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Whooper Happenings
Mark Chenoweth's latest audio podcast all about Whooping Cranes!

Operation Migration is pleased to provide this link to Whooper Happenings to its website visitors.  

Mark Chenoweth, an OM supporter with a long history in broadcast journalism,  developed Whooper Happenings. In addition to OM staffers and WCEP partners, Mark's podcasts include interviews with various experts and lay people on Whooping crane history, husbandry and reintroduction.

The comments and opinions expressed on Whooper Happenings are not necessarily those of Operation Migration.

 



Date: August 30th, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Make your views known

A series of 'listening sessions' are being held throughout the US by the Bush administration. The purpose of the sessions is to hear the public's thoughts and views on the administration's Cooperative Conservation agenda. (For more detail, click the link http://cooperativeconservation.gov/pdfs/JointLetteronProposedLegislation.pdf

It is important that the Bush administration hear from the public that while supplementing strong environmental laws with voluntary conservation efforts is good, replacing them with non-mandatory protections is not.

We hope that you, like Operation Migration, believe that we owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment; that our legacy to them should be the protection of endangered species and their respective habitats. It would be our hope that the Bush administration would work toward returning full funding to core conservation programs, and most particularly, the National Refuge System.

Should you wish to go on record as a supporter of a strong Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws, you can send your comments to:

 

Beth L. Duff

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C St.NW, Mail Stop 5258

Washington, D.C. 20240
Email: Beth_Duff@ios.doi.gov

 
Date: August 29th, 2006 - Entry 2

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Reporter: Bev Paulan

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Gang of Five accosts White Bird!

During morning training with Cohort three, the new papa took exception to his family being buzzed by the young upstarts and followed the trike-led cohort back to Site 1. Upon landing, Daddy-O took an aggressive stance towards the young 'uns, and boy oh boy was he shocked when 622 fought back. This reporter has never seen a more surprised looking white bird! It was bad enough that 622 stood him down, but then the whole gang got in on the scuffle and chased poor papa away. Way to go Chicklins! 

Date: August 29th, 2006 - Entry 1

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Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

New Wings - First Family

For the last few days Chris Gullikson and I have been flying with the new M-Pulse 17 square meter North Wings. They arrived last week, and we a have been slowly assembling and test flying them. These are the latest design in trike wings, and are strut based eliminating the need for a king post and wires above the wing that trap birds.

North Wing owner Kamron Blevins  modified his design slightly for us and they perform perfectly. Now, when a bird moves up and over the wing, we don't swallow our hearts until he reappears or crashes out the back. The wing purchase was made possible by the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. Lately, Brooke has been flying an old 21 square meter wing that we bought in 1995. He like to fly it when the birds are just learning because its extremely slow which helps when they are struggling to keep up.

Each morning when we train our chicks we deviate to the north to do an airborne check on the wild First Family.  Lately they have been showing more independence, and often one of them is off by itself seemingly unconcerned about the separation.

When Chris Gullikson and I  walked out to Site 1 to see how ours birds were doing after one of last week's thunderstorms, we also checked on the First Family. We noticed both adults chasing off an intruder on their territory, but no chicks were visible. Just as they disappeared on their way to the marsh we spotted a fawn and a white object in the tall grass. When we moved to the other shore line for a better look we saw the male strutting down the beach. After 20 more minutes we finally spotted the female with one chick moving in the same direction. We couldn't imagine the other chick being that far away and were worried that it was gone. Then it appeared from the high grass almost 1/4 mile behind. It seemed healthy and calm as it foraged its way along the shoreline in the direction of its distant parents.

The next day, Richard Urbanek, head of the tracking team, called upset because he could only see one chick. While still on the phone, lamenting the tragic loss, he spotted it at a distance away and asked Chris to disregard the call.

This seems to be new behaviour - and one that could be dangerous. Marty Folk of the Florida Fish and Conservation Commission, works closely with the non-migratory flock. Based on his experience, he speculates that pre-fledge chicks are more susceptible to predation because they are getting too large to hide, and in learning to fly they are more active and visible, drawing attention to themselves as they flap around.

