Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Fly Away Home, Operation Migration, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Bill Lishman, Joe Duff, Endangered species, Endangered species, Whooping cranes, Whooping cranes, Sandhill cranes, Canada geese goose, Migration, Fathergoose, Reintroduction, Ultralight Flying, Jeff Daniels, Birds


 

Date: November 30, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Vote us off the island

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 57 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

I don't get a chance to watch much TV. I'm more of a channel surfer than a watcher in any event. But when I do try to tune in, it seems much of the programming consists of so called 'reality' shows. To my thinking they appear to be about as far from reality as one can get, and while I know that for many they are a 'must see,' they leave me cold.

At one time or another however I've persevered to watch snippets, or even a whole show of Survivor, The Apprentice, America's Top Model, etc. Standing in the morning circle today I thought.....now I know how the shows' participants must feel; packing up, gathering together, and waiting with anticipation to find out their fate. The difference of course being that the shows' participants hope not to be sent packing whereas we can hardly wait to go.

Each morning this past week I joined the crew in jumping out of bed, packing up my bits and pieces to have everything at the ready in the hope of a departure. Not that one ever really unpacks. Every night I remove some clean clothes for the morning from my suitcase which 'lives' in the back seat of my car. Then every morning I stuff my dirty clothes in a bag in the trunk. So packing and unpacking isn't what one would call onerous. It pretty much consists of toiletries, PJs, my laptop, all its accoutrements, and two good old OM sailcloth totebags with all my files and papers. Good thing its warm enough for bare feet in shoes though because I haven't seen any of my socks in two days.

Chris Gullikson, our resident meteorologist, tells us we will awake to thunderstorms tomorrow morning, followed by a chance of light snow by lunchtime – all of which makes it an unlikely fly day.

On a more cheery note, take a look at the photo below sent to us by Margaret Black, from the Harriett Todd Public School in Orillia, Ontario. Her class is in the midst of a cool project. They are making 18 paper mache Whooping cranes and so far have five finished. They are (left to right) 614, 620, 610, 601, and my personal favorite, little 602. Margaret tells me that the kids will have all 18 finished in time to join in their Arrival Event celebrations.

View the photo here on the Craniac Kids in Action Canada page.

We have another visual treat for you today. More video. Click the following link to watch - but take note it is a long clip and takes a while to load. Class of '06 takes off

Date: November 30, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Wood Buffalo/Aransas Migration Update

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 57 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

On his aerial census done yesterday, Tom Stehn, USFWS Whooping Crane Coordinator at Aransas NWR reported finding only 208 Whooping cranes - 169 adults and 39 chicks. He said while he found no new Whooping cranes on yesterday's flight, it was not unexpected as there had been no favorable migration conditions at Aransas since his previous flight on November 22nd.

"Numerous cranes were overlooked including the twin family at the Big Tree Marsh," said Tom. "The current flock size estimate is 190 adults + 45 chicks = 235. This includes 224 estimated present at Aransas plus 11 cranes still on migration. The 11 includes a twin family in Kansas and a one-chick family seen November 25th in northern Oklahoma." Tom said he still has a few gaps in the territorial distribution of cranes at Aransas, so he is definitely expecting more cranes to arrive.

"Census conditions were somewhat difficult with haze that kept building up on the windshield, and light conditions that kept changing from sunny to overcast," reported Tom. "Thirty-eight cranes were observed in flight or having changed location during the census, so I struggled with finding all the cranes and preventing duplicate counts of the same birds."

Although some new information was gained Tom told us, he said he wasn’t able to find all the family groups, so its possible one of the family groups reported last week was a duplicate sighting.

Tom noted that, "the marshes are getting salty, measured yesterday at 24 ppt, slightly above the threshold for when the cranes must seek out fresh water to drink. Ten cranes were found at freshwater ponds on the flight. Twelve cranes were found on uplands, 2 cranes on prescribed burns, and 0 in open bays. A crab count at Aransas done November 28th found numerous crabs and wolfberries, the food items the cranes are currently focusing on."

On November 27th, Tom drove to the Lamar Unit of Aransas NWR where he observed a crane reported having arrived from migration with a limp. "His limp is very noticeable," Tom said, "but the crane was covering ground as it foraged and was alert. I could not see any break in the leg above the tibiotarsus, and the leg was held in the correct plane as the bird walked." Tom said that the situation would be monitored.

Date: November 30, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Word of the Day

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 57 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

Migration Day 57 will be spent in Cumberland County. On the ground it is a warm 66 degrees, 10 mph winds with stronger gusts, and rain is expected; aloft the winds are almost dead out of the south at 36mph.
 

Date: November 29, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Marie Brady

Subject:

Word of the Day

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 56 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

The word of the day is Zugunruhe (pronounced zook-oon-roo-ha). Zugunruhe comes from the German words zug (move, migration) and unruhe (anxiety, restlessness). It is used to describe the seasonal increase of activity in birds and other animals coinciding with the time of year they usually migrate.

Typical migratory preparations include eating more (birds rely on fat stores to get them through migration), taking short practice flights, congregating in flocks, and increasing activity during the time of day the bird usually migrates.

Zugunruhe has been described in both migratory and non-migratory species of birds. In 1967 Eberhard Gwinner and Barbara Helm provided the first experimental evidence that innate, annual rhythms can exist in non-migratory birds.

This suggests that migratory restlessness is a common avian feature and may help them escape unfavorable conditions or habitat disturbances even in species that are not traditionally migratory. For cranes, they become more active during the day since they use air thermals to migrate. For migratory songbirds, they are more active at night when they take the skies, under cover of darkness, probably to avoid other avian predators.

Many birds, including songbirds, know when to migrate and where to go without parental help. Other birds, such as Whooping cranes and geese, exhibit zugunruhe, but have to be led by their parents or other flock-mates to their wintering grounds. We all know that is the reason why OM's job us so important in order to establish a new migratory population of Whooping cranes.

Birds are not the only animals guilty of zugunruhe. We too, confined to our stopover in Cumberland County, TN for seven days are anxikous to get on the road again. Now, if only the winds would cooperate...

Date: November 29, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Wind, Wind, Wind, Wind, Wind.

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 56 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

We are still in the grip of the winds emanating from the high pressure system sitting off the coast of the Carolinas. At altitude the winds are out of the southwest at 33mph. We are grounded.

It's a balmy 54 degrees in Cumberland County this morning. On the ground we have 6mph winds out of the south, overcast skies, and the forecast calls for a slight chance of rain showers.

Since catching up with the crew, I've been working on downloading photos they have taken from all their cameras and computers. Some have been posted to the photo journal already, and hope to have more for you over the next day or so - as well as some more video!!! Having a bit of trouble converting the video, but Chris and Joe have been working on it and we think it is figured out. 

Stopover Trivia - State of Tennessee (by VN (Vi) White)

The state of Tennessee, known for its beautiful scenery and the Grand Ole Opry, made an important contribution to international history in World War II. This fact, and the involvement of the town of Oak Ridge would not be known until the use of the atomic bomb against Japan in 1945.

Oak Ridge is located near Knoxville in East Tennessee in the Ridge-and Valley Appalachian area. Major General Leslie Groves, military head of the Manhattan Project, was instrumental in choosing it as the secret site of the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant for the separation of U-235 from U-238. The building itself covered 44 acres, and at the time, was the largest building in the world.

The Army Corps of Engineers acquired 60,000 acres of land for the construction of three more plants, S-50, Y-12 and X-10, in late 1942. Guard towers and a fence surrounded the entire complex of plants where, working under assumed names, Enrico Fermi and his colleagues developed the world's first sustained nuclear reaction leading to the atomic bomb that ended the war.

After the war, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as it became known, shifted its focus to research in medicine, biology, materials and physics. The term "nano-info-bio" describes its present expanded research into cross-disciplinary programs in nano-phase materials, computation sciences and biology.

Date: November 28, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

White Bird Migration Update

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 55 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

Tracking and Monitory Team Report as of November 25
Trackers: R. Urbanek, T. Love, S. Grover, A. Rohde, S. Kerley, and S. Zimorski

In the highlights below, females are indicated by *. Locations are in Wisconsin unless indicated otherwise. DAR = direct autumn release. The eastern migratory population contains 65 birds (36 males and 29 females).

Wisconsin
208 and 313*, 212 and 419*, 213 and 218*, 312* and 316, DAR 627 and DAR632*, 407 and 508*

Autumn Migration – last known locations
Excellent migration conditions occurred in the northern part of the migration route on 19 November, and 28 whooping cranes began migration on that date. At the end of the week, only 12 whooping cranes (5 pairs and 2 DAR juveniles) remained in Wisconsin. At week’s end distribution was: Wisconsin (12), Illinois (2), Indiana (16), Tennessee (1), Florida (18), and undetermined (16).

101 and 202* - Arrived Citrus County, FL on Nov. 23
102*, 201* and 306 – Daviess County, IN on Nov. 24
105 and 204* - Found in Hernando County, FL on Nov. 24
107* - Jackson County, IN as of Nov. 12
205 – found in Pasco County, FL on Nov. 24
209* and 416 – in Newton County, IN as of Nov. 19
216 – SW Indiana as of Nov. 19
301* and 311 – near Lafayette, IN as of Nov. 20
303* and 317 – 30 miles south of Jasper-Pulaski on Nov. 22
307, 501*, 511, 521, and 519* - Northern IL as of Nov. 9
309* and 520* - Wabash County, IL as of Nov. 22
310, 420, 403, 412 – North eastern IL as of Nov. 19
318 – last detected in Mason County, MI on Oct. 20
401 – detected in flight over Pasco County, FL on Nov. 24
408 and 501* - Greene County, IN on Nov. 22
415* - transmitter nonfunctional. A Whooping crane found in Madison County, FL during an aerial survey Nov 22 is believed to be 415* as this is her usual wintering area.
420* - Jasper-Pulaski SFWA, IN on Nov. 11
502*, 503, and 507* - arrived Marion and Levy Counties, FL Nov. 10
505 and 506 – found roosting near the Halpata Tastanaki pensite in Marion County, FL on Nov. 24 then detected in flight in Citrus County with 521* on Nov. 25. The group roosed in Hardee County, FL.
509 – Lake County, FL on Nov. 22
514 - has not been detected since his stop in Ford County, IL
516 - Landed briefly at the Chassahowitzka NWR pensite Nov. 23 before resuming flight southeastward to roost at an undetermined location.
516 – last detected in Citrus County Nov. 25
523 and 524 – found north of the Halpata pensite, Marion County, FL Nov. 22
DAR527* - Jasper-Pulaska SFWA, IN Nov. 25
DAR528* - Jasper County, IN Nov. 25
DAR532 – last detected in flight in Dixie County, FL Nov. 22.
DAR533* - Meigs County, TN Nov. 25
DAR626 and DAR628 – Jackson County, IN Nov. 25

The First Family
The First Family (211 and 217* and W601) roosted in Vermillion and Parke Counties, IN and remained there through the end of the week.

Florida
Confirmed in Florida are 101 and 202*, 105 and 204*, 205, 401, 415*, 502*, 503, 507*, 505, 506, 512*, 509, 516, 523, 524, and 532.

Thanks to Windway Capital Corporation and pilots Mike Frakes and Gene Calkins, Marty Folk (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), Jim Bergens (Indiana DNR), staff of Muscatatuck NWR (FWS), and Wally Akins (Tennessee WRA) for tracking assistance.

Date: November 28, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

No air time again today

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 55 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

We're stuck in Cumberland County for the sixth day. At 3,000 feet we have 25 mph winds out of the southeast. On the ground there is a smattering of rain - but it is the kind where you can walk between the drops and not get wet. No frost this morning. At 47 degrees F it is much warmer this morning than it has been for the past few days.

The longest the Team has been held up in Cumberland County was in 2004 when they were grounded for four days. Today, being the sixth day here, means the record has fallen - another record we would rather not have beaten.

Where were we on November 28th in previous years?
2001 – South Suwannee County, FL
2002 – Hamilton County, FL
2003 – Meigs County, TN (Hiwassee)
2004 – Walker County, GA
2005 – Meigs County, TN (Hiwassee)

Date: November 27, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Looking forward

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 54 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

One of the features I like about our website is the guest book. It is a great connection to the people that support this project and after another long, depressing stay in one spot it helps to spend a few minutes reading the encouraging words that are often posted there. It's like a rallying cry or a pep talk when you need it most. 

The guest book is also a source of feedback for the updates we post. We try to explain the logic behind some of our methods but none of us are writers and oversights are not uncommon. The guest book is a way to clear up the misconceptions we have unwittingly created. Please keep the questions, comments and encouragement coming. It all helps.

If more than a few people ask the same question in the guest book we we'll try to address it in an update. After we posted a close up photo of one of the cranes looking straight into the camera we received this comment from a long time supporter.

"I find it fascinating that the whooper's eyes are not on the sides of their heads like most birds,  but  are kinda human-like and they look you right in the eye!"  

A lot of birds have completely black eyes, little shiny domes on the sides of their heads that don’t seem to move except for the odd blink. Cranes, like humans, have a dark pupil surrounded by a lighter iris and this definition allows us to see where they are looking. It somehow adds life and expression to their eyes and helps us relate to them because they are more familiar. When crane chicks are young their  iris is grey but as they mature it turns a striking yellow. As a species, they are no more curious than many other birds, with the exception of Corvids  (members of the crow family) but with distinguishable pupils they seem to focus more intently, leaving the impression they are more intelligent than some of their actions attest. People often make the same mistake with me. 

Although it appears that a bird has eye on the sides of its head, their vision actually overlaps ahead of them. If you’ve ever had to wear an eye patch, you might remember reaching for your cup and missing the target. Your grasp is short or too long and you either grope the air or spill your coffee. This is because our depth perception is based on binocular vision. We use two eyes, looking at the same thing, from slightly different perspectives to judge distance. It is simple triangulation and all creature that can move quickly need binocular vision to avoid collisions or to target their prey. By the same token, there is great advantage in being able to see behind you, if you are the prey. Some creatures, like us, can only see forward with limited peripheral vision but others can scan for threats on either side or behind. Birds, however combine the best of both allowing them to see in a arc of 250 degrees or better but with overlapping vision in front so they can execute those perfect landings that make us envious. 

"After reading the update from the Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock, I was wondering. How many Whooping Cranes can the Necedah area support? Could this flock reach the size of the A/WB flock?"

The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge is located in the middle of an 1800 square mile glacial lakebed from the last ice age that created a natural basin and beautiful wetlands. The refuge itself is approximately 44,000 acres and it's surrounded by a much larger area of good habitat. In fact this part of Wisconsin is home to some of the countries largest cranberry producers. It could easily accommodate many more Whooping cranes than it would take to create a self sustaining population.

Date: November 27, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Staying Put

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 54 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

It promises to be another beautiful fall day on the Cumberland Plateau, and unfortunately we will all be here to enjoy it. It is currently 40 degrees F and the flags are as still as the dead, but aloft, 23mph south winds are rushing over the ridge. Chalk up Day 5 in Cumberland County.

Date: November 26, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Great Theatre

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 53 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

Eleven OM'ers make a good size dinner group. But the gang around the dinner table grew even larger last night. In addition to Mark Nipper and Angie Maxted dropping by, ICF's Tracker and aviculturalist Sara Zimorski and Windway tracking pilot Gene, stopped in, as did Joan Garland, also with ICF. Joan is doing outreach along the migration route for WCEP’s Communications and Outreach Team. Our host also had a few guests over, so we quickly became a quite a crowd.

Walter was astute enough to realize that not only were we a crowd, we could also be an audience, and a captive one at that. So he worked all day refining his slide show documenting the field trip he made last July to the Badlands of Montana in search of dinosaur fossils.

Walt, who in his 'real life' is the Assistant Director of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Science, was one of ten people on the expedition. He treated us all to a slide show presentation documenting their trip and their work at the various sites.

It is one thing to watch TV shows and documentaries featuring archeologists and paleontologists on digs around the world. It is entirely another to listen to someone you know personally, tell the story of their adventure, and see the photo record of their explorations. That it all took place right here in our 'own backyard' made his story even more intriguing.

Walter told us that not only did they dig up one dinosaur, an Edmontasarus, they found 5 new dinosaurs of various specious. 80% of the Edmontasarus (about 2,600 pounds) was shipped back to the museum for study by their paleontologists. Walt, the lucky devil, will be going back again this coming summer to resume the dig. Amazing people in this little OM crew.

Date: November 26, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Going Nowhere

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 53 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

Winds at altitude are out of the south at 19mph this morning. Grounded - again.

My body clock is out of whack it seems. I've gone from waking up 4ishAM to 3ishAM. Despite the early hour, by the time I was cleaned up, dressed and on the computer, I had company. Walter, the Team's unfailing early riser joined me and we worked while we waited for the rest of the crew to make an appearance.

One by one they all emerged from their warm beds to join the morning circle - which had two extra faces this morning. Mark Nipper and Angie Maxted dropped in to camp last night on their way back from visiting relatives in Illinois for Thanksgiving. It was great see them and to catch up on their news.

Wind Trivia
Wikipedia
defines Wind as the horizontal movement of air caused by uneven heating of the earth's surface. The heating of land surfaces generates local breezes, and where there is a difference in barometric pressure between two air masses, a wind arises between the two. Winds always flow from areas of high to areas of low pressure, merging until they achieve the same pressure.

'Synoptic winds' are winds associated with large-scale events, such as warm and cold fronts, and are a part of what make up our everyday weather. Winds in the northern hemisphere always flow clockwise around a high pressure area, and counter clockwise around a low pressure area.

This morning, a high pressure system off the coast of the Carolina's is generating a wide swathe of wind - ergo we have winds out of the south.

