked around up here." Today is the fifth straight day the Team will be held on the ground at Stopover #3.

We checked where we were on October 20th on the past five migrations. With the exception of 2001 and 2003, we've always reached Green County on or before October 20. It's beginning to look like this year's earliest ever departure, (October 5th) is turning out to be a case of 'hurry up and wait.
 

YEAR

ARRIVED
SAUK CO.

DAYS
DOWN

DEPARTED
SAUK CO

2001

Oct.21

0

Oct.22

2992

Oct.16

3

Oct.20

2003

Oct.17

4

Oct.22

2004

Oct.11

1

Oct.13

2005

Oct.16

1

Oct.18

2006

Oct.15

5

 ?

Date: October 19th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

2006 Migration Map

Location: Sauk County, WI Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 15 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Not For Lack of Trying

WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

This is starting to get scary. We have been on the road for over 2 weeks and are still in the next county south from where we started.

Chris had predicted a possible window this morning but cautioned against optimism. Despite his warning, we were all up early hoping for a break and a chance to be on our way. The sky was dismal before sunrise but the calm air teased us. We waited for first light and stood under the wings while a cell passed by, peppering us with drizzle.

When it brightened a little we launched an aircraft to see first hand what awaited. I climbed over the ridge, but to the south the ceiling extended to ground level and the air was not what we call smooth. I radioed the crew that we should wait another half hour and try again.

We have been flying with our new North wings now for over a month but so far we have had the luxury of a hangar. This morning they were wet when I took off and I was surprised when I felt a stall building as I began to climb. A stall in an airplane has nothing to do with the engine, but results instead when the wing is not moving fast enough to generate sufficient lift to keep it airborne. That's why when you slow an aircraft down, it begins to descend, and when you speed it up it will climb. Normally we can slow the aircraft to 32 mph before they begin to gently fall, but this morning, with the moisture on the wings, they stopped flying at over 40mph; far too fast to lead birds.

An 8 or 9mph increase in the stall speed is disconcerting, and normally what we would expect from frost, but not just water. I landed and discussed it with the other pilots and we decided to wipe off the water and try again. To my surprise it made all the difference and the wing flew normally. We will just have to add towels to our shopping list of supplies and check for moisture on the leading edge before we take off.

After another half hour passed Brooke took off the re-check conditions. By that time however, the air was too bumpy and we knew that crossing the ridge would be impossible. So we are down for another day - but it was not for lack of trying.

Date: October 19th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 15 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Waited and Waited and Waited - But It's A No Go

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When the early morning drizzle that was almost sleet turned to favorable weather, the team put aircraft up to check conditions out. It was still a little overcast, but the winds were blowing from the right direction. The ground crew stood by at the travel pen and the pilots with their ultralights until a check of the radar showed a band of showers moving in. The team decided to wait it out.

The rain eventually passed to the south so they put a second aircraft up to check the situation out again. When Brooke came back down he said the air was too bumpy to risk a take-off with the birds and that the ceiling had lowered to the point where it wouldn't be possible to clear the ridge in front of them.

A call to the next Stopover for a weather report at that location cemented the no-go decision. The wind and rain had reached there.

Note: The website page with the Migration Progress Graph we told you about yesterday has been updated to show charts from 2001 through 2005 in addition to 2006's. Here's a link to click. Migration Progress & Comparison Graph

Date: October 18th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 14 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

DAR Birds Banded

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We just learned that four of the five juveniles destined for the Direct Autumn Release (DAR) program were banded today. DAR626,  27,  28, and 32 will be released as soon as they become accustomed to their bands and transmitters. 630 sustained a fractured left humerus recently. As he will not recover in time for the upcoming migration he was removed from the DAR program and will remain in permanent captivity. 

Date: October 18th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 14 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

OM Presents in Rockford, IL

WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

If you are in the vicinity of Rockford, IL consider visiting the Burpee Museum of Natural History tomorrow evening (Thursday, October 19 at 7:00pm) to hear a presentation by Joe Duff.

The event is being hosted by the Four Rivers Environmental Coalition. Light refreshments will be served. There is no admittance fee, but freewill donations are appreciated. The museum is located at 737 North Main Street. Note: Only 100 people can be accommodated.

Date: October 18th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 14 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

3 for 14

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Today will make it 3 for 14 - that is, we had just three fly days out of the last fourteen.

Despite dry conditions and a high ceiling the team remains grounded today. The expected 3 to 5mph winds out of the northwest turned out to be blowing 10 to 12mph even at ground level.