This independent behaviour may have to do with age and contribute to the threat. At any rate, it is likely they are entering the most dangerous phase of their childhood. In another week or two they should be able to fly and their odds of survival will increase. Keep your fingers crossed and well keep checking on them.

Date: August 27th, 2006

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Reporter: Joe Duff

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Careful what you wish for

Note from Liz - I am having major computer issues, one of them being an entire screen of neon pink. I am posting Joe's update with my fingers crossed that it will not affect the Field Journal. Because all I see is a page of pink I can't tell if that is what you will see too. If so, bear with me, I hope to have a tech working on things today. 

Because of the exceptionally dry summer in central Wisconsin we have been able to work with the birds more often than normal. The lack of water means much less ground fog, and clear skies mean the heat of the day dissipates at night resulting in cool clear mornings. We were able to fly on 10 consecutive days, which is probably a record, but when we could walk across our wet pens on dried mud we all began to hope for rain.

You have to be careful of what you wish for, because a few days ago it hit us with force. Chris took off in his van to hunt storms while the rest of us waited out the deluge in camp. You don't know the meaning of a hail storm until you've experienced one in a trailer with a metal roof. It took a day or two to get our hearing back. Between the thunderstorms and returning fog, we missed three days of training, but the pens are wet again, the birds seem happy, and this morning they were eager to fly.

It was my turn to work with the oldest group who have managed flights of 20 minutes or more. I landed on the runway in heavy mist. Robert Doyle (USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center) and I sat for ten minutes waiting to be able to see the end of the runway. I took off with all 8 birds and flew some low 'S' turns to let them catch up. Humid air has more moisture than oxygen and its hard to breathe and it wasnt long before a few were getting tired. I circled by the observation tower (which was empty) and headed back to the north site. We landed to rest for a few minutes. I planned to fly again, but after we took off I spotted a large fog bank moving towards us from the north that threatened to close down the runway. We landed after only 3 minutes and the birds walked easily into the pen allowing me to make my escape to the south.

By this time Brooke had finished training the youngest birds and was ready to move cohort two to the east site. Cohort 2 is our middle group of birds and its time to start mixing them into a single flock. When they are all able to fly well enough to make it, we lead them over the pond to the east site where they are penned next to the youngest birds. Once these two cohorts have established a social order or dominance structure, we will introduce the oldest birds.

Our oldest birds are naturally the first to fly, but if we were to mix them with middle group it would be challenging when it came time to introduce the youngest birds. Outnumbered by the older, larger birds, the younger ones would likely never socialize. So instead, we first mix the middle group with the youngest, and later bring over the oldest birds who, because they face a large confident flock, are less likely to be aggressive.

Brooke's flight was perfect. All five birds followed and he circled the site once before landing. He, Bev, and I were able to move the somewhat reluctant birds into their new pen. We'll let them size each other up through the chain link fence for a while and mix them on the runway when they are too preoccupied to care about fighting. In a week or so it will be time to let them mix and we will pull the gate that separates them from Cohort 1.

Because the birds are so close in age this year it may be possible for us to consider leaving earlier.

Date: August 22nd, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

Become a MileMaker and help us get the 2006 generation of Whooping crane chicks to Florida.

Subject:

Announcing the Winner!!!

Moments ago, at noon today (EST), Chris reached her hand into the hat - a Birder's Hat of course - holding slips with the names of OM's MileMakers who had risen to the challenge of bringing a new MileMaker on board. And the winner of the MileMaker Challenge is.....drum roll please.....David Johnson of Cary, IL.

We are indebted to David, as well as to the other OM MileMakers who participated in this challenge. We are very grateful for everyone's efforts to bring us NEW sponsors.

As the winner, we will host David at next month's annual Necedah Crane Festival being held on September 16th, and take him on a back scenes tour of the Necedah Refuge capped off with a BBQ dinner in camp with the OM crew.

Congratulations David!

 

Date: August 22nd, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

MileMaker Challenge!
Win a trip to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and visit with the Operation Migration team!
Click here for details!