Date: November 25, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Brooke Pennypacker

Subject:

The Cumberland Challenge

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 52 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

Another down day. We sit around the table sipping our cups of frustration as the strong and contrary wind conditions aloft again deny us access to a safe corridor over the Cumberland Ridge, and our next stop at Hiwassee. As we sit in the shadow of the ridge in company of flags displaying not the slightest quiver, we hear it calling out to us - taunting us, "Come on up here you frail humans in your fragile flying machines, and bring your birds. Come On. Make my day!"

Again today we have chosen not to heed its siren call, for we well know the trap that awaits. It is true that if the inevitable rodeo bull ride would end in only 8 seconds, we might attempt it. But the ridge is not so merciful. The ridge unleashes its arsenal of invisible forces on us, pounding us right then left, up then down, the horizon spasming almost to vertical and back while we struggle to maintain flight control and avoiding hitting a bird.

But your mind instinctively knows what it must do; how it must shift its gears to cope and defy these turbulent forces. It knows such battles are won by strength of mind and not of body. The mind repeats its zen-like mantra over and over, "Be here now, " for any thoughts of having to battle these forces other than in the pure instant of the present would only weaken its resolve allowing fatigue, doubt, and fear to intrude, perhaps fatally undermining the effort.

At such times, the body is transformed into a mass of adrenalin, sweat, and fatigue, and it is the mind - always the mind, that takes command and guides us to a safe outcome. Later, sometimes days later, we talk about such experiences, but not much, and not often, for there is simply no reason to. Each of us knows our experience was shared by the others. It is not a macho thing. It is just that we don’t have the words. And don’t need them.

Today we chose not to challenge the ridge; not to foolishly stick our chins out in defiance of forces over which we know we cannot prevail, for we hear and heed the wisdom in the old pilots' adage; 'It is far better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground.'

Date: November 25, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Wood Buffalo/Aransas Migration Update

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 52 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

Below is the latest report on the migration progress of the Wood Buffalo/Aransas population from Tom Stehn, USFWS Whooping Crane Coordinator at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

On his aerial census conducted  in ideal conditions on November 22nd, Tom found 182 adults and 42 chicks for a total of 224 Whooping cranes. This is an increase of 16 birds (13 adults + 3 juveniles) since the last census. The new arrivals, which included 3 family groups, are believed to have arrived with favorable migration conditions at Aransas November 15-16 and November 19-20.

"The flight was long, but very rewarding," Tom said. "The total of 224 cranes is the highest ever made at Aransas including counts going back to 1938." He said, "In addition to the 224 cranes already at Aransas, there are 8 cranes in migration still being monitored in Kansas, including one pair with two chicks."

This brings the current projection of the size of the Aransas/Wood Buffalo flock to 232, twelve more than last winter's peak population of 220. The 42 chicks currently at Aransas is also an all-time high. The previous high was 34 chicks in 2004. Six sets of 'twins' are also present, causing the previous record of four sets in 1958 to fall.

In Tom's remarks he noted, "The ideal census conditions allowed us to concentrate on looking for color-banded Whooping cranes. Eight more banded birds were confirmed present. A family group that is stained brown on the legs and bellies that may have walked into a pond containing an oily substance sometime during the migration was located on their territory on Matagorda Island.

One of the adults was banded YbY-Y in 1987 and was last observed on November 7th at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in northern Oklahoma. This family was believed present at Aransas on the November 15th flight, but on that day we were unable to fly low enough to see the staining on the legs. Although the discoloration is clearly evident, it is difficult to see from the air because we are looking down on the birds. From my brief look from the air, the family seemed to behave just like any other cranes."

"On this flight, 3 cranes were sighted at fresh water sources and 4 were on uplands. Salinities have risen recently, measured November 20 at 25 ppt in the refuge boat canal and 29 ppt in the adjacent marsh. The upland use included a family group foraging on areas uprooted by feral hogs on Matagorda Island. They were located very close to the dunes on Matagorda Island, the furthest away from the salt marsh I have ever seen cranes on Matagorda. Tides had dropped noticeably since last week, with 10 cranes observed in open water on today’s flight compared to none last week. Most of the rest of the cranes are currently foraging on blue crabs and wolfberries."

"Several territorial chases were observed as established pairs defend their territories and usually are able to keep all other cranes out of their territory. There appear to be a few territorial pairs that have not yet completed the migration, although this involves uncertainties as sub-adult duos usually seem to occupy these areas until pushed out."

Tom's thanks, and ours, go to pilot Dr. Tom Taylor who has come out of retirement to conduct crane flights this fall.

Date: November 25, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Ditto Yesterday

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 52 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

The shortest way to describe today's activity is to say,"ditto yesterday". Looking up as I walked down the  long driveway from 'bed to coffee machine', the sky was so clear it looked like a giant crystal studded pincushion. But even I could feel that the wind at ground level had picked up noticeably from last evening. At altitude it was worse and from the wrong direction. There will be no movement again today. Drats!

Now that I am in the field with the crew perhaps the whip that I try to crack from the office will have more effect at close range. Assuming I can get them all trembling in fear in their rubber steeled-toed boots, (ya, like that's gonna happen) there may be both photos and video for you to see late today.

Date: November 24, 2006 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Time Zones and Tests

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 51 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

During the two months it takes us to lead the birds from Wisconsin to Florida we probably cross the line between the Eastern and Central time zone about six times. Add in daylight savings, or the lack of it, and we are left comparing watches to GPS units to cell phones with no real conclusion. Some of the locals refer to is as "fast time and slow time". This morning was a classic example of the confusion that results. Some of the crew were up an hour too early and others had to be rousted out of warm beds.

The predawn air was calm and cold and seemed perfect for flying. But Chris checked the websites for weather models and reported that the winds at 3000 feet were blowing out of the east at 30 knots. The Cumberland Ridge just south of us reaches up 2800 feet and we generally have enough altitude to clear it at tree top level. That would put us in the same conditions we faced yesterday - only the mountains are higher and we have farther to go.

The last thing any of us wanted to do was repeat that horrendous journey. We fought with the control bars of our aircraft so hard that we were left with stiff muscles. Last night on the phone I told my wife that my arms were sore from flying. She said that after this many years I should finally have it right and she reminded me one more time - that we are supposed to fly the airplanes and the birds are supposed to follow behind.

You know when you get together with close friends and the next day your cheeks are sore from laughing so much? Well, this morning I had the same feeling, only it was my other cheeks that hurt from being squeezed so tight during our last flight.

According to the forecast, the wind gradient should widen tomorrow meaning calmer winds over the ridge. Let’s hope they’re right.

Date: November 24, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

First Whooping crane arrival confirmed on Chassahowitzka NWR

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 51 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

Intern Tally Love tracked yearling 516 to Chassahowitzka NWR yesterday. He landed and stayed at the pensite in the late afternoon and then carried on southeastward to roost at an undetermined location.

516 was one of the twenty-eight Whooping cranes that began their migration November 19th. Richard Urbanek said, "For most of that day he flew in a large Sandhill crane flock that also contained 216 and 532. He roosted that night at an undetermined location in southwestern Indiana and by November 21st he was in southern Georgia. He reached Madison County, FL November 22 and roosted there. His arrival at Chassahowitzka was completed 5 consecutive flight days after beginning migration." 

516 missed several legs of the 2005 ultralight-led migration south due to an injury he suffer in flight. Richard noted that he showed flight impairment over the winter, but that it was no longer evident when he migrated north in the spring.

"He and 522 migrated on an easterly track which placed them in Lower Michigan where they separated," said Urbanek. "516 was retrieved and released at Necedah in May and in June he moved into Dane County where he stayed until migrating."

Date: November 24, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Wild602 remains found

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 51 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

Dr. Richard Urbanek of the USF&WS reported that remains of the missing wild-hatched Whooping crane chick were found yesterday on an island in East Rynearson Pool on the Necedah NWR. It was last seen the evening of September 12th foraging alone in the First Family's territory. Earlier that day its parents and sibling had flown south off the refuge and the parents did not return to their territory until September 20.

The island where chick remains were found was frequently used as a roost site by the First Family during the summer. Its remains were approximately 330 feet from the location were it was last seen. "The chick was likely killed by a predator shortly after that observation," said Richard Urbanek, "probably on that night." Richard went on to say that,"The remains were more visible today because of seasonal degradation of obscuring vegetation and the scattering of the remains by scavengers."

As with all the other birds in the reintroduced population, the two wild-hatched chicks were given identifying numbers. The larger, dominant chick was referred to a W601, and the smaller chick as W602. The survivor is the larger chick, W601.

W601 and its parents, 211 and 217*, started their migration from Necedah November 19th. As of yesterday they were still at their first migration stop in Parke County Indiana.

Date: November 24, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Strong Headwinds = 0 Miles

Location:

Somewhere in Georgia

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 51 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

There will be no movement today. The Team woke to clear skies, but aloft there were 24 mph headwinds. They will wait until tomorrow and hope for conditions that will allow them to tackle the Cumberland Ridge - the 'Beast'.

Public Viewing Opportunity in Meigs County
Once again this year, Craniacs and the public will have an opportunity to view a departure flyover from the Gazebo on the Hiwassee Refuge. Currently, the earliest potential for this would be Sunday, November 26th.

As always, please remember the day's weather determines our ability to fly, so keep in mind it may or may not happen. Watch the Field Journal for updates and info. To see any 'hoped for' departure we suggest you be on site by 7am.

The Hiwassee State Wildlife Refuge is between the towns of Dayton and Cleveland Tennessee. To reach the refuge from I-75 take exit number 25 onto Highway 60 and go north on 60 toward Dayton passing through the small town of Birchwood. Brown signs will lead you east (right) on to Shadden Road, then right on to Blythe Ferry Lane, and left onto Priddy Road. Priddy Road is a one lane road with two-way traffic, so drive with caution as you go to the parking area and gazebo.


Stopover Trivia - Cumberland County, TN (by VN (Vi) White)
Located between Knoxville and Nashville, Cumberland County lies on the Cumberland Plateau, named for the mountains that, curiously, were named for the Duke of Cumberland, a younger son of King George II of England.

75% forested and at elevations of 1700 to 1900 feet, (with some mountains over 3000 feet) Cumberland County is relatively unoccupied compared to other parts of Tennessee because of the ruggedness of the terrain.

The impassable high bluffs of the eastern face of the Cumberland Plateau daunted settlers wanting to move west. After the discovery of the Cumberland Gap, bands of settlers headed for places beyond the plateau making Cumberland County "The Road to Somewhere Else". Today Interstate 40 follows much of the original route.

Crossville, the county seat of Cumberland County was founded in1890 and now has a population of about 9,000.  The area offers much for outdoor enthusiasts, golf, canoeing, horseback riding, hiking and backpacking. It is known as the Golf Capital of Tennessee for the 17 golf courses in the area, including Bear Trace, a Jack Nicklaus signature course.

Date: November 23, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

In my next life….

Location:

Somewhere in Georgia

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 50 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

A Day in the life of a 'migrating' Snowbird

Up and on the computer by 4:00am, but that’s usual during migration season so not a particular hardship – other than the sad and guilty feelings at leaving my puppy at a kennel last night kept me from catching much sleep.

Serious Internet separation anxiety set in at 5:00am when I had to shut the computer down and get it and all the peripherals packed up. Time for a fast shower, a few gulps of coffee while I donned my warpaint, and pulled on layer on layer of clothes in anticipation of having to peel them off as the day went on.

At 6:00am it was out the door to brave the commuter traffic enroute to the airport for an 8:00am check-in for my 10:00am flight. Hah! Just because your ticket says United Airlines, doesn’t mean they are actually going to fly you I discovered. But they were ever so nice about telling me where to go. Air Canada check-in? Over WHERE? Good thing I wore running shoes I thought to myself. About half way there I was thinking I should have worn hiking boots and hired a Sherpa guide and a pack mule. (I’m not known for packing light.) PLEASE bring back curbside check-in!!

Late boarding, late take-off - what else is new at airports these days? The medical emergency some poor soul had on the plane caused the pilots to turn on the afterburners though and we landed a few minutes ahead of schedule.

I've got to say that Orlando International is a one great airport. Maybe I'’ve always been lucky, but boy they sure know how to do things right - and fast. The shuttle zipped me from the gate to the main terminal. As I walked toward the baggage pick up area the conveyer started moving and in less than five minutes I had my luggage and was out the door.

By 2:15pm I'd been shuttled to the off-airport car rental site, completed all the documentation, papered the passenger seat with maps, my driving atlas, and printed out directions, and was on road. Toll booth, toll booth, toll booth, toll booth - count 'em, four, in the space of a few miles. Ah - Chris, clever girl, remembered to armed me with a baggie full of US change.

The balance of the afternoon was spent on the I-75 headed north. The idea is you see, to try and have my arrival at Hiawassee coincide with the Team's. I had hoped to log two-thirds of the 605 miles today, but my backside gave out a few miles short of the halfway mark. Okay, okay then, I'll tell the truth. I also needed a 'computer fix', AND I knew you folks would be waiting and wondering what had gone on today.

In the morning, once I get the 'word' and get the EarlyBird e-bulletin off and an entry posted here, I'll hit the road again. So look out Tennessee. There are still 59 unsponsored miles in your state - and I’m coming to get them! I’ve also got some OM gear with me you all will look just terrific in, trust me. (Did you get that – the 'you all'? I’m practicing.

Our Whooping cranes only have to fly 50 or so miles a day. They have friends to travel with and someone to show them where to go. They get room service, pumpkins to play with, and others truck all their luggage for them. Snowbird...? Whooping crane...? In my next life.....

Date: November 23, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Laurie Lin

Subject:

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Location:

Cumberland, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 50 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

The sky was clear, the tree branches weren’t moving and it looked cold outside. Using the 'Weather for flying 101' rules, I thought it would be a good day to fly. I quickly geared up and was eager to join the 'morning circle'. Surprisingly, only Richard, Charlie and Joe were there. The wind was blowing at a speed equivalent to 36 mph above the ridge where the pilots and birds need to fly, so while it became a down day it allowed us to celebrate Thanksgiving with our current host.

The 'early birds' got to check the cranes. Joe and I headed to the pensite while Charlie and Richard started in on their vehicle maintenance project. On the way to check the chicks, we stopped by the hangar where he trike used by Bill Lishman in the movie '‘Fly Away Home' is stored. Having watched this movie several times, it was a treat to meet the aircraft. (Of course, working with Joe and Richard is quite nice too.
J)

All the chicks looked fine. A few of them have started to show the reddish color at the base of their bills. 618 is one of them. Others have started to show the blackish 'mustache' like wedge on their faces. It is most obvious on 602 and quite evident on 604.

We often find a layer of ice in the water bucket during the morning check. This morning, we found pieces of ice on the ground next to the water buckets. It looked like somebody picked out the ice and piled the pieces up on the ground. After we dumped the water with ice into the footbath, 606 went right up to it and started to play with the ice. Now we knew who might have been involved in the ice removal activity.

Residual water in the hose had also turned into ice. Joe dealt with the hose away from the pen, while I checked on each bird. From the sound, I could only guess what Joe was doing out of sight. The swinging sounds he was making caught the attention of a few chicks. When he stopped making tapping noises, the sound suddenly came from the opposite direction. There was 615 pecking on a wooden panel making a rhythmic woodpecker noise. She and Joe made their musical début in the sunny Thanksgiving morning light.

When we walked from the pen back to our vehicle we found two of our host's neighbors waiting. Their mother is a birder who is very interested in our project. We chatted and got to know each other, and before we departed they told us that they will become MileMakers. YES! We thanked them and wished each other Happy Thanksgiving. Indeed, for us, it seems that everyday is a day to give thanks. Thank you to everyone for the food, shelter, and your support!!!

Date: November 23, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Thanksgiving in Tennessee

Location:

Somewhere in Georgia

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 50 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

The Migration Crew spent Thanksgiving Day on the ground in Cumberland County, TN. They had strong cross winds at 3,000 feet, which is the altitude they need to be at to make across the 'Beast' - the Cumberland Ridge.

When we spoke late this afternoon, Joe thought that with the current wind projections, there was a reasonable chance they would be able to tackle the Beast tomorrow morning. If so they will be headed for the Hiwassee Refuge in Meigs County, TN.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends. All of us, no matter where we live on this continent  have much to be thankful for. We hope your holiday was filled with fun and family and lots of turkey of course.

Date: November 22, 2006 - Entry 4 Reporter:

The OM Team

Subject:

Making It Happen

Location:

North America

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 49 - 63.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

the good news: The Class of 2006 has logged 675 of their 1,228 migration miles. They are 54%, more than half way to their Florida wintering grounds.

the not so good news: So far, only 801 of the 1,228 migration miles have MileMaker sponsors. That's the equivalent of just 65% of the way there. Check out green line on the 2006 Migration Map and you can see where the money runs out – just past our first stopover site in Georgia in Gordon County.

If you enjoy following the migration and reading our Field Journal, and haven't yet opened your heart and your wallet – now is the time. As we've said before, we at OM have the will and the skill, but we simply cannot do it without your help.

We need:
427 people to sponsor one mile, or
854 people to sponsor a half mile, or
1,708
people to sponsor a quarter mile,
or any combination of the above.

517,855,730 people live in North America, the world's only home of the endangered Whopping crane. Surely among them there are 427 more who care enough to help us ensure they survive.

Date: November 22, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject:

Memorable Flight 2 years running

Location:

Cumberland County, TN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 49 - 63.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

A year ago yesterday we arrived in Cumberland County Tennessee which was the most memorable flight for me to date. On this particular flight we took advantage of a nice tailwind and were able to skip a site, flying nearly 120 miles. We flew through rain, landed in a thick viscous red mud, and stood for hours with the birds in a soaking cold rain waiting for the ground crew to arrive. The hardships of the day were rewarded in the evening by a hot shower, a wonderful meal, and excellent company with our generous hosts. Today’s flight will undoubtedly go down as the most memorable flight of this year, hopefully.