We've made additions to the Migration Progress & Comparison Graph page. You can now see graphs for each of the previous years' migrations too.

Date: October 17th, 2006 - Entry 4

Links

Reporter: Laurie Lin

2006 Migration Map

Location: Sauk County, WI Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 13 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Putting Necedah Behind Us

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When Mother Nature kept us in our home away from home (Necedah National Wildlife Refuge) for a few extra days, everyone focused on the moving out activities, some of which included packing, cleaning, and winterizing the trailers.

With Gerald's help, Brooke pushed the slide-outs in for the two trailers that will stay in the refuge for the winter. Oops. They forgot to sweep the leaves off the roof of the slide-outs first. A whole layer of leaves was caught and stuck out like a thatched roof. A funny sight.

Getting the vehicles ready is another task. Gaining new skills at work and knowing that there is much potential in you yet to be discovered is fortunate. When Joe was assigning drivers to vehicles, nobody (including myself) knew if I could handle the Flair, a 30 foot motor home. After I moved to Canada I did get some experience driving larger vehicles, but not one of this Godzilla size. But hey, facing and up taking challenges makes life interesting and that's why we are here.

We needed two propane tanks filled up, so for practice, under Richard’s supervision, I drove the 30 foot long motorhome to town. Both Richard and I were so focused on my maneuvering the vehicle in the small parking lot that we forgot to load the tanks we had filled into the Flair. When we continued my practice drive back to camp it was without them. Well - whatever happens in Necedah, spreads in Necedah. We weren't back long before Larry, the Refuge manager, called to say he'd had a call from the propane station guy. About the same time, the crew found a 'You forgot your propane tanks' note stuck to the door of our aircraft hangar. I am wondering how many of Necedah's 888 residents heard the forgotten tanks story.

The other night both Bev and I ran out of propane for our trailers so I decided to move into the kitchen area of the Nomad (which we use as OM 'field headquarters'). When it's freezing cold it doesn’t take long to empty a tank, and it's hard to predict when it will run out. A few days ago I spotted Gerald out switching one of the propane tanks in the middle of the night. Brrrrr.

I had several more practice runs with the Flair before we finally left camp and Necedah behind us. When the Flair and I officially took our first ride of the 2006 migration, Richard was at my side in case I needed any instructions or reminders.

The song 'It's a Wild World' was playing on the CD player. It amused me to listen to the lyrics, 'Oh baby, its's a wild world,' while driving my record-breaking big vehicle along the interstate highway. When the tune played continuously for over 30 minutes I started to wonder if Richard had set it on repeat for encouragement. I got my answer when he turned off the CD player and said, "Bad design. Every bump we hit makes it cycle back to the beginning." Oh boy, will it be a long migration for me and the Flair unless I find a song that I will never tire of.

As the saying goes, 'all is well that ends well' and my first motorhome journey did as I parked the Flair safely at our new camp site. My 'driving coach' even napped during the ride so that must give me extra 5 points on my evaluation - right Richard?

We're in camp again, but now it's in Sauk County. Despite what the weather reports may say, we always get up each morning hoping that we can fly - unless the forecast is confirmed by shaking trees or a dripping sky. Joe mentioned that we’ve never missed a 'flyable' day and we would like to maintain that record.

C'mon flying weather! Let's go!

Date: October 17th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 13 - 0 Miles

Craniac Kids Take Action

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Craniac Kids Take Action

WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 chicks to Florida.

Because it is with the children of today that lies the hope for all the world's creatures and their habitats, we at Operation Migration are never more pleased than when our efforts, and our work on behalf of the endangered Whooping crane, inspires them.

This was the case for the children at the Louisville Kentucky's John F. Kennedy Montessori School. Their teacher, Lori Trout, wrote to tell us what the kids there had decided to do to help OM get the Class of 2006 from Wisconsin to Florida. They decided to write to ExxonMobil to ask for the company's help.

To read Lori’s cover letter to ExxonMobil Corporation's CEO, Mr. Rex Tillerson, and to see copies of the letters her students wrote, click Craniac Kids Take Action At the bottom of the page there, you will also see several pictures of the students at work.

Should there be other teachers, students, classes, schools, who would like to reinforce the message sent to ExxonMobil by the 'Craniac Kids' from John F. Kennedy Montessori School, Mr. Tillerson's address is:

Mr. Rex W. Tillerson, CEO
ExxonMobil Corporation
5959 Las Colinas Boulevard
Irving, Texas 75039-2298

Date: October 17th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 13 - 0 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Check out the Graph!

