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Date: October 30, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Disappearing Links

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

91.9 miles

We apologize for the disappearance yesterday of the links that are usually to the right of the Field Journal. They've been recovered as you can see and all is back to 'normal'.

Date: October 29, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

James Popham

Subject:

Boo @ theZoo

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

91.9 miles

Debra Garries, Craniac and docent at the Calgary Zoo, recently participated in the zoo's Halloween festivities, entitled Boo@theZoo. Can you guess what she dressed as?!

Sporting all of husband Brent's "I Love" buttons featuring pictures of the Class of 2007, and adorned with various photographs illustrating both Operation Migration's and the Calgary Zoo's work with Whooping cranes, Debra's bird handler costume was definitely NOT up to protocol!

We won't be too upset, though, as she was showing these images along with crane facts and timelines to the many Craniac Kids-to-be that attended the event. Thanks Deb - you've helped us share our story and demonstrated the true nature of a Craniaic.

Pictured at Right: Deb shows off her wonderful costume, buttons and all, that she wore for the Calgary Zoo's Boo @ The Zoo event held on October 26th.

Date: October 29, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

James Popham

Subject:

Wood Buffalo-Aransas Population Update

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

91.9 miles

"Double good news on a Monday morning!" writes Tom Stehn, USF&WS Whooping crane coordinator at the Aransas NWR. "The Lobstick family with twin chicks was sighted on their refuge territory at 4:30 PM on Sunday, October 28th by tour boat captain Tommy Moore.

"They are the first known juveniles to arrive at Aransas this fall" said Time, "and were the only two-chick family sighted in Saskatchewan earlier this fall. The sighting brings the number of Whooping cranes currently known to be at Aransas to 21 adults and 2 chicks for a total of 23."

Date: October 29, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

James Popham

Subject:

Migration Day 17

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

91.9 miles

After a busy day yesterday the team is standing down today. According to Bev in the field, it's just too windy.

Joe adds to the information saying that the winds in Green county are coming out of the South at 10-15 knots on the surface and 35 knots at altitude.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
GREEN COUNTY
Green County's ethnic Swiss heritage has made it the cheese-iest in Wisconsin. Cheese of almost any flavor you can name is made in this area. Cheddar and Mozzarella make up the bulk of production, but many other flavors come out of the vats - Limburger, Swiss, Brick, Muenster, Colby, Edam and American are some of the favorites.

Within Green County was the site of the FIRST Limburger cheese factory in Wisconsin, and its buildings are designated an historic site. In an ironic twist, just a few miles from the first factory can be found the LAST Limburger cheese factory in the United States. Just follow your nose to the Chalet Cheese Cooperative in Monroe, still producing the odiferous fromage.

Date: October 28, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Richard van Huevelen

Subject:

Migration Day 16

Location:

Green County, WI

Distance
Traveled

45.6 miles

Accumulated
Distance

91.9 miles

After three days of fine dining, good company, and visiting with old friends, we were finally able to leave Sauk County.

The weather was cold, crisp and clear, with a slight breeze from the northwest aloft. With the wet weather in Sauk County recently, the ground was quite wet even on top of the ridge. We all got airborne before the ground crew released the birds for their first air pick-up.

The result was a bit of a circus, with aircraft and birds circling wildly about the sky. After a few crazy moments, ten birds settled on my wing, and we began a slow climb to the west to try and clear the remainder of the ridge. One dropped back so Brooke moved in to pick it up, and Joe and Chris attempted to round up the seven remaining birds.
As I progressed up the ridge three more dropped back but six remained flying strong on the wing. Not willing to give up what altitude I had and with nothing to be gained by circling back into the mess going on behind me, I continued on.

Brooke moved up and intercepted the three birds. Now with four birds on his wing he continued on and remained kind of quiet for the remainder of the trip. Brooke and I continued over the ridge on course for Green County with ten birds between us. The way things were going on this migration we were pleased to be leaving Sauk County with ten birds.

Chris and Joe persevered, and after thirty minutes Joe coaxed four birds over the ridge and on to Green County. Chris continued his attempts at convincing the three remaining birds to fly over the ridge, but it was not to be. Eventually one chick landed and ground crew were dispatched by Paula and Don who watched the day unfold from above.

With two birds on the wing Chris headed up the ridge only to have one bird turn back. He would go back and pick it up and start again for the ridge. Repeat! Repeat again! With time running out, Chris decided to head off to Green County with just one bird leaving Don and Paula and the ground crew to deal with the delinquent bird, which turned out to be 710.

Meanwhile, thirty miles ahead, 703 decided he wanted to lead. Pulling in the bar, I attempted to catch him but he persisted. The other five not wanting to be left behind kept up. Eventually the trike and six birds were approaching fifty miles an hour air speed.

Soon we were circling the pen at the next stopover where a permanent pen had been built by the land owners. The chicks followed me in and as I was locking the pen door, Brooke flew in with his four birds. A short while later Joe dropped off his four and Brooke and I penned them up as well.

As I took off to land on the main runway on the property away from the birds Chris showed up on the horizon with his lone bird. With only one bird he was able to pull the bar in to increase speed and make up for lost time. Soon he too was circling the pen to drop off his bird. But this bird kept flying - not wanting to land without the trike.

Chris had a low shock on his running gear and it was preferable he land on the smoother runway below, but he was unable to land while the bird was still flying. So my trike swooped in, picking up the bird and landing with him by the pen, where once again Brooke and I put him up in the pen.

With the morning done for flying, Brooke and I took off and flew around a bit in the morning sun before landing on the main runway below. It was then we learned that Charlie and Bev were still tracking 710 with Don and Paula flying above, and that Megan was on her way with a boxed bird (727).

Chris and I headed out to set up a travel pen at our next stop with me writing this update on the way. While we were setting up the pen we learned that Charlie and Bev had captured 710 and were on their way to camp with the bird. I’m sure Charlie or Bev will be glad to tell you that story later.

Date: October 28, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 16

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

45.6 miles

Accumulated
Distance

91.9 miles

Usually by this time of day we hope to have the main update of the day to post; that is, the lead pilot's field journal entry.

At last word however, top cover, pilots, and ground crew were once again on the hunt for 710, who was last spotted soaring on thermals. If today plays out as did the previous similar scenario, the team may be waiting for the sun to go down prompting 710 to land.

His 16 classmates are all safely in the travel pen in Green County. We will continue to post here any further news we
receive.

Thanks to Karla Ritter we have photos from today to share with you.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: October 28, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 16

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

? miles

Accumulated
Distance

46.3 miles

The weather was cooperating so the pilots and planes took to the air. Because of the wet conditions in the field where the travel pen is located, the team tried for an 'air pick-up' this morning.

Richard is lead pilot today, and at last report he had some of the birds in the air with him. Some had already turned back - and we think some hadn't yet left the ground. (poor cell reception made it hard to decipher what Bev was saying)

The short story is that 'the rodeo' was underway and the pilots were all buzzing around trying to round up the birds.

Hopefully they were able to persuade them to stick to the wing and head toward the next stopover in Green County before the weather/wind window closed. More news as it comes in.

Date: October 28, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Photos

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

? miles

Accumulated
Distance

46.3 miles

Circumstances caused the photos that yesterday we hoped to post 'later today' to turn into 'early this morning'.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: October 27, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 15

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

46.3 miles

Once again the team is standing down. It is drier today as yesterday's hazy drizzle has cleared out, but there is a low ceiling. Winds are blowing 10- to 15 knots on the surface and 25 to 30 knots out of the south at altitude.

