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Date: November 30, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

THE INEFFECTIVE COUNCIL

Location: Washington Cty, KY
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

It was 24.2 degrees this morning. Cold as a witch's heart. As the sky turned from gun-metal blue to orange, we pushed our aircraft out of a borrowed hangar, leaving tracks in the frosty grass. We stuffed heat packs into our gloves and boots and buttoned everything down before we took off with every expectation on moving to the next stop.

Weather predictions are as reliable as fortune cookies when it comes to ultralight-led migration. Winds on the surface are gathered from data collection points and accessible on the Internet. You can look at all the ones close to you and estimate the conditions in your area. Speeds are recorded on anemometer (those little three cup, spinney things) so they are fairly accurate. This morning they were forecast to be 1 mile per hour. And that’s pretty much what happened.

Winds aloft are another animal. The ones that concern us are lower level winds at 1000 and 3000 feet. They can be estimated by looking at the pressure gradient to see how fast the air would be moving from a high to a low system. Or, they can come from pilot reports given to flight stations over the radio by pilots actually flying in the area. The problem is that most are charging along at 300 knots. While the difference between 10 and 20 miles per hour means nothing to them, it means everything to us.

Winds aloft today were predicted at 5mph out of the south. That’s a headwind for us but not insurmountable. It would take longer to get there, but better an extra hour in the air, than a day on the ground. So we drove to the hangar, pushed out our airplanes, and one by one, took off into the cold, perfectly smooth air.

A meteorologist can spend years studying weather patterns. He can have all the technology at his fingertips from Doppler radar imaging to on-site data collection; even all the King’s horses and all the King’s men, but he can’t be as accurate as actually being there. So the old adage is true. If you want something done right, do it your self. And that’s what we do most mornings. We take off and fly in the same direction we plan to lead the birds and at the same speed. Then we look at the GPS to see how fast we are moving over the ground.

This morning, on this seemingly perfect day with the sun shining and no excuse in the world for not leaving, we climbed through a thousand feet making 17 miles an hour. Our headwind was 20mph or better, and the time-to-destination reading was 2 hours and 44 minutes. We only carry three hours of fuel, leaving very little margin if the conditions got worse. Staying low, out of the headwind, was not an option. We would have to climb the birds to at least a thousand feet to clear the ridge by a hundred.

We hung in the air like four little kites, stationary on our strings, while we stared at the numbers trying to wish them higher. Over the radio we discussed our options, or lack of them, like a bunch of consultants, each reluctant to state the obvious.

We heard from the ground crew at the pensite 4 miles to the north, waiting patiently with their fingers crossed. Brian Clauss in the tracking van talked to us from his position on the hill, ready to follow from below. The top cover pilots checked in from the airport, prepared to launch on our word, and Walter Sturgeon offered encouragement from the hangar below us.

And there we were, like a council of ineffective governors whose decision had already been made for them. We had the will and the resources, but not an ounce of authority. Over the radio we polled the team, and then made the official call, like a rubber stamp on a ruling already passed. We landed, pushed our aircraft back in the hangar, and headed back to the trailers, our spirits as grounded as our trikes.

When we arrived back at camp our landowner host was holding a fence post. With a twinkle in his eye he offered it to us in case we wanted to put up a mail box.

Date: November 30, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

PERSISTENCE, PERSEVERANCE, & A LOT OF PATIENCE,

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Where were we in previous years on November 30th?

year

county/state location

day#

2001

Gilchrist County, FL

45

2002

Chassahowitzka NWR, FL

49

2003

Gordon County, GA

46

2004

Walker County, GA

52

2005

Gordon County, GA

48

2006

Cumberland County, TN

57

2007

Washington County, KY

49


Updating an 'old' entry

the good news: The Class of 2007 has logged 555.5 of 1,260 migration miles and are 44% of the way to their Florida wintering grounds.
the not so good news: So far, only 731.75 of their 1,260 migration miles have MileMaker sponsors - the equivalent of just 58% of the funding needed to get them all they way there. That means MileMaker will run out of steam les than 10 miles south of the Tennessee/Georgia state line.

Please - if you enjoy following the migration and reading our Field Journal but haven't yet opened your heart and your wallet – now is the time.

We need 528 people to sponsor one mile; or, 1056 people to sponsor a half mile; or, 2,112 people to sponsor a quarter mile, (or any combination of the above of course.)

An estimated 330,000,000+ people share the continent with the endangered Whopping crane. We need only 500 out of those hundreds of millions to step forward and help us safeguard the future of the species.

Date: November 30, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

PERSISTENCE, PERSEVERANCE, & A LOT OF PATIENCE,

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Over the last few days we probably covered 3 to 4 thousand miles searching for 733. Liz and Chris at head office received countless emails and phone calls. We logged 15 hours in the air; used several days worth of cell phone minutes; and couldn't begin to count the man-hours. We had the support of hundreds of people, chased down dozens upon dozens of leads; and ate way too much fast food. All of this in an effort to retrieve one bird - albeit a very important one.

Like his 16 flock mates, 733 represents the 2007 generation; one part of a huge effort to safeguard a species that we humans drove to the edge of extinction. Maybe the message is getting out to a larger audience, but certainly for us, this bird symbolizes optimism in a time when our environmental future is so uncertain - a time when none of us knows what we, as individuals, can do to slow the onset of global warming. With all the forecasts of catastrophic change, turning down our thermostats and recycling cans seems like such a tiny finger in such a large dike.

For us at least, trying to save Whooping cranes, or even one Whooping crane, is a way of atoning for our conservation sins. We are part of the generation that made the biggest mess of things. Our environmental indulgences will impact our children and their children, and this, for us, is a way of making amends, of cleaning up after ourselves - like making the bed before we leave. Based on the overwhelming support we have experienced here in Indiana and Kentucky it is not an uncommon sentiment

Today is Day 49 of the 2007 migration and it's another down day. The wind is blowing strongly from the south - BUT we have all of our birds. It takes persistence, perseverance, and A LOT of patience to save a species.

Date: November 30, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 49

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

With nothing short of perfect conditions on the surface, the pilots headed for their trikes to prepare for a flight this morning. Fooled again. Winds at altitude precluded any thoughts of a flight today.

Joe said he calculated that with the velocity of the wind - even assuming they could fly into it - it would take almost 3 hours of hard work for the birds to make it to our next stopover. And that didn't take into account any potential time for a 'crane rodeo'.

The team will spend a fifth day on the ground in Washington County, KY.


2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Washington County, KY
Five roads converge in Bear Wallow, named for a small depression where bears came to wallow in a mud hole. Outside of town there is a four-acre corn maze with trails that seen from the air, look like a cartoon bear.

All-star baseball pitcher Paul Derringer (1906-1987) was born in Springfield. He pitched for several major league teams and notched 223 wins in his career (1931-1945). In 1958 he was named a founding inductee to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Date: November 29, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Timing is Everything

Location: Washington Cty, KY
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

One of the amazing things about the recovery of 733 was the timing. Susan Knowles of Muscatatuck NWR reported a credible sighting near Seymour. That came early in the morning giving us time to mobilize the crew. Arthur Mayer of Scottsburg, IN sent us a photo of our bird confirming we were headed in the right direction.

Sara Zimorski from ICF was tracking with the pilot from Windway Capital and happened to be passing the right place at just at the right time to get a signal. They broke off for fuel allowing them time to call Richard van Heuvelen who mobilized our top cover team, and Dave Mattingly, Jack Wrighter and Richard were airborne in time to take over.

They tracked the bird long enough for the ground crew to pick up the signal from below. Bev Paulan and Brian Clauss drove all the back roads in the tracking van while Brooke Pennypacker and I followed in the truck to back them up.

When the top cover team needed to refuel, they landed at Addington Airport. They taxied to the ramp just as Tom Miller and Walter Sturgeon pulled up with a load of fresh fuel in jerry cans.

When the ground crew lost the signal in the hills near Big Springs, the top cover aircraft was back on station and able to direct us to the field of a local dairy farmer who just happened to be in his milking parlour and able to give us permission to drive onto his property.

Everything seemed to fall into place - except we wish the retrieval would have happened five days ago. Timing is everything.

Date: November 29, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

The Hunt for 733! From Top Cover Perspective

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

You'll enjoy this entry authored by top cover pilot, Jack Wrighter.

It all began the first day Dave Mattingly and I joined OM to provide top cover for the migrating cranes and ultralight aircraft. I flew my Cessna 172 up from Tennessee, and Dave drove up from Georgia in his SUV, which provided us with ground transportation.