Subject:

THE First Family

The Tracking/Monitoring team's report for the past week arrived today and once again there were no big changes in the locations and welfare of the White birds. What came with the report that Richard Urbanek sent us however, were some new photos of the First Family. As Bev keeps saying over and over, "WOW"!
 


Date: August 21st, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Click here for details!

Subject:

Wood Buffalo/Aransas Population

Having received an update from Marty Folk on the Florida non-migratory birds, I thought I would check to see if Brian Johns or Tom Stehn had any news to report on the Wood Buffalo-Aransas population - especially given this year's record hatch of chicks (76). Here's Tom Stehn's response to my questions about numbers and how the WB/AP was faring.

"We never add chicks to the Wood Buffalo-Aransas population until they arrive at Aransas. That's because we have no way of knowing how many older birds died during spring migration or during the summer/fall. Mortality of newly hatched chicks is very high, especially in twins, so adding hatched chicks to the population could be very misleading.

Last winter, 30 of the 62 chicks hatched made it to Aransas, which was quite good. 25 older birds died between spring and fall so there was only a net population gain of 5 birds. However, this was still enough to reach a record  peak population of 220. Unfortunately, with the death of 6 cranes during the 2005-2006 winter, that gain was lost.

The loss of 25 birds between spring and fall 2005 was in the higher range of expected mortality. Hopefully losses will be less this year and the population will increase. Last week Brian Johns and Lea Craig-Moore did surveys of fledged chicks in Wood Buffalo National Park and I'm anxiously awaiting the results.

It would be my guess/hope that they found at least 30 chicks. With anticipated mortality, I'm expecting 230+ Whooping cranes to make it to Aransas this winter. I made the same prediction last winter though; unfortunately it never happened."

Date: August 19th, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Florida News

Just in, an update on the Florida non-migratory population from Marty Folk. The Florida flock fledged 4 chicks this year - a productivity record. Until now, 2003 held the record with 2 chicks fledged. In total their project has had 8 chicks fledged in the wild.

Marty's Update
Summer rains have been below normal. In fact, rainfall since January has been below normal. Wetlands are nearly dry with water levels approaching the level that we saw during the Great Drought in 2000 when all wetlands in central Florida dried up.

So, how did 4 chicks fledge in this drought year? Location, location, location! There are regional differences in rainfall and wetland water levels. The 4 fledged in an area of Lake County that had good water at the beginning of the breeding season. More importantly perhaps, the wetlands where the pairs were successful are deep and relatively large in area so they are slow to dry up. Plus, the wetlands in that area are also numerous so the families were able to move to adjacent marshes if one dried completely.

The four 2006 fledglings came from four different families. Two of the pairs were first-time nesters. It was the male's first attempt in the third pair - with a female that had laid eggs twice in the past but with a different male. Her earlier eggs failed to hatch. The 4th pair was experienced.

Date: August 17th, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Marie Brady

MileMaker Challenge!
Win a trip to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and visit with the Operation Migration team!
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Subject:

Flap-happy

This morning we woke up to clear skies and we all headed out for what promised to be a great day to train.

Chris and I went to Site 3 where our youngest birds are. 618, 619 and 620 eagerly awaited at the gate, but 622 and 623 were nowhere to be seen. I went in the pen to encourage them to join the rest of the group. A few shakes of the puppet was enough to send them on their way  toward me. Once I opened the gate they all ran out to join Chris. All our birds are now flying! 622 and 623 are taking short flights, but the other three are flying the length of the runway. 620 has even joined Chris as he circles above runway!

After a quick breakfast back in camp we decided the runway at Site 3 needed mowing. Chris, Brooke, Richard and Laurie were designated  'landscaping crew', while Robert, Bev and I were elected bird herders for the morning.

We moved in to quickly lead the birds away from the pen before the others came in to mow. Once we were a safe distance away we sent the 'all clear' message to the others.

Soon after, Bev nodded at me and pointed her puppet head across the pond. There on the other side was the First Family foraging. What a sight! Both chicks are now almost as big as their parents. All four were unconcerned about us and our chicks, and our chicks were too busy exploring their new surroundings to pay any attention to the First Family.