It appears there may be a window of opportunity for a flight tomorrow - Sunday.

Note: Hope to post a few photos here later today.

Date: October 26, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Wood Buffalo/Aransas population update

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

46.3 miles

"As of this morning, October 26th, NINE Whooping cranes have been spotted on or around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge," said Tom Stehn, USF&WS Whooping crane coordinator. Tom reported that as all are white-plumaged they are presumably adults.

"Low pressure systems are forecast to reach the Texas coast October 27th and October 30th, so I expect more cranes to be making it to the coast and completing their migration in the next week," he said.

Date: October 26, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration day 14

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

46.3 miles

Early this morning the team decided that there will be no flight today.

Despite having favorable winds on the surface with light breezes out of the northeast, Chris said they had misty skies and the air was heavy with moisture as opposed to the cold, clear air the birds need.

It was a different story at altitude this morning. Winds were blowing at 10 knots out of the southeast and rain showers were moving in to the flight path of the cranes and planes.

After the game of hide and seek they had to play with 710 yesterday, the team might almost be relieved they will get a day to recover. After reading Nathan's update below, we have no doubt that 710 will be glad for the rest as well.

Date: October 26, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Nathan Hurst

Subject:

Finding 710

Location:

Sauk County, WI

Distance
Traveled

23.7 miles

Accumulated
Distance

46.3 miles

Sometimes the longest stories are the toughest ones to begin - and yesterday was a long story. It feels like days have passed since we walked out to the pen site in South Juneau.

To kick off the migration leg, Bev and I opened the pen while Megan dressed in the swamp monster costume. After the birds and ultralights had been out of site for a while, we began to remove the food and water containers from the pen, only to hear Joe calling over the radio requesting another swamp monster!

The three of us rushed back into the trailer and this time Megan and I went out dressed as monsters. Once more the birds turned and followed Joe to the Southeast, but it wasn't long before they returned. Finally, after three rounds with the swamp monster, they were on their way. Takeoff had taken 40 minutes.

Megan and I began taking down the pen while Bev and Charlie, just over the hill from us, captured and boxed 727. We were rushing to take the pen down and attach it to the trailer, as the Hornet would be used to transport the boxed bird, and we wanted to reduce stress on her by getting to the next site as quickly as possible.

Then another call came over the radio - we were still missing a bird.

Megan started off with the Hornet and 727 while Bev and I jumped into the nearest trucks. With a handheld antenna ready to go, we left to chase down the delinquent bird. It had turned back from Joe within five miles of takeoff but they hadn't yet determined which bird it was, so Bev and I began with our radio reciever scanning through frequencies for all the birds.

We hadn't been gone for more than a couple minutes when we picked up a signal. We flipped back to the frequency, and frantically drove around trying to hear it again without success. Becoming confused, things were clarified by a call from Brooke - the missing bird was 710. I looked at the list of frequencies, and noticed that the signal we had heard wasn't 710's.

Within a second's insight we realized what we'd done: we'd heard the signal from 727, boxed in the back of Megan's vehicle as she drove away.

So we were back where we began, but with just one signal to search for. For the next few hours, Bev drove around Sauk and Juneau counties while I held the antenna out the passneger side window. Soon Charlie was on the job too, followed by Don and Paula Lounsbury and the ICF interns Anna and Danielle.

It was an interesting dynamic between the different trackers. Don and Paula were airborne, and so had the best range for their reciever, and the best opportunity to get a visual confirmation. Charlie, in the tracking van, could move around faster than Bev and I because he could rotate his antenna all the way around and get a directional signal quickly. But Bev and I with the handheld were the only ones who could determine by the signal whether the bird was flying or on the ground.

We can rotate the tines to vertical or horizontal, and it will pick up the signal differently based on whether an errant bird is airborne, with leg and transmitter parallel to the earth, or grounded with leg and trasmitter perpendicular.

Bev and I were the first to get a signal, far down into Sauk County. We followed it to a farm where the signal was incredibly strong.

Deciding he must be just behind a little wooded hill, we went to the house and asked permission to enter the property. Yet by the time we got our costumes on we were stymied. The signal rapidly faded and we realized he had become airborne.

An airborne bird is much easier to find, and Don and Paula quickly picked him up. They were even able to get fairly close, and with repeated visuals followed him around for a while, leading the ground trackers on the chase.

But after you've found an airborne bird, what do you do? The rest of the afternoon was spent following 710 from the ground as he ranged across three counties, presumably looking for his family, the pen site, or just a good place to land. Don and Paula set down in Necedah so Don could move his motor home, while Bev handed me and the tracking equipment over to Chris (nicely outfitted for chasing a crane in his storm-chaser van), and we continued the search.

Hours later we were still following #10 from a distance but couldn't see him. Rather rapildy, his signal went from strong to weak, and then disappeared entirely. It was getting late, cooler, and the sun was about to go down, so we guessed that he might have landed.

This time Charlie was the first to pick up his signal, down within probably a mile of where Bev and I first heard his beep. Soon Paula, whom we had called in again when the signal disappeared, had a visual. He was once again on the ground in a corn field. After aquiring permission from the farmer, we grabbed a loudspeaker, handheld antenna, a box and our costumes and hightailed it up the treeline.

We still hadn't made visual contact from the ground, and having left our radio behind we were no longer aided by Paula in the air. Yet as we reached the top of a hill Chris somehow managed to spot the crane almost 400 yards away. It was barely more than a white speck, he said, but when it moved he knew it was our bird. We were worried it would be futile to try to stalk it through the corn field (pun intented), so Chris just started waving, hoping he would see us.

What relief we felt when he spotted us flapping our white sleeves and immediately took off, flying straight to us. He must have been exhausted after eight-plus hours on the lam, and five hours of constant flight. A bit cowed, perhaps, he followed us back to the box and was shortly returned to his bretheren at the new pen site.

Let's hope our friend 710 learned a little lesson today. Maybe he'll think twice before he turns away from his pilot. Then again, maybe he had the time of his life flying around up there and he's laughing at us behind our backs for how silly we looked all day on our wild goose - er, crane - chase. But the important part is that we're all here safe and sound, birds and crew, recharging for the next leg.

Thanks to all who helped and who put in long days so that we could keep on the trail of our vagrant charge.

Date: October 25, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

710 found

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

46.3 miles

710 eluded the crew for quite a while. Trackers could pick up a strong signal when he was on the ground, but he kept taking off and thermaling. Don and Paula flying top cover had him in their sights, and watched him soar in the air around the area. The team decided to wait him out until the sun dropped and he came down to land.

Eventually he was located and crated, although we don't have the details. By this time I think the crew was too tuckered to even talk. Perhaps one of the team will have time to write an entry about it for posting on Friday.

Date: October 25, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject:

Lead Pilot Update

Location:

Sauk County, WI

Distance
Traveled

23.7 miles

Accumulated
Distance

46.3 miles

More progress today although we had to work for it. We awoke this morning to incredibly clear, cold, and calm skies. The forecasted winds aloft were out of the east at 20knots giving us neither a head or tail wind.