When I arrived at a private grass strip near Shelbyville, KY, I was informed that 733 was lost. Richard, Joe and I installed tracking antennas on the struts of my airplane, and Richard and I took off late in the afternoon to look for the bird. We flew over likely areas until darkness forced us to abandon the search until the following day.

The next morning was clear and calm. Bev joined Richard and I to continue the search. We took off and flew north, back-tracking the route, thinking 733 may have gone back to the known territory. Zigzagging and circling over the last two stops provided no results for this day.

The following 3 days provided marginal weather, but good enough to launch the Cessna and continue the search. We covered all areas we thought this bird could have gone.

As search day #6 dawned, Dave, Richard, Bev and I were pretty tired of flying over the same areas day after day with absolutely no results. Discouraged, we hoped 733 may have teamed with migrating Sandhill cranes or struck out on his own.

On search day #6, we had almost decided not to fly when we received the call reporting a sighting of a crane about 50 miles north of our location. Dave, Richard and I took off in the plane while Brian and Bev left in the tracking van. Brooke and Joe jumped in one truck and Walter and Tom in another truck.

We flew north over Louisville and Richard picked up 733’s signal. With much appreciated help from Louisville air traffic controllers, we were able to start a grid search from there toward the reported sighting area. After following the signal for 1½ hours, Richard shouted, “I’ve got him!” We looked off the left wing and there he was, flying with a group of Sandhills. We reported our position to the ground crew and they stepped on the gas headed our way.

We circled overhead slowly, Richard and Dave keeping visual contact with the bird, while I flew the airplane. We hoped 733 would land somewhere. But almost two hours later he was still flying and we were getting a low fuel warning in the aircraft.

With about 45 minutes of fuel remaining we reluctantly abandoned the search to refuel. We flew to the nearest small airport where Walter and Tom met us with gas. A quick fuel stop and we were back in the air. But now the sun was sinking and we feared we might not find the bird again before dark.

We contacted Bev and Brian in the tracking van. They said they were picking up a signal so we flew to their location and began a grid scan, circling over a farm. Richard then got a strong signal on his scanner and asked me to circle over a small pond.

After the third circle, Richard again shouted, “I’ve got him. He is on the ground next to the pond.” With Richard and Dave fixated visually on 733, I continued to fly a tight circle overhead while the others closed in on the ground.

Bev, Brooke and Joe donned their crane costumes and cautiously approached the bird. From the air, it looked like 733 was happy to see “Mom and Pop” again, as he walked right up to them. 733 IS BACK!! The report went out and the cheering began. I cannot remember a time when I have had such a great feeling of satisfaction and content.

As we headed back to the airport we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and the magnificent display of lights from the little towns and villages passing below. After landing, Dave, Richard and I tucked my airplane into a hangar and walked back to our temporary home in the terminal, high-fiving and grinning from ear to ear. And we knew our grins were no larger than the rest of the rescue team’s and everyone else’s involved in this effort.

Bone tired and hungry, I smiled, and thought, "Life is good."

Date: November 29, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Wood Buffalo-Aransas Whooping Crane Population Update

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

On an aerial census conducted November 27, Tom Stehn, Whooping crane coordinator at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, reported a record breaking number of Whooping cranes present.

Having located a total of 257 cranes, (220 adults and 37 chicks) Tom estimated that about 97% of the population had completed migration, with 4 to 8 still in the western flyway. "Four Whooping cranes have been confirmed in the flyway in the past few days,” he said, “so the addition of these cranes would bring the estimated size of the flock to 261."

The survey, conducted in a Cessna 210 piloted by Gary Ritchey of Air Logistic Solutions of San Antonio, Texas was done by Tom Stehn and Darrin Welchert.

"The Whoopers in the flyway include one bird in Saskatchewan sighted November 24; two cranes sighted at Cheyenne Bottoms WMA, Kansas November 26; and one juvenile sighted with Sandhill cranes at Muleshoe NWR in West Texas on the 27th," said Tom. "Additional birds may turn out to be one crane seen in the farm fields just southwest of Aransas on November 24, and one seen in the rice country north of Welder Flats on November 17. However, until these last two single birds are sighted again, it cannot be known if they have moved to the traditional salt marsh wintering area at Aransas and were counted on this census flight."

Tom estimated that 16 Whooping cranes arrived since the last flight made on November 17th. He noted that, "A very strong cold front that hit the Texas coast the evening of November 21st brought excellent migration conditions to Aransas for 4 days and allowed the additional cranes to get to Aransas."

Stehn said that the estimated population size of 261 is a result of the excellent production of 40 juveniles which were sighted on the nesting grounds in August. "With 37 juveniles at Aransas and 1 in West Texas, survival of the juveniles since August has been excellent," he said.

He also noted that adult survival has been good as well. Mortality of white-plumaged cranes between spring and fall, 2007 being at most, 13 birds. "This is calculated by taking the spring flock size (236), adding the number of juveniles that made it to Texas (38), and subtracting the current estimated flock size (261). In the past two years, mortality between spring and fall has been above average and totaled over 20 birds each year."

"There could have been crane movements during our survey that resulted in a duplicate count involving a few birds," cautioned Tom.

"A family group of 1 adult + 1 chick was found this week south of Pringle Lake on Matagorda Island. Previously, this grouping had been sighted on the refuge and at Welder Flats. I’m speculating that the single adult is a female that lost her mate after nesting and unable so far to defend a territory and thus is moving around considerably. A 2-adult family group was present in front of the refuge's observation tower where the 1+1 grouping had been last week."

Date: November 29, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 48

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

The OM Migration Team will have a day to recover from the days of searching for 733 - not to mention have a shower and maybe even find a laundromat so they don't have to keep 'turning the outside to the inside'. LOL. Warmer temps and overcast skies this morning, but neither the winds on the surface nor aloft are favorable for a flight today. Joe told us, "The winds are strong and gusty - even blowing our trailer back and forth."

We don't know of course what tomorrow or the next day holds in store for us weather/wind-wise, but those of you who hope to go to the Russell County departure viewing at the Wolf Creek Hatchery will want to keep a close eye here. Once we reach Russell County, if at all possible – and I stress the words if possible, we will try to give you some indication the evening before if we think we might be able to take off for Tennessee - and there may be a departure viewing opportunity. Remember – we said we'd try - we're not making any promises.

In our exuberance and our anxiousness to thank every one yesterday we missed mentioning John Belski of WAVE3 News. John has been keeping everyone updated on the progress of the search via his "Belski's Blog". Hope we can be forgiven for not being able to acknowledge many of you personally. You know who you are. Please know you have the gratitude of all of us at OM and thousands of Craniacs across the country.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Washington County, KY
Thanks to Kathy Miner from Wisconsin for this little known fact about Abraham Lincoln. He was the only US President to hold a patent. US Patent#6469 was issued on March 10th, 1849 for a system of chambers designed to re-float boats that had run aground. What we don't know is if shipbuilders ever utilized it.

In the lead-up to the July 27, 2007 release of "The Simpsons Movie," 20th Century Fox  held a contest to choose one of a number of towns named Springfield (home of the Simpsons) to host the premiere of the film. Springfield, Kentucky was the smallest of these towns and, to overcome the population difference, the mayor of nearby Louisville asked his city's 1.4 million residents to vote for their neighboring city. The effort failed and the premiere was awarded to Springfield, Vermont, with Springfield, Kentucky finishing fifth in the voting.

Date: November 28, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

FOUND!

Location: Main Office

Oh joy! Oh Bliss! 733 is on his way to join his mates in the Class of 2007. If these past five days haven’t been 'edge of seat drama', I sure don't know what is!

When Bev telephoned with the news, I knew, before she told me, that they had found 733. The stress, fatigue, and frustration that I'd heard in her voice on each call over the past 5 days was gone. I could 'hear' her ear to ear smile as clear as a bell.

She had moved away from the tracking van so she could speak without 733 hearing her. I'm not sure she’d moved far enough away however – he may have heard my "Whoop Whoop". As we spoke, Joe and Brian were loading the crate containing 733 into the rear compartment for the drive over to our Washington County pensite.

Trying to describe the retrieval scene for me, Bev said, "Picture the trees silhouetted against a peach and pink sunset. Top cover circled above maintaining a visual of 733 and his position on the ground. With their help, and the sounds of lowing of cows growing louder and louder, Brian and Joe in their costumes walked off through a farmer's field toward 733's location.