Each of us four pilots take turns being lead pilot and today was my turn. Yeah!! The trikes were covered in a very heavy frost, it was so thick we chose to sweep our wings off with a broom before applying the de-icing fluid. Yesterday’s stopover site is located near the Wolf Creek Dam, in a river valley surrounded by high bluffs. The only way out is to head south and out over the top of the Dam wall, a 200 foot climb in just 2 miles. A flyover event was scheduled for this morning and this site promised excellent viewing opportunities as we flew low over the top of the dam.

Getting airborne we were greeted by very calm conditions and just a slight push from the northeast. Broken fog covered some of the valley, but we had plenty of room to make a safe departure with the birds. I landed at the pen, motioned to the waiting ground crew to release the birds, and took off with 17 birds, who quickly formed on my wing. One bird was late leaving the pen and Joe was able to drop in and pick up the straggler.

I was fully expecting to have to fly a few circuits in the valley to gain the needed altitude to climb over the dam, but the birds were flying quite strongly and we quickly were able to gain enough altitude to clear the wall by just flying straight out on course. It was a beautiful sight going over the top of the dam with 17 chicks in tow, the rising sun illuminating these beautiful birds with an incredible backdrop of fog, water, and towering bluffs. Had this been Indiana, this would have been the end of this write-up. However, we are just entering Tennessee and a long climb awaited us to get over the very hilly terrain that lies north of the Cumberland ridge.

Just a few miles on course we started to get the first hint of what kind of flight we were in for. It was windy aloft and the rotors coming off the leeward side of the hills were making it a turbulent flight and not allowing me to climb with the birds. Gaps kept forming in the line, and the birds in the back would drop down low, losing the benefit of the vortex that comes off the wing.

With precious little altitude to spare to keep the birds on the wing I eventually had to allow 6 birds to drop off at about the 20 mile marker. After several tense minutes, Richard was able to move in on these 6 birds and pick them up on his wing while I continued to fly on with the remaining 11.

I was now able to initiate a slow climb through the turbulent air while Richard struggled below me with his six birds who were obviously worn out from trying to catch back up with me.

During one of the many encounters with turbulent air, I found myself surrounded by birds. They were out in front of me on either side, and two birds were flying just off the nose of my craft. I gingerly backed out and away from these two birds then climbed above them, all the while being tossed around in the unstable air. During all of this excitement, six more birds dropped back behind me, this time opting to drop down to Richard instead of waiting for me to pick them back up.

Now, with 5 birds on my wing, I was able to do a much more aggressive climb and finally broke out of the rough air. It was Richard who now had a battle on his hands. He had 12 birds down low in the turbulence and was struggling to climb them. One bird dropped off his wing and quickly fell too far below him for him to do anything about it. Brooke went down to pick up this bird -who was now riding the lift along the side of the hills - but it was just way too rough and he had to climb out of the trash. As Richard continued to struggle in the rough air with his 11 birds, Brooke kept watch from above on the one lone bird that was slowly making progress south in a very jagged line.

I know that all of us were having thoughts of birds landing somewhere on this very hilly and forested terrain, making it very difficult to locate them, much less be able to get to them. Eventually we broke out of the hills though and found ourselves out over more hospitable terrain with actual fields to land in if need be.

Richard was still struggling to climb with his 11, but now had smoother air to work with. Joe watched from above with his single bird while Brooke lagged behind us continuing to watch the other lone bird slowly make progress southward behind us. At long last we had the field in view where our travel pen was setup. I began a slow decent from 3,000 feet, my five birds glad to finally have a rest.

At 1,500 feet, I was once again buffeted in trashy air. With my trike pointed east into the wind I hung nearly motionless as I descended towards the ground, my five birds spread out above and behind me. At 200 feet above the runway, it was time to stop worrying about the birds and concentrate on getting my butt safely on the ground.

Zooming down through the turbulence, I lined myself up along the very narrow path that led to the pen, my arms pumping madly to cancel out the wild gyrations. I managed to keep the shiny side up, pinned my windward wing to the ground, and climbed out of my trike and looked about. My birds were nowhere in sight!! It seems they decided to circle back to Richard, for when I spotted him he had 13 birds with him, with another group of 3 back behind him.

Richard was soon safely on the ground, followed by Joe then Brooke. The lone bird that Brooke was keeping track of managed to fly nearly half the distance without assistance from the trike.

After putting the birds into the pen and getting the perimeter hot wire in place, we retired to the safety of some trees a few hundred yards away. Our view of the pen blocked, we pulled off our helmets and in low voices recounted the wild journey we had just made.

It was decided to just leave our trikes near the pensite instead of flying them off to our hosts private strip where he allows us to keep our aircraft. This evening, when the wind dies down, we will go back for our trikes, and hopefully have a much more enjoyable flight.

I am looking forward to a nice hot meal this evening and sharing this story amongst ourselves – along with a well deserved beverage or two.

Date: November 22, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Glad to be on the ground!

Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 49 - 63.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
674.8 miles

Wild, rough, and scary, was how Joe described today's one hour and forty-one minute flight. "It was the worst flight this year," he said.

Chris was lead pilot today and took off with all the birds. Joe reported that they flew directly over the new flyover viewing spot, but  with the low lying fog
he said they couldn’t tell if the people on the ground there could see them or not.

They had a difficult time getting the birds to climb, and at one point the winds were so strong out of the east that they were 'crabbing sideways, their speed down to 6mph. In Joe's words it was a rockin' rollin' wild ride.

The cohort was eventually broken up with all of the pilots each having some birds. From what Joe said, it appears that Brooke may have had the worst time of it, but the details will undoubtedly be in Chris's lead pilot update expected later today. Sounds like it will be quite a story - think they may have kissed the ground when they got down.

The two good things are - cranes, planes and pilots are safely on the ground, and we have passed the half way mark of the 2006 migration. Yea!

Public Viewing Opportunity
At the moment, tomorrow is not looking promising for flying, but if they do, they will be headed for the Hiwassee Refuge in Meigs County, TN.

As in past years, the Hiwassee stopover offers the public a chance to watch a departure flyover.
The best view is from the Gazebo. The earliest possibility for this would be Friday, November 24th. As always, please remember the day's weather determines our ability to fly, so, regardless of the day, if you plan on going to view a take-off keep in mind it may or may not happen. To see any 'hoped for' departure we suggest you be on site by 7am.

The Hiwassee State Wildlife Refuge is between the towns of Dayton and Cleveland Tennessee. To reach the refuge from I-75 take exit number 25 onto Highway 60 and go north on 60 toward Dayton passing through the small town of Birchwood. Brown signs will lead you east (right) on to Shadden Road, then right on to Blythe Ferry Lane, and left onto Priddy Road. Priddy Road is a one lane road with two-way traffic, so drive with caution as you go to the parking area and gazebo.

Date: November 22, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

On their way to Tennessee!

Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 49 - ? Miles Accumulated Distance:
611.4 miles

At our current stopover site the temp was 27oF but with the wind chill it felt like 20oF. The winds this morning were sufficiently favorable so the Team took off headed for Cumberland County, TN.

The pilots spent quite a while de-icing this morning but finally got off the ground shortly after 8am.
The table below shows where we were on November 21st in previous years.

Year

Location

Migration Day#

Stops Ahead of ‘06

2001

Cook County, GA

36

5

2002

Meigs County, TN(Hiwassee)

40

1

2003

Cumberland County, TN

37

0

2004

Meigs County, TN (Hiwassee)

43

1

2005

Cumberland County, TN

39

0

Note: Tomorrow, (Thursday the 23rd) whether the birds are able to fly or not, one member of the OM Team will be in the air. That flier will be me on my way to join the migration crew for a few days before scooting ahead to prepare for the Arrival Event in Florida.

This means that in all likelihood I will be unable to send out the EarlyBird e-bulletin. Neither will I be able to post to the Field Journal until late in the day. You can however call the Whooper Hotline at 904-232-2580 extension 124 for info.

PLEASE do not call the OM office for an update. Chris will be manning the office single- handedly; there’s only one of her and thousands of you. Thanks for your understanding. Liz

Date: November 21 2006 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Brooke Pennypacker

Subject:

Amazing Flight

Location:

Adair/Russell County,KY

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 48 - 56.9 Miles Accumulated Distance:
611.4 miles

The thermometer read 23 degrees as we awoke to a frosty but clear and calm morning; the kind of morning which fills you with every confidence that today’s flight would be a successful one.

Soon we were busy spraying our wings with de-icing fluid - a daily ritual in these conditions. After a few pulls our engines spared to life. Unfortunately with three of the engines (Richard's, Chris's and mine), the barking soon turned to a growl, then to a whimper, then silence. Too cold perhaps? Or had the de-icing liquid found its way down into the spark plug socket and caused the ignition to short out? But more adjustments followed by more pulling finally go them running again, but not before a few more white hairs joined the others on the top of my head. Then Joe took off and barely cleared the fence. Another adjustment, followed by a few more white hairs - this time on his head.

With everyone finally in position, Marie and Laurie, always patient and professional, pulled open the gates and out flowed a cloud of birds. We charged off the hillside, trike and birds committed to flight, and circled back over the pen as Swamp Monseter Bev perfectly timed her charge out of the pen trailer thereby launching two slowpokes into the sky where they eventually joined the others. I must add here that being a Swamp Monster is one of those thing that isn't all that impressive on one's resume, but it is absolutely essential to the success of a flight.

The climb to 2,500 feet was slow but smooth with all birds following well. It is during flights like today's that you can sit back and take the time to enjoy it - all of it; the birds, the sky, the scenery below. It is simply magical. Looking down on little farms, nestled in the hollows of ridges and woodlands like the farm we just left, you can't help but wonder if the people on them are as kind, generous, and as caring as the family that just hosted us. Because if they are, then there is a God, and if there is a God, He/She must have been smiling watching 18 cranes all flying in a line off the wing of my ultralight.

After an hour and thirty-one minutes in the air we landed at our next site. Chris and I led the birds away while Joe and Richard went about setting up the travel pen. Charlie arrived to help, and in short order the birds were penned and all the pilots flew off to park our trikes at a nearby residence.

You can't help but be both grateful and humbled on experiencing a flight like today's, and to know as surely as you know anything, that it has been an incredible privilege - one that makes you want to walk off alone into a quiet place, cast your eyes skyward, and quietly, say, "Thank you."

Note: Flyover Viewing Opportunity - OM's pilots leading the Class of 2006 are going to try their best to over fly the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery as they leave Kentucky for Tennessee - hopefully tomorrow morning. The Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is located at 50 Kendall Road Jamestown, KY 42629. The following link will take you to directions and a small map. http://www.fws.gov/wolfcreek/wolf_map.html

It is important to remember the key role weather plays in our ability to fly on any given day. This means that individuals planning to go to the Hatchery to see the flyover need to keep in mind that it may or may not happen tomorrow morning. To see the 'hoped for' flyover we suggest you be on site no later than 7am.

Date: November 21 2006 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

First Family on migration!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 48 - 56.9 Miles Accumulated Distance:
611.4 miles

Tracking & Monitoring Team Weekly Update (R. Urbanek, T. Love, S. Grover, A. Rohde, S. Kerley, and S. Zimorski)

In the highlights below, females are indicated by *. Locations are in Wisconsin unless indicated otherwise. DAR = direct autumn release. The eastern migratory population contained 64 released birds (36 males and 28 females) and 1 or 2 wild-hatched chicks.

At the beginning of last week 25 birds had begun migration. Because of poor migrating conditions in Wisconsin, no additional birds began migration during the week. Unsuitable weather also limited efforts to locate and track birds that had previously migrated. Locations at the end of the week were: Illinois (2), Indiana (6), Florida (3), and undetermined (14). One of the latter birds was as far south as Georgia on 28 October. Distribution of non-migrating birds was: Wisconsin (39-40) and Michigan (1).

First Family

On the evening of 18 November the First Family moved to West Rynearson Pool  where they roosted in a large staging flock containing 19 Whooping cranes and more than 1,000 Sandhill cranes. This was the first time that the family had used this roost site. The family moved to Necedah Lake the following morning before departing on migration. They landed to roost in Vermillion County, Indiana.

Autumn Migration
Excellent migration conditions occurred on 19 November and resulted in a record mass initiation of migration by Sandhill and Whooping cranes (see special section below). On that date 28 Whooping cranes began migration and 4 others moved farther south in Central Wisconsin. On 20 November only 12 Whooping cranes (5 pairs and 2 DAR juveniles) remained, all on Necedah NWR.

Where are they/were they last?
101 and 202* - Jasper-Pulaski SFWA, IN
107* - Jackson County, IN
201* and 306, 307, 501*, 511, 519* - undetermined location in northern IL
318 – last reported in Mason County, MI
408 and 501* - last reported in Kankakee County, Illinois
415* - Adams County, WI
420* - Jasper-Pulaski SFWA, IN
502*, 503, and 507* - Marion and Levy Counties, FL
509 - Fayette County, GA
514 and 512* The radio signal of no. 512* was detected in SE TN and northern GA on 19 November.
532 and 524 - Clinton County, Indiana
DAR626 and DAR628 - Jackson County, Indiana

Not begun migration but moved farther south within Central Wisconsin are: 212, 419*, 407, 508*. Not begun migration and remaining on their usual areas on Necedah NWR are: 213 and 218*, 208 and 313*, 312*, 316, DAR627 and DAR 632*.

Date: November 21 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Great Fly Day

Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 48 - 56.9 Miles Accumulated Distance:
611.4 miles

Brooke took off this morning from Washington County with all 18 birds following – and all 18 stayed with him all the way to the next stopover site in Adair County.

At low altitude, the pilots faced a 2 to 3 mph headwind, but at 1,500 feet they had no headwind at all. The flight took just over an hour and a half in temps ranging between 24oF and 31oF. The Lead Pilot report will follow later today.

Date: November 21 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

In the air and on their way

Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 48 - ? Miles Accumulated Distance:
554.5 miles

Bev called to report that they are in the air and on their way. All the birds but one came quickly out of the pen. The laggard wanted to go the other way. It appears that 17 of the 18 chicks at least took off behind today's lead pilot, Brooke, but we'll have more details for you later in the morning.

Here's hoping the chicks behave, that it is a perfect day for flying, and they are able to skip a stop and make it into Tennessee!! How does that TV commercial go? "....you deserve a break today."

Date: November 21 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

We are on the move!

 
Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 48 - ? Miles Accumulated Distance:
554.5 miles

The Team woke to a temp of 23oF in Washington County, KY, had clear skies and calm air at ground level, and favorable conditions above. Seems like perfect flying weather!

Heavy frost on the wings is holding up take-off as the Team works to de-ice, but they should be airborne and on their way before 8am.

The flight distance from our stopover in Washington County to the next stopover location in Adair County, KY is approximately 55 miles. It is about another 65 miles to the subsequent stopover site in Cumberland County, TN. Is this the day the Team will be able to skip a stop?

If so, any folks who have braved the early morning and the cold to go to our new flyover viewing spot at the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery south of Jamestown (thanks to the efforts of the
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and USF&W) may have a chance to see cranes and planes as they make their way into Tennessee. If they aren't able to skip - there’ll be another chance to see them tomorrow.

Stopover Trivia - Adair County, KY (by VN (Vi) White)
Named for John Adair, governor of Kentucky from 1820 to 1824, Adair County is located in the south central Pennyrile Region. Its name comes from the plant ‘Pennyroyal’ (Pennyrile being a dialectic pronunciation) that grows prolifically in the county. A medicinal herb in the mint family, Pennyroyal is used in aromatherapy and is also a flea repellent.

At an elevation of 585 to 1120 feet, over 40% of Adair County is forested. Ranging from plateaus to gently rolling plains with many sinkholes and caves, it produces dairy products, livestock, corn and tobacco.

Columbia, population 17,000+, is the county seat of Adair County. Several buildings there have been listed on the National Registry of Historical Places – three homes, Zion Meetinghouse and School, and the county courthouse. An old log barn near Columbia may be the oldest barn in the state.

Adair County's proximity to Tennessee subjected it to three Civil War skirmishes, two involving John Morgan's Raiders, and the 1861 Battle of Gradyville.

Jane Lampton Clemens, the mother of Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain, was a noted resident of Adair County and the belle of the ball in her younger days.

Date: November 20 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: See a Flyover in KY Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 47 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
554.5 miles

Thanks to many co-operations extended to us by the great folks at Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and USF&W in Kentucky, we hope to provide Craniacs and the general public with an opportunity to view a flyover as we go through the southern part of the Bluegrass state.

OM's pilots leading the Class of 2006 are going to try their best to over fly the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery as they leave Kentucky for Tennessee. The Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is located at 50 Kendall Road Jamestown, KY 42629. The following link will take you to directions and a small map. http://www.fws.gov/wolfcreek/wolf_map.html

Assuming the team has flying weather tomorrow, (Tuesday, November 21st) they will be leaving Washington County and heading for the next stopover location which is in Adair County. Again, assuming good flying weather on Wednesday the 22nd, they will cover the next leg of the migration - Adair County, KY to Cumberland County, TN. The viewing opportunity would occur during the leg/flight leaving Adair County.

However, it is important to remember the key role weather plays in our ability to fly on any given day. Just as weather can keep us grounded, it can also be favorable enough that we are able to skip a stopover. This means that individuals planning to go to the Hatchery to see the flyover need to keep in mind that it could happen as early as Tuesday morning.