With our trikes still back at the Necedah airport, we had an 18 mile flight to get down to the pen. A hard frost was forming on the ground and we knew that our wings would quickly succumb to the ice if we delayed our departure once pushing our aircraft out of the hangar. We donned our cold weather gear, topped off our fuel tanks and pre-flighted our trikes in the hangar then pushed out shortly before sunrise and were soon airborne in the crisp air.

At 500 feet we had a 10mph headwind as we flew south southeast towards the birds. Dropping down to the deck we were able to pick up speed and took in the beautiful fall colors and steaming lakes and rivers below.

My turn to lead today. The pen is situated at the east end of a box canyon requiring a departure to the west, then a meandering course south around various ridges as we slowly climb birds to altitude.

The takeoff from the pen went quite well with only one bird slow to come out. I had 16 birds loosely form up on my wing as I made my way west, but within a few minutes they all broke off with half scattering to the right and half going left.

The details are sketchy but the ensuing rodeo lasted about 45 minutes with Brooke getting away with six, Richard five and Joe two. 727, 733, and 735 landed out just west of the site in a bean field and I landed with them to see if they would be willing to take back off. After feeding out a few grapes and giving them a 10 minute rest, I blasted back off with all 3 birds quickly getting airborne with me.

We joined back in the rodeo, my birds were reluctant to fly south in the choppy air created by the mechanical turbulence from the surrounding ridges. 727 gave up after 10 minutes and landed in a field a mile south of the pen site. 733 and 735 finally settled in and began following well. I was able to slowly climb to 500 feet and get above the rough air. Brooke was a few miles ahead of me and several hundred feet higher with his 6, Richard was behind me to the right and quickly catching me with his stronger birds while Joe brought up the rear with his 2.

Our site in Sauk County this year is located near the top of the Baraboo Hills. In previous years we have been at the bottom of the ridge which requires a 500 foot climb to cross over the top. The new location should allow an easier departure but it also means that we need to keep the birds at altitude to land them on the ridge.

About 5 miles from the site, number 716 began to drop from Richard’s trike and neither of us could afford to give up the altitude to help this bird out. Don and Paula were able to keep an eye on 716 and radio GPS coordinates to Charlie. Brooke was also struggling to keep a bird on his wing but he had much more altitude and the bird was able to glide to the pensite without help from the trike.

Richard landed at the pensite with his four followed by Brooke with his six. I did an air drop with my two, then went back north to see if I could help out with number 716. Paula helped guide me back to the bird who luckily, had picked a nice hay field to land in.

As I landed I noticed somebody unloading hay from a barn into a wagon. Leaving my trike with the vocalizer on, I walked the ¼ mile over to the farm to explain my arrival and beg forgiveness. It is a strange feeling walking up to a total stranger in a white spacesuit while trespassing on their land, thoughts of being greeted by a shotgun flashed through my head. The women and kids who greeted me had smiles on their faces and the first words out of their mouths set my mind at ease. They knew of the project and offered their assistance in any way. I explained the situation, handed them a brochure and told them Charlie would soon be arriving with the tracking van. Thank you folks, for your help and understanding!!

If you have been keeping track, you may have noticed that we have a missing bird. We soon realized that we only had 16 birds accounted for – 14 in the pen and two in boxes. Number 710 had gone AWOL soon after the departure and a search party was quickly organized. Bev and Nate were back to the north scanning with their handheld antenna and receiver. Charlie had dropped off number 716 and he too was on his way back north. Megan soon arrived with number 727 and we called up Don and Paula asking if they could help from the air.

As I am typing, we are just about back to Necedah and we just got word from Charlie that he is getting a strong signal south of where the bird was last seen. We have a busy day rest of the ahead of us catching this bird; breaking down and moving camp; and getting the pen set up and ready at the next stop.

The weather for tomorrow is light northeast winds and a chance of showers. It should be calm enough to fly, but we will just have to wait and see if rain will be an issue.

Date: October 25, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 13

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

23.7 miles

Accumulated
Distance

46.3 miles

Airborne again! Yes, the planes and cranes flew this morning. With Chris in the lead, all the birds followed with the exception of 726 who was 'picked up' by one of the other pilots. Once into the flight, in Bev's words, "they kept turning back, and turning back and turning back."

What counts however is the end result, and as of 10:45am EST, all the birds but two were safely in the travel pen in Sauk County. Chris is down in a field with 716, and 727 went all the way back to yesterday's pensite in South Juneau County. Hmmm, developing a habit? With luck, the crew will have them reunited with their classmates in short order.

Date: October 24, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Brooke Pennypacker

Subject:

Flying - Not Flying

Location:

Juneau County

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

22.6 miles

"The hardest thing about flying with birds is NOT flying with birds" …so began one of my last year's updates. And so yesterday was an EASY day. We flew!

The day began with a visit from the Necedah Tax Assessor informing us that we had stayed at our first site for so long that in one more day we would be liable to pay property taxes on the place!. (I'm kidding!) Plus, we had just enjoyed a night of calm, cold air, with all stars in attendance, each twinkling and winking down at us as if to say, "We’re doing our part.  Now you do your's!"

Enough said! Gerald chauffeured us four intrepid pilots to the hanger while Nate and Megan left to join Bev at the pensite. Charlie jumped into the tracking van and went off to position himself for the launch. Minutes later, off we flew into the clear autumn sky and were immediately treated to an incredible collage of fall color. Impossible to believe there could exist so many shades of gold. The scene below was in fact so magical it was hard to focus on the task at hand.

But the birds beckoned, and I was soon sitting in front of the pen, three other trikes hovering overhead, three costumed faces looking at me with a collective expression of "What took ya….?" and a pen full of birds jumping around with excited anticipation.

Then, in less time than it takes for Jack to scream, "Hooray…I’m out of the box!", the gate opened, the birds blew past the handlers and blasted skyward towards the place where all the twinkles had been, exalting in their sudden freedom after 10 pen-bound days as each wing beat pounded down upon the cold dense invisible substrate, lifting them higher and faster than ever before.

It was then time for the trike to move into the lead and lend discipline to their unbridled exuberance, and the "Dance of Migration" began. It is a dance which is in itself a living thing - like a breath, a heart beat, a tear or a laugh - the first steps of which began the moment the egg shell parted at Patuxent and the first peep was heard across the universe.

It was followed by the training protocols; being taught to eat and to drink by the ever vigilant and caring Patuxent and OM staff; the walks behind the costumed handlers; the daily swims; the circle pen laps; and half-moon pen straight-aways behind the trike. Then the first Class box ride to Necedah compliments of Terry Kohler and Windway, followed by our own well choreographed aerial boot camp of almost daily training flights; health and roost checks; and our team’s attendance to the infinite details which our protocols demand.

But it is also a dance of severe consequence, where a misstep can mean the difference between success and failure, life and death. Yet it is truly the Dance of Life, and, in the end, a Dance of Hope.

“Follow me!”  the trike called out as the birds formed a ragged, then cleaner line off the left wing. "Trust me!" it called out again in reinforcement, as we turned on course towards our next stop. It is now that the pilot’s senses are most alive, his responsibility the heaviest, the challenge the greatest and the most rewarding. And it is now that the sweat glands come alive, the neck becomes a swivel for the head, and the trike becomes a mere extension of the mind. It’s just you and the birds and there’s not another single thing in the entire universe, animate or otherwise, as you and the birds make your way across the morning sky as one.