They found the young chick standing in a small area of water across the fence from a group of cows. Joe and Brian had to coax the cows out of the way as they made their way over to 733. They said he was, "peeping like crazy". Not sure if he was awfully glad to see them or was giving them heck for taking so long to find him.

In short order 733 was in one of our specially designed crates, and two elated crew carried him back across the field and out to where they had left the tracking van out of sight.

Today was quite an adventure for both 733 and the trackers. After this morning's confirmed sighting near Scottsburg, IN, he was also sighted back up near Muscatatuck NWR, and was finally retrieved near Big Spring, KY, about 50 miles to the southwest of where he began his wandering today. Earlier today the trackers in the air had seen him soaring on thermals with some Sandhills, but when he was found he was all alone.

We are going to have one heck of a time thanking everyone who has helped us with this escapade. To the hundreds and hundreds who have called and emailed to report sightings of 733, we say a huge ‘Thank YOU’ for taking the time to contact us. I have never answered so many phone calls in my life - on average about one every 3 minutes for the past two days! (And I apologize to the many who left messages and I could not get back to.)

Special thanks to Arthur Mayer of Scottsburg, IN who even managed to get this photograph to the right when 733 landed on his property. And to John Castrale from the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife who raced to the scene and got us pointed in the right direction. Our top cover pilots from Touch our Planet, Dave Mattingly and Jack Wrighter both deserve some kind of medal. Even Windway Capital’s plane and pilot joined the action to assist and we want to thank them too.

Kudos have to go to the media, especially Joe Arnold of WHAS TV and Jim Bruggers of the Louisville Courier-Journal. Without them getting the word out we never would have had the leads and the assistance that came to us. Thank you so very much! To the left is the "Missing Poster" created by Joe from WHAS.

Lastly, thanks to all of OM's migration crew. Talk about persistence and perseverance! Chris and I sure wish we were there to celebrate with you and give each of you the all-time biggest hug!

Remember the theme song to Gilligan's Island? Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a five day trip, that started behind an ultralight and ended with a radio blip. Hopefully the crew will fill in more details of the 'tale' in a posting tomorrow.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: November 28, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

FOUND!

Location: Main Office

Minutes ago, (5:45pm) Bev called with the news that they had found 733. As soon as I stop dancing and my heart stops pounding I'll post another entry with some details.

Date: November 28, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Doubling Opportunity

Location: Main Office

If you’ve been reading our Field Journal and following the progress of the 2007 migration - but have never been a MileMaker – here's an opportunity for you to make a big impact.

Supporters, Mr. & Mrs. 'J' want to issue a challenge to OM's Field Journal readers who have never before been a MileMaker sponsor. The couple will match new MileMaker sponsorships – whether ¼, ½, or 1 mile - up to a total of 5 miles. So c'mon all you 'never before MileMakers', this is your chance to double the value of your contribution.

This challenge comes from two Colorado Craniacs who wish to remain anonymous. They told us, "We would just like to see Whooping cranes in the wild someday."

Date: November 28, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 47

Location: Main Office

Bev reported clear skies and calm conditions on the surface this morning so the pilots headed for their trikes which are stored about 5 miles away from the pensite.

They tried - but once aloft they again faced a plus 15mph headwind and had to declare it a no-go. The entire team will now be convening this morning to re-formulate the plan for the search for 733.

We are still being deluged with calls reporting possible sightings. Unfortunately, the majority are ones that occurred some sometime ago.

At this point, with the tracking team having traversed much of Indiana and Kentucky several times – both in the air and on the ground, only current sightings are of help. In order to have even a remote chance of tracking 733, sightings have to be 'fresh', that is, less than a couple of hours old.

Date: November 28, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Canada's Whooping Crane Recovery Plan

Location: Main Office

Brian Johns, Wildlife Biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, and co-chair of the International Whooping Crane Recovery team advised that the Recovery Strategy for the Whooping Crane in Canada has been finalized.

"It was a long time in the making," said Brian," and I want to thank all those who have contributed to the Canadian Recovery Strategy and the International Recovery Plan. Your contributions towards Whooping crane recovery are greatly appreciated."

A link to the document can also be found on OM’s Site Map under 'Important Documents'.

Date: November 27, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Last Departure Flyover Viewing Opportunity in KY is coming up

Location: Main Office

Take advantage of a great wildlife viewing opportunity as we make our way from Washington County to Russell County, Kentucky and the on to Tennessee. The USFWS staff at the Wolf Creek Dam National Fish Hatchery and Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources will host the Departure Flyover Viewing at the Hatchery as we depart Russell County.

Meet in the hatchery parking lot at 6:30AM the morning of the flight, but be sure to check the local weather forecast as our ability to fly on any given morning is entirely dictated by weather conditions.

The Lake Cumberland Trail is part of the Watchable Wildlife and Birding Trails Across Eastern and Western Kentucky. Take advantage of these attractions while you are in the area:
- Check out the new education wing at the Hatchery and meet their education staff, tour the hatchery where USFWS raises rainbow trout and brown trout for release in the waters of Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. The hatchery produces over 1,000,000 trout annually.
- Stay overnight at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park and Lure Lodge and enjoy the scenic beauty of Lake Cumberland. Interpretive programs are offered year round by the park’s naturalist.
- Planning on staying longer? Make your way to Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park. Enjoy 15 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Overnight accommodations are available at Mary Ray Oaken Lodge.


Click here for more details about the Lake Cumberland Trail.

Date: November 27, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Almost Too Much Help

Location: Washington Cty, KY
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

We have special tracking antennas designed by an aviation company fitted to the struts of our top cover aircraft. The air time and piloting skills are all donated by Jack Wrighter who volunteers his aircraft and time to help us get our birds south. He estimated the number of hours it would take to accomplish that task, but that didn't include searching for 733.

So far he has logged and additional 10 hours and he’s willing to go again if we have a sighting worth pursuing. We have checked most of south-eastern Indiana and a good part of Kentucky. That same area has been searched from the ground and so far we have not heard even a single beep from 733's transmitter.

WHAS TV from Louisville broadcast the story in hope that their audience would help us find him. They followed that up with a description of Blue herons, Sandhill cranes and Whooping cranes. James Bruggers of the Louisville Courier-Journal also did a superb story. It ran as the centerpiece on their local news section in the newspaper and you can click the link above to read the web version.

We are very grateful because the coverage generated some credible leads,  but either the bird in question was gone by the time we got there, or it wasn't our bird in the first place. Most people have never seen a Whooping crane so it not surprising that we had a few odd sightings reported.

One gentleman told us he saw our bird golfing on Sunday. We assume he meant he was golfing when he saw a bird, but it made us chuckle. People from Kentucky and Indiana are conservation minded because so many of them have called us with places for us to check.

Our problem now is following up on all the leads. Operation Migration is a small organization with three people working in a basement office. We have one phone line and it has not stopped ringing. Many are calls from well meaning people who are not normally bird watchers, but this story of a lost bird has touched something in them and they want to help. We have chased a plastic heron in a backyard pond and several white plastic bags waving on a distant fence line, but so far no 733.

We can't keep up with all the calls, and unfortunately won't be able to answer most of them.

If you see what you think is our bird in flight it won't help us because he obviously won't be there when we arrive. And, if you just saw something unusual please hold off calling until you can give us a good description. We are very grateful for all the support, and are sorry that we can't follow up on every lead. We are overwhelmed by offers of help and the generosity of all you folks from Indiana and Kentucky. Thank you all.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: November 27, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 46

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Weather has the migration team stuck on the ground in Washington County, KY again today. They will take advantage of their inability to progress to do more searching for missing bird #733. Bev is flying with top cover this morning to do a sweep of all the areas where recent sightings have been reported. Also armed with telemetry equipment, the rest of the team continues to drive the roads searching from the ground.

733 dropped out of the migration leg flight being flown from Jackson County, IN to Shelby County, KY on Friday, November 23rd. We have received literally hundreds of reports of sightings and the team has been/is checking them out.

Should you spot a large, white and cinnamon colored bird (wearing a green leg band) either flying or on the ground, please call
1-800-675-2618 or 1-905-718-1034 immediately so we can notify trackers right away go to get to the location.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Washington County, KY
In Springfield, the seat of Washington County, the Courthouse contains records dating from the 1790s. The most important of these is the marriage certificate of President Abraham Lincoln's parents, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks. The courthouse is the oldest still in use in Kentucky.

Just 4 miles from Springfield is the home built in 1797 by Mordecai Lincoln, an uncle of the President. It is the only remaining residence to have been owned and occupied by a member of the President's family that is still standing on its original site.

At Lincoln Homestead State Park you can go walking on the same paths walked by a young Abraham Lincoln.