To see the 'hoped for' flyover on Tuesday, we suggest you be on site no later than 8:15 am. (This will happen only if there is favorable flying weather AND a stop is skipped.)

Failing this, on Wednesday (and each successive day until the weather is favorable for flying) we suggest you be on site no later than 7:00am.

Date: November 20 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: It's a 'no go' Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 47 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
554.5 miles

The snow, rain, and sleet that our Washington County stopover location experienced overnight cleared up in time for a morning take off, but strong winds moved in to prevent the Team from moving on to Adair County.

Being down today means we won't have a chance at breaking the consecutive fly days record. Here are the stats. Most Consecutive Fly Days:
2001 – 6
2002 – 6
2003 – 3
2004 – 5
2005 – 3
2006 – 3 (so far)

Check back later today for info on a potential flyover viewing opportunity for southern Kentucky!

(Note: Yesterday I forgot to post the ,day's mileage flown and change the accumulated miles number. Within in minutes of finishing the posting the ding, ding, dings started and my Inbox quickly overflowed with emails – more than 200! LOL. Sure can't get away with anything with you folks watching!) 

Date: November 19 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Richard vanHeuvelen

Subject: All in all, a good week! Location:

Washington County, KY

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 46 - 48.2 Miles Accumulated Distance:
554.5 miles

Well, whaddya know, three in a row! It’' beginning  to feel like a real migration!

Woke up early this morning realizing I hadn't finished re-writing the driving directions to the next stopover, so I fired up the generator, plugged in my laptop, and hooked up the printer. I did corrections on the next stop, and while that was printing out, I did with the next, then the next, and so I was able to get the directions finished through to Hiwassee.

With that done I headed outside to check out the dawning day. Things were looking good for another fly day. With just a light frost on the wings, we gave them a quick spray and got airborne. The usual rodeo ensued. The birds just stood there as I flew by loud speaker blaring, attempting an air pickup. Then Brooke flew by. Still no reaction, but they eventually did get airborne and circle a few times. With trike and birds all over the place it was hard to tell who was leading who.

Once the Swamp Monster came out, the birds became more cooperative. Brooke ended up with 3 birds on the wing and got on course. Joe had 2 more - who decided to headed east. The remaining 13 finally found my wing and we circled to get on course.

With chicks following three trikes, all about a mile apart, we began to make headway. About half way through the flight the birds began to get more energetic, so with some good altitude I pulled the bar in and set a very slow decent. This allowed the birds some easy flying and we quickly passed Brooke and his birds.

With the easy flying I slowly increased my throttle but still held the bar in until we had level flight again. This seemed to improve the birds' glide and flying performance, and without realizing it we began to climb. We climbed to about 1,500 feet above ground level where we averaged about 55 miles per hour, and attained a ground speed of 65 miles per hour at times - making it just an hour long flight. This, coupled with smooth air, brought up thoughts of skipping a stop, but as we came up on our Washington County stopover these hopes were dashed as the air became turbulent even at altitude.

By the time we decided not to go further we were right over our stopover location. The pen was a small dot on the ground below as we circled to lose altitude. The chicks were slow to come down, but were attracted by Brooke,
who had already landed, and his trike. Circling slowly they followed me down. A few landed next to Brooke and the others continued to follow my trike in slow descending circles above the pen site. Finally, when we were low enough, we all landed together on the hillside next to the pen. Joe followed a few minutes later with his two birds.

We put the birds in the pen and taxied our trikes over the hill out of sight of the birds and tied them down to await the ground crew's arrival. Once they were on the scene, we quickly readied the second travel pen to haul it to the next stopover in Adair County and got on our way. Chris got appointed driver since he hadn't had any birds to deal with, and I needed to write today's Field Journal entry as we traveled to the next stop. Marie and Laurie come along as well to help set up the pen.

All in all not a bad week.
With light winds from the north predicted, tomorrow looks good too. The rain/snow they are calling for is supposed to clear out over night.

Now, wish us luck as we try to find a wireless connection so we can send this off to Liz for posting.

View the photos here in the 2006 Migration Photo Journal.

Date: November 19 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Moving right along Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 46 - 48.2 Miles Accumulated Distance:
554.5 miles

The team is on the ground in Washington County, KY. Joe reports it was hazy at low altitudes but that the flight - once they got the birds going - went well. So well in fact if it hadn't have been for the start of some bumpy air they might have considered skipping a stop. With the tailwind they had at altitude they reached the equivalent of 50mph ground speed. Richard, today's lead pilot, will be sending his report later today.

Stopover Trivia - Washington County, KY (by VN (Vi) White)
Named for George Washington, this county in central Kentucky has a population of 11,000.  Most of Washington County is a well-dissected upland of irregular hills, ridges, caves and sinks.  The highest elevation point, at 1,020 feet, is on a ridge near the southeastern corner of the county.

Abraham Lincoln's parents, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, were married at the Lincoln family homestead in 1806.  The original log house is still standing, now in the Lincoln Homestead State Park, about ten miles from Springfield in Washington County. Actors dressed in period costumes taking the roles of Lincoln and Hanks family members and other historical figures, reenacted the wedding on its 200th anniversary on June 3, 2006.  The home contains a particularly handsome original corner cupboard, among other pieces of furniture, made by Thomas Lincoln, a carpenter and blacksmith by trade.
 

Date: November 19 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: It's a 'three-peat'!! Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 46 - ? Miles Accumulated Distance:
506.3 miles

We were hoping this morning's weather would be favorable and allow us a third consecutive day of flying - a 'three-peat' - and we got our wish. At 6:00am it was 35oF, overcast, with ground winds at 1mph out of the WNW but the predicted patchy light drizzle had yet to start to fall.

After a short delay while the wings were de-iced, the pilots lifted off. Bev reported it was 'a bit of a circus' again today, with birds here there and everywhere, but they are now on their way to Washington County, KY.

If the team can resolve their internet connection and uploading problems we will have both still photos and video for you by tomorrow or, if we are very lucky, perhaps even later today.

Stopover Trivia - Goodbye to Shelby County (by VN (Vi) White)
Located in north central Blue Grass Country, Shelby County is known as 'The Saddlebred Capital of the World'. The western half of the county is devoted to thoroughbred horses, the eastern half to agriculture.

Isaac Shelby, the first governor of Kentucky, is the namesake of the county as well as its county seat, Shelbyville; population 11,000. Situated about 23 miles from Churchill Downs, it is the home of the Kentucky Derby.

Its motto, 'Good land, good living, good people', sums up how the citizens of Shelby County feel about their home turf. Theirs is a dry county - no alcoholic drinks of any kind are poured there. At an elevation of 791 feet, Shelbyville has 80% more tornados than the US average.

Date: November 18, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject: Limiting Factors Location:

Shelby County, KY

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 45 - 51.5 Miles Accumulated Distance:
506.3 miles

If there is one limiting factor on this migration it’s water. During early training at Necedah, the lack of rain allowed us to train more than ever before. Maybe that practice is why all the birds seem to follow us now, even after long delays. Then, too much rain in late August and most of September and October curtailed training and delayed departure.

Water in the gas tank caused Chris to miss a leg of the migration and ultimately ruined his engine. Even on days when its not raining water is an issue. If it is cold we have frost, and if it is warm we have fog, and that was the case again this morning. There is a lot of wetland at Muscatatuck, in fact it is a waterfowl paradise. But right now they have more water than usual. As we flew in yesterday we could see flooding in all the fields we would normally consider for landing spots in an emergency.

It was clear when we woke this morning at something after 4am, but as the sun came up the fog moved in. Because Muscatatuck is a refuge and access to certain areas is controlled, people are encouraged to come out and watch our departure. This morning a crowd of a couple hundred gathered as we waited for the fog to life. The crew joined them to answer questions for a half an hour until the trees started to get some definition.

The employees at the refuge let us store our aircraft in their maintenance garage, so it took us a few minutes to get them out and suit up. About as much time as it took the ground crew to walk to the pen because it was too muddy to drive.

We couldn’t land because of the water in the field so I performed an air pick up, flying low over the pen while Bev, Marie and Laurie released the birds. We flew the length of the field but could not clear the tress at the end so I did a tight turn and flew back, surprising the other pilots that were lined up behind in the chase position. Brooke moved in almost immediately to collect a bird that was lagging, and the rest of them followed my wing well - for a moment at least.

There seemed to be one in their midst that wanted to go back - but only if he had company. Every time they formed on my wing, one would break away and lead the others off. Eventually they broke into two groups, 5 forming up on my wing and 12 on Richard's.

We were airborne for 22 minutes before we had them settled down on course. For most of that time, Brooke led his one bird around in circles overhead. After our initial departure the crowd began to thin, but the people who lingered had the opportunity to see several repeat performances.

The air was smooth and cold as we began a slow climb that eventually took us to 1,900 feet. Below 1,000 feet we had an 8 mph headwind and that may have been what discouraged the flock. Higher than that, the wind dropped off until our speed through the air matched our speed over the ground. Along the way, one bird dropped out of the formation on Richard’s wing and Chris moved in and picked it up.

When birds look up they turn their heads sideways and use one eye in what is called the monocular stare. I noticed them looking at something above but couldn’t determine what. Then, without warning they all dropped below me and took off ahead. This behavior is normal and happens all the time. What was interesting was that all three pilots reported the same thing at the same time and none of us could explain it.

Cruising at almost 2,000 feet, spread out a mile or so, we began to relax, and I used my new camera to shoot a video clip. I drove around and around for more than an hour trying to find an internet connection so I could transmit the clip and this report, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t get our computer equipment to send. We had to resort to again dictating this over the phone to Liz so you would get a posting. If we can figure out what’s wrong, you’ll get to see more video and some still photos as well.

The flight from Jackson County, IN to Shelby County, KY took 1 hour and 45 minutes, and we covered 51.5 miles. After 18 days we are finally out of Windyana.

Date: November 18, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: In Kentucky! Yea!! Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 45 - 51.5 Miles Accumulated Distance:
506.3 miles

After a one hour and 45 minute flight, everyone was on the ground in Shelby County, KY. But - it was not before they performed a prolonged crane rodeo in the sky over the Muscatatuck Refuge. Many of the 200 - 300 spectators present to see the departure flyover left too quickly, and they missed the 'sideshow' as the pilots tried time and again to get the birds to follow their trikes.

Joe initially took off with 17 and Brooke one, but the birds broke up almost immediately. Joe reported that they spent 22 minutes in the air over the refuge doing a 'crane round-up' before getting on their way.

Enroute to Shelby County they faced an 8mp headwind until they could get above 800 feet, but then enjoyed a 2mph tailwind. The flight was made with Chris leading 11 birds, Joe 5, and Brooke and Richard each had one.

Joe's lead pilot report will be posted once he's got this other chores out of the way, and had time to compose it and get it off to us - likely late afternoon.

View the photos here in the 2006 Migration Photo Journal.

Thanks to Jon Trout for the above photos. Jon and his wife Lori drove up from Louisville, KY to be one hand for the flyover.

Once again, we owe Refuge Manager, Mark Weber, Operations Manager, Susan Knowles, and the rest of the staff at Muscatatuck a great big THANK YOU. Each year they go out of their way to accommodate the OM Team, help us make sure the birds are looked after, and they log extra time to ensure the public gets an opportunity to see a flyover. Color us 'grateful' Team Muscatatuck!

Date: November 18, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Back to Back Fly Days! Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 45 - ? Miles Accumulated Distance:
454.8 miles

With the winds being favorable – but conditions uncertain due to low lying fog , the team went into stand-by mode for almost 45 minutes this morning. Shortly after 8am EST, it appeared the fog was burning off enough to make an attempt to fly, and the ground crew headed for the pens and the pilots for their trikes.

A large crowd of spectators were gathered at the Muscatatuck NWR to witness the departure flyover as the cranes and planes left Jackson County for Shelby County, KY. Joe was lead pilot today and took off leading 17 of the 18 chicks. Brooke had the last bird.

If you didn't visit the Field Journal late yesterday you missed the newest addition to our FJ updates. We posted video! A first for OM's Field Journal. Look to the right for the link to the flight video.

Stopover Trivia – State of Kentucky (by VN (Vi) White)
Q -
What do these famous people have in common:  Muhammad Ali, Kit Carson, Duncan Hines, Abraham Lincoln, Casey Jones, Colonel Harland Sanders and Diane Sawyer?
A – All of them were born in Kentucky.

Famous singers, songwriters and musicians also born in Kentucky include Rosemary Clooney, Crystal Gayle, Lionel Hampton, Naomi and Wynonna Judd, Jean Ritchie, Ricky Skaggs and Merle Travis.

Absent from the list are two sisters, Mildred J. Hill and Patty Smith Hill, worthy of recognition. Patty, the younger, born in 1868, was a nursery school and kindergarten teacher, becoming an educator of renown. In 1893 she was the principal of the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School where her older sister Mildred was a teacher. Along with teaching, Mildred had turned to music, becoming a composer, organist, concert pianist and musical scholar. She composed a simple ditty of four lines, "Good Morning to All", to be sung in their school. It was published in "Song Stories for the Kindergarten" and in time became a song we all know and have sung a few of the hundreds of million times a year it is warbled - 'Happy Birthday to You'. 
Now, altogether -
Happy migration to you,
Happy migration to you,
Happy migration, dear Whooping cranes,
Happy migration to you.

Date: November 17, 2006 - Entry 6 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Something New for Craniacs Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 44 - 58.9 Miles Accumulated Distance:
454.8 miles

Here is something new to OM's Field Journal and we think it is an exciting addition. The link at the end of this entry will take you to a short piece of video filmed in the air today by Chris Gullikson enroute from Morgan County to Jackson County, IN.

This is our first time trying to do this on our Field Journal website page, soooo we hope it works – and we hope you like it! (Give it a few seconds to load if it doesn't start right a way.)

Watch Flight Video

Date: November 17, 2006 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: See a Departure Flyover Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 44 - 58.9 Miles Accumulated Distance:
454.8 miles

 Public viewing opportunity at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

The weather for tomorrow looks promising to fly to our next stop in Kentucky. Light southwest winds at the surface should turn more to the northwest aloft, hopefully giving the cranes and planes a bit of a headwind component.

If you would like to see a departure flyover from the Muscatatuck Refuge, here is some information to help you out.

How to get there: The refuge is located on U.S. Highway 50, just three miles east of the I-65/U.S. 50 interchange at Seymour, Indiana. If arriving from I-65 use the Highway 50 exit that will take you east toward North Vernon. The main entrance on U.S. Highway 50 is marked with large brown signs.Muscatatuck is about an hour's drive from Louisville, Kentucky, and Indianapolis, Indiana, and is approximately 85 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Where to go:
On arrival, continue 4-miles down the main road until you see Refuge staff members who will direct you to a parking spot.

Arrival time:
The gates at the refuge will open tomorrow at 6:45am. To view the takeoff, you should be in place no later than 7am - 7:15 at the latest.

Remember:
Keep in mind all our flights are weather permitting. Unsuitable weather can delay our departure by a day, or even days, depending on weather conditions. Fog may be an issue tomorrow, so please be patient if you plan on heading out to Muscatatuck to watch the departure. Thanks for your understanding and patience in this regard.

If weather prevents the team from flying, the OM Migration Crew will be on hand at the Gazebo to meet, greet, and answer questions.

Date: November 17, 2006 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject: Flight Report Location:

Jackson County, IN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 44 - 58.9 Miles Accumulated Distance:
454.8 miles

It was hard to believe we flew this morning considering that we still had rain, wind, and fog at 11pm last night. However, as the computer models promised, we woke to clear skies, light west winds, and just a hint of ground fog developing. Our trikes were tucked safely inside a hangar which allowed us to quickly get airborne at sunrise without the usual hassle of de-icing our wings. We were encouraged to find the air quite smooth above 800 feet with a gentle 10mph push from the northwest.

Over the last two days we have received at least 2 inches of rain on top of the already saturated ground. The pen is setup at the edge of a soybean field and there would be no way we could land at the pen without getting buried in the quagmire. This means that the birds would be experiencing their first air pickup today.

When we all got into position, I setup an approach toward the pen and radioed the command to Marie and Bev to open the pen doors. As I dived down and passed over the top of the pen, the birds quickly got into the air and formed a jumbled group behind me. I flew north over the narrow field with tall trees on either side of me. Joe radioed that one bird had left the pen late and was far behind us. Blocked by the trees, I could only continue on to the north for the next half mile.

Flying in the first chase position, Joe was able to drop in and pickup this bird before it got discouraged and head back for “home”. As I flew on, the field opened up to the east allowing me to make a gradual right hand turn and begin to head on course. One group of birds was solidly on my wing, while another group was beginning to cut the corner with thoughts of flying back towards the pen. I held my course with my seven birds while the other 10 were trying to decide if they wanted to stay with me, or veer off and fly back to the pen.

Trying to fly a trike wing as slow as possible down low in trashy air can be a bit like pushing a heavy wheelbarrow through thick mud - sooner or later you are going to spill your load. After several stall recoveries, I lost the battle and the group of ten broke away from me and headed back towards the pen. As Brooke and Richard began their air rodeo with this group of ten, Joe and I began a slow climb to 1200 feet into the hazy air on course for ‘Boom’, a waypoint which allows us to fly a dogleg around a military facility.

Joe and I had a very uneventful flight, but listening to the radio, we knew that Brooke and Richard had their hands full as they tried time after time to round up their birds and get them all on course. Richard was able to get three birds to lock onto his wing, while Brooke continued to struggle with the remaining seven. To add to the complication, a broken fog deck had drifted over the area and was lowering the visibility down low. Eventually persistence paid off though, and Brooke was able to convince his birds to lock onto the wing and finally begin a climb up into the smooth air.