The calm morning transitioned into a breezy afternoon and our chicks loved it. They were eager to test the air with their newly discovered ability to defy gravity. Every time a stronger breeze kicked up one of them would start flapping and jumping. Pretty soon we were surrounded by flapping, jumping birds. They would leap four feet or more into the air before splashing back down into the water. Close to an hour later we received the all clear signal from the landscaping crew and led our flap-happy birds back home.

Date: August 16th, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

The 'First Family'

Hope this photo sent along by Richard U. makes your day. Look how W601 and W602 have grown! As Chris Gullikson noted in his update below - fledging can't be too far off.


Date: August 15th, 2006

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Reporter: Chris Gullikson

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Training Update

Just a quick update from Necedah on how the birds are doing.

Cohort 1
These 8 bids are the oldest group and they are all flying very well. We have been taking them on flights of up to 10 minutes in large circuits out over west Rynerson Pool. We do large looping circuits back to the pen site to allow birds to land if they are getting tired. After landing, we have been finding that the birds recover very quickly and are ready for more. It wont be long before visitors to the Observation Tower at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge will be able to see us flying out over the refuge with birds in tow.

Cohort 2
All 5 birds are doing short circuits with the trike. Number 13 is the best flyer of this group and I had her on the wing this morning for 2 large circuits. We had been having trouble with a few of the birds in this cohort wandering out into the swamp during training. They are behaving much better this past week though, and are eager to come right back to the trike after landing. It is amazing to see how their interest in the trike changes once they figure out they can fly.

Cohort 3
618, 619, and 620 are all flying the length of the runway in ground effect. 620 is by far the best bird of this group, and flew a teardrop shape pattern with Richard this morning. 622 and 623 are only making short flights, and end up way behind the stronger birds. These two were trained separately this morning in an attempt to get them more time with the trike.

The wild-hatched chicks are doing great and are quite mobile, moving all over east Rynerson Pool with their parents in search of food. We look for them every morning as we fly out to the various training sites, always relieved to see they have survived another day. They should be fledged in the next 2-3 weeks, a milestone event we are all been looking forward to.


Report from the Tracking/Monitoring Team
The Tracking/Monitoring Team report on the White Birds remained in the main, unchanged from their last update. There were transmitter replacements done however. The nonfunctional VHF transmitter of 521* was replaced at Site 1 on the refuge on  August 9th. 520*s transmitter was replaced in Wood County on the 11th.

The Tracking Team consists of Richard Urbanek, Tally Love, and S Grover. This week they want to extend thanks to Kelly Maguire (ICF), Lara Fondow (USFWS), and Glenn Klingler (USDA Forest Service) for additional tracking assistance, and to Brooke Pennypacker (OM), Robert Doyle (PWRC), and Marianne Wellington, Sara Zimorski, and Cristin Kelley (ICF) for capture assistance.

Date: August 11th, 2006

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Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

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Subject:

Attention - Teachers and Students

I know there are still a few weeks until classes resume, but perhaps some of you will see this posting and take advantage of funding being offered.

Project Learning Tree provides small grants, called  'GreenWorks Grants,' for action-oriented projects involving students. Grants range from $500 to $1,000 and are to support teachers' needs. Grants funds may not be used for salary, but they can be used to conduct projects such as creating a butterfly garden, outdoor classroom, or a stream cleanup project. Hmmmm, wish I could think of a Whooping crane action project to suggest.

For details click the link here. http://www.plt.org/greenworks/guidebook.cfm

Good luck!


Date: August 8th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Brooke Pennypacker

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

The Power of Partnership

5:30pm is usually wind down time in camp, with only bird checks at each site left to do before supper and a trip to 'Z Land.' But not last night. That's when Richard Urbanek, USFWSs Project Biologist banged on my door to say he'd just gotten a report that three of last year's birds - birds that had not been seen in some time - had suddenly appeared on the runway at Site 1. He said that 521, a female, must be caught so that her dead transmitter could be replaced.

This was the opportunity Richard had been waiting for, but any hope for a successful capture required immediate action. Most of the crew was off the 'Reservation,' (not to worry the US Cavalry was in hot pursuit) but we managed to round up the two best looking members of the team - Robert Doyle and MYSELF - and we headed out to Site 1 excited by the prospect of capturing so valuable a bird.