Date: November 26, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 45

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Warmer temps in Washington County, KY this morning, but winds out of the SSW and rain with isolated thunder storms in the forecast mean the migration will not advance to Russell County, KY today.

Late last night we received a lead on a possible sighting of 733 and the team was on it to follow up before daylight. Unfortunately it turned out to be a Great Blue Herron.

With the weather today, nothing will be flying - neither planes or birds - so the team is again back-tracking on the ground and following up on leads as they come in.

For spotters - 733's plumage is still mostly cinnamon color with some white and he is wearing only one green leg band. Please call us immediately with any potential sightings. 1-800-675-2618 or 1-905-718-1034.


2007 Migration Trivia compliments of
Hugh Grundy, of Springfield, KY
Washington County, KY
Just a few hills over is Lincoln state park and golf course. In the park is the log cabin (rebuilt) where Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, President Lincoln’s parents, were married in 1806.

Valley Hill Store which closed in 2006 was built by the Grundy family on their farm in 1886 in anticipation of the first railroad to Washington County/Springfield.

Date: November 26, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Searching for 733

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Thanks to Lori Trout of Louisville, KY for this link to a local newscast video clip. The video shows the cranes and planes flying and an interview with Joe about the missing 733. Click here to go to WHAS-TV and newscaster Joe Arnold.

Date: November 25, 2007 - Entry 6 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Searching for 733

Location: Washington Cty, KY
Distance
Traveled
48.6 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

As you can imagine the last few days have been hectic.

Our volunteer top cover pilots, Dave Mattingly and Jack Wrighter from the non-profit Touch Our Planet, have been airborne for many hours. Chris and Richard have tracked in the trikes, and our three ground vehicles have crisscrossed two states.

Everywhere we drive, we run with antennas attached and receivers tuned. Every trip, even if only to get gas, is regularly interrupted by detours to check on suspicious beeps. The WECP Tracking Team has been informed and they have added 733's frequency to the list. They will include him in the scan as they follow the migration.

Even today, while our top cover pilots were monitoring our flight to Washington County, they broke away to investigate a promising signal. So far our search has not been successful.

If we don’t find 733, he will be the first bird we have ever lost. Several have dropped out, but all of them have been retrieved the same day, except 615 last migration who was found after two days.

We focused most our search in the area where the bird was last seen and we have back-tracked at least four stops of the route. Now we will look ahead in case he found some Sandhills and followed them to Hiwassee. If we find him there, the question becomes, do we bring him back here and make him fly the route again, or, leave him there until we arrive? That would depend on how long it takes us to get to Hiawassee. Leaving him in the company of Sandhills might make it difficult to retrieve him, and retrieving him is our ultimate goal.

We have too much invested in this bird to risk a direct release. If he is repatriated we know we can get him to the Chassahowitzka pen in Florida. If he becomes a direct release, we can’t be sure where he will winter, and long term association with Sandhills at this stage in life may cause problems when he reaches breeding age.

If 733 can't be found and recovered, he will automatically become a direct release bird, which does not mean he will be a compete loss. But he dropped out a few times already and there are gaps in his knowledge of the route. His chances of getting back to Necedah and being a viable member of the population are better with his flock mates in the Class of 2007, than alone in the wild or with Sandhills.

We could pen him there if we had staff to monitor him, but leaving him with the wild Sandhills is likely not the answer.

Date: November 25, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Bev Paulan

Subject:

It's all in the perspective

Location: Washington Cty, KY
Distance
Traveled
48.6 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Having been a pilot for over half my life has given me a unique perspective on life. A perspective that I have come to find reassuring, and one that has contributed to who I am as person.

When I took this job, I voluntarily grounded myself to be able to participate in this worthy project. However, and there is always a ‘however’, I do miss spending a good part of my week in the air. Being grounded I have lost that perspective and I feel lost a times.

When one is flying, one is unconcerned with life below. There is no room for everyday worries and troubles. One has to concentrate on juggling the physicality of flying with a very vigilant watch for traffic and monitoring of systems. The altitude gives life the perspective we all so desperately need, and that is the sense of smallness of everything.

Viewed from above, one can see the pattern of the landscape -whether the layout of city blocks or plowed fields. When you can see the pattern and the seeming insignificance of things, problems seem that way also. Being a pilot has given me the ability to put life, and the trials and tribulations found therein, into the proper perspective; the small stuff – and everything is ‘small stuff’.

Since starting this job I have lost that perspective. I have felt lost not being able to see the pattern and size of things. I, in turn, am the one who seems insignificant, and life seems too big. Luckily today, I regained some of that perspective. Today was my first day of flying in the top cover plane. Since we are all very concerned with trying to find 733, I offered to ride in the backseat and track for that bird while our volunteer pilots flew and observed the trikes.

When I showed up at the airport this morning I discovered I was to both track and observe. As we started the plane, the trikes slowly came into sight and we were afforded the best view of the day as Richard flew right over the field with 15 chicks trailing behind. Once the trikes, pilots, and their charges were at a safe distance, Jack glided the plane off the turf runway, and the curtain rose on one of the best days I have had on this job.

In no time at all we had all the trikes with all chicks in view. As chicks shifted from one trike to another, and the pilots did their dance trying to keep all following, I felt I was looking at one of those pictures you have to stare at just the right way to see the hidden image. It took a few moments and a few shifts of focus but then the trikes popped clearly into view against the background and I was ready to roll.

Joe was having the hardest time with his five chicks, and when it was obvious that Richard with Chris in chase position had their birds under control, we got back to keeping our eye on Joe. When one of his chicks decided to turn back, he gave him up for the good of the other four. He radioed me saying, “He’s yours now,” and continued on his way.

We dropped back, floated down, and thanks to Jack’s excellent flying skills, we kept the little guy in our sight at all times. It soon became obvious that this little one was not happy being on his own, and when he realized ‘Daddy crane’ was not going to play chase, he quickly turned and tried to catch up.

I alerted Joe and kept a running commentary on where the chick was in relation to him and the four birds he had on his wing. Joe slowed to his slowest safe speed, and after about 20 minutes, the chick caught up to him and immediately found that sweet spot on the wing and seemingly gratefully glided on the vortex. After we exchanged high five’s in the plane we set up to fly wide lazy circles around Joe to keep an eye on the wayward chick just in case.

As the miles unfolded below us I had the opportunity to really see a flight. This was a view I had never had of the trikes and chicks; one from above. They looked so fragile against the increasing rugged terrain and unbelievably beautiful. Man and nature in tandem working as one.

Just as I thought things couldn’t get anymore beautiful, Joe crossed a reservoir and suddenly one trike became two, and five chicks ten, as their image was perfectly reflected in the mirror-like surface of the water.

Tears came to my eyes as the realization hit of how incredible this whole project is, and how lucky I am to be a part of it.

What a gift perspective can be.

Date: November 25, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Richard van Heuvelen

Subject:

Lead Pilot's update

Location: Washington Cty, KY
Distance
Traveled
48.6 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

When we landed at Shelby County, KY two days ago without 733 our work had just begun.

While some of the ground crew searched for him, the rest drove down to join up with the pilots. When they arrived we decided to send some crew to help search, and others to go set up the pen at the next stop.

After rigging up an antenna on my trike, Chris and I also headed north in our trikes. Without a receiver and head set I was unable to communicate with everyone else, so Chris flew along behind me to communicate for me to both ground crew and any conflicting air traffic, making the flight much safer. Mile after mile we headed north, circling every few miles hopping to hear the little beep, beep, beep of  733 ’s transmitter. Crossing the river we saw Brian in the tracking van down below so I landed in a field next to him so in order to get a clearer plan.

After a quick conversation, off we went heading north again with Brian in pursuit on the ground. A long time later with not even a sound or clue as to 733’s whereabouts, I landed in a farm field. Knowing we needed to regroup Chris landed as well. He informed me that Brian had purchased fuel and he was nearby.

Within minutes Brian was on the scene and we added more fuel to our trikes. This gave us the opportunity to fly all the way to Muscatatuck Refuge - thinking perhaps 733 went back to the last familiar stop. But it was not to be. We circled the refuge a few times and heard nothing. It was time to head back before we ran out of fuel and day light.

We continued this routine for the flight back, taking a slightly different course, but to no avail. Still nothing. Finally, with daylight and fuel running, low self preservation took over and we made a bee-line for camp. After landing we were informed that our top cover replacements had arrived and had  just finished installing our aircraft tracking antennas. So still shivering after the cold long flight I grabbed the receiver from my trike and headed off to join up with Jack Wrighter, our new top cover pilot in his Cessna 172.