Meanwhile, Joe and I had made the turn past ‘Boom’ and were now getting the full benefit of the tailwind from the northwest. Charlie had raced ahead of us in the tracking van to meet us at the pen. The rains that had soaked most of the Ohio Valley over the past two days made landing at the Muscatatuck site impossible - we would be doing an air drop with the birds.

Two miles out from the pen site I broke through 800 feet and hit the typical turbulence that usually greets us at our arrival. Doing a large descending circle over the pen site, I turned off my loud speaker which broadcasts the brood call while Charlie turned up the volume on his loudspeaker and began to wave his puppet head in the air. This got the birds attention and they began a steep decent for the open field. This was my cue to add power and climb up and away from the birds. As I slowly circled higher and higher over the pen site, I watched my seven and Joe’s one bird land next to Charlie.

Having safely delivered our cargo, Joe and I headed back into the headwind to see if we could be of any assistance to Brooke and Richard who were now separated from each other by a good 10 miles. Richard soon passed us by with his three, and at eight miles out we passed over Brooke and fell into a chase position back to the pen. After all 18 birds had landed safely on the ground with Charlie, we flew back to the Refuge garage where the staff has graciously allowed use of their facilities to store our trikes and setup camp.
View the photo here in the 2006 Migration Photo Journal. Spectacular shot taken by Chris Gullikson on this morning's flight.

Date: November 17, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Made it to Muscatatuck NWR Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 44 - 58.9 Miles Accumulated Distance:
454.8 miles

Joe reported they had ground fog and haze this morning, and a wild, rocking ride due to low level turbulence. The turbulence was a problem until they reached altitude, but at 1000 feet they picked up a 5 to 8mph tailwind.

Chris took off with all 18 birds, but they started to break off not long into the flight. Joe, Brooke and Richard each picked up some of the strays. They couldn’t fly from A to B today because of a military area along the route so had to tack around it.

Some of the pilots had an easier time of it than others this morning. Joe made it to Muscatatuck in just an hour and seven minutes, while it took Brooke an hour and forty-two minutes.

Everyone is safely on the ground on the refuge and hopeful of another fly day tomorrow. Chris will be sending his lead pilot report later today, and we will also be posting information on the public departure flyover viewing opportunity so don't forget to check back.

Date: November 17, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Airborne! Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 44 - ? Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

Joe reported that at 2am it was downright nasty but by 'rise and shine' time it was 260F, calm and clear, so the pilots headed for the hangar and the ground crew out to the pen. With everything favorable, Migration Day 44 turned into a fly day!!!

When the ground crew arrived at the travel pen they discovered 619 was on the outside. No clue at the moment as to how she escaped. The crew will be checking over the pen and gates to see if they can figure out what happened.

Chris was lead pilot today and he swooped in and did an air pick up. All the birds, including 619 followed and took off behind him. 611 hung back, and the trike and the rest of the chicks were half way along the runway before she scurried to catch up.

Everyone is on their way to our Muscatatuck NWR in Jackson County, IN. Muscatatuck offers the public a departure flyover viewing opportunity, and we will post details about that later today in a further field journal entry.

Date: November 17, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Wood Buffalo/Aransas Population Migration Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 44 - ? Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

USFWS Whooping Crane Coordinator Tom Stehn's November 15th aerial census of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas found 169 adults and 39 chicks for a total of 208 Whooping cranes.

Tom said a cold front that reached the coast a few hours before his flight brought clear skies and 25 mph WNW winds with gusts above 35 mph. "The rock and roll conditions made for a very rough ride," he said, "and did not allow us to make low approaches past the cranes to look for bands."

The total of 208 cranes present is an increase of 52 birds (37 adults and 15 juveniles) since Tom's previous flight on November 8th. The new cranes are believed to have arrived with favorable migration conditions at Aransas November 11 and November 15.

The exciting news is that included among the recent arrivals were four pairs with 'twin' chicks and seven pairs with a single chick. "The 39 chicks currently at Aransas is an all-time high," Stehn noted. "This surpasses the previous record number of chicks - 34 in 2004." Tom pointed out that with a total of six pair of ‘twins’ present, the previous record of 4 pairs set in 1958 has been broken.

In his report Tom noted that one additional set of twins with banded adult green-high silver and unbanded mate have been at Kirwin NWR in northern Kansas at least through November 15. There was an additional migration sighting of 4 adults at Cheyenne Bottoms in central Kansas on November 13th. None of these cranes would have had time to reach Aransas by the November 15th census flight.

Tom told us, "A family group that is stained brown on the legs and bellies that may have walked into a pond containing an oily substance was not found on today’s flight and may not yet have arrived at Aransas. One adult in that family group is color-banded, but it has not been possible from excellent photographs to determine the colors of the bands. We checked the North Cottonwood family looking for stains and did not see any, but the high winds made it difficult to get low enough to be sure that stains were not present. The stained family could also be the Spalding Lake family group on San Jose Island which has not yet arrived at Aransas."

Date: November 16, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Don and Paula

Subject: Goodbye for now. Location:

Ontario, Canada

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 43 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

It is mid-November and, although the migration is far from over, our top cover duties are behind us for another year. Our time spent migrating with the birds from Wisconsin to Florida has been shortened in recent years. In order for us to meet personal obligations at home, we travel with the crew from Wisconsin to wherever we are by November 15th.

The weather this year caused unprecedented delays for the migration south, and it also made it difficult for us to head home as planned. So, with our aircraft tucked safely away in a hangar in Indiana to be picked up later, we found our way back to Canada in our motorhome and arrived safe and sound.

As we look out at the familiar territory of home, rain is pelting down, having just left it's wet prints on the migration crew holed up in motorhomes and trailers in central Indiana. We're glad to be home and not enduring the long, down days of wind, rain, and cold, and yet we miss the camaraderie of our close-knit migration family.

We admire and respect the tenacity of our teammates, and are forever grateful to our patient, long suffering stopover hosts. Goodbye to everyone. We wish you clear skies and light northerly breezes 'til we see you again.

Paula and Don (and Breton and Toots)

Date: November 16, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Richard van Heuvelen

Subject: Staying put - and inside Location:

Morgan County

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 43 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

There was no need to even leave the motorhome this morning to check weather. You can see from the photo below, there were waves on the water and rain drops on the window.

Still, in desperate hope, Chris booted up his computer to check on forecast discussions and weather synopsis. "A strong surface low that spawned severe weather in the southeast is moving northeast into Canada. Rain should end this evening, with the brisk northwest winds diminishing by early Friday morning. A surface high will build in the southwest and winds will back around to the west and become lighter." Mmmmm, maybe tomorrow.

View the photo here in the 2006 Migration Photo Journal. The bottom line for today though was that there was no hope of flying. The crew is lying low in their quarters waiting and wondering what tomorrow will bring.

Light deprivation, rainy days, Don and Paula's departure, along with us not going anywhere, have left the crew some what less than cheerful. But when we watched the morning news we quickly realized it could be much worse. People south of us have lost their homes, and four more soldiers were lost in Iraq. Our thoughts are with them and their families as we get on with our day.

Date: November 16, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: Staying put Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 43 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

When Bev called in this morning she said she had different weather conditions to report today. Strange, I thought to myself, as I had checked the radar and saw the bands of rain, but immediately felt my pulse quicken at the prospect of having a fly day. Then Bev said, "It's not windy and rainy today - it's rainy and windy. And laughed.

Obviously the team will remain in Morgan County again today, and crummy weather aside, they're hanging on to their sense of humor.

Date: November 15, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: Tracking & Monitory Team Update as of Nov/11 Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 42 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

- Females are indicated by *.
- Unless indicated otherwise, locations are in Wisconsin.
- DAR = Direct Autumn Release.
- The Eastern Migratory Population contains 64 birds (36 males/28 females) & 1 or 2 wild-hatched chicks.

By the end of the week, 25 birds had begun migration. Locations at the end of the week were: Illinois (6), Indiana (6), Florida (3), and location undetermined (10). Distribution of non-migrating birds was: Wisconsin (39-40) and Michigan (1).

Autumn Migration
-  101 and 202* began migration Nov. 11. They roosted at an undetermined location in northeastern Illinois (probably Will or Kankakee County) before continuing to Jasper-Pulaski SFWA in IN on Nov. 12
 107* was reported (verified by photo) on Jasper-Pulaski SFWA on Nov. 5. She apparently began migration from the Horicon NWR area and arrived at Jasper-Pulaski on Oct. 28. Her transmitter is non-functional and she cannot be tracked. On Nov. 12 she was sighted among a large number of staging Sandhills in Jackson County, IN.
-  201* and 306, 307, 510*, 511, 512, and 519* began migration on Nov. 9 and roosted at an undetermined location in northern Illinois. No subsequent reports have been received.
-  318 was last reported with a small number of Sandhill cranes in Mason County, Michigan, on Oct. 20. By Oct. 25 he was no longer detected and had apparently begun migration. No subsequent reports have been received.
-  408 and 501* began migration on Nov. 3. They roosted that night in Boone County, IL. They were next located in southeastern Kankakee County, IL on 11 November and remained there on the 12th.
-  415* was last reported in a staging Sandhill flock in Adams County during the last week of October. These birds were no longer present by Nov. 4 and may have migrated. 415*’s VHF transmitter and PTT are nonfunctional, and she cannot be tracked.
-  420* began migration with Sandhills on Nov. 9. She passed through central Wisconsin and then diverted eastward to roost that night in Dodge County. She resumed migration and roosted on Jasper-Pulaski SFWA, IN, Nov. 11 and remained there on the 12th.
-  According to PTT readings for 502*, she, along with 503, and 507 roosted in Lanier County, GA Nov. 5; in Madison County, FL on Nov. 6, and south of Williston, FL on Nov. 10 to 12. The three began their migration Oct. 31.
-  509 was last reported migrating with six Sandhills in Fayette County, GA on Oct 28. No further reports have been received. His departure on migration went undetected.
-  514 and 521* began migration on Nov. 11 and they roosted in Kane County, IL before continuing migration against a headwind on Nov. 12. At last report they roosted in Ford County, IL.
 523 and 524 were last reported foraging in Clinton County, IN before resuming migration Nov 11. They began migrating Oct. 22.
 DAR 626 and DAR628 began migration Oct. 28 and remained with large numbers of staging Sandhills in Jackson Colunty, IN through the past week.

Transmitter Replacement
301’s nonfunctional transmitter was replaced on Sprague Pool on Nov. 8.

The First Family
211, 217* and one of their fledged chicks roosted on their territory on East Rynearson Pool (ERP) each night. They foraged there and in fields near the southern end of the refuge. (Their second chick has not been sighted since the evening of Sept. 12.)

View the photos here in the 2006 Migration Photo Journal.

East of Lake Michigan
DAR533* remained with large numbers of Sandhill cranes on a staging area in Barry and Kalamazoo Counties, Michigan.

The rest of the birds in the EMP remained in Wisconsin, some inside, some outside the core reintroduction area.

Thanks to trackers Richard Urbanek, Tally Love, S. Grover, A. Rohde, S. Kerley, and Sara Zimorski, and to Windway Capital Corporation and pilot Adam Heronymus, Kelly Maguire (ICF), Jim Bergens (Indiana DNR), and Muscatatuck NWR FWS staff for tracking assistance.

Date: November 15, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: A No Fly Day Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 42 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

Day 42 of the migration will be spent on the ground – again. Overcast, windy, rainy, and just plain nasty was how Bev described the weather the team was experiencing this morning in Morgan County. Unless there is a change to the forecast, it appears it may be Saturday before conditions are suitable for flying.


Stopover Trivia – Morgan County, IN (by VN (Vi) White)
Around the turn of the century, Martinsville, the county seat, was known as 'Artesian City' due to the hot spring spas located there. Today, high school football fans root for their team, the Artesians.

Established in 1902, Martinsville’s Grassyfork Fisheries was the largest goldfish hatchery in the world.  By the time it was sold to the State of Indiana in 1966, it had 600 ponds on 1500 acres and produced forty million goldfish annually. It was renamed Cikana State Fish Hatchery, and renovated and modernized to produce more than 20 million fry and fingerlings of sport fish for restocking public waterways.

Date: November 14, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter: Joe Duff
Subject: It wasn't for lack of trying... Location:

Morgan County, IN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 41 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

It was blowing out of the southeast and obviously too windy to fly when we got up this morning at 5AM. Then, at sunrise, it calmed down just to tease us.

Chris went online and used advanced technology to get a current weather report, while Richard used the old fashion technique of climbing the hill and holding up a finger. Both methods indicated that it could be flyable so Walter drove us all to the airport 10 miles away while the ground crew readied the pen for release.

One by one we took off and promptly disappeared into the haze. At 500 feet the air was still calm but we had a 10 mile per hour headwind making our destination an hour and 30 minutes away. The only concern was the lack of visibility. As we approached the pen site the haze grew thicker, and airports south of us were reporting IFR conditions. This means anyone flying would have to obey all the restrictions of Instrument Flight Rules, which completely eliminates ultralights. So reluctantly we landed and put the aircraft back in the hangar.

Bob Burton is an airline captain with a beautiful house and large hangar at a private airstrip a few miles away from were the birds are penned in a bean field. Each year Bob opens his hangar and pushes his own aircraft to the back to let us shelter our trikes from the wind and frost. When it starts blowing in the middle of the night and buffets the motorhomes, it's comforting to roll over knowing the aircraft are secure.

Don and Paula Lounsbury's departure this morning was also delayed by the haze, but only for a few hours. Flying in their Cessna at well over a hundred knots they hardly notice a wind that will keep us firmly on the ground. They are heading back to Canada for a well deserved break and we will be on our own for the next few stops.

Don and Paula have volunteered to fly top cover for us since the very first migration. Every year when we head south, they circle above us keeping an eye on the pilots and the birds. For our 1200+ miles they probably fly 3 or 4 thousand, keeping us clear of air traffic and warning airports of our position. In their larger aircraft they often have to camp at bigger airports, so we talk by cell phone in the mornings. They generally stay clear while we launch the birds and join us once we have them in line and on course.

On a good day the only thing we hear from them is a 'Good morning' greeting when they have us spotted, and a report to the ground crew when we land at the destination. But other times, when things don’t go as smoothly, they become the center of the operation. They can clear us through controlled airspace, or find us a spot to land if we really need to be on the ground. If we are all spread out, they put us all in the same location and direct the ground crew to the site before we arouse the curiosity of the locals. By the time the landowners figure out what’s going on, we can have someone there to explain and to apologize for the intrusion.

We owe Don and Paula an awful lot. They have dedicated themselves and their airplane to this project for the last 13 years. Without them there would be fewer Whooping cranes in the world today.

Dave Mattingly and some of his associates with Touch our Planet will provide top cover from Hiwassee Reserve in Tennessee down past Atlanta, and we look forward to seeing them soon.

To ward off early morning frost we use Propylene Glycol to de-ice the wings and this year we have already exhausted our supply. Mark Poliak, an ultralight pilot and member of the Indy Flyers, Flying Club (and a long time staunch OM supporter) has once again stepped in to help us out. Mark called up all his friends in the aviation business and wangled us 15 gallons (enough to get us to Florida even if it takes all winter). He then worked until 3AM so he could take the time off today to deliver it to us in Morgan Co. We want to thank Mark for helping out, for his negotiating skills and all the leg work. We also want to thank Pat Robinson from Indy Aviation who actually donated the Glycol.

Date: November 14, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: Hopes Dashed Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 41 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

It was dead calm at 5am this morning so the team was hopeful of making it to the next stopover – Muscatatuck NWR in Jackson County, IN – today.

As the skies lightened however, the winds kicked up and continued to build beyond the threshold that makes flying with the birds possible.

Reluctant to call it a day, the team was still standing in their ‘morning circle’ when they passed on today's disappointing news.
Past years, in most instances we are in Tennessee by Day 41 of the migration.

Date: November 13, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Laurie Lin

Subject: Who let the birds out? Location:

Morgan County, IN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 40 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

Our young birds have learned to resist gravity and move freely in the space between the earth and sky. Now, with their increasing flying ability and the unique environment at each stop, every time we let them out of their pen we can only hope the costumes, puppet head and brood call we play continue to make us 'chick magnets'.

On down days, when conditions permit, chicks and handlers get to 'work out' together. We open the gate and encourage the chicks to fly. One or two handlers locate themselves near the chicks and then sprint in the direction of the future departure. Away we go, running across the farmland in our costumes; one hand holding the puppet head upright, and the other hand/arm flapping up and down (this is for trained handlers only, do not try this at home!). It is like a rehearsal for the big day.

The number of chicks that initiate flying varies. Sometimes, the costumes are the only things running in the field. (Thank goodness laughing is not allowed at the pen site!) But when their flying mode does kick in, the chicks start to run behind us, then pass us by shooting into the sky in front of us like bullets. Usually the chicks circle above the pen site or turn around within visible range. Once seventeen chicks took off and shot through the sky like race cars away from us - completely out of sight. Out of sight means tracking, and the surrounding power lines mean danger. Both Bev and I were counting the chicks repetitively the whole time until the return of every chick was confirmed.

The number of chicks taking off simultaneously has increased as time goes on. All chicks were off the ground when we worked out two days ago. It was like an air show being put on right in front of you. During their landing, once I had to duck downward and once sideways because speedy cranes were moving toward me. I don’t know what will happen next time we exercise with the chicks but I am going to hold on to my helmet and learn to duck faster.

We had pieces of pumpkin scattered on the ground in the pen before we started to get chicks back into the pen. It worked, at least for this time. All chicks except 610 marched into their travel home without too much trouble. 610 stood near the gate and did not pay attention to other chicks or the pumpkin. Remember 610, the clover eater who liked to drag behind and forage during a walk. We know him well. By coaxing him with a few extra cranberries for his tummy he was back into his travel home before he knew it.