Robert, our USGS aviculturist from Patuxent, was especially qualified for the challenge, having captured dozens of cranes this winter after the Patuxent pens blew down in a storm. In fact, were it not for the devotion and hard work of the Patuxent crew and volunteers who quickly rebuilt those pens and saved this year's chick production, we would not have had many birds for our project this year! But I digress.....

So.....at Site 1 we plotted strategy while we donned our costumes. The three white birds were now tucked behind the wet pen looking in at our Cohort 3 chicks. One can only imagine what they were thinking. It was just this time last year that THEY were in the wet pen looking out at the world. My, my, how quickly things change!

Richard expertly maneuvered back through the swamp and positioned himself to lure the birds to a more favorable capture position while Robert and I lent support. With patience and technique learned from years of bird experience, Richard was able to bring the birds within range.

Our hearts were pounding with anticipation as the 'Moment of Truth' drew near. "Don't screw this up, Brooke!" said the little voice that lives in the back of my head. Then Richard leaped forward covering the distance between him and the bird in a nanosecond, and almost before we knew it, he had his arms around the struggling bird!

Robert and I rushed in to assist; Robert quickly grabbing the bird while I put the hood over her head. Then out through the marsh we marched, our relief and exhilaration evident in our walk.

We were met on the runway by Marianne Wellington from ICF, and her intern, Serina. Both had driven over from the DAR site to help out. As Robert held the bird, Richard quickly fitted a new transmitter on her leg and Marianne took a blood sample from her neck. Serina marked the vial, and, oh ya, I held the can of glue for the band (a very important and technically demanding job, I might add!!)

The whole process was completed in minutes, and after putting our costume headgear back on and cleaning up the area, we removed the hood and the 521 was released. She jumped away, walked a few quick steps, and gave a big shake which sent a small flurry of down into the air. Then she walked off into the marsh none the worse for wear.

Back at the parking lot, we all took a moment to enjoy that special feeling; the one you get when you have a success  a small triumph - a WIN! It's the kind of feeling we don't experience nearly enough.

It was then that Robert said, "Hey, do you realize that each of us comes from a different partner organization? US Fish and Wildlife , International Crane Foundation, Operation Migration and USGS Patuxent. THIS IS the Power of Partnership!"

All I could think was, I hope that WCEP chair, John Christian, (assistant Regional Director of Migratory Birds and State Programs, USFWS Region 3) and 'Patron Saint' of the project is proud of us today.

.....and then it started to rain.

Date: August 8th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

MileMaker Challenge!
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Subject:

Announcing OM's
2007 Calendar

We are following up OM's popular 2005 story-telling pictorial calendar with one for 2007. Featuring a brand new format, and packed with spectacular photography, OM's 2007 calendar is the perfect gift for any occasion - remember, Christmas is just around the corner.

As only a limited quantity of Operation Migration's 2007 Calendar will be printed, we encourage you to place your Advance Order today.

Advance order price $20. (for orders placed before September 15/06) [Regular price $22.]


To place your Advance Order send an email to: info@operationmigration.org

Date: August 8th, 2006

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

MileMaker Challenge!
Win a trip to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and visit with the Operation Migration team!
Click here for details!

Subject:

The 'First Family'

The report of the Tracking Monitoring team arrived early this morning and contained essentially no change from the previous week's.

 

Accompanying the report however is something I'm sure everyone will be excited about. Richard Urbanek sent along a recent photo of the First Family. In this picture the chicks are 41 days old.

Date: August 7th, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Marie Brady

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

MileMaker Challenge!
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Subject:

Flight Training

For what we thought was going to be a morning too windy to train, it actually turned out quite well. When the winds calmed down, Robert Doyle and I went to release Cohort 2, which was eagerly awaiting the trike's arrival.

 

When the gates were opened, four chicks came bounding out of the pen to join Chris for training. In their enthusiasm flying, they often forget to wait for the trike and take off before the pilots have a chance to get moving. Such was the story this morning when two birds took off and promptly landed in the swamp. 