We were soon airborne and hoping to cover some ground before it got too dark. It’s much more efficient to track with this type of aircraft because you can cover a lot of ground much quicker. But still nothing!!! After six and a half hours of flying various aircraft trying to find one lost bird I gained new respect for the tracking crew who spend as much as ten hours a day for a month tracking the adult cranes during fall migration. Cold, tired, and sore, I crawled into bed at ten o’clock. Tomorrow we would try again.

Saturday, the 24th dawned a cool crisp nice morning. We would fly the cranes today while Bev would fly with Jack and attempt to find 733. Well - plans changed. Four trikes took off only to be turned back by unexpected head winds and four oversells. The pilots sheepishly put their trikes away. Then, Jack, Bev and I headed off to once again try to find our wayward 733. The rest of the crew divided up into three groups and attempted to track from the ground, all heading off for different areas to search.

Today proved just as frustrating as yesterday. We flew all the way back to our stop in Morgan County, circling every few miles. Nothing, nothing!! Jack informed us of his low fuel situation so it was time to head back. We took a different route back, still filled with hope. When we got back to the river we had time to circle around down the river before flying back to refuel. With daylight and hope  failing once again it was time wrap it up.

After searching for 733 for two days we decided to make an attempt for the next stop in Washington County KY. Although there was a headwind, it was too fine a morning not to try. Chris went up to test the winds and came back with a report of calm stable air and a headwind, but with only 39 miles to our next stop it was doable with an ETA of 1.5 hours.

We rolled out the other three trikes and we were off. While the three other pilots continued to test the air I landed at the pen site where the efficient ground crew was ready. I turned on the vocalizer and at my quick hand signal, the panels were swung wide and fifteen birds were off and one on the wing. 721 lagged behind in the pen to be escorted out for Joe to pick up.

Making a wide smooth arc we came on course with fifteen birds strung out off my right wing. After a few minutes of slow climbing the chicks became distracted and began to turn back, so the process of rounding them up shifted to high gear. The end result was Joe with five birds, Brooke with one, and myself with ten. And then the headwind battle began. Chris, free of birds, climbed to find the faster air, which turned out to be at around 1200 feet AGL. So up we slowly climbed finding a headwind of 7miles per hour and smooth air.

As we progressed the head wind slowly increased and our ETA of 1.5 hours seemed not to change. However the miles slowly ticked away and eventually we were within ten miles of our destination. Pulling the bar in to gain speed and maintain a slow decent, we began to make headway. The wind seemed to be picking up however, and we lost ground speed instead of gaining. Having come this far the birds seemed to understand that they would be better off following the trike and cooperated extremely well.

After a very long flight for just 39 miles to go we were circling the pen to land. Chris zoomed in below and landed first to attract the chicks down. Again they seemed to know what was good for them and they landed before I could. On my approach, one chick cut in front of me so I had to accelerate and climb out over him. As all the birds landed I continued to climb out leaving Chris on the ground with ten birds. Brooke and Joe were coming over the horizon to join him, so I headed off to find hangar space for the trikes.

With thunder storms and high winds coming in to the area so it was desirable to have the trikes inside. There was a private strip just five miles away so it was worth a try as most aviators are happy to have some one land on their strip. I flew over and landed. And sure enough I was greeted by very friendly people (names with held for privacy) who were eager to help. In short order we had hangar space.

With a huge worry off our minds I climbed back into my trike to fly back and let the other pilots know were they could seek shelter from the storm. By the smiles on their faces when they landed I could tell they were just as relieved as I was. Thank you so much to the hangar owners and neighbor who were of so much help. Off we went to regroup and try to sort out the wayward number 733.

Date: November 25, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Love to hear from you, but....

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
48.6 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Between folks emailing to inquire about viewing opportunities and whether or not 733 has been found, my inbox is now groaning with more than 1,600 new emails.

Please know we are grateful for your care, concern and interest and the last thing we want to do is offend anyone, but it is a sheer impossibility for me to answer them all.

All migration flight news and information about departure viewing opportunities are posted as quickly as is humanly possible. And we will without question immediately post an entry with any news regarding 733.

Before the evening is out we should have an update from today's lead pilot, Richard - or from Joe on his behalf if Richard is working on pen set up or is still out tracking 733.

Date: November 25, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 44

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
48.6 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

After a flight of 2 hours, everyone is safely on the ground in Washington County, KY.

Richard left with 15 birds and Joe coaxed one recalcitrant bird out of the pen. Six birds dropped off Richard's wing enroute and Joe and Brooke fought through trashy air to pick them up. Chris said the birds did well as cranes and planes fought a 12mph headwind all the way.

At one point, one of the birds flying with Joe turned back, but then turned again to chase Joe but a long way back. Amazingly it eventually caught up and rejoined the little group.

Bev is still flying with top cover pilot Jack Wrighter looking for 733's signal. Another day of searching is underway.

Date: November 25, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 44

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Shelby Cty, KY - Washington Cty, KY?

Accumulated
Distance
506.9 miles

With her first call this morning, Bev advised it was uncertain whether they would be able to fly today. Chris was 'test dummy' today and he went aloft to check things out - wind and rain wise - as there were / are light rain showers between our Shelby County location and today's destination in Washington County - and they were forecast to worsen not improve.

A few minutes ago the team made the decision to 'give it a go' and they are in the air. Richard is in the lead with 15 birds and Joe has the other one. 15 + 1 = 16, so you will have gathered that 733 is still missing. Bev, and top cover have already left to go back and again try to track 733.

The cranes and planes are fighting a headwind and will undoubtedly run into the rain as well. When we last heard from Nathan in the field, he was still not sure if they would be able to successfully fly the migration leg to Washington or have to turn back. Oh, my shattered nerves!

Date: November 24, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 43

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Shelby Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
506.9 miles

Taking advantage of a 'lull in the action' to provide some photos sent to us by supporters who were on hand for the recent departure (and attempted departures) from Muscatatuck.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: November 24, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 43

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Shelby Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
506.9 miles

This morning dawned a beautiful, sunny, calm day in Shelby County, and the team had great hopes of making it a fly day for the second day in a row.

It was not to be however. Chris told us, "
Conditions looked absolutely perfect this morning. A heavy frost was forming but the skies were crystal clear with no wind. We expected a bit of a headwind aloft, but we hoped that the birds would be willing to plow ahead in the calm air."

The pilots launched, but unfortunately encountered a much stronger headwind than expected. At 500 feet they had a 10mph headwind which increased to about 20mph at 1000 feet. With a ground speed of also 20mph, progress would almost be neutral. Joe calculated that under those conditions the flight to Washington County would take at least 3 hours with the birds fighting the strong headwind all the way. As a result, the next leg of the migration will have to wait for another day.

Each day, once the birds are released from the pen, the ground crew waits until the pilots radio back that everyone is safely underway and the pen can be taken down - or, to stand by because birds appear to be returning and they may need the Swamp Monster.

The plan for today was that as soon as that 'OK' message was received, Bev would head out back north to again try and track down 733, and the team would fly without top cover as pilots Dave Mattingly and Jack Wrighter would also join the search for 733 from the air as soon as their aircraft was de-iced.

Much of the plan remains in place. Dave and Jack are aloft searching for 733's signal from the air. Brian Clauss is on the ground in the tracking van, and most of the rest of the team are also in vehicles heading northward to
spread out along our migration path.

With clear skies, they think 733 will likely be aloft by mid-morning making the signal much stronger and easier to detect. More news as it comes in.

Date: November 23, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Migration Day 42

Location: Shelby Cty, KY
Distance
Traveled
51.4 miles

Shelby Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
506.9 miles

We arrived at Muscatatuck last week and the long range forecast told us this Thursday was going to be good. Then our weather window was postponed until Friday. We, of course, negotiated with the weather in good faith; we'll be patient all week if you give us what we need on Friday. But the weather does not negotiate, at least not fairly. The weather is not even funny. In fact the weather is #@%^&* (the spell checker highlighted all those expletives and I'm sure Liz took them out before she posted this, but the weather knows who I’m talking about.)

When you wait a week for calm air, your expectations begin to build. Maybe it's just human nature, but we still believe that good things come to those who wait - - and wait.

After all, we did our part. We got up every morning before sunrise to check the conditions. If it was blowing anything less than 30 knots, we sent a pilot up hoping he'd come back with an incredible story about how he's never seen anything like it. Just a mile away it’s dead calm and the sun is shining.