Last year, supporter Fred Dietrich of Tallahassee, FL, created a chart to track 2005's migration progress. The chart also had a line so that the current year's progress could be compared against the average progress of the previous four years.

Fred's 2005 chart was a hit, and just when we were wondering if he was doing one again this year - an email from him arrived with the 2006 version. Yea Fred! Click the following link to view 2006's progress, and watch as it is updated every day how this year’s progress compares to the average of the past five years. Migration Progress & Comparison Graph

Date: October 17th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

2006 Migration Map

Location: Main Office Migration Progress & Comparison Graph
Distance Traveled Migration Day 13 - 0 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Sauk County is socked in.

The team was greeted by a lovely calm morning, but with fog so thick they could barely make out the forms of the ultralights across the way. The temperature at their location is moderate, but it rained there most of the night and everything is sodden. There will be no advancement made on the migration trail today.

Remember, Operation Migration is the charity of the day on GoodSearch (see entry 1 for October 16). Click the link to the right and earn some $$$ for OM .

Date: October 16th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 12 - 0 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Stalled in Sauk County

To quote Joe, "The weather here is crappy."

Too much wind today, and making it worse is that it is out of the south. Even without the wrong-way winds, this morning’s low ceiling would have made crossing the low ridge in front of the team an impossibility. By the time we finished our call, as if conditions hadn't already sealed the team's fate for today, rain was starting to fall.

Stopover Trivia – Sauk County, WI (by VN (Vi) White)
One of our WCEP partners, the International Crane Foundation (ICF), is located in Sauk County just north of Baraboo. Some of the eggs from captive Whooping cranes housed at ICF are shipped to Patuxent, Maryland for Operation Migration's ultralight training; others are designated for the Direct Autumn Release (DAR) program. ICF's other contribution to the WCEP project is Tracking and Monitoring of the White Birds. Visitors to ICF’s Baraboo facility can view all of the world’s 15 species of cranes.

Date: October 16th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 12 - ? Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

OM honored

Tomorrow, October 17, Operation Migration is being honored as the 'Charity of the Day' by GoodSearch, a unique internet search engine.

Designate Operation Migration as your favorite organization, and each time you use GoodSearch to search the internet, $$$ are credited to us. Why not give it a try? The GoodSearch site is powered by Yahoo! so you will get the same quality search results that you are used to.

The more people who use this site to search, the more money will go to Operation Migration. If you like the idea, please spread the word to your friends and family. And if your work environment has multiple computers, ask your co-workers to download the GoodSearch toolbar onto their computers. This makes it easy for people to remember to use GoodSearch on OM's behalf, and to help support a cause that you care about.

You can find GoodSearch at www.goodsearch.com or simply click the GoodSearch logo found to the right on this page.

Date: October 15th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Sauk County, WI 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 11 - 23.4 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Lead, Follow or Get Out Of the Way!

Lead, Follow or Get Out Of the Way! I usually prefer the latter, get out of the way I mean, but some days, life has a way of placing you in a lead position. Today was my day...to lead the birds, that is.

We lifted off from the airport early this morning - early enough to clearly see the Halloween lights decorating the sleeping town of Necedah and giving it that cozy model train-like appearance. The lights also aided us in our navigation. We were, you see, flying to Mauston where the birds had been awaiting our return for the last few cold, windy days. Then we would land, take off with them, and head for our next stop near Baraboo, resuming our migration and giving our spirits a much needed boost.

My turn to lead. Boom! Out of the pen they burst and off we go. Up over the magical Wisconsin countryside we rose with the sun just beginning to peak over the ridge. All the birds followed well, but it was soon apparent we would be fighting a headwind all the way and, as everyone knows, the word 'bird' comes from the Latin word 'bird', which means, 'I don't like to fly in a headwind!'

Soon one bird dropped out and Chris moved into pick it up. Then another dropped out and Joe picked it up. Joe couldn’t get too close to the bird because he is fighting a bad stomach flu (which would have kept a lesser man on the ground) and he didn't want to infect the bird. Richard and I - and the rest of the birds carried on.

I pause in this narrative to discuss briefly the relationship of 'Leading' birds to 'Following' them. It's like a dance where the partners are learning the steps, the rhythms, and the subtleties of the music at the same time, both trying to overcome their awkwardness while showing sensitivity and consideration to each other. And, of course, one is leading. To accomplish this, the one who is leading is actually in fact following and the one following is actually leading. Very Zen.