 

615 came out right away, but 611 spent much of here training time in the swamp next to the pen. At the end of training she finally she came out and flew one circuit behind the trike. After the others ran out of the pen, 614, the perpetual lollygagger, was still in the wet pen and it appeared he wanted nothing to do with training. But, after a few minutes, he walked out on his own and quickly joined the group.

 

The whole group is doing well, flying half circuits behind the trike then landing in the swamp.  Most of the birds will then quickly walk to the side of the runway to rejoin the group. However, the barricades we put up to keep the birds out of the swamp are now keeping them in the swamp. Chris had to get out of the trike twice in order to put the fence down and let birds back onto the runway. Hopefully, with just a little more practice, they will be better able to stay aloft long enough to make it back to the runway and will enjoy their morning exercise even more!

Date: August 7th, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Bev Paulan

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Flight Training

It was debatable whether or not we would be able to train this morning. We all stood around camp staring at the sky and trees trying to determine if it was too windy. Richard finally made an 'executive decision' to give it a try, so we all headed out to different sites. With Chris back in camp we have three pilots again and it makes it easier and quicker to get the training done.

I headed to Site 4 where Cohort 1 is sequestered. As soon as Brooke taxied up, I opened the gate and all the chicks came running out looking very anxious to get flying. Because of rain there was no training yesterday and the chicks seemed ready to make up for lost time. Before Brooke had his trike off the ground the birds were up in the air.

Three circuits were flown with all the birds except 608 following well. 608 was pokey this morning, and would only fly the length of the runway before settling down and waiting for the trike to catch up to her. Hmmmm, pokey or clever? Hard to say.

It was great to see the birds fly - trailing out behind the trike and making perfect landings each time. I wish my human flight students had all been this easy to train.

The work for Brooke and I came when it was time to put the birds away. I hadn't appreciated before just what a challenge that could be. In fact it took longer to do that than the actual training. It didn't help either that 101 and 201 were right there in the mix stirring up the chicks. After much grape tossing and then some herding all the chicks were tucked away - with 604 being the straggler. Their independent mindedness really starting to show.

Date: August 5th, 2006

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Reporter: Bev Paulan

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Necedah NWR

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Subject:

Training Fun and Games

Friday was a very busy day starting with our usual 5 a.m. wake up for early training. Laurie and I went to Site 2, arriving before the pilot to coax the birds into the dry pen so they would be ready when he showed up. They were very uncooperative. 614 was doing his usual act - pretending he didn't see us so he could stay in the wet pen. When the ultralight landed though, all birds eagerly ran out of the wet pen right through the dry pen and out the gate. If only I knew it was that easy........

It did end up being a good training session with all the birds flying. In fact, 613 flew a circuit before the ultralight even revved up! Unlike previous attempts, she made it all the way back to the runway and didn't end up in the marsh for a change. Training ended on the same note it always does however, with 615 wandering away into the marsh. Brooke and I waded in after him, and after a lot of coaxing, we finally got him back on the runway and into the pen. Boy, that bird is independent!

After training we reconvened at camp and figured out the plan for the day. Mowing the runway at Site 4 was on the agenda so off we went. We first needed to get the birds out of the pen and sequestered in a marsh out of ear shot. Sounds easy doesn't it? Ha!

This was the first trip to the marsh for Cohort one, and even though they eagerly followed the handlers, once we got to the marsh it was a very different story. They didn't like walking through the long grass to get to the water; then the water looked strange; then it was too deep; then&.oh who knows! Finally, after what seemed an eternity and about a thousand grapes being tossed, they all made it into the water. Only one of us ended up swimming (not intentionally). You just try wading through hip-deep water and calf-deep muck!). But at least the cool water felt good on a warm day. Once the birds were all distracted by the new location, Brooke and I snuck off to go get the mowers.

On our way back across the runway an adult pair of white birds were on the runway, so we quickly went into action to hopefully scare them off. It worked, but apparently we only made them fly right to where Robert, Marie and Laurie were holding the chicks. They stayed for only a short time though and caused no trouble.

While Brooke and I manned the mowers Richard tackled the weed-wacking and our task was accomplished in short order. Once the mowers were put away, the chicks led back to their pen the day's excitement was pretty much over.