Date: November 13, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: On the Ground Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 40 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

Bev called to say there was low cloud cover and way too much wind so by 6:45am the team knew they wouldn't be flying today. Unfortunately we couldn't tell you that until a short while ago due to issues we were having with our server. I love technology. Grrrr

Assuming things continue to work okay, another entry will be posted later today.


Date: November 12, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Brooke Pennypacker/Joe Duff

Subject: It's great when it all comes together! Location:

Morgan County, IN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 39 - 56.3 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

As those of you who follow our daily adventures (and misadventures) know, the pilot who is assigned to lead for the day also gets to write about it. I can only hope the gun Liz has pointed at my head is not loaded.

After a long.....wait a minute !!!!!! Did I say long ????? What I mean to say is.....after an unbelievable, mind numbing, exasperating, excruciating, suffocating, unbearably long stretch of bad flying weather, we woke today to what seemed to be the first good flying day in years.

I must add here that if it wasn’t for the truly wonderful generosity and genuine kindness of our last hosts, Al and Pat, and the many other terrific people from town, we would probably have long ago given up, turned the travel pen into a petting zoo, and headed for the nearest physiatrist’s office ’s to investigate the possibility of getting a group rate.

But today all that changed. When Marie and Laurie in perfect synchronicity pulled open the pen doors, the birds blasted out behind the trike and followed it in a tight circle around the field, climbing higher and higher in an effort to clear the surrounding trees.

Then, as we began another circuit to gain the necessary altitude, Bev, dressed as the Swamp Monster, ran out onto the field at exactly the right moment to scare the low flying stragglers, giving them just enough incentive to stay with the trike and forget about returning to the pen. The fact is, a good launch is the key to a good flight, and so it was today. All the birds followed behind the lead trike on what was to be an uneventful flight of an hour and 31 minutes to the next stop.

One interesting note; we flew over a bean field where 5 years ago, Joe and I were forced to make an emergency landing with the birds and remain there for a few days while tornadoes trashed many nearby areas; and where during one rain storm, our wings, which we had dropped to the ground to protect them from the wind, became completely covered with water. It was a shame to see the adjoining field has since been turned into housing development representing more of the sprawl which is rapidly devouring our beautiful countryside.

After landing and putting the birds in the pen, we launched to a nearby private airfield where another generous benefactor allowed us to put our trikes in his hangar. All in all it was a good day. One we had been waiting for, for a long time. It’s always great when you decide it’s time to go - and the birds agree with you.

From Joe
Some of the supporters of this project have called us wildlife heroes. I don't think anyone of the team would seriously agree. More likely they would save that tribute for our stopover hosts along the migration route. And never has that title been more deserving than during this protracted journey.

We move in on a moments notice, surround their house with motorhomes and trailers, expropriate their land to hide the birds, and monopolize the electrical outlets and water supply. It is one thing to offer hospitality to a group of wandering migrants for a day or two, but this year we have been stuck in place for a week at a time, yet we never seemed to reach the limits of their generosity - not that we are trying.

For the last 8 days we have been the guests of long time supporters Al and Pat, and they could not have been more helpful. Pat forfeited her kitchen as we all took turns cooking meals; Al brought out all of his toys, including his train set. We watched movies, check emails, repaired equipment, played pool, and used their home as if it were our own.

We still have a long way to go and would like to be on our way. These repeated delays however have given us time to get to better know some amazing people - the real heroes of this project.

Note: The delayed posting is due to connection problems which were eventually solved by Brooke and Joe dictating their reports over the phone. Thank heavens something works. Liz

Date: November 12, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Hello Morgan County, IN! Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 39 - 56.3 Miles Accumulated Distance:
395.9 miles

Everyone is safely on the ground in Morgan County. Joe said the pilots are frozen stiff and can hardly wait to get birds and trikes straightened away so they can get some where to get warm.

Maybe our little charges are as anxious to get south as we are to get them there. Despite not flying for 8 days they all took off behind Brooke this morning and every single one stayed with him the whole way! Brooke made two circuits above the pensite to gain altitude and off they went. Joe reported that they had no tailwind and no headwind, but they had turbulence all the way. They flew at anywhere from 700 to 1,000 feet but it was bumpy all the way.

As lead pilot, Brooke will be writing today's entry for the field journal today so check back later in the day.

Date: November 12, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Back to Flying! Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 39 - ? Miles Accumulated Distance:
? miles

Boone County released it's grip on the cranes and planes this morning.

In patchy fog, with the temperature hovering right on the freezing mark and light winds out of the NNE, Brooke, today's lead pilot, took off with all 18 birds following

What's the saying? Be thankful for small mercies? Getting off the ground today means the record for the longest consecutive number of down days stands tied – not broken.

After the long period of not flying it wouldn't be unusual for the pilots to have their hands full with a crane round-up this morning. More news will be posted as fast as it comes in.

Stopover Trivia – Morgan County, IN (by VN (Vi) White)
Most of the 70,000 people who live in Morgan County are clustered in its two largest communities; Martinsville in the hilly south, population 11,657, and Mooresville, population 11,111, in the more level north near Indianapolis.

Date: November 11, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Record Tied Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 38 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Thunderstorms with all that go with them - lightening and heavy rain, moved through Boone County last night. Left behind this morning were howling NNW winds with gusts between 12 and 25 mph - which means of course the team has stood down again today.

As mentioned in yesterday's Field Journal entry, being grounded today means we have tied the all time record for consecutive down days. That record was set in 2005 when we spent 8 days on the ground in Morgan County, IN, the stopover after Boone County.

With luck, we will escape with a tie rather than break the record. Tomorrow's forecast looks promising with mostly clear skies, early morning temps in the high 20's, and light winds out of the north.

One supporter me wrote to ask that I tell the Migration Crew not to despair; not to worry about the migration extending past Christmas. "I know just the guy who can help," said Margaret Black of Orillia, Ontario. "He's used to flying with animals and in all kinds of weather too. As soon as he completes his 24 hour, round the world mission on December 24th, I'm sure he'd be happy to stuff 18 Whooping cranes in his sleigh and fly them to Florida!"

Margaret went on to say, "On Christmas Eve, people track the guy in the red suit making his deliveries around the world using NORAD's website. Once he's done and loaded up up the cranes, we could just stay
tuned to NORAD and track his progress south with the Class of 2006. Now, wouldn't THAT bring in big time Internet viewership?!?! See? Everything will be just fine." J
 

Stopover Trivia – Thorntown, IN in Boone County (by Indiana resident & OM supporter
Patricia D. Gillogly, Director of the Thorntown Heritage Museum)
Thorntown, Indiana, was founded in 1830 with the hope of becoming the county seat of Boone County. A parcel of land for the court house was identified on the original planning map. The area hosted pre-contact hunting and trade, and one highway follows a portion of a prehistoric mammoth trail.

Residents of note include Alan Saunders, the creator of the Mary Worth comic strip; Eugene Beesley, the first president of Eli Lilly & Co. outside the Lilly family; and Brig. General Anson Mills, designer of the Mills cartridge belt system, member of the U.S/Mexico Boundry Commission, and designer of El, Paso, Texas.

Date: November 10, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker
Subject: Brooke about Gerald Location:

Boone County

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 37 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Yesterday, Gerald told me he wrote an update, so maybe it's only fitting that someone writes an update about him. The trouble with trying to write about someone is that you’ll fail to do that person justice; fail to capture their true character and essence. It's like crawling out on a limb and hoping for the best. But then this whole project is, at times, like that. So here goes.

I first met Gerald at the Madison Airport three years ago just prior to the 2004 migration. Sandy Blakeney and I stood waiting at the gate when we suddenly remembering we had no idea what he looked like, or how to identify him. We laughed and kidded around as we discussed our options. A sign saying, 'Gerald? Naw, too trite. One with 'Operation Migration' on it? Nope, too long and hard to spell. What about just yelling out "Gerald"repeatedly as the passengers exited the gate? Yeah, that's the ticket. Madison is full of zany people, surely two more wouldn't stand out all that much.

So as our duet of, 'Gerrraaald', rang out through the terminal in sporadic bursts, the passengers filed by ignoring us. No Gerald. Finally, after the gate was empty and we were about to accept defeat, a lone figure appeared wearing a well-worn hiker's hat above an expression of apprehension, anticipation, and confusion. Sandy and I looked at each other and said in unison, "Gerald"! And thus began Gerald's participation in the next three migrations; pulling our Nomad trailer up and down the highways and byways, not to mention the flyways of our migration route. More importantly, for me, there began a cherished friendship, which has continued to grow each year.

With Gerald, 'What you see is what you get,' - and a whole lot more. He’s like an iceberg, stabilized by 9/10s of its mass lying below the surface. But here are a few facts: Gerald came to us from Pensacola, FL where he lives with his wife, Ann. They have been happily married for over 42 years. We should all be so lucky. He is the father of two, and the grandfather of three.

After graduating from Florida State University Gerald entered the Air Force, became a pilot, and did two tours in Viet Nam; one as a B52 pilot and another flying C-123's spraying Agent Orange during Operation Ranch Hand. He flew a total of over 200 combat missions before returning home to become a school teacher. He then worked for the Department of the Navy until his retirement 8 years ago. But the word 'retirement' hardly applies here.

For example, right after his 'retirement', Gerald had to report to a military facility in California for a periodic physical check up as part of an Agent Orange study. Seeing this as an opportunity for adventure, he got a tandem bicycle, put his brother-in-law on the front seat (his blind brother-in-law) and pedaled from Florida to California in a little over a month!

Next he built a retirement cabin the mountains of North Carolina, and worked on a 'Rails to Trails' project near his home. He and another fellow maintain 10 miles of the Florida Scenic Hiking Trail. Gerald also teaches Beekeeping and Outdoor Skills at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, and….well you get the picture.

Yesterday afternoon, his time with us having come to an end, we took Gerald to the airport. Our old friend, Walt Sturgeon, will be taking over his duties on migration, allowing Gerald to return home and pursue his next adventure. We will miss his cheerful and generous nature, and the wisdom that belies his southern, downhome persona. We will miss too the stability his presence always provides, adding depth to our keel in sometimes confused and turbulent seas.

I will miss Gerald for many more reasons. But I look forward to kayaking with him this winter near his home , diving up fossils, exploring new rivers, and perhaps even trying to glimpse an Ivory Bill or two.

Date: November 10, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Down Day Again Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 37 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

With a 60% chance of rain and winds gusting to almost 13 mph out of the ENE it is another 'go nowhere' day. Today will be the 7th day the team has been stuck in Boone County. Before this, the longest we have ever been on the ground here was 3 days.

Previous year's 7 day 'stays' were in 2004 when we spent a week in Green County, Wisconsin and then again at Hiwassee in Tennessee. Earlier this season the Team was stuck in Salk County also for 7 days.

One more down day in Boone County and we will tie the all time record for consecutive down days. That happened last year when the team stood down for 8 days in Morgan County, Indiana - the next stopover after Boone. It's a record we'd prefer not to tie, much less break.

At the moment the tote board reads: Flydays 8, No Flydays 29. Yikes!

 

Stopover Trivia – Boone County, IN (by VN (Vi) White)
The topography of Boone County is low and level, but is high enough to be the separation point between the White and Wabash Rivers. It seems like water flows in every direction in Boone County.

You can hear them yelling "Fore!" from here! 'They' are the hordes of golfers enjoying the county's nearly dozen premier golf courses, many traveling from Indianapolis whose northwestern corner abuts Boone County.

Date: November 10, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Wood Buffalo/Aransas
Migration Update
Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 37 - ? Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

On Wednesday's aerial census of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas Tom Stehn, USFWS Whooping Crane Coordinator, reports finding 132 adults and 24 chicks - a total of 156 birds.

The 156 cranes present is an increase since his last flight on November 1st of 108 birds - 89 adults + 19 juveniles. Tom said he believed the recent arrivals came November 1 to 3 and on November 7 with the favorable migration conditions experienced on those dates. "In most years," said Tom, "a majority of the Whooping crane flock arrives at Aransas around November 4 - 7, so this year shows a similar pattern."

Based on sightings compiled by the USFWS Endangered Species office in Nebraska, indications were that as of November, nearly all reported Whooping cranes were at least as far south as Nebraska's Platte River with the exception of a single bird that may have been in Minnesota on November 4th. Tom noted that recent sightings in the migration corridor indicate that the rest of the flock is currently most likely spread between Kansas and points further south.

"Present on today's flight were two sets of twins (an adult pair with 2 chicks). This ties the winter with the most sets of twins that have arrived at Aransas since the collection of second eggs on the nesting grounds ended in 1996," he said.

A family with twin chicks is currently at Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge in northern Kansas. Color bands were identified on seven cranes at Aransas. The single adult family last week on Matagorda Island was grouped as two adults close together with the chick; a probable indication that re-pairing has occurred.

Date: November 9, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Gerald Murphy

Subject: Color Me 'Gone' Location:

Boone County

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 36 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Sadly, my time on the migration with OM is over for another year. It is difficult to explain what traveling with this group and the birds means to me, to the point where it would be difficult for me to NOT do it again in the future.

Even though our progress has been very slow this year, at least to this point, the importance of what is being done is not diminished just because we have been slow doing it. As another team member said, "In the end, we will do what ever we need to do to get it done."

We are all hopeful that the wild hatched chick(s) will make it south as that will validate everything that has been done over the years, and be proof positive that what we are doing is working - and working well.

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to our stopover hosts, many of whom this year we have imposed on even more than usual. To their credit, they have all said it has been nothing but their pleasure.

I would also like to thank my fellow team members for putting up with me for another season. I don't see them for a year, and when I arrive again it is like I just left yesterday. My fellow teammate and replacement, Walter Sturgeon, has arrived, so the remainder of the trip is in very experienced and capable hands.

To the great OM Team: May all your winds be from the North - but not so strong you can't fly. Goodbye all - until next year.

Note: The Team put Gerald on a plane for his home in Pensacola, FL late this afternoon. They tucked 'Derrick' in his baggage so he would have a Whooping crane to keep him company. We all also send our sincere thanks to Gerald for the time and effort he dedicates and donates to OM. For he's a jolly good fellow!!!

Date: November 9, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Weekly Tracking and Monitoring Team Update Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 36 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Thanks to R. Urbanek, T. Love, S. Grover, A. Rohde, and S. Kerley and thanks also to Kelly Maguire (ICF), Heather Keough (USDA Forest Service), and Jim Bergens (Indiana DNR) for tracking assistance.

Females are indicated by *. DAR = direct autumn release. Unless otherwise indicated, locations are in Wisconsin. Distribution of non-migrating birds was: Wisconsin (51-52) and Michigan (1).

211, 217* and one of their fledged chicks remain on the refuge at Necedah. (Photo by R. Urbanek)

View the photo here in the 2006 Migration Photo Journal.


East of Lake Michigan

No. DAR 533* remained with large numbers of Sandhill cranes on a staging area in Barry County.

Outside of Core Reintroduction Area
407 and 508* and DAR 528* remained with staging Sandhills in Marathon County. 420* remained with large numbers of staging Sandhills in Rusk County. 502*, 503, and 507* began migrating from Winnebago County, on October 31st.

505 and 506 remained with a small number of Sandhill cranes in Rock County, and 516 remained with large numbers of Sandhills in Dane County. DAR 527* remained with large numbers of Sandhill cranes on a staging area in Marquette County.

Sub-adults in Core
307, 512, 519*, 309, 520*, 301, 401, 402, 403, 414, 514, 521*, 209, 416, 501*, 511, DAR532, DAR627, DAR632*.

Pairs or Adults in Core
101 and 202*, 105 and 204*, 201* and 306, 208 and 313*, 209* and 416, 211 and 217*, 212 and 419*, 213 and 218*,  301* and 311, 303* and 317, 312* and 316, 102*, 205, 216.

2006 Migration
By November 4th, 13 birds had begun migration. Latest records are Illinois (2), Indiana (4), and location undetermined (4). Three birds reached Florida November 6th.

- A banded whooping crane believed to be no. 107* was reported on Jasper-Pulaski SFWA on 28 October.

- 318 last reported with a small number of Sandhill cranes in Mason County, Michigan has not been detected since October 25 and apparently has begun migration.

- 408 and 501* began migration on November 3rd and were tracked to Boone County IL before tracking was discontinued.

- 415* was last reported in a staging Sandhill flock in Adams County but were no longer present at week’s end and may have begun migration. Her transmitter is non-functional and she cannot be tracked.

- 502*, 503, and 507* began migration October 31st. Low precision PTT readings for no.502indicated they roosted in McLean County, IL, on that night and in Parke County, IN the following night. They were tracked to Pulaski County KY and resumed migration on the 3rd or the 4th of November. Readings indicated that they made it to Lanier County, GA and then Madison County, FL on November 5 and 6 respectively.

- 509 was last observed in a large staging Sandhill flock in Clark County on 22 October and has apparently begun migration.

- 523 and 524 began migration 22 October and were next reported in Jasper County, Indiana, and subsequently in Clinton County, IN on November 4th.

- DAR 626 and 628 began migration October 28. From October 29 through the end of the week they remained with large numbers of staging Sandhills in Jackson County, IN.

Date: November 9, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: This is getting tiresome Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 36 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Cranes and planes will spend yet another day in Boone County, IN. Gusting wind out of the south west is the culprit. The weatherman is calling for 50% and 30% chance of rain for Friday and Saturday respectively. Let’s hope he's wrong.

Stopover Trivia – Boone County, IN (by VN (Vi) White)
In 1830, thinking that some day the center of the county would be a good location for the county seat, General James Drake and Colonel George Kinnard paid $1.25 per acre for land there. Their speculation proved to be correct, and today, Lebanon, the Boone County Seat, has a population of 15,000.