But that never happened. Instead, our pilots came back with a glazed look in their eyes and you couldn't tell when they took their helmet off because their faces were as white as their costumes.

If the wind was even stronger than our denial, we drove over to the viewing area to tell the crowd that we were grounded for another day. We told some stories and tried to make it up to the people who drove a hundred miles just to see the birds fly. On down days we polished the planes and put in new GPS batteries but most of all we just waited - - and our expectation grew.

When Friday finally came it wasn't the golden day we hoped for. Instead the wind was light but steady and the solid grey cloud cover was moving southwest at a good clip.

Chris Gullikson was leading this morning, and if you are wondering why I'm writing the update instead of him, it's because he's still looking for a bird. That will be your clue that this story is not over.

The field at Muscatatuck is too rough to risk landing our trikes so Chris swooped low over the pen while Bev, Meagan and Nathan opened the gates. All the birds came charging out and began to form on his wing. But the wind was rough down low as it rolled over the trees and caused mechanical turbulences.  The birds broke and congregated into little flocks all moving in different directions.

Identifying individual birds in flight is impossible. Their leg bands disappear into the tail feathers so trying to figure out which one is turning them back is difficult. They would all form on the wing and then one gets the idea to break away. All the birds in the formation that are behind him, turn as well and you can see his beak open as he calls his encouragement. "C'mon guys, this is too cold, let's go home."

After a ten minute battle that must have looked like chaos from the ground, Richard managed to get a bird to follow him and he headed off. Brooke joined him with 2 others. They weren’t really leaving, just heading on course in the hopes that if they removed a few birds and a couple of aircraft from the confusion that things would be better for Chris and I.

Well that didn't work either. Chris and I took turns cutting off the returning flocks and bringing them back on course only to have them break again. On one intercept, there seemed to be a lead bird out in front and making a beeline for the pen. I moved in behind him and took his birds off to the west. We called the ground crew to hide the swamp monsters so that lone bird would land back at the pen.

Once again we turned on course thinking we were finally rid of our mutineer. Most of the remaining birds moved over to Chris and things looked fine - for 30 seconds or so. Then they all headed for the pen, with us in chase. When we arrived we saw one bird tucked safely in the pen and three costumes waving a welcome, exactly what we'd asked them to do. This greeting was too much for the birds to resist and they all began to descend. Confusion reigned as I asked for the swamp monsters one more time, then changed my mind causing white costumes to run into camo tarps as they tried to follow my instructions.

I should take this opportunity to apologize to the ground crew. I am sorry for the confusion. As expected, you did a fantastic job of wardrobe changes and improvising in this impromptu drama staged in isolation for an audience of birds.

With the handlers all hiding in the pen trailer, the birds landed in the field. Chris and I gave them a few minutes to settle down while the crew let the one bird out of the pen.

Chris again tried an air pick up, and as the birds launched, the handlers charged out of the trailer in their swamp monster costumes, hoping to discourage any returnees. This time all the birds followed Chris. By now the wind had picked up and the air was rough.

To add to our misery, we could hear Richard and Brooke climbing through 2000 feet with a ground speed of 50mph in smooth air. Three birds fell behind Chris, and when it was safe, I moved in to pick them up. This was all the provocation the others needed and soon I had 8 birds forming on my wing while the other 6 stayed with Chris.

Chris and I moved apart about a mile to avoid the indecision that comes with too many choices. After another few minutes, we called the ground crew to let them know that they could start taking the pen down. We had been fighting the battle for 54 minutes and we were only a mile or two from the starting point.

Chris must have corralled the best flyers because he began to climb and soon found some smooth air. The other birds and I weren't so lucky. Every time we managed to claw out a few feet of altitude, we'd hit a big area of sink and lose it all. The Vertical Speed Indicator or VSI has a needle that points horizontally to the zero on the left side of the gauge. If you are climbing, the needle point up slightly. But every time I managed to take my eyes off the birds for a quick look at this instrument, the needle was drooping down like middle age.

We flew the entire leg below a thousand feet and never did get out of the trashy air. The birds did their best to stay on the wing and I did my best to keep it steady, but neither of us was too successful. Just before crossing the Ohio River and entering Kentucky, one of the birds began to drop. We lost most of our altitude trying to retrieve it, but it descended at the same rate and stayed below us as we went lower. Closer to the ground the air was even rougher and we finally had to let the bird go. We radioed the last-seen-at, coordinates to Brain Clauss in the tracking van. By this time he was on the south side of the river and had to backtrack to the bridge in Madison. Chris slowed down with his birds and was able to keep an eye on us from above.

On the south side of the river the terrain gets hillier and that caused more mechanical turbulences. We were at 300 feet with 19 miles left to go. At five miles out, two more birds fell behind but we were confident they could make it if we could.

Richard landed near the pen at our destination, and called the rest of the birds down. I circled a few times to make sure we had a full count then landed nearby.

Brian Clauss searched he entire area from Muscatatuck south but couldn’t even get a signal. Bev and Brooke joined him, and Richard and Chris flew back with a tracking radio in one of the trikes. Everyone searched till after dark before returning to camp. 733 will have to fend for himself tonight.

Our top cover pilots arrived today and we'll get them tracking that bird in the morning while the rest of us take advantage of another good day.

Maybe the weather will cooperate tomorrow, but I doubt it. After the names I called it today, I'll likely get hit by lightning.

Date: November 23, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 42

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
51.4 miles

Jackson Cty, IN to Shelby Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
506.9 miles

Wow! From all indications it was one heck of a ride up there today. Joe said the flight was rough as all get out, and cold, cold, cold. The pilots are tired, sore, and frozen. It took 52 minutes of flying before they were even able to leave the pensite at Muscatatuck, and at one point they had to land with the birds and take off again. The flight lasted almost an hour and 45 minutes.

733 dropped out around 10 to 15 miles out. A miscue meant our top cover for the lower half of migration didn't arrive in time to join the team, so the ground crew doesn't have GPS coordinates of where 733 went down. Brian Clauss is on the hunt in the tracking van but hasn’t been able to pick up 733’s signal yet.

Because of the search for 733, it may be very late before Chris is able to get to his lead pilot's report.

Date: November 23, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 42

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
? miles

Muscatatuck NWR Jackson Cty, IN to ?

Accumulated
Distance
? miles

Chris is lead pilot today and we are finally getting out of Dodge...errr Windiana

With a temp of 28 degrees, overcast skies and relative calm on the surface, the team got moving early this morning to, as Bev said, "mount up". She reported that they had to circle a few times to get the birds up and moving, but she said they are all off and flying.

Richard radioed that it was choppy through 800 feet, but then the air smoothed out and he estimated around an hour's flying to the closest stopover site in Shelby County, KY. Whether they are able to push on to our next stopover site in Washington County, KY will be dependent on the wind conditions and how the birds cooperate.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
And one last JACKSON COUNTY Trivia
Seymour is called the "Crossroads of America" because major North/South and East/West railroads cross in downtown. Singer John Mellencamp was born in Seymour. Recently, his rendition of "Our Country" has been featured in commercials for Chevy trucks aired on many TV sporting events.

Date: November 23, 2007 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Upcoming Event

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

Operation Migration is pleased to announce its participation in the upcoming 11th annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival being presented by the Brevard Nature Alliance and sponsored by Nikon.

The Festival, billed as, "A celebration of birds and wildlife," will be held January 23rd to 28th in Titusville, Florida and is expected to attract more than 3,000 visitors. It's a perfect opportunity for residents of Florida and adjoining states as well as 'Snowbirds' to broaden their birding and wildlife horizons and have fun at the same time.

The event will feature a line up of renowned speakers/presenters, and an exhibit hall with booths hosted by artists, crafters, and organizations specializing in wildlife, birding, photography, optics and nature-tourism. Other activities include an art competition, a silent auction, and seminars, field trips, and workshops are also offered.

The Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival is a 'must see' for birding and wildlife enthusiasts. Plan to attend - there is something for the whole family.

In addition to two presentations by Joe Duff, (Jan 25 & 26) OM staff and volunteers will host a booth in the Exhibit Hall, and if suitable arrangements can be made, we will also have one of our 'working' ultralights on display. To read about OM's participation click here.

Our thanks go to Mark and Peggy Chenoweth of Kissimmee, FL for their initiative and help with arrangements for OM's participation, and to sponsors
Jim And Jonnie Swann Corporation, Barbara Hoelscher and Family, and The Brevard Nature Alliance for making our attendance possible.

Date: November 22, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Brooke Pennypacker

Subject:

Thanksgiving....