Now for today - Saturday. It was too windy to train the chicks that are already flying, but not too windy to do taxi training with Cohort 3 at Site 1. Laurie and I got out to the pen just as Richard was taxiing up. We opened the doors and 4 of the 5 youngsters came running out. They entertained us with lots of jumping and wing flapping once they were on the runway.

623 was reluctant to come out, so we closed the doors and Richard took off with the four in tow. As I witnessed their great bounding leaps, I held my breath, hoping to see another first flight. 618, 619, and 620 are all within a day or two of breaking the grip of gravity. Eventually we got 623 out the door, and it soon joined its pen mates in training.

The best part for me this morning was when 5 of last year's white birds came onto the runway to see what was up. Our darling little chicks wanted nothing of this and became quite aggressive towards the larger birds. Fiesty 618 chased, showed displays aggression, and even managed to drive off one of the white birds. Then 623 got in on the act and she chased off one of the big guys too.

It was a good training session and a great display. I'm sure I saw a definite strut in the walk of the chicks when it was over. Nothing like kicking some white bird butt to start your day!

Date: August 1st, 2006 - Entry 2

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

MileMaker Challenge!
Win a trip to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and visit with the Operation Migration team!
Click here for details!

Subject:

STILL WANTED

Where ARE all our MileMakers up for a challenge?

There is still time to convince, coax, or persuade someone you know - a friend, relative, co-worker, or even a stranger! to become a NEW one mile MileMaker and qualify yourself for an entry to win:

- $500 toward a flight to Madison, WI for the 2006 Necedah Crane Festival
- 3 nights double accommodation
- An escorted back scenes tour of the Necedah Refuge
- A visit and BBQ dinner with the OM crew in camp

The draw will be made at OM's offices at noon August 25th and we will notify the winner and post the name in the Field Journal the same day.

So far we have only a few entries so your odds are very good!

 
Date: August 1st, 2006 - Entry 1

Links

Reporter: Liz Condie

Spring 2006 Photo Journal.

Location: Main Office

MileMaker Challenge!
Win a trip to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and visit with the Operation Migration team!
Click here for details!

Subject:

Tracking/Monitoring

The latest Tracking/Monitoring Team update arrived today with tracking information up to July 29th. (* indicates female)

As of the end of last week distribution was:
Wisconsin - 56 adults/sub-adults and 2 chicks
Michigan - 3; (318 in Mason County; DAR533 in Barry County; 522 last detected in Oceana County in June and presumed to still be in Michigan; and DAR533 remained either alone or with Sandhills in Barry County.)

Undetermined - 2, (107* nonfunctional transmitter last detected in April in Adams County WI; 509 last detected in Fayette County, Iowa in early July.)

The 'First Family', (211, 217* and chicks W601 and W602) ranged along about one mile of the east shore of East Rynearson Pool throughout the past week. They continue to do just fine despite the extreme heat and severe drought that has been plaguing Central Wisconsin and the Whooping cranes' core reintroduction area.

The Whooper Soap Opera
When 216 returned to Necedah this spring with a seriously injured leg, he lost his mate, 303*, to young bachelor 408. Then, after the mortality of his mate 302* last week, 317 moved onto territory adjacent to that of the newly formed pair and appropriated 303*.

317 has now returned to his old territory on Pools 18W and 19, taking 303* with him. The upside is that both these birds are approaching sexual maturity, thus breeding is possible next year. The downside is this potential pair are blood siblings.

DAR
Notable in Dr. Richard U's Tracking update was his data re the four 2005 DAR birds. All four continue to associate almost exclusively with Sandhills. In this week's update Richard reported that DAR 527* remained in a large Sandhill crane flock in Winnebago County; DAR 528* remained with Sandhill cranes in Marathon County; and, DAR532 with a large group of Sandhills in Adams County. As reported above, DAR533 is in Michigan, and when not off on his own, also remains with Sandhills. Perhaps the upcoming fall migration will provide some impetus and/or opportunity for them to connect with Whooping cranes.

 

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to view the July 2006 Field Journal 

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