In 1911 the third of three county courthouses constructed in Lebanon was ready for occupancy. It was constructed of Indiana Bedford limestone and still is in use today. Its large columns were thought to be the largest single-piece limestone columns in the world.

Ticking away inside the County Courthouse are eight original pneumatically calibrated clocks made by the Chicago’s Hahl Automatic Clock Company. The system consists of a master clock that runs like a grandfather clock, with the addition of a small bellows. Weighted pulleys and pendulum operate the bellows. When the bellows push down, air is pumped through a closed system of tubes connected to the 'slave clocks', synchronizing the movement of their hands with those of the master clock.

Date: November 8, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject: Crop circles and other details.... Location:

Boone County, IN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 35 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Richard van Heuvelen speculated that maybe we should consider dividing our team. Half of us could complete this migration while the other half would start training next year’s birds. Someone else suggested we had better decide where we are going to put our Christmas tree. Another team member commented that out of courtesy to our hosts, we should offer to pay rent.

Comments like these can be heard every morning as the team stands in a circle and kicks at the ground while fruitlessly waiting for conditions to improve. The scenario unfolds every morning as circles form in odd places, like under a wing to keep out of the rain, or sheltered from the wind behind one of the motorhomes. Sometimes you can’t see the circles until you stumble upon them in the fog, and other times they are easy to find by following tracks in the frost. Crew circles are ephemeral gatherings that can last only a few minutes or more than an hour. They are temporary empathetic asylums where the team can commiserate, and when they vanish, tell tale signs
are left behind like wet foot prints on the pavement or crop circles.

Today was another of those mornings that tease the crew with calm air and generates lingering circles. A gentle breeze promised good tailwinds but there was a large area of fog to the north. The one condition that encouraged us, was also the one that reduced the visibility to almost zero. The light wind began to gust before the fog cleared and we were grounded once again.

This extended time on the ground gave Chris a chance to change out his engine. After his last incident with the water in the fuel that led to scored pistons, we replaced it with our spare. Through the generosity of one of our favourite supporters, we ordered a brand new engine. It arrived a while ago and has now been installed. As his aircraft sat in the rain over the last few days, the water in the gas problem re-occurred and we finally traced down the cause.

The fuel tanks on our Cosmos trikes are made of fibreglass with a plastic filler nozzle laminated into the top. Over the years, the lamination deteriorated, probably as a result of ethanol now being added to gas, and water began to leak into the tank. Water is heavier than gas and sinks to the bottom where the siphon for the fuel pump is located. When Chris started his engine, it sucked up the water which displaced the oil that is mixed with the gas, and the engine tried to run without lubrication.

As a result, the hole in the tank caused the water in the fuel and the damage to the engine. But the story is not finished. When Chris first discovered the water in his tank, he used a siphon to drain it. A few flakes of the deteriorated laminate lodged in the plastic siphon hose which Gerald noticed and set to one aside to show Chris later. Around the same time, Don and Paula Lounsbury began to have problems with the fuel system on their Cessna 182. The aluminium tanks inside the wings are lined with rubber bladders, and after a flight Don noticed that the bottom layer had risen and was up against the filler opening just under the fuel cap.

Think of the gas tank being like a glass of water with a straw sticking out the top. It is easy to empty the glass through the straw - as long as the top is open. If you were to seal the top of the glass it wouldn’t be too long before the pressure built up and no more liquid could be sucked out, in fact you could turn it upside down and it wouldn’t even leak out. That is why all fuel tanks are vented to allow air to replace the gas as it is used up.

To check his vent system, Don put a plastic hose on the vent tube and blew through it. All seemed clear. But on the next flight gas began to pour out the vent tube and stream down the wing. Paula landed without incident and the only loss was the ten gallons of gas that were wasted.

At one of stopovers, our host recruited the help of a partner and aircraft mechanic who disassembled the tank opening. Stuck in the vent opening was a little flake of brown material that perfectly matched the piece that Gerald was still carrying around.

It seems that Don used the siphon hose to blow through his vent tube. Some of the deteriorated laminate from Chris’s tank was left in the hose and plugged the vent causing the pressure to build and the gas to spill. The devil lives in the details.

Date: November 8, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Fogged In Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 35 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Bev called shortly after 7am to say that while it was foggy, conditions otherwise looked not bad and that the team was going to try to go. They wanted to take advantage of that small window of favorable flying weather that Chris, our resident weatherman, suggested yesterday that we might have this morning.

At 8:45am and Bev called again to let us know that the team was still standing by, hoping for the fog to clear sufficiently to allow them to fly. The favorable winds out of the north were blowing more fog their way.

Refusing to give up, the Team continued to stand at the ready until a short while ago. They finally had to call it a down day. While the fog had cleared up, the winds were no longer favorable so Day 35 will be spent on the ground.

Date: November 7, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Another No Fly Day Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 34 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Going nowhere - again today. The team reported overcast skies, 50 degrees F, winds out of the south and rain showers. Chris, our resident weatherman, says there may be a small window of favorable flying weather tomorrow. Here's hoping.

What happened to our entry for yesterday, November 6th?

Each morning I prepare the Duke Energy EarlyBird e-bulletin and get it sent out to the Membership. That is followed by doing the notices to our corporate sponsors and patrons. Next is an email with flight info (or lack thereof) to the many individuals in the WCEP partnership. Then I do the first write up of the day for the Field Journal, and prepare it for posting here.

Yesterday, after the email notices got sent out, and before the Field Journal entry I wrote up got posted, here's what happened.

This is 4 month old Theodore, or Teddy as he likes to be called. He joined the OM Team the end of August and loves to come to the office every day to help Liz learn how to take breaks. Teddy is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and full grown will be about 12" high and around 15 lbs.  This is 8 week old Maggie. She joined the OM team on Monday the 6th. It will be a while yet before Maggie will helping Chris to relax. Maggie is a Golden Doodle, she's half Golden Retriever and half Poodle. She'll be 4 times the size of Teddy so the Girls in the office will still 'rule'. LOL

In the midst of all this excitement, Joe arrived home for a surprise visit. It was a wild day trying to play catch up and clean up odds and ends while we had the advantage of having here at the office. Then one of our two volunteers arrived to give us a hand, and the day totally got away on me.

That was the long version of what happened to yesterday's Field Journal Entry. The short version is that there was so much going on that I plumb forgot. I didn't even get it when people were emailing to ask, 'what was wrong'? Sorry folks. Good thing my head is attached.

Date: November 5, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Grounded Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 32 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Today will be another no-fly day. Yes, you got it – wrong way winds again. It is Day 32 of the migration, and so far the team has been able to fly on only 8 of them.

There is little good news in the long range forecast; winds out of the SSE, SSW, and SW through to Thursday, with a 30% chance of rain on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

This is the third time in our six years migrating that we have arrived in Boone County on November 3rd. The earliest ever arrival in Boone County was October 29 in 2003 on Migration Day 14. The latest arrival was November 5 in 2004 on Migration Day 19. In this context, despite being on migration for a longer period, where we are this season is well within the range of prior years.

Arrivals in Boone County, IN
2006 on Nov.3, Migration Day 30
2005 on Nov.1, Migration Day 19
2004 on Nov.5, Migration Day 27
2003 on Oct.29, Migration Day 14
2002 on Nov.3, Migration Day 22
2001 on Nov.3, Migration Day 18

(Re: The Today Show, yesterday's entry- Apparently we were given wrong information, and the segment aired on Saturday. Apologies - hope you didn't set your alarm to get up and watch it.)

Stopover Trivia – Boone County, IN (by VN (Vi) White)
Until run out of the area by settlers, Miami Indians occupied the northwest corner of Boone County. The settlers came from Kentucky, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and by 1830, there were 622 of them, enough to organize a county government. They named it after pioneer Daniel Boone. By 1850 the population had grown twenty fold.

Date: November 4, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: For the Early Risers Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 31 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Tomorrow (Sunday) morning's Today Show will welcome as a guest, Boyd Matson, the host of Wild Chronicles. Boyd will be interviewed about his recent visit with Operation Migration and his experience flying the skies with the Whooping cranes in the Class of 2006.

The TV listings for NBC's Today Show seem to have different times for its airing, even within the same time zone, so check your local listings.

Date: November 4, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Going Nowhere Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 31 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Joe reported winds out of the south at abut 9mph on the ground this morning. The wrong way winds were even stronger higher up and will keep everyone on the ground today.

The next leg of the migration is a longer one because they have to skirt the city of Indianapolis. On this leg there is not much in the way of touch down spots should they need one. The urban nature of what they have to overfly means they have to be sure they have good enough weather to make it the whole way.

While wrong way winds hold us up, it is MileMaker sponsorships that enable us to keep going. There are still 101 unsponsored miles in Indiana - hint, hint.

(Reminder to Members/EarlyBird e-bulletin recipients: As previously advised, the service is down today for scheduled maintenance but will resume tomorrow.)

Date: November 3, 2006 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Gerald Murphy

Subject: A Day in the Life
of an OM Volunteer
Location:

Boone County, IN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 30 - 49.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

This is my third year as an OM volunteer. My primary task is to drive the white diesel truck and pull the Nomad travel trailer that some of us use to sleep in during migration. BUT, as you can imagine there is more to what I do than driving a truck for a couple hours a day.

My typical fly day starts around 5:45am (except for Brooke who usually gets up at 4:30) when we are all getting up to see what the day looks like. We all dress warmly; this morning it was 20.5 degrees (F), and although that is a little lower than normal, it is often below freezing and sometimes windy (hopefully from the North) so it is generally chilly. I put on several layers (including pullover cap to keep my head and ears warm), gloves, and double up on the socks.

Bundled up, I go outside to join the group (we call it the morning circle) discussing the probability of flying given the wind conditions of the day. Before long it is light enough to start moving the ultralights out of the hanger (or as with this morning the barn).

While the pilots are readying their trikes, I jump in the truck and transport the bird handlers as close to the pen as possible without getting within visual range of the birds. Then I hightail it back to the launch site to wait.

The test pilot for the day starts up his machine, dons his costume (optimist that he is), gives the engine time to warm up properly, and launches into the wind. A quick favorable report radioed down proves instant action from the other pilots and they rush to get in their machines and into the air. Once they all reach the pensite, the lead pilot signals the handlers to release the birds and out they come and are off behind one or more of the aircraft, hopefully headed south.

As soon as the pilots radio that they are on course, I drive back out to help the bird handlers disassemble the pen, a 30 to 45 minute job. Then we hook the packed up travel pen to the truck and haul it back to our camp site where we transfer the travel pen to the back of the Hornet.

This done we start the disassembly of the camp itself. We pick up anything loose that might have been left behind (ultralight covers, misc. equipment, trash, etc.). Next we prepare the travel trailer, the utility trailer and motor home for travel. All this takes another 45 to 60 minutes and is inevitably done with frigid toes and ice cubes for fingers. When everything is ready we give our hosts our final goodbyes and head out in a convoy for the next stopover.

We use walkie-talkies to stay in touch as we wind our way thorough the countryside to the next host site. This morning it took less than two hours to get to our stopover location in Boone County, IN - and we only made one wrong turn.

By the time we arrive at the new site some of the pilots are generally on hand to direct us where to part everything. For me today, this meant backing the 36 foot Nomad down a curving 75 foot long driveway. As soon as everything is parked we reverse all the actions we took preparing to leave, including blocking and lowering the stabilization feet, pulling out the slide-out, unhooking from the trucks, turning on the furnace and water heaters, and re-setting up and arranging the interior components for living. Last are the electric and water hookups and then we are ready for another night (or several nights) stay.

More often than not we have to shop for more supplies, (propane gas, food, supplies of all sorts) and also have to take care of personal items such as post office or laundry. By this time it is 2 or 3 in the afternoon and we look forward to a chance of relaxing and socializing a little with our hosts. They often serve us lunch, which is very welcome since most will have had nothing to eat yet.

There is generally an assortment of other tasks to accomplish in the late afternoon, but fortunately the pace is considerably less frenetic. In the morning we get up and do it all again – if we're lucky.

Date: November 3, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Richard vanHeuvelen

Subject: Wild Ride Location:

Boone County, IN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 30 - 49.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

I awoke in the middle of the night with the wind buffeting the Flair motor home. Hopes of flying in the morning were fading as I dozed back off, dreaming off migrations past. Strange dreams and memories sooth me to sleep. The Flair, as we all call the motor home, belongs to Deke Clark who let us use it year after year. His generosity, humor, and steadfastness in the years he flew with us is still a big influence on the crew, and the Flair keeps him involved. We thank him and can’t wait to see him in Florida.

I wake up to the alarm get dressed and walk outside. Oh no! the branches of the willow tree are waving not so gently in the wind. Hopes of flying dwindle. As the day dawns bright and clear it's so beautiful it's hard to give up the notion of flying. Then we got a call from Paula who saying the air was calm where she was, so, since his aircraft was closest to the door, we convinced Brooke to be test pilot. Bad news and good news. Rough air to 200 feet but smooth after that. We decide to try after all.

My turn to lead, great! I fly over, getting tossed around like a rag doll, and land at the pen site. The ground crew released the birds and the fun began. Two fell back and Brooke picked them up and then he wasn’t seen again until we landed at the next stop.

The rest of the chicks kept wanting to go back to the pen. Every time I would get them on the wing, one of them would lead the rest astray. In the ensuing sky rodeo, Joe picked up three more and then he too was gone, not to be seen again until we landed. This left thirteen little monsters to round up.

They got on the wing and followed for a bit as I'd get on course, but then back they'd go. A hard turn right, a hard turn left back again, onto course. We’d gain a mile, lose a half, gain two, lose one, gain two, lose three - and the morning faded to day. Finally we seemed to gain some ground, but as we climbed on course, they turned away again. This time I dropped down below them, and since its easier for them to glide down, they followed.

Then we head on course over freshly harvested bean fields, I stayed low so they couldn't see back to the pen and it seemed to work. We slowly got on course, and things were looking good. But on course meant going over a highway with large white trucks which, it turns out they were afraid of, so off they went again.

With another drop down low maneuver they were again encouraged to follow. We headed away from the highway skirting over the fields of corn and beans, some harvested some not, the whole time still getting tossed about in that 200 feet of rough air. I tried to get them to climb but they were not inspired.

Staying off course to avoid the highway I spotted a town in the distance with lots of trees growing around the houses camouflaging them quite well - and hopefully the large white trucks too. As we head for the town the birds begin to climb and seem to be forming up well on the wing. As we flew over the town, I see a lull in traffic, and seizing the moment changed course and crossed the highway, just as large trucks filled the gap behind us. This seemed to help and we quickly climbed out of the trashy air to five or six hundred feet, and once again headed on course.

At this point we have been flying for about 35 minutes and still have 46 miles of the 50 to go. Still, every once in a while one bird veered off, and the rest, confused, hesitated and sporadically began to drop off. It took some more dropping down to convince them to follow the trike.

This continued to be the theme of the day; up and down, back and forth, up and down, back and forth, even circling around to keep them on course. About 17 miles from our destination, 615, who we suspect was the culprit all along, began to drop down again.

With some altitude I'm able to do a slow decent which puts the birds in glide mode and they followed the trike instead of 615. "Ha! Take that!" Now with the increased speed that goes along with the glide we left 615 in the morning sun. When we were far enough away, Chris zipped in with his trike and picked up the independent little chick, and he battled trashy air to climb up and head on course. The 12 remaining birds and I carried on with 16 more miles to go.

Without 615 I found the birds much more eager to follow and we really picked up the pace, reaching a ground speed of 54 miles per hour. As we descended to our destination the air got really trashy again. Both the chicks and I spotted Brooke and Joe and their birds on the ground. Getting banged around like a body surfer under a dirty curl, I flew over the trees, dove down below their tops and we all gladly landed next to them. This was possibly the coldest day of migration yet, but with all the activity I was hot and sweaty. What a wild, great morning!

Date: November 3, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Bev Paulan

Subject: Technology - ain't it great? Location:

Boone County, IN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 30 - 49.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Technology is a funny thing. Everyone has a cell phone, but not every place has a signal. Everyone has a computer, but not everyone has access to the internet and email.

Living in a motor home, migrating cross country with one of the oldest species of birds while they follow a simple form of aircraft, lends itself to a feeling of disconnect. Out of touch half the time, communication-wise, news-wise, and sometimes even mentally, (grin) we come to depend on each other all the more.

It becomes a pre-technology, sort of tribal existence for us. This morning was no different. As usual Brooke was the first one up and reported more wind than we wanted. Then the pow-wow began with everyone voicing their opinions until it was finally decided that the only option was to send a trike aloft to test the air. When a voice floated down from above saying it was flyable, (no, it wasn't God, just Brooke, but don't tell him I said that!) we went into action.

As a team within a team, the girls and I donned costumes and were driven out to near the pensite to begin prepping the pen for release. The other third of the team (the pilots) donned their gear and started up the trikes for preflight warm up. The last (but certainly not least) part of the team departed from the near-by airport to fly top cover.

We have become like any tribe. We have learned to dance the migration dance, working separately yet in perfect unison to get the birds airborne. Hand signals take the place of spoken language. Gestures subtly displayed let us know when to release the birds. When the birds are gone and the pilots are dancing their dance with the birds, the ground crew does our own. Taking down the pen is becoming more efficient, more graceful, only lacking a musical score to emphasize the art.

Still technology fails us as we try to call the office to let them and you know what is going on. Today the birds were actually on the ground before we were able to reconnect with civilization and get the word out.  Thank goodness for tribal support when we lose touch. Technology - ain't it great?