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

Thanksgiving Day. My favorite holiday of the year. Turkey, football games, the company of family and friends, and far less stress than the giving-getting of Christmas and the egg hiding and eating all those chocolate bunnies at Easter.

In a way, it's the only holiday that makes any sense universally. If you don’t believe me, just ask a Muslim what he expects to find under his tree on Christmas morning; or ask a Native American what he's going to do during his time off on Columbus Day. Same with the Confederate Re-enactor on Lincoln's Birthday, or an egg at Easter time.

But one thing common to almost all of us in this great country is the obligation to say 'Thank you,' and a special day on which to say it. A day to think about what we have and forget about what we don't.

As I sit here in the Hornet listening to the drops of freezing rain tap dance on the roof signaling yet one more 'No Fly Day', I'm struck by just how much more there is to be thankful for every year, and how for us on this migration, every day is, in fact, Thanksgiving Day.

The reality and perhaps the true beauty of our migration is that it is totally and completely dependant upon the generosity of others. Their kindness and participation turns hope into reality. Yet the problem with trying to thank them all - thank you all - is that the simple act of a saying 'Thank you,' under the weight of all this generosity, seems so frustratingly inadequate that it carries with it a feeling of paralysis; like attempting to illuminate the Grand Canyon at night with a flashlight. How does a child thank his mother for his heart…and for teaching it to beat?

At these times we must trust that some words do possess special power and majesty, can transcend the seeming futility of their use, and reach out to successfully express our core emotions and true meaning. The words, 'Thank you,' like the words, 'I love you,' sit comfortably at the top of this list.

And so, I would personally like to take this opportunity of Thanksgiving Day to thank just some of the very many who have given so freely to make this project a success.

Thank you, Jane, for making your Hornet motor home available to us for migration these many years. And thanks Deke and Rebecca for the use of the Flair. These vehicles have made our migrations safe and our lives comfortable, and we are grateful.

Thank you to all our wonderful migration hosts who have, year after year, opened their homes and their hearts to us. They have become our extended family. Without their help and support there would be no migration.

Thank you to that little mouse in Florida who daily stands on his podium of fantasy and directs the Magic Kingdom Orchestra. Thank you for the wings under which we, pilots and birds, safely traverse the migration skies.

And thank you to a quiet, caring lady living on a West Coast hill side for the engines which give our wings their push and for the gift of real-time communication.

Thank you to the MileMakers who take possession of each mile of the migration and transform it from hope to reality.

Thank you to Nadia and Eve and Abby, who transcended age and adversity to change tragedy into triumph, raising thousands of dollars for OM and proving to us all that anyone, regardless of age, can make a difference.

Thank you to all the folks out there who read this webpage and follow our Whooping crane project, and who come to Necedah and other places morning after morning in hopes of seeing us fly.

Thank you to our migration volunteers, Don and Paula Lounsbury, Gerald Murphy, Walt Sturgeon, and many others for their invaluable contributions.

Thank you to our families, the real heroes of this project, who endure our passions and long absences with strength and understanding, taking on the most difficult of burdens without the opportunity to directly experience the successes.

And I'd like to especially thank a 15 year old boy in Virginia named Devin, who awakens daily to life without the presence of his father but who never complains, offering instead only acceptance and support.

Thank you to all the school kids and their teachers who have taken our birds into their hearts and made them their own. It is to them we will soon pass the torch. Thank you in advance for hopefully righting our environmental wrongs and forgiving us for leaving you with such a mess to clean up. We didn’t mean to do it. It just turned out that way. Who knew?

And finally, thank you to the birds who have, some will say, thrown good sense to the winds and given us their trust and more often than not, their cooperation, so that perhaps some day our children and their children will gaze skyward and marvel at the sight of Whooping cranes crossing the skies on a migration toward a better tomorrow.

Thank you little friends, for your gift of hope.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Date: November 22, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Eastern Migratory Population Update

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

This update was compiled from data provided by Dr. Richard Urbanek (USFWS), Nicole Frey (ICF), Anna Fasoli, Danielle Desourdis, and Eva Szyszkoski. Thanks to Sara Zimorski and Cristin Kelley (ICF) for capture assistance.

In the highlights below, * = female; DAR = direct autumn release; NFT = non-functional transmitter. The estimated maximum size of the Eastern Migratory Population as of November 17 was 59 Whooping cranes - 31 males and 28 females. (Includes the released 2007 Direct Autumn Release juveniles.)

Last documented ground locations were:
Wisconsin (45?)
Recorded earlier in Wisconsin but current locations unknown are:
- 201*NFT last observed June 9.
- 205NFT last found Oct 16.
- 209*NFT & 416NFT last observed near Meadow Valley SWA Oct. 20.
- 311 last detected Oct. 3.
- 506 last detected Oct. 10.
- 420* last observed September 26.
- 503 & 507 last detected May 26.

Michigan (2)
- 516 was reported with staging Sandhills in Jackson County through Nov. 14.
- DAR533* remained with Sandhill cranes in Van Buren County and Cass Counties.

Illinois (6)
- DARs 737, 739, 740, 742, 743, 744 Peoria Cty, IL as of Nov. 6.

Indiana (2)
- 524 left Necedah after Oct. 28. Confirmed at Jasper-Pulaski since Nov 7.
- DAR746 retreated northward on Nov. 4 to Gibson County, IN

South Carolina (2)
- 312* & 316NFT reported in Colleton County, SC November 16/18

Florida (2)
- DAR627, DAR628 completed migration Nov. 12 to Pasco Cty, FL where 628 wintered previously.

Transmitter Replacements
On Nov. 11 the transmitters of 313 and 318 were replaced.

Date: November 22, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 41

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

OM's migration crew will have to find something other than the weather to be grateful for today unfortunately. Strong winds once again prevented the cranes and planes from slipping out of Windiana and across the state line into Kentucky.

Last year, the crew spent Thanksgiving Day in Cumberland County, Tennessee, so we've got some catching up to do.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our US friends! The Canadian component of OM filled up with turkey on October 8 – the day Thanksgiving is celebrated north of the 49th parallel. We hope you are able to celebrate with friends and family, and if you are traveling, that you come home safely.


2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
JACKSON COUNTY
The land known today as the town of Crothersville first belonged to the Shawnee Indian Chief, Tecumseh. Settlers moved in about 1848 and began building homes there when the railroad was constructed from Louisville to Indianapolis. John Hamacher surveyed the area and named it Haysville. Later, a railroad man named Crothers proposed to have a new depot built in the town only if they would honor him by changing the name of the town to Crothersville.

Date: November 22, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Wood Buffalo-Aransas Population Update

Location: Main Office

In his latest update, Tom Stehn, Whooping crane Coordinator at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge reported a record breaking 241 cranes (206 adults and 35 young) located on his aerial census conducted November 14, 16 and 17. The aerial survey was conducted in conjunction with aerial waterfowl counts done on Texas coastal refuges. Jim Bredy piloted the twin-engine Partanavia aircraft carrying US F&WS observers Patrick Walther and Tom Stehn.

Tom estimates that more than 90% of the flock has completed its migration, with hopefully 10 to 20 more Whooping cranes still in the flyway.

"Since the last crane flight conducted November 8th, there were no suitable migration conditions that would have allowed more cranes to reach Aransas until November 15th when a very strong cold front brought NNE winds 20-30 mph for one full day," said Stehn. "The additional 30 cranes found during the census are all believed to have arrived behind the cold front on November 15th."

Tom noted that the Aransas Refuge was surveyed before the front went through, so additional cranes could be present on the refuge and not have been counted.

The record number of 241 Whooping cranes breaks the previous peak count of 237 cranes present during the winter of 06/07. "Although there could have been crane movements that resulted in duplication during the 3 days of census flights, it is also very likely that cranes were overlooked due to the poor visibility on November 17th. Thus, the estimate of 241 is felt to be reasonable and probably a few birds lower than actually present," he said.

November 12, volunteer Katherine Cullen conducted a habitat survey which reported enough blue crabs and wolfberries - the predominant foods being consumed by the cranes. Her survey also noted numerous frogs, a critter usually not found in the salt marsh, but present this fall due to the extremely fresh conditions. "Salinities are quite moderate at 8-10 ppt," said Tom, "so I would expect the frogs to be a tasty morsel for the cranes."

Stehn commented that, "The 35 chicks currently present are an indicator of good survival subsequent to mid-August surveys done in Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park. Of the 13 chicks from pairs where both summer and winter territories are known, all 13 have made it to Aransas safely. A scavenged carcass identified as a juvenile Whooping crane was found in Avonlea in southern Saskatchewan October 16 but the cause of death or if the juvenile had been with its parents is not known."