Unfortunately, not all the birds are of equal prowess. 735, the youngest bird, drops out soon after take off and lands in a field. And 727 continues his curious reluctance and drops out four miles into the flight. Three more birds tire as the flight progresses and are picked up by Joe and Chris as Richard rides shotgun above and behind the main flock. Below, Charlie provides “bottom cover,” keeping in radio contact and as much as possible, visual contact with the birds, ever ready to play “catch” and locate and retrieve a dropout should that occur.

We continue our dance high above a countryside that is just now waking to the demands of the day. Sometimes the birds all stay just off one wing, then, one or more will slide over to the other wing gaining more of the vortex and thus an effort free ride. Then one or two will charge ahead of the trike and position themselves an arms length in front of the pilot as if to offer the challenge, "My lead!"

And so, for most of the flight, this juxtapositioning - this dance, continues, ever fluid, ever changing until the carpet of undulating features, with their infinite brush strokes of colors gives view to our destination, the pen site. And down we come. Time to relinquish our place and our time in the ‘Above,’ the music growing softer now, our dance over, and trade it for the inevitable descent to earth, the end of another migration leg, and the security of the pen.

Moments later we are down. We’re soon joined by the other three birds dropping off the wings of Joe and Chris. We lead the birds into the pen, secure it, and are soon climbing skyward again to return to Necedah and a hanger which will shelter our fragile wings from the destructive power of the soon to arrive high winds.

But on the way, we will look for 727 which is eluding Charlie’s tracking efforts by landing, then flying for a while, then landing again. Our four trikes perform a sweep towards the bird’s transmission as Charlie tries to vector us closer to its location. After many minutes of frustrating search, Joe calls out excitedly on the radio, “I see him. He’s down in a field below me staring at a deer!”

It is all together fitting and predictable that Joe would spot the bird. It is after all Joe's ever present intelligence and ceaseless efforts that is the engine that drives this project and provides the safety net above which we all perform this high wire act called 'Migration.'

Moments later, it is Charlie-to-the-Rescue, which has become such a common occurrence over these many years of migration that it has actually become a single word. (Just check out Webster's if you don’t believe me.) Joe talked Charlie to the bird, and in a wink, 727 was crated and on his way to rejoin his flock mates.

Meanwhile, back at the start, Bev and Megan located and boxed 735 and she soon joined the rest of the gang while Nate single handedly took down and loaded up the pen, which is no mean feat even for an Extreme Frisbee champion like Nate.

Then, trikes in the hanger, birds in the pen, food in our bellies, our crew divided up to prepare to do it all again tomorrow. It always happens like that on migration. As soon as one game ends, the next begins. Not much time to savor, to reflect, to appreciate. But, I stole a moment, and as best I could jammed it all into a wad of easily swallowed emotion, finishing up with a quick sigh and a secret prayer. "Hope tomorrow is as Easy as today."

Date: October 24, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Charlie Shafer

Subject:

A perspective from the ground

Location:

Juneau County

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

22.6 miles

We all awoke yesterday morning to brisk temperatures and calm winds; the perfect weather for migration. Megan, Nate, Bev, and I met over at the pen site and talked briefly about how we thought the birds would fly after being grounded for over a week. We were all hopeful that the cool temperatures would help the birds fly the distance.

As the pilots approached, I parked the tracking van along the flight path just southeast of the pen, while Megan, Nate and Bev prepared to release the birds. I listened on the radio for the familiar, “The birds are off” from the pilots, and listened closely to how the birds were forming up on the ultralights.

Brooke led off with most of the birds and I followed close behind on the ground. Richard and Chris both reported early on that they each had a bird drop out and they supplied me with GPS coordinates.

I was busy following the group of birds on Brooke’s wing in case any should drop out closer to the next stop. Bev and Megan went out in search of the two dropouts, while Nate stayed behind to start taking down the travel pen.

As soon as the pilots were close to the next stop, I turned around and headed back north to help Bev and Megan find the two missing birds. After a quick call to Megan we decided they would look for 735, who landed out close to the pen, and I would find 727, who was just a little further south.

727’s signal was coming in very loud (meaning she was close) near the coordinates that Chris gave me. Unfortunately, by the time I had put on my costume and assemble a crate, she had flown off. I headed north again to try to pick up her signal, but it was fading in and out. Usually, this means that a bird is flying, but I couldn’t see her on the ground or in the air.

As luck would have it, the pilots were headed back north again and they began an ‘air to ground’ and ‘air to air’ search. Joe located 727 in a small mowed pasture surrounded on all four sides by forest. (No wonder I couldn’t see her.) Apparently she had flown down into this clearing in the woods, but didn’t have the energy to take-off and fly back out.

I was able to drive back to this clearing and box up 727 in a crate, while Joe kept watch from above. Meanwhile, Bev and Megan had located 735 and boxed her up also. I met up with them to load 735 into the van so we could drive the birds down to the next stop.

Megan and I drove south to the next stop, listening to ‘Marsh Music’ all the way. If you’ll recall, the ‘Marsh Music’ is what we play to the chicks at Patuxent when they are in their indoor pens. We also use it on migration when we transport the birds by vehicle. It helps to block out the road and other traffic noises and keeps the birds calm.

It also has a calming or sleepy effect on the people in the van. Something about repetitive cricket chirps, duck quacks, and Barred owl hoots, just puts you too sleep. We survived the ‘monotony of the marsh’, got the birds unloaded, and walked them safely out to the pen at the new stop.

All in all, given the fact that we were grounded for so long, it turned out to be a great leg of migration.
 

Date: October 24, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Wood Buffalo-Aransas Population News

Location:

Main Office

Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator for US F&WS at the Aransas refuge advised that his staff reported seeing the first returning Whooping crane of the season this morning. The bird was spotted along the Intracoastal Waterway on Ayres Island.

“A strong Pacific cold front brought northwest winds of 20-30 mph the last two days, so I was expecting cranes to arrive,” said Tom. Many of the Whooping cranes have departed the fall staging area in Saskatchewan and are currently migrating across the U.S. Tom told us that recent sightings have been made in North Dakota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

“Multiple Whooping cranes should be arriving at Aransas in about 2 weeks,” said Stehn. “Forty chicks fledged on the nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Wildlife Park this summer, which should result in a population increase.  I'm hoping for a record population of 250+ birds this winter, an increase over the flock size of 236 in spring, 2007,” he added.

Date: October 24, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

You'd think we were in 'Windiana'

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

22.6 miles

Today is Migration Day #12 and another no fly day. The scorecard now reads Weather 10 and Cranes 2.
 

Early this morning the team thought they might have a chance to fly but that was short-lived. Brooke was ‘test dummy’ this morning – that is, he got the job of taking off to check what conditions were like at altitude.

There was just too much wind for the trikes and birds to handle, so the team had to stand down once again. Richard said he thought tomorrow looked promising so maybe we’ll have more exciting news then.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
JUNEAU COUNTY
The Carr Valley Cheese Company in Mauston won more awards than any other artisan cheese maker in the world in the 2007 American Cheese Society's competition.

Date: October 23, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Second Leg Completed

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

18.6 miles

Accumulated
Distance

22.6 miles

All the chicks but 2 are safely in the travel pen at Stopover #2 in South Juneau County.

Brooke was lead pilot for today and he had most of the birds on his wing for most of the way. 735 dropped before she had gone a mile and the ground crew took off looking for her. Richard flew in and tried to pick her up but she was unwilling to take to the air so the handlers moved in to crate her.