And so it is leading birds. You are in the lead, leading them. Fine. But you must in the same action induce them to follow. If they bear off, you also must bear off to stay in the lead. If they tire and descend, you too must descend. And if they zoom ahead to challenge for lead, as they often do, you must adjust for that. It is, as I said, a dance, and a dance is fluid by nature.

After a while, seeing Richard back and a little lower, one bird decided to drop back and form on his wing, leading 4 other birds over to Richard as well. This was helpful because they got the whole of Richard's wing to themselves and no longer had to share the lift my wing produced with the other birds.

At times, the headwinds slowed our ground speed to 17mph and the geography below seemed to stand still. We could only hope the birds had the stamina to make it to the next stop. As some birds would tire and begin to descend, we had to drop down to allow them to re-attach to the formation. But the penalty was losing hard earned altitude, entering an area of higher headwinds and greater turbulence - serving to tire the birds even more. We gently descended hoping the remaining altitude would be sufficient to allow us to reach our destination. The dance continued.

Finally, with just one more tree-lined ridge to clear and the airfield appeared. We flew in at tree top level, low and slow. Even this was too much for two birds. They dropped out and Joe and Chris each landed with one.

I landed with my birds, and with Richard, who had already landed with his 5, walked the birds to the pen. With those birds safely tucked away, we took off to help Joe and Chris who were sitting next to their birds letting them rest in hopes of leading them over the trees to the airfield.

Joe eventually coaxed his bird into the air and over the trees and we finally got Chris's bird into the air. Unfortunately he would not climb but we managed to get him over to a field where Charlie driving the tracking vehicle had access for a pick up.

I must add here that we are blessed with guardian angels; Don and Paula flying top cover above us and Charlie Shaefer driving the tracking vehicle below. They help insure the success of each migration leg.

Date: October 15th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 11 - 23.4 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 45.5 miles
Subject:

Now in Sauk County, WI

Despite some of the birds having to be crated and transported, today's flight has to be considered a success.

With Brooke flying lead, all 18 chicks took off from the travel pen site at Stopover #2. The ground crew always stays put for at least 10 or 15 minutes until they are sure that none of the birds do an about face and head back to the pen. Today that was what 606 and 618 did, and they were eventually crated for the drive to Stopover #3.

As the flight with the rest of the cohort continued, Brook was leading 11 of the 16 fliers while Richard had 5 off his wing. Nearing the end, two more birds broke off. Joe went after one and Chris the other.

Chris went after little 602, (captive-hatched and reared when her inexperienced parents, 213 and 218* abandoned their nest). She landed about a mile short of the finish line. Chris set down nearby and tried to get her back up flying, but she was having no part of it. He waited 20 minutes before trying again. She still wasn't interested so Chris radioed the ground crew to bring a crate to take her the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, on a hill just 200 or so yards short of the travel pen at Stopover #3, Joe was playing out the same scene with his wayward chick. 623 had landed in a clearing amid a forest on top of a hill and Joe followed her down. On Joe's first attempt he was able to get her back up in the air, but she couldn't quite make it over the trees. After a 30 minute or so rest, Joe tried again and this time met with success. He led 623 over the trees and they both landed in front of the travel pen.

From start to finish the flight, (with the main portion of the cohort) covered 23.4 miles and lasted 58 minutes.

After days of relative inactivity, the team will all be kept hustling and bustling for the rest of the day. Some will go back to camp to break it down, unhook everything, and do a last sweep before moving all our vehicles and homes on wheels to Stopover #3. Today will be goodbye to Necedah until next year. Others will be tending to the birds and the pen at Stopover #3, and some will be driving to Stopover #4 hauling our second travel pen. It has to be unloaded and set up to be ready for the birds' arrival on the next fly day - which hopefully will be tomorrow.

For the migration team, I think having a good fly day was better than a tonic. I could hear the lift of spirits in their voices.

Date: October 15th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 11 - ? Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance ? miles
Subject:

We're in the air!

The adrenaline is pumping - we are finally flying again.

The team and the birds left Stopover site #2 in South Juneau County and are headed for Stopover #3 in Sauk County, WI - an approximate 22 mile flight.

It was Brooke's turn to fly lead. All the birds took off, but two circled back. Thanks to a masterful performance by the Swamp Monster (aka Bev) to keep them from landing, Chris was able to pick up the two that returned. But then, from what we gather at this point, they returned again. They are now in the pen and Charlie is on his way over with two crates. 606 and 618 will travel this leg in the back of the van.  Last word was that all four ultralights and the other 16 birds were well on their way though. Yea!