Date: November 3, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Tailwind = Flyday Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 30 - 49.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
339.6 miles

Our EarlyBird e-bulletin to Members was delayed this morning because no one on the team could pick up a cell signal. The first time Bev managed to get through all we got before the signal was lost was, "They’re off." Eventually Bev hit an area where the signal was strong enough to call back with a few details on this morning's flight.

Brooke was the 'test dummy' this morning. From about 200 feet up he radioed down that it was a bit windy but that they would have a tailwind - so the scramble to get airborne began. Today was Richard's turn as lead trike. He took off with 16 birds following. Brooke had the other two. They hadn't gone too far before the birds started to break off and the pilots had a full scale crane round-up on their hands. After about a half an hour of aerial acrobatics, 13 were back on Richard's wing, Joe had 3 and Brooke 2.

Just received a further call….planes and cranes are already safely on the ground in Boone County, IN.

Where were we on previous November 3rds?

Migration
Year

Days on Migration

At
Stopover

2001

18

Boone County

2002

22

Boone County

2003

19

Morgan County (1 ahead)

2004

25

Kankakee County (2 behind)

2005

21

Morgan County (1 ahead)

2006

30

Boone County

Stopover Trivia – State of Indiana (by VN (Vi) White)
Residents and natives of Indiana are familiarly referred to as Hoosiers. The earliest printed record of the use of the word was in 1831. Some of the many suggestions for the derivation of the word are logical, some comical; none are universally accepted.

The most popular acceptance of its meaning is that it is a frontier slang greeting.  When nearing a home in those pioneer days you shouted from a distance to prevent being shot, "Hello, the cabin!" The inhabitant would then yell back "Who’s here?" As time passed it became slurred to Hoosier.

More logically, the term developed from the Anglo Saxon word "hoo" meaning high or hill. Immigrants from Cumberland, England settled in the Southern Appalachians and were referred to as 'hoozers'. They brought the name with them when they moved from the mountains to the southern hills of Indiana.

James Whitcomb Riley suggested, tongue-in-cheek, the word came about as the result of some of the fierce brawls that took place in the taverns of the frontier. It involved enough ear biting that often a patron would look at the floor and call out, "Who’s ear?"

Whatever the truth is, Hoosiers commonly refer to themselves that way and willingly accept the friendliness implied when others call them that.

Date: November 3, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Wood Buffalo/Aransas
White Birds on the Move
Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 30 - ? Miles Accumulated Distance:
290.2 miles

On his latest aerial census, Tom Stehn, USFWS Whooping Crane Coordinator at Aransas NWR reports sighting 43 adults and 5 chicks for a total of 48 Whooping cranes present.

Nearly all Whooping crane areas were covered during the survey conducted on November 1st. Contract pilot Tom Taylor came out of retirement to fly the weekly crane survey because no other contract pilot in Texas is approved for low-level flight.

Tom noted that 42 of the 48 Whooping cranes were sighted on the flight, the others, two additional families, were sighted by Aransas staff after census was concluded.

"I estimate 38 cranes arrived since the last flight on October 20th," said Tom, "most of which likely arrived with the strong cold fronts that reached the Texas coast on the 27th of October and on November 1st."

Five of the cranes were first seen in flight over Matagorda Island when Tom believes they were completing their migration. He said they followed the five for about 11 miles and watched them split into a group of two and three before landing about six miles apart.

One crane family consisted of one adult and a chick. "This could be the same birds as the 1+1 grouping reported at Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan Oct. 10-14," said Tom. The three cranes that over-summered on Aransas were still together, and the Lobstick family was known to have arrived October 28th.

Tom noted that 2 groups of cranes were sighted at fresh water sources. "Water salinities have climbed in the past week with San Antonio Bay readings currently at 17 ppt," he said.

Date: November 2, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Richard van Heuvelen

Subject: Re-capping Location:

Benton County

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 29 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
290.2 miles

As with those before it, this year's migration started with a flurry of activity, and as usual was followed by downtime. At first, downtime means a chance to catch up on things unfinished. A wise man once told me, "Never learn how to put up drywall or you will end up a drywaller". Unfortunately I did not listen, and learned how to do many things. So, much of the maintenance falls to me: equipment repairs, pen upgrades, RV maintenance, and stopover direction books for the ground crew are a few of the things to do. Over the past few weeks we've had more than our share of down days and I've managed to catch up. So now it’s time to ‘pony up’ and produce some Field Journal entries.

Migration seems to be prolonged periods of immobility punctuated by days of extreme activity. On fly days there is much to do. Readying trikes and pilots; defrosting wings; ground crew preparation; alerting the next stopover host; breaking up camp and making sure everything is ready for the day’s challenges.

The chicks are released, the pilots take off with the young birds, and if all goes well, all the birds and humans land safely at the next stop. Once there, the chicks are put in the already set up travel pen (assuming we haven't skipped a stop). By this time the tracking vehicle is usually on site to help. The chicks are given food and water , watched  for a short while to make sure all is well. A ‘hot wire’ is put up around the perimeter of the pen to keep out predators.

Eventually the rest of the ground crew arrives and we all greet our hosts before we park our campers and trailers where they will be out of the way. Now is when we tackle any repairs or maintenance that is needed. While this is happening, some of the crew work at getting the travel pen trailer ready for the next stop and they get on the road to the next stopover as quickly as possible.

As we navigate to the next stopover site, one of the crew is in the back seat writing an update on their laptop to send off for posting. We check the site out, put up the pen, and head back to camp. By then it is usually around 6pm or so, and we are rewarded with a more than generous meal. And so ends a migration day, that is - if nothing went wrong, and no birds dropped out.

Upon arriving at Stopover #3 I stepped into our host’s kitchen and immediately gained three pounds. I hadn't eaten anything yet, the aroma was enough to do it. You know how tomorrow never comes? Well we got stuck at Stopover #3 for eight days, and our hosts fed us breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. These were the official first meals of migration, and it was just the beginning. The next day it was host #5’s kitchen, then host #6's kitchen, then… well you get the picture. Yes - this is shaping up to be a yummy migration = a long and 'heavy' migration!

However, all good things come to an end to make room for new adventure. Day 8 was punctuation day!! You all know what happened that day, flying through snow, birds struggling to climb over the ridge, crew scrambling to find wayward birds. It was after dark by the time the day ended and we got the last birds into the pen. AND we were treated to more delicious food by our new hosts.

The next day we got set to fly again; two days of activity!! The crew was excited but nervous. Would the chicks follow or would it be a repeat of yesterday? Ahhh - we 'did good' and had an uneventful leg. Everyone arrived at the next stopover pumped and ready for the next day. But nature has its own rules and we ended up being down for the next six days. Then off we go again only to get stalled again for three days.

Then excitement again. Off we go with a nice tailwind that enables us to bypass a stop we have never passed up before. (I'm not sure who felt worse, the hosts who were anxiously awaiting our arrival, or the crew over missing an opportunity to visit with old friends. What we do want to do is thank them for being so understanding.

Now at our Stopover in Benton County, IN our host provided lunch and his brother followed that up with a delicious fish fry. God bless the Midwest.

Today we were back to high winds and being grounded. So goes the migration.

Date: November 2, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter: Liz Condie
Subject: Grounded in Benton County Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 29 - 0 Miles Accumulated Distance:
290.2 miles

Good thing we flew the equivalent of two legs yesterday because strong southwest winds prevent the cranes and planes from going anywhere today. Here's hoping for tomorrow....

Date: November 1, 2006 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: A MUST SEE! Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 28 - 96.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
290.2 miles

Calling all Craniacs! Go to http://video.msn.com/v/us/v.htm then click on 'Entertainment' and then on 'Survival Migration: Whooping Cranes Take Flight.' 

There are two videos featuring Operation Migration and the Whooping Cranes playing on MSN. The second video will automatically run when the first ends. The 'Whooping Cranes Take Flight' video is #l on Most Watched on MSN right now! - and we'd like keep it that way.

Go watch them....go now!

Date: November 1, 2006 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject: What a Day! Location:

Benton County, IN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 28 - 96.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
290.2 miles

It’s funny how the coldest time of the night is just before the sun breaks the horizon and begins to warm things back up. The early risers in the crew get up at something after 4AM and are encouraged by the lack of frost, only to watch it form as it begins to get light.

We have been busy making covers for the wings in preparation for the next cold morning, but with 30 yards of material and 60 feet of Velcro for each aircraft, we may not have them all done on this trip.

All of this was of little concern this morning because all of the aircraft including Don and Paula's Cessna were tucked away in a heated hangar courtesy of our generous hosts. Chris was the last one into the hangar so we opened the door and pushed his trike out to go check out the wind conditions. This duty is know as 'being the wind dummy' and today it was his turn. He climbed to 500 feet and reported a 15 mph tail wind so the rest of us pushed out and started up while the ground crew headed to the pen.

It was my turn to lead so I landed at the end of the runway about 50 feet from the pen and signalled the crew to let the birds out. We all took off into the wind, turning south as soon as we were high enough to clear the trees. A few of the birds attempted to complete the circle and head back to the pen but soon realized their leader had other plans. Brooke moved in and collected the last 2 while the rest struggled to catch up. After about 2 miles we had climbed to 100 feet and were clear of the low level turbulence. Sixteen birds locked onto my left wing. They found their cadence at about 38 miles per hour in a slow climb that brought us up a hundred feet a minute.

As expected 610 took up the lead position and for the first few miles behaved himself. Once we reached 1000 feet boredom kicked in, and he began to play. He would fly over the wing and cause the tip to stall and I would have to pull hard on the left to keep it level. Then he would fly ahead of the tip and I could feel the pulse of his wing beats - like driving on a flat tire. At one point he was all by himself on the right wing with the other15 birds on the left.

I watched him move in front of the wing and slowly drift along the leading edge passing right above me with only his neck and head visible. Then he gracefully floated down the other wing and off the tip to again take the lead of the long line of birds. This would have been impossible with our old wings with all their overhead wires. Instead of panicking, I watched the manoeuvre with interest. If not for the innovative design by North Wing, and a generous donation from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund to allow us to but these new wings, 610 would have been dead a few time by now.

Our destination was a stopover near the city of Kankakee, but the tail wind was so good we punched the coordinates for the next stop into the GPS. We had less than an hour to go so we made the decision to keep moving.

Charlie Shafer from Patuxent drives the tracking van and tries to stay close to us in case we lose a bird. Things were going so well that we all agreed he should go and collect the pen we had waiting for us at the Kankakee stopover. This gave him a chance to apologize to our hosts who have been expecting us for over a month, and who I am sure, had prepared enough food for an army.

We turned south for our new destination and were more aligned with the wind giving us a few extra miles per hour ground speed. One bird dropped low and Richard move in and picked him up without difficulty just as Don and Paula cleared us directly overhead of the Kankakee Airport.

In the next hour 610 played a few more tricks, and I learned that if I turned hard into him he would move out of the way and I could regain control. The frustrating part is that he encourages the rest of the flock, and when all seems to be going along smoothly, he instigates a mutiny and all the birds charge ahead leaving us in their pulsing wake. It is fine to let them have their lead sometimes but it sets a dangerous precedent. In their society they become dominant and move above the aircraft in the chain of command. All well and good until the flock decides they would rather fly east than south and the pilot must regain the leadership as well as the lead.

With a nice tail wind and the sun well up you know that the winds on the surface are going to be rough. It interacts with ground features like hills and trees and becomes turbulent. Brooke was the first to land with 2 birds and he radioed up a warning. Or more accurately, an ominous good luck wish that got to me just as I cleared the trees and struggled to hold straight and level. We landed on rough harvested corn and parked the aircraft into the wind. We had covered 96.4 miles in 1 hour and 55 minutes.

All of the birds were on the ground with Brooke and I, so Chris and Richard avoided the rough field and landed next to our host’s house. Every year our host generously clears out his implement shed so we can squeeze our aircraft in and protect them from the wind and frost. Once they were safely stored, Chris came over to relieve us and Brooke and I took off before the wind got too high. We landed one at a time and had several people holding down the wings until we managed to get them inside. These aircraft will fly at 30 mph, so a 20 mph wind will easily flip them over. Once all the trikes were safe I walked back to the field to take over from Chris. He and others waited for Charlie to arrive with the pen and then they spent an hour setting it up.

I was privileged to spend that time with the birds. We foraged in the muck and picked at the waste corn. I spend too much time in front a computer and too little with the birds. This was an opportunity to get reacquainted and I enjoyed every single minute.

I have waited for the ground crew and held birds for hours in the past and know from experience that after a time they get restless. They begin to wander off and there is little you can do to keep them attentive. This flock of birds would also meander away in pursuit of corn husks blowing in the wind. But then one of them would notice the distance they had put between us and fly back to me, encouraging the other to do the same.

To have 18 whooping cranes on seven foot wings land all around you is one of the great spectacles of this project and one that never ceases to impress me. I was treated to this exhibition at least four times during my interlude. I was sorry when the team arrived to move the birds into the pen.

Date: November 1, 2006 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Laurie Lin

Subject: Made it to Indiana! Location:

Benton County, IN

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 28 - 96.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
290.2 miles

Yea! We skipped a stop for the first time this year. It was exciting.

When Marie and I visited the birds yesterday, as usual, a few of them performed wing flapping while jumping up or running when we were in the pen. Little 623 started to flap her wings while running back and forth from one side of the pen to the other. This usually shy chick had one quarter of the pen all to herself -like a stage - while the other 17 chicks and 2 handlers scattered into the ‘audience’ area.

The behavior of 623 was so intriguing that all the audience members were moving our heads along with the movement of the modern dancer-like 623. It was a captivating sight. Practice makes perfect. Keep up the good work little birdies!

Date: November 1, 2006 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Tracking & Monitoring Team Report for 22 - 28 Oct/06 Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 28 - 96.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
290.2 miles

Thanks to trackers R. Urbanek, T. Love, S. Grover, A. Rohde, S. Kerley, and M. Wellington.
(Females are indicated by *. Locations are in Wisconsin unless indicated otherwise. DAR = direct autumn release.)

With the discovery of the mortality of the yearling crane 522, the eastern migratory population now consists of  63 birds (35 males and 28 females) and 1 or 2 wild-hatched chicks. Distribution over the past week was: Wisconsin (60-61), Iowa (3), and Michigan (2).

Mortality
The mortality of 522 marks the demise of the sixteenth Whooping crane of the 80 individuals released so far during the reintroduction project (2001-2006) 522 was the first mortality in the HY2005 cohort.

First Family
211, 217* and one of their fledged chicks* continued to roost their usual territory on the refuge except for two evenings when they roosted on Necedah Lake.

East of Lake Michigan
318, who was last reported October 20 with a small number of Sandhill cranes in Mason County, was not detected on October 25 and has apparently left the area.

DAR 533* remains with large numbers of Sandhill cranes on a staging area in Barry County.

Outside of Core Reintroduction Area
107* was reported with staging Sandhills in Dodge County on 27 October. A banded Whooping crane reported on Jasper-Pulaski SFWA, Indiana, on 28 October may have been this bird. 107’s* transmitter is nonfunctional.

407 and 508* usually remained with Sandhills in Marathon County although they were tracked in flight over Necedah NWR on 28 October.

420* remained with large numbers of staging Sandhills in Rusk County. 502*, 503, and 507* were in Hancock County Iowa. 505 and 506 were in Rock County, and 516 in Dane County.

DAR 527* and DAR528*remained with large numbers of Sandhill in Marquette and Marathon Counties respectively.

Sub-adults in Core
209, 307, 309*, 310, 401, 402, 403, 408,412, 415*, 416, 501*, 509, 510, 511, 512, 514, 519*, 520, 521, DAR 532.

Pairs or Adults in Core
101 and 202*, 102*, 105 and 204*, 201* and 306, 205, 208 and 313*, 209* and 416, 211 and 217*, 212 and 419*, 213 and 218*, 216, 301* and 311, 303* and 317, 312* and 316.

DAR 2006
627 and 632* remained on eastern Sprague Pool, usually together but often apart. The only recorded exception occurred on 28 October, when no. 632* was with 201 and 306 in a large Sandhill flock SE of Finley. The two DAR juveniles sometimes associated with other Whooping cranes (usually nos. 301 and 311) and with Sandhill cranes.

Autumn Migration
A banded Whooping crane believed to be 107 was reported on Jasper-Pulaski SFWA on 28 October, and apparently was again reported at the same location on 30 October.

523 and 524 left Necedah NWR undetected on the morning of 22 October. They were next reported in Jasper County, Indiana, on 28 October, but were no longer present when that site was checked on 29 October.

DAR626 and DAR628 left Necedah on the morning of 28 October. They were subsequently detected in flight S of the refuge but soon outdistanced the single ground tracker. 628’s PTT readings indicated that it was roosting in a major Sandhill crane migration stopover area in Jackson County, IN a couple of nights later. A roost check on the night of 30 October confirmed that DAR 626 and 28 had remained together.

Date: November 1, 2006 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Flying - Really Flying Location:

Main Office

Distance Traveled: Migration Day 28 - 96.4 Miles Accumulated Distance:
290.2 miles

When the 'test' trike radioed down that conditions were favorable, everybody scrambled. The pilots started pulling out their aircraft and the ground crew headed for the travel pen. Joe was lead today and took off with all 18 birds following. Two birds fell out early and were picked up by Brooke. Joe lost a third bird further into the flight and Richard gathered that bird.

Once they reached Kankakee County, the flight was progressing so well the team decided to carry on. Traveling at 50 - 52 mph (ground speed) and with all the birds flying and following well, planes and cranes pointed their noses for Benton County, IN.

Everyone is now on the ground in Benton County, and the pilots and the birds are waiting for the ground crew to catch up. The flight took 1 hour and 55 minutes. Joe reported it was 26 degrees F, and that they were all freezing cold.

We should be receiving a further report from Joe, today's lead pilot, later in the day.

 

          

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