727 dropped out also, about 10 miles short of Stopover #2. Charlie Shafer took up the hunt in the tracking van but couldn't find her where she was reported as last seen and her signal kept fading in and out. The pilots flew circles in the area with the volume turned up on their vocalizers. Eventually she was spotted and Charlie was able to get her crated. Both 735 and 727 are now on their way to be reunited with their classmates in the travel pen.

Chris led 2 birds this morning. Joe had the longest flight and was the last to arrive. With him was 714, one of the stragglers out of the pen. Brooke had the rest of the birds – except for the two crated for transport of course.

Brooke will be sending alone his lead pilot report later in the day.

Date: October 23, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day #11

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

? miles

Accumulated
Distance

? miles

It's Day 11 and finally we are flying!!

 

The crew work to a dry, cold morning with dead calm air at ground level. Anxiously, the team members gathered in the morning circle and grins broke out when it was determined it looked good for a launch.
 

Everyone scurried to get ready and get in place; the pilots to their aircraft and the ground crew to the pensite. It was a bit of ‘hurry up and wait’ though as they had to hold off until the sky lightened up a little more.
 

With Brooke in the lead, all 17 birds took off – albeit there were a couple of stragglers. Bev reported that these two broke away almost immediately and landed not far off. As Brooke carried on out of sight, Bev and Megan headed over to locate the two dropouts.
 

More news as it comes to us.

Date: October 23, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Eastern Migratory Population Update

Location:

Main Office

This update was compiled from data provided by Richard Urbanek (USFWS), Nicole Frey (ICF), Anna Fasoli, D. Desourdis, and E. Szyszkoski.

In the highlights below, * = female; DAR = direct autumn release; NFT = non functional transmitter. Estimated size of the Eastern Migratory Population is 52 individuals; 30 males and 23 females.

In the central Wisconsin core reintroduction area were:
- 101, 102*, 105.
- 205, 209*NFT and 416NFT, 211 & 217*, 212 & 419*, 213 & 218*, 216.
-303* & 317, 311, 307NFT, 310 & 501*, 312* & 316, 313* & 318
- 309* & 403 were observed building a nest platform on October 18 & 19. Dr. Urbanek noted that “This is most unusual, and something that I’ve never seen before.” He also made clear that this was just preliminary building, and not to expect any eggs.
¬- 401 & 508*, 402 & 511, W601* and 511, 408 & 519*, 412, 415*NFT.
- 505, 506, 509, 511, 512, 514*NFT, 520* found with staging Sandhill flock in Clark County.
- DAR 627 and DAR628NFT with large staging Sandhill crane flock in Adams County.

Outside central Wisconsin core were:
- 107*NFT last reported with a small number of Sandhills in Dodge county October 10
- DAR527* with large numbers of Sandhills in Winnebago County. DAR528* found with Sandhills in Clark & Marathon Counties.

Recorded earlier in Wisconsin but current location unknown were:
- 201*NFT last observed June 9. Mate 306 was found predated July 6.
- 420* last observed foraging with Sandhills in Chippewa County September 26, not found during a check on October 14.
- 503 & 507 were last recorded in Wood County May 26.
- 524NFT last observed on Sprague Pool September 28.

Michigan:
- 516 was reported with staging Sandhills in Jackson County September 17-18. There were also unconfirmed sightings in Livingston and Washtenaw Counties during first week of October and again in Jackson County October 8.
- DAR533* was last reported with Sandhills in Van Buren County September 19.

Missing (suspected dead): 202* last recorded in Georgia March 26.

Date: October 22, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Chris Gillikson

Subject:

Our favorite topic - the weather

Location:

Juneau County, WI

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

Not a whole lot to write about so let’s talk about the weather.

In the short range, things look pretty clear. A cold front moved through the area late last night bringing north winds and very light precipitation in its wake. High pressure is building to our west bringing favorable conditions for Tuesday and Wednesday – cold, dry air with a gentle tailwind. If all goes well, we should be 40 some miles down the road in Sauk County by Wednesday.

In the longer term things get a bit muddled. A closed off upper level low will develop in the southern plains Tuesday morning bringing moisture northward from the Gulf of Mexico. However, the various weather models are not agreeing on how to handle this area of low pressure as the week progresses. One model keeps this low in the southern plains keeping us dry, while another model lifts the low north and east, increasing our chances of rain and headwinds.

I will not dwell on our chances of flying past Wednesday. Check back tomorrow for a (hopefully) much more interesting update from the migration team.

Date: October 22, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Nathan Hurst

Subject:

Refuge 'under construction'

Location:

Juneau County, WI

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

Though migration has officially begun, unfortunately we're not quite out of the way of the Necedah NWR staff. We've had to do a trailer shuffle to make space in camp for Mike Belsky and others to dig up the area where a new refuge barracks will be built.

Imagine a sort of square dance with trailers; each one moving around, switching partners with it's electrical and water hookups. Megan's lonely trailer ended up without a partner at all.

But now that we're situated out of the way, the diesel engines run all day preparing for the prefabricated structure that will be brought in starting tomorrow. "It's for a good cause," Belsky joked, "it gives me something to do. People will be using it for generations," he added.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: October 22, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day #10

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

It was (and is) breezy and damp ‘in the neighborhood’ this morning. Wind and the occasional light rain shower have stalled the migration for yet another day. Chris Gullikson predicts that tomorrow will present us with an opportunity to fly. Here's hoping he's right.

Be sure to check back here later today as Chris has promised to send us a Field Journal entry to post.

Date: October 21, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Richard van Heuvelen

Subject:

Flashback

Location:

Juneau County, WI

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

Gun shots in the distance; heavy equipment and chain saws clamoring away; people scurrying about. Everyone is busy trying to catch up on a long summers worth of work. With hunting season underway, refuge staff re-building roads, bunk houses and crane people preparing for fall migration, the refuge is a busy place these days.

Fall colors are in full bloom as leaves begin to fall and blow away. Yes, it is beautiful with Indian summer in full swing brought on by stiff winds from the south. However, this means we don’t get to go any where, but we do get to enjoy the nice fall weather on the refuge.

It has been over a week since we last flew and what a day that was. All four pilots and seventeen birds in the air at once for the first time this year. With a slight breeze from the north, Joe led off into the wind and slowly arced past the observation deck before heading south.

The chicks who are used to circling this area began to scatter. But Joe managed to get six to follow his trike and, with Chris flying chase, he headed off to the interim stopover site. Brooke attempted to pick up the remaining birds but they were too scattered. He managed to get five to follow, and he also headed off to the first stop. Along the way however one dropped out, but not wanting to add to the confusion, Brooke continued on without it.

With the six left flying all in different directions, picking them up was difficult. Eventually three joined up on my wing and we too headed toward the stopover location. On coming up to the pen area we found Brooke attempting to drop his chicks without landing – “an air drop”. The chicks on my wing left to join his, so I climbed to get out of the way. Brooke landed after all with the chicks following him down.

As it turned out, Joe and Chris were off in the woods looking for a bird that landed in some trees, so Brooke had to land anyway as he needed to put the chicks in the travel pen.

With three chicks still on the refuge I headed back to see if I could find them.  Communicating with the ground crew over the radio we concluded that they might have gone back to land at Site 2 so I made there my target. Sure enough there they were hanging out with two adults on the runway at the pensite.