Comparing previous years to this one, here are the dates we first left Necedah and the dates we made it to Stopover #3.
2001 - Left Oct 17, Landed Stopover #3 Oct. 21
2002 - Left Oct 13, Landed Stopover #3 Oct 16
2003 - Left Oct 16, Landed Stopover #3 Oct 17
2004 - Left Oct 10, Landed Stopover #3 Oct 11
2005 - Left Oct 14, Landed Stopover #3 Oct 16

With the exception of 2004, looking at the dates in this light shows that while any advantage we had hoped to gain with this year's early departure is pretty much lost, we are still, albeit marginally, 'ahead of the game'.

Don't forget to check back later for a full account of today's flight/activities.

Stopover Trivia – Sauk County, WI (by VN (Vi) White)
Sauk County, 'where eagles soar', was named for the Sauk Indians who lived there. It covers 838 square miles and has about 56,000 inhabitants.  Baraboo is the county seat. Wisconsin Dells, located on the west bank of the Wisconsin River in the extreme northeast corner of Sauk County, boosts the Ho-Chunk Casino, Hotel and Convention Center, a Native American enterprise which offers its visitors a Vegas-like experience.

Date: October 15th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled  

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance  
Subject:

Very Interesting

Curious about where visitors to OM’s website come from? We were, so we took a look yesterday and here's what we found.

Country

%

UNITED STATES

88.38

CANADA

4.97

      UNKNOWN

2.76

UNITED KINGDOM

.92

GERMANY

.46

CHINA

.43

NETHERLANDS

.33

FRANCE

.21

AUSTRALIA

.16

JAPAN

.15

INDIA

.15

SWEDEN

.14

GREECE

.11

DENMARK

.10

SPAIN

.10

POLAND

.10

SWITZERLAND

.07

ITALY

.07

PHILIPPINES

.07

ISRAEL

.06

MEXICO

.06

FINLAND

.05

AUSTRIA

.05

HUNGARY

.05

SOUTH AFRICA

.04

Date: October 14th, 2006 - Entry 5

Links

Reporter: Bev Paulan

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Juneau County, WI 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 10 - 0 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 22.1 miles
Subject:

Taking what blows our way

Saturday, and another windy, gloomy day in Necedah. I'm beginning to wonder if we will ever leave the refuge. As much as this has become home to me, we need to get the birds moving before the seriously bad weather moves in.

We did have snow this week, a surprise even by central Wisconsin standards. The lousy weather does nothing to help with either the migration, or the frame of mind of those involved. Luckily, all it takes is a visit to the pen to see the chicks and my spirit improves. One glimpse of the birds, one 'peep' drifting up the hillside on the wind, and I remember what it is we're doing; what we have been entrusted to do.

I know the weather will improve. I know we will get the birds to Florida....before Christmas. But it will take patience. Patience with the weather gurus, the weather itself, the process, and also with each other. There is no use trying to rush mother nature, we'll never beat her. We just have to take time to look at the birds and remember to smile, relax and accept what blows our way.

Date: October 14th, 2006 - Entry 4

Links

Reporter: Marie Brady

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Juneau County, WI 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 10 - 0 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 22.1 miles
Subject:

News from the Pen

Two more down days since I last reported and it is still COLD. Luckily, the frozen precipitation has ended and the winds have died down slightly today. This makes morning and evening checks much more bearable. Though we (and maybe I only speak for myself) have learned a lot these last few days.

First thing I learned is that it is best to go check the birds with no fewer than four layers on (including the costume). That's because what seems like relatively calm winds near the trailers in camp, can be winds whipping like crazy and rolling over the corn fields near the birds' pen.

Second, keeping at least three of those layers over your hands not only keeps the birds from seeing them, but can also keep them toasty warm (toasty being a relative term of course). And third, the hood of my new favorite hoodie (an OM hoodie of course) is just big enough to cover my head and most of my forehead under the costume. The helmet only needs to be loosened two notches to compensate for the extra bulk. Who would have thought you could learn so much trapped in a trailer for 4 days!? But back to the birds since that is undoubtedly why you came to the Field Journal in the first place.

Except when we are at the pen, in order to stay warm the birds pretty much stay hunkered down out of the wind as much as possible. They all crowd around the door as we come in, and then follow us around the pen hoping to catch a few corn kernels should some be dropped from the puppet.

The birds are eating like crazy; every morning and evening the feeders need to be refilled. They, like most other migratory birds, have an innate desire to fatten up for their long migration. (How long this migration will be is the question.) We have gone through an entire 50 pound bag of food in three days.

View the photo here in the 2006 Migration Photo Journal. Last evening we gave them a few corn cobs to play with. We put the partially shucked cobs on the ground and watched the birds approach them, cautiously at first. In a matter of seconds the cobs were being tossed and picked over, corn sent flying from strong pecks. You wouldn't believe how strong these chicks can peck until one pecks on your boot. It isn't long before a bruise appears.

After grabbing hold of one cob, something about it must have freaked out 601. He dropped the cob, jumped back and ran away from it as it if it had bit him! The other birds just started right in on the corn. 607 and 615 were companionably pecking away side-by-side until our resident bully, 622, came in to push them away. By this morning only a few corn husks and empty cobs remained.

I do believe the birds are getting as antsy as we are to leave. Tempers are flaring, and this morning 612 and 606 were doing the 'I'm bigger than you' thing. Most times stretching their necks out is enough of a threat and one of the birds will back down and wander off. This time both started flapping and jumping at each other until the other birds formed a 'fight ring' around them.

Just as I walked over to them 606 decided he had had enough and walked quickly away from 612. It seems to me that 612 is also turning out to be a bit of a bully. This seems odd since as a chick he was always so calm and never minded being around the other birds. For the birds' sake, and ours, I think we need a change of scenery! Maybe tomorrow……. Fingers crossed!!!

Date: October 14th, 2006 - Entry 3

Links

Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Juneau County, WI 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 10 - 0 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 22.1 miles
Subject:

Learning Patience

Here it is Day 10 of the migration and we are still hunkered down in camp at Necedah. The birds are 22.1 miles south of here, and the wind continues to blow. Today, though from the right direction, they were too strong. Had they been smooth and light, the team would have gone with only three trikes as mine is still missing its engine.

Don and Paula Lounsbury were kind enough to fly the engine the hour and a half to East Troy where it was rebuilt, but it was too windy yesterday for them to make a pick up flight. As it turned out, Chris Gullikson was visiting his father only a few miles away so he was able to bring it back for us. Both my airplane and I were under the weather last night. I sat in my room in the trailer wrapped in blankets and shivered. Let's hope neither one of us is contagious.

Tomorrow looks like a good day, although we have been saying that for days now. There is nothing that can be done about it, but it's hard not to get discouraged when we are stuck on the ground for so many daysunning. But then I guess if it was easy the sky would be filled with airplanes leading birds south. It's our turn for a break - and I know its coming. We just have to be patient.

Date: October 14th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 10 - 0 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 22.1 miles
Subject:

Recovery Activities Report

Tom Stehn of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, co-chair of the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team and Whooping Crane Coordinator at Aransas, has completed his semi-annual report on the species Recovery Activities. Our thanks to Tom for sharing this with us - and with you. Click the following link to read Tom’s report. April/September 06 Recovery Activity Report

Date: October 14th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 10 - 0 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 22.1 miles
Subject:

Now it's 2 for 10

They tell us that our bulk email system will be down for maintenance until sometime after 9am so this morning's EarlyBird e-bulletin to Members will not exactly be early.

Not that we have much to report at this point in any event. While not at the strength experienced yesterday, it was still too windy for the team and the birds to take off this morning.

Chris picked up Joe's repaired engine yesterday so his ultralight will soon be back in service. Joe on the other hand is not. He's got the chills and is feeling a little off form. Being down today will give him an opportunity to kick back a bit and dose himself with some comforting soup and a big mug of hot tea. (Are you listening Joe?)

When she called, Bev said it looked like they had a good shot at flying tomorrow - assuming what is forecasted is what actually materializes.

Date: October 13th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office 2006 Migration Map
Distance Traveled Migration Day 10 - 0 Miles

With just over 500 of our 1,228 migration miles sponsored, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP. Please click here to become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Accumulated Distance 22.1 miles
Subject:

2 for 9

Spend the evening of Sunday, October 15th with Bill Lishman (aka Father Goose) at the Tennessee Aquarium. (6pm to 8:30pm)

Bill will be giving a presentation on Operation Migration’s work with endangered Whooping Cranes, as well as showing, ‘The Last Buffalo,’ an IMAX film depicting the fragility of earth’s wildlife and the need for protected wilderness.

Hear Operation Migration's story, and