I landed and taxied up to them. I wasn’t sure what to do; they seem more interested in the adults than the trike. After a few moments I attempted to lure them to the other end of the runway hoping the adults wouldn’t follow.

It seemed to work. The chicks hesitated when we passed their early summer pensite, but then they followed eagerly to the south end. There I gave them some treats and waited for Bev to come arrive from Site 1 with a swamp monster tarp.

The plan was to have Bev scare them up into the air as the trike flew away. But suddenly they became nervous. They seemed to want to leave so I revved up the engine and took off with all three chicks close behind.

As we circled to get on course, one chick abruptly broke off, determined not to follow. Well, figuring that two chicks on the wing were better than three in the swamp, I continued on thinking we’d deal with him later.

This flight to the first stop was also uneventful. Brooke was still on the ground at the stopover pensite so he called the two birds down to him and I turned and flew back to the refuge to deal with the independent one. It had once again returned to Site 2 and was with Bev on the runway.

Hmm, what to do? We needed to Bev to turn into the swamp monster with out the chick seeing her do it. As I distracted the chick, Bev snuck off out of sight to don the swamp monster. The chick spotted the swamp monster before I did, and off we went.

Coming up on Suk Cerney pool we spotted Brooke over the DU pool picking up the chick that had previously dropped out on him. With one swoop of the trike the chick was up in the air and following him. They quickly were off in the distance as the chick on my wing went all independent on me again, and a small air show was under way, with me cutting him off from going back to the refuge.

Once we were past the highway he became more cooperative and we soon came up to Brooke as he was landing with his bird. As I climbed away, my chick dropped down to land near Brooke and his bird.

We are always in the habit of counting the chicks when the day is done and I kept coming up with only 16. Apparently one chick had dropped out unnoticed. As I once again headed back to the refuge, Megan came on the radio announcing that the errant chick was near Site 1 flying around - first heading for the dam, then for Site 2.

As I came over the trees near the DU observation deck I spotted it flying back toward Site 1, so I landed there with it. It seemed glad to see the trike so Megan and Nate hid in the pen. We gave the chick a short rest while Bev once again got in position with the swamp monster.

With the wind beginning to pick up it was time to go. The swamp monster had to barely appear over the hill and we were off, heading south over the trees. The chick seemed eager to climb after its brief brush with the monster, and I had an easy time getting it to the travel pensite. Brooke had again landed ahead of me to attract the chick to the pen.

Finally, after two and a half hours of flying and four trips back and forth from the refuge, I could relax, and enjoy the fall scene passing below me.

Date: October 21, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 9

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

The OM Team gathered in the morning circle could well have been humming Mr. Roger's theme song, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood." Fits right in this morning.

With partly sunny skies and a temperature heading toward a high of 65F, it is shaping up to be a gorgeous fall day in Juneau County. But. Yes, you guessed it. We still have wrong way winds.

Today is the eighth day of going nowhere, doubling 2006's record four days we were stuck at this stopover. That's the bad news.

The good news is that from the look of the aviation weather charts, the wind currents appear to be shifting, and from Monday on, we could have a chance of several consecutive day's flying.

Be sure and check back later today. Richard has promised to send us an entry to post.

Date: October 20, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Today's Photos

Location:

Juneau County,WI

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: October 20, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Tricked again

Location:

Juneau County,WI

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

Some days you wake up while it's still dark and you can hear the wind blowing or that annoying patter of rain on the roof like Chinese water torture. Those are the days you can roll over and take small consolation in more sleep. But there are other days that start out calm and your anxiety level goes up as soon as you open your eyes. The sky is clear, the air cold and you stand in the middle of the camp staring up at the tree tops wishing them still.

First the pilots gather and slowly the rest of the team joins in, forming on the first person like a fence post that starts a snow drift. We all stand in a circle that expands and contracts with the number of participants in what have become known as crew circles. They are ephemeral formations that develop and dissolve leaving tell-tale footprints in the dust like a compass rose. We stand in these circles, sip coffee and kick the ground and listen to the latest weather report from Chris.

At 6AM the winds were 7 miles an hour directly out of the direction we needed to go. Winds at 3000 feet were from the west at 35 knots. It wouldn’t be long before the heat from the sun would cause thermals and draw that wind down to the surface. It was forecast to be windy today but the early calm at sunrise tricked us again.

It's almost like the weather is having fun with us. It draws you from a warm bed with a promise of calm air. The tree tops are still until you turn your head and you can hear them rustle in the breeze. Then you turn back and they are quiet again.

The forecast has told us that the winds aloft are blowing and we know from experience that the conditions will be rough. But the weather holds a carrot in front of our noses and once again, suckers us into believing that maybe we can go. This morning the circle decided that we weren’t going to fall for the lies and we made the official decision to stand down once again.

We could hear that Sandhills calling from the marsh beyond the tree line so we drove out to see them. There are maybe a hundred Sandhills here over the summer but now there must be a couple thousand. They use the refuge as a staging area before migration and we can see small groups heading south. Their collective chatter that we could hear for over a mile, seems to add an excitement to the wetland as if some big event was taking place.

On the horizon, above the line of brilliant fall colours, we can see long formations of birds in flight, layer upon layer like squiggly lines above the trees. If they can migrate why can’t we? Knowing the answer doesn’t make it any easier.

We decided to let the birds out to get some exercise so Gerald and I headed off to the hangar to get our costumes. While driving to the first site, we got a call from Chris. He and Richard have succumbed to the weathers deceptions and are about to take off to test the conditions for themselves. The surrender of part of our team is enough to turn the tide so we called Brooke and headed back to the airport.

We all took off into rough air and hadn’t climbed a hundred feet when each of us began to ask the same question. How many times are we going to fall for this? The problem is that we know the answer. It's every time.

Beverly, Brooke, Gerald and I let the birds out for some exercise later in the morning. They jumped and played and seemed to have a great time - - - but they didn’t migrate.

Date: October 20, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Down Day #7

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

It was dry again today in Juneau County so Joe has suspended his ark building. The team formed its usual 'morning circle' in front of the trailers in camp, but the action was limited to kicking the dirt. The leaves were dancing in a strong southwest wind that was blowing even harder at altitude.

Bev reported that with crystal clear skies overhead, they planned to let the cranes out of the pen later today so they could jump and fly around a bit.

It appears it could be as late as Monday before the winds swing around to come out of the north and make a flight possible.

Date: October 19, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Blustery Winds

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

The rain has let up but we're still grounded. Blustery is the word of the day with winds gusting out of the WSW. It doesn't appear the current weather/wind pattern will make any significant shift for at least a couple or more days.

Scorecard: Cranes and Planes 1, Weather 6.

Date: October 18, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Shades of 2006

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

Bev reported a lull in the rain this morning and that we'd have one heck of a tail wind - - if we were headed to Canada that is.

Joe is still working on his ark as, in the short term at least, the weatherman is calling for rain off and on all day. Neither does the long range forecast hold much good news. Unless something changes, it could a few days yet before the cranes and planes are able to launch on the next leg of the migration. The rain could end by Saturday, but it looks like it could be Monday before the winds are favorable.

This year’s migration start is reminiscent of 2006 when, despite an early departure on October 5, it was October 10 before we were able to move to the second stopover in South Juneau County.

On this date last year we were at our third stopover location in Salk County where we were stuck for 7 days. Maybe it will all balance out?

Date: October 17, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Location:

Juneau County

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

It has rained so much in central Wisconsin in the last week that we have decided to change the protocol. Instead of leading the birds south with ultralight aircraft we are going to build an ark and load them two by two. The only small conciliations about being stuck in the rain is that we have more time to get a myriad of little jobs done and we are not living in the old Nomad trailer with its leaky roof.

All three training sites out on the refuge have been cleaned and winterized and most of the tools that were spread out over the hangar floor are now neatly organized in the aircraft trailer.

Our biggest weather problem during the late fall and throughout most of the migration is moisture. If it’s warm, the moisture produces fog - and if it’s cold, we get frost. There is not much we can do about the fog except be patient (something I’m not terribly good at) but the frost should be a solvable problem - one would think.

A wing requires a smooth laminar flow of air over the top surface to produce lift. Frost breaks up that current causing separation. The thicker the layer of frost, the less lift the wing can generate and the faster we must fly to stay airborne. It only takes a few crystals before we are too fast to lead birds, and only a thin layer before the airplane won’t fly at all.

We have tried using de-icing glycol but it leaves an oily film on the wing which is almost as bad as the frost. A few years ago we found some surplus military parachutes and tried covering the entire aircraft. But the thin material wasn’t waterproof and we ended up with frost on the parachute and the wing, and sometimes the two were frozen together.

Last year the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund donated enough funding for us to purchase 4 new wings. These are strut based and don’t require a king post sticking above the wing with all the accompanying flying wires. This lack of an over-the-wing superstructure allowed us to fly more safely with birds, but it also means the top surface of the wing is clean. This made it feasible to make covers that didn’t have to be fitted in and around 10 flying wire attachment points. Feasible but not easy!

Last year during the migration I started to build one cover as a test. I bought a cheap sewing machine and spread out what seemed like miles of fabric on the hangar floor. Now, I like sewing about as much as a three-year-old likes broccoli and, as everyone will tell you, I’m just about as childish about my dislikes. With no parent there to wash my mouth out with soap, I turned the air blue and soon I was working completely alone. It took 34 yards of material and 70 feet of Velcro but after a week of frustration we had one set of wing covers, crooked seams and all. And they worked!!

They fit well enough that you can start the engine and suit up until you are ready to go. Then you rip open the Velcro along the trailing edge and drop the wing until the covers slide off the tips. You are ready to go before the frost has a chance to form on the newly exposed wing surface. The problem is - we needed 4 sets of covers.

Sue Williams is a crane enthusiast we met on the tower one morning this summer. She volunteered to take on the job but it is just too much for one person. She worked long hours alone in the hangar, not because she curses, but because none of us could sew like she does.

Terry and Mary Kohler from Sheboygan are long time supporters of the International Crane Foundation and have been involved in crane conservation for many years. Since the start of this reintroduction they have also been extremely helpful to Operation Migration. In fact they provided our hangar and it is their aircraft (Windway Capital) that delivers our three cohorts of birds from Patuxent every spring.

Terry owns North Sails, the largest producer of sails in the world, and when he walked into the hangar recently and saw our feeble efforts he must have laughed to himself. In his generous way he told us to wrap one set up as a pattern for his sail makers. Within a week we had five sets compete and ready for the migration!! And unlike my set, there isn’t a crooked seam in the entire job.

Thanks to Rob Pennington of North Sails in New Jersey for producing our new covers, and to Terry and Mary Kohler for once again coming to our aid. Thanks also to Sue Williams for taking on a job that was far more demanding than we could tackle ourselves. With their help we will be able to take off much earlier on those frosty mornings and capitalize on the calmer air. That will speed the migration…..if the rain ever stops.

Date: October 17, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Going Nowhere

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

On hearing Joe's voice when I answered the phone this morning I knew it wasn't going to be good news - because he can't call if he's in the air.

While it is mild today, the air is heavy with humidity and the winds are straight out of the south. Needless to say this will be no-fly day #4.

Chris Gullikson, OM's amateur meteorologist, came on the line to advise what the weatherman has in store for tomorrow. The team is located on the northern edge of a moderate risk area of receiving severe weather. The area some way to the south of their location can expect high winds, large hail and the possibility of tornados. Where we are the call is for severe thunderstorms.

As we spoke, the ground crew was out checking on the birds. They are secure and in a protected spot in a small field. If we have any further news we’ll post it here.

Date: October 16, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Craniac Kids and Change4Cranes

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

Now that the migration is underway, many Craniac Kids throughout North America, like their adult counterparts, are following the progress of the Class of 2007 via our Field Journal and on Journey North.

The teachers and students enthusiasm for the Whooping crane project has extended to OM's Change4Cranes program, and as a result, we have thousands of Craniac Kids participating.

We still have a small quantity of Change4Crane kits left, so, if you, or your school or class are interested in joining in the fun, please get in touch.

The kits are free and we'll send them out to you within a day of your request. You can sign up for the Change4Cranes program by visiting the signup page, or you can contact heather@operationmigration.org for more information.

Date: October 16, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

No-Fly Day #3

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

Scorecard: Cranes and Planes 1, Weather 3.

While the winds were relatively calm this morning, visibility was limited due to mist and fog. Bev reported that everything was 'dripping'. It appears there might be a window of opportunity for a flight tomorrow, although Chris Gullikson, our resident meteorologist says, "As time passes it is growing smaller and smaller."

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
JUNEAU COUNTY

30,000,000 sets of the game "Trivial Pursuit" were manufactured in Elroy by Northern Plastics from 1983 to 1985.

Date: October 15, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

No-Fly Day #2

Location:

Main Office

Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

Scorecard: Cranes and Planes 1, Weather 2.

Rain showers coming and going, wind and skifts of fog kept everyone on the ground this morning. The weatherman is forecasting much the same for tomorrow, Tuesday, but although there's a chance of a break in the system on Wednesday it looks like the winds will be out of the south.

Bev told us the birds are all fine and doing well. On their agenda for today is some 'enrichment' in the form of pumpkins to play with.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
JUNEAU COUNTY
Juneau County is home to several well-known NASCAR drivers – The Sauters -  Father Jim and sons Jay, Tim and Johnny of Necedah, and Kelly Bires of Mauston.

New Lisbon-raised Marc Andreessen created the "Mosaic" web browser. It was the first commercial web browser to display both text and images in the same web page. Later it became the "Netscape Navigator", widely used until eclipsed by Microsoft's "Internet Explorer."

Date: October 14, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Photos

Location:

Wisconsin

Thanks to Vickie Henderson we have a few photos taken at yesterday's departure to share.
 View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: October 14, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Gerald Murphy

Subject:

My Other Life

Location:

Wisconsin

My 'other' life began Oct. 9th.

I have two lives. One I share with my wife Ann; two sons; four grandchildren; (recent grandson Hudson-one month old) a number of dear friends and family members; and a very black cat named Suzie. Once a year I enter this 'other' life for four great weeks with the crew and current crop of crane chicks of Operation Migration.

In this other life, the friends (and they are friends) are different, the environment is different, the focus is different-everything is different. That is why it is my other life. We live like nomads (heck, we are nomads), we eat wonderfully (when we get the chance), we work like crazy some of the time and sometimes are just as bored as can be.

I get up in the morning early, drive the pilots to where ever the ultralights are, rush back to camp, hook up the travel trailer, drive to he next stopover site (usually 50 to 75 driving miles away), unhook the trailer, set everything back up at the new camp, socialize with the hosts-who often have a great late luncheon laid out for us (we are about to starve as we almost never get to eat before we leave on fly days), then, think about and get ready for the next day.

What a life. I wouldn't trade either of them for anything!

Note: (Gerald has volunteered his time and talents to OM since 2004 and we don't want to think what we'd do without him.)

Date: October 14, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Launching OM Migration Trivia

Location:

Wisconsin

Welcome to the first of many bits of Trivia associated with the areas, places, events, and people past and present along the migration flyway. Many thanks to Vi White and Steve Cohen for the time and effort they're putting in to enlighten and entertain us.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
JUNEAU COUNTY
The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, located just 3 miles west of the town of Necedah, is part of the Great Central Wisconsin Swamp. Its 7,800 square miles not only encompass the state's largest wetland bog, but also extensive forest habitat (pine, oak, and aspen) and large tracts of rare oak savanna. Acres of open wetland impoundments provide cover for endangered, threatened and rare species, such as the whooping crane, Karner blue butterfly, and Blanding's turtle.

Whooping cranes from previous years' classes, now wild, share their ideal habitat at Necedah NWR with myriad other birds - Sandhill cranes, Canada geese and various ducks and other waterfowl. Beaver, coyote, turkey and whitetail deer are common, and recently several wolf packs entered the refuge from the north. Black bears also are sighted on or near the refuge more frequently than in the past.

150,000 visitors annually take the available walking and driving tours to marvel at the wildlife. Uncounted hundreds climb the observation tower to watch the whoopers-in-training fly by on their early flights.

Date: October 14, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Down Day #1 & Goodbye to Necedah

Location:

Wisconsin

Distance
Travelled

0 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

The second day of the migration is also Down Day #1. The team awoke to a light drizzle and wrong way winds that gradually picked up as lift off time approached. Forecasts for Monday and Tuesday aren't very promising, but we'll just have to take it one day at a time.

Goodbye Necedah!
With this yesterday's departure of cranes and planes we once again say farewell to the Necedah NWR and all our friends there, and, in the surrounding area. From Refuge Manager Larry Wargowsky right on down, there are so many people we'd like to thank, and for so many things, that we can’t list them all here – but they know who they are – and to each an every one goes our sincere gratitude.

The Refuge staff in particular should feel a sense of accomplishment for their part in what, due to weather and drought, has not been the easiest flight training summer. Although their partnering with us is over for this season, no doubt they will be tracking our progress southward along with tens of thousands of others.

So we say, 'So long and thanks for everything,' to the good folk at Necedah. 'See you next spring!'

Date: October 14, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Nathan Hurst

Subject:

Cue circus music... and… migrate

Location:

Wisconsin

We finally did it. It wasn't always pretty, but all 17 birds made it to our first stopover site yesterday. In the spirit (albeit a little early) of Halloween, I got to scare the daylights out of the birds as the official Swamp Monster of Operation Migration.

The Swamp Monster is a camouflage tarp that a handler dons once the pilots have taken off with the birds. If any decide to try to return to the pen, the Swamp Monster runs onto the runway flapping the tarp to discourage them from returning and to encourage them to return to and follow the pilot. As you might expect, it's pretty exciting.

Sure enough, I was called on within minutes of takeoff, and while the circus went on to the west, every time a group came towards me, I flapped my arms and jumped around. Though I may have looked ridiculous to anyone watching, it did the trick. Every time they got within a few hundred yards, they turned away. I must have been quite scary, if I do say so myself.

Unfortunately, all of the handlers were at pensite 1, and when several birds broke off the pack and flew off towards Site 2, there was nobody there to be Swamp Monster. So the pilots asked Bev to grab the tarp and drive around to help them on that end. Again, it worked like a charm.

So the circus progressed, and the remaining birds were gradually rounded up, until one decided to return to Site 1. Richard's voice came over the radio, becoming more agitated by the second.

"Hey guys," said Richard, "I think we got a bird headed for Site 1. We're gonna need the Swamp Monster."

"Um, Bev has it," I said.

"Well, do something! Drive the van out there or… something!" His voice had raised an octave or so.

"Well, Bev has the van too," replied Megan.

Our solution was to support a plastic bag between two fence stakes and wave it around to simulate a tarp. Not exactly in the protocol, but I won't tell if you won't. As it turns out, we didn't have to use it. Richard was able to get back in front of the errant chick and lead it south.

Now that I've witnessed my first leg of migration I have to wonder what the days ahead have in store. If this was any indication, I have to believe we'll be busy. We're off! Wish us luck.

Date: October 13, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

712 joins his buddies

Location:

Wisconsin

Distance
Travelled

4 miles

Accumulated
Distance

4 miles

With apparently great homing instinct, 712 had returned to his refuge pensite where Richard, assisted by the faithful and overworked this morning Swamp Monster (Bev) convinced him it was time to go. He is now with his 16 classmates at the first stopover. Great that everyone made it - and not one bird had to be crated. Way to go Team!!

Date: October 13, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Oops

Location:

Wisconsin

Apparently pilots are mathematically challenged. (grin) 16 of 17 chicks are in the pen at Stopover Site #1. 712 is still out there somewhere - the hunt is on.

Date: October 13, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

The 2007 Migration is officially underway!

Location:

Wisconsin

Joe was lead pilot this morning, but before long some birds broke off and he was down to fewer birds off his wing. Chris 'picked up' 3 birds and Brooke 4. More of the flight details will come later, but as of the first report received, 13 of the 17 chicks were safe and sound in the travel pen at our first stopover site. Yea!!

Richard is back at the refuge at Site 2 with three birds who returned there and that is where Bev is headed to play Swamp Monster and encourage them to take-off and with Richard and not return.

Bev said that at last word, 710 was still circling somewhere and the tracking van was on the hunt. It took at least 30 minutes of convincing to get the birds to go this morning, so today's field journal entry from the lead pilot (to come later today) should be very interesting.

Just in: 16 of the 17 birds are now at Stopover #1 and Richard is on his way leading the last one - 735.

With today's departure we say, "Goodbye Necedah!"
With this morning’s departure of cranes and planes we once again say goodbye to the Necedah NWR and all our friends there and in the surrounding area. From Refuge Manager Larry Wargowsky right on down, there are so many people we'd like to thank that we can’t list them all here – but they know who they are – and they have our sincere gratitude.

The Refuge staff in particular should feel a sense of accomplishment for their part in what, due to weather and drought, has not been the easiest flight training summer. Although their role is over for this season, no doubt they will be tracking our progress southward along with tens of thousands of others.

So to the good folks at Necedah we say, "So long and thanks for everything." See you next spring!

Date: October 13, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

What's New?

Location:

Wisconsin

Waiting for migration news? Why not take a moment and check out what's new on OM's merchandise page? New items recently added include key chains, jackets, bags, and much more. Dare we say it? December is just around the corner, so remember OM Gear when you start thinking about the gift giving season.

A Gift of Membership makes a perfect and thoughtful holiday gift for friends and co-workers – particularly those on your list whose endangered species awareness could use – shall we say – a little boost. Or, maybe you know they already care and they’d really enjoy some good reading; OM’s semi-annual magazine goes complimentary to all Members, and they are automatically put on the list to receive EarlyBird e-bulletin during migration. And, we’ll send you a gift card for each of your gift recipients so that you can let them know of your gift to them.

Thanks for your support!

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