Of interest on the waterfowl counts was the sighting of 1,600 Sandhill cranes and 12,000 geese at the Aransas refuge's Burgentine Lake. Two flamingos, that have been staying on the Texas and Louisiana coasts the last 3 years, were sighted south of Corpus Christi. One of the flamingos (a greater) is an escapee from the Sedgewick County Zoo in Kansas, and the other flamingo (a Caribbean) is a wild-hatched bird from the Yucatan in Mexico.

Date: November 21, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

No fighting for a parking spot when you shop for the holidays at OM

Location: Main Office

This holiday season why not give a gift that will keep on giving - both to the gift recipient and to Whooping cranes.

Give a gift of Membership in Operation Migration to friends, colleagues, or that not so easy to buy for someone - like your child's teacher.

Among other member benefits your gift recipient will enjoy having INformation, OM's semi-annual magazine delivered to their door. With issue they will be reminded of you and your thoughtfulness. We'll send a gift card to you so that you can notify the recipient of your gift to them.

An OM Membership makes a perfect holiday gift - particularly for those on your list whose conservation and environmental awareness, shall we say, could use a little 'tweaking'. Or, maybe you know some individuals who already care deeply about OM's and its work with Whooping cranes and know they'd just really enjoy reading INformation.

A one year Supporting Membership is just $50. Give a second gift Membership for $40, and a third for only $30. (This special offer is good until December 21st and is not available through the website. To order, call the office toll free at 1-800-675-2618. Note - to receive the special pricing all gift memberships must be taken out in one order.)
 
Thanks for your support!.

Date: November 21, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

SUCKERED IN, ONE MORE TIME

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

The world was grey and Windiana was living up to its reputation when the team woke this morning. Day 40 of the ’07 migration will be spent on the ground here at the Muscatatuck NWR.

The biggest liars in the world are fishermen and battery engineers but they are followed closely by meteorologists. Actually the weathermen don’t lie so much as ‘misinform’, and it’s more a case of misreading than embellishment. Nonetheless it’s disappointing when they are mistaken, and Chris Gullikson alternates between receiving our gratitude when he’s right and our discontent when he’s not.

He's accurate most of the time, but on Sunday morning he missed the mark by only a few hours. The weather he predicted for sunrise didn’t materialize until late morning and instead we woke to thick fog. The air was so calm that as soon as it cleared a bit, it coaxed Richard and me up into it. But as soon as we were airborne we felt the mechanical turbulence and the winds aloft.

We also realized how low the ceiling was and how poor the visibility. We landed after ten minutes and tucked the aircraft back into the maintenance building. By mid morning everything had calmed and our host at the next stopover called to tell us that the smoke from his pile of leaves was going straight up. This tricked Richard into the air again, but once airborne he found that it was rough all the way up, and through, 1000 ft.

On Monday and Tuesday mornings we tried again despite the report of headwind. Richard recorded a ground speed of just 19 miles per hour. Maybe we just don't trust weathermen or, are all like Missourians who need to be shown.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
JACKSON COUNTY
Jackson County commissioners are seeking federal funds to restore and renovate its three covered bridges. Bell Ford Bridge, built 1869, collapsed earlier this year and will require rebuilding. Shieldstown Bridge, built 1876, considered the most scenic, carried traffic until 1990. Medora Bridge over the White River is the second longest covered bridge still in existence in the U.S.

Date: November 20, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Nathan Hurst

Subject:

Installment #2 of "Interesting things......."

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

We've had a lot of down time, so there are many more "Interesting Things We Do Besides Fly With Cranes" moments to share with you.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Although we've had fun times in southern Indiana we've also been restless. Our goal is not forgotten, and virtually every morning we've sent a trike up in the air to see if it is even remotely feasible to make our move. So far, it hasn't been, but with luck we'll be on our way soon.

Date: November 20, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

PayPal update

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

In our November 19 entry we mistakenly missed giving credit to Rich Gotshall of Franklin, Indiana for the Trivia entry. Sorry Rich, and thanks again for sending the interesting tidbits along.

Date: November 20, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

James Popham

Subject:

PayPal update

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

When clicking around our website these days, you may find that there's a little less color. That's because we've been able to remove the big red messages on our merchandise, contribution, and mile maker pages warning you about PayPal. PayPal has resolved their issues, informing us of a bug in their system, enabling us to circumvent it - this means that once again our supporters can make their OM donations using our shopping cart feature without incurring additional charges.

We thank you for your patience in this matter as we awaited a resolution from PayPal. We will conitinue our vigiliance of the shopping cart feature and should any problems arise we will let you know.

Date: November 20, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

James Popham

Subject:

The Georgia Challenge

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

Are you a Bulldog or a Yellow Jacket? Do you chant for the Rambling Wreck, or a big machine that's Red and Black? A Dawg or a Techie?! In celebration of the upcoming football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Operation Migration would like to extend a challenge to all the fans out there!

The Challenge: Which team's supporters can buy the most miles before the end of Saturday, 24th of November.
The Reward: Gloating rights, and the winning fans will have the results shown on the field journal for everyone to read.

At the moment Georgia is in the lead with Dale Richter's mile #1003!

Because Georgia is one of the largest states that the migration crew crosses, we have difficulty fulfilling the milemaker sponsorships. To date, 179 of 331 (more than 50%) of the Georgia miles remain.

While celebrating thanksgiving, and enjoying all the football this year, please consider showing your support for the team and for OM by participating in the Georgia challenge.

Please visit the milemaker page for more details, or contact the Operation Migration office by phone at (800) 675-2618 or emailing us.

Date: November 20, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 39

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles
It looks like the OM crew will have another day to enjoy the beauty of Muscatatuck NWR and Jackson County. They awoke this morning to strong winds, a low ceiling, and high humidity - not exactly the recipe for a good flight day. For the fourth day in a row, the planes and cranes will remain at this stopover in Indiana.

Date: November 19, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 38

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles
Indiana is still holding on to us.

This morning the crew awoke to rain and winds headed in the wrong direction. This means that the migration crew will once again be grounded in Jackson County, IN.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
JACKSON
COUNTY, IN

The first train robbery in the United States was committed by the Reno Brothers on Oct. 6, 1866, near Seymour, IN. They hopped the Ohio and Minnesota RR train as it pulled out of the Seymour depot.

Their take was $15,000 from the first safe pushed out of the moving train. They never cracked the second safe, which contained $30,000. Eventually they were captured and jailed. Before they could be tried for this and other crimes, they were lynched and are buried in Jackson County

Date: November 18, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

"Old Home Week"

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

It was like 'old home week' this morning at the viewing area on the Muscatatuck Refuge. We got to meet friends and Craniacs we hadn't seen since last year; friends and Craniacs we'd previously only 'met' by email and telephone; and, make some new friends too.

Craniacs Lori and Jon Trout from Louisville, KY were on hand, and they generously shared some of their photos with us.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.


 

Date: November 18, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Megan Kennedy

Subject:

Anatomy of a Pen Set-Up

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

Megan took the photos and wrote the copy go go with each to produce this Pictorial. Playing the lead roles in this story are Chris Gullikson, Brian Clauss and Richard van Heuvelen.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: November 18, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 37

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

When I poked my head out this morning it was considerably milder than it had been yesterday morning. The tree limbs were dancing though, and there was ground fog. There was still hope however; the wind usually dies down a bit at sunrise, while the frost usually worsens a bit. But it did mean waiting a while before the go / no-go decision would be made.

The wind, as it turns out, was a little much this morning, but the primary factor in deciding that it would not be a fly day was the fog.

Joe and Richard went up to test the skies, and both flew over the hundred or so people gathered at the viewing area on the Muscatatuck refuge. Joe radioed down to say that they had little visibility because of the fog. All eyes were turned to sky as one by one they made the turn to go back to land, and we could see the trikes being tossed in the wind.

The team will spend another day enjoying the hospitality of the folks here on the refuge. We already owe the refuge staff here a huge thank you – especially Susan, Dan, and Donna. You folks are terrific!!!!

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
JACKSON
COUNTY, IN
The population of Jackson County is about 41,000. Nearly half of its citizens are concentrated in the city of Seymour located on the intersection of two major railroads in the northeastern part of the county. The website for the city declares it to be "The place to live your future!" It is described as a thriving industrial, commercial and residential community with a small town atmosphere.

The Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge near Seymour was established in 1966 to restore, enhance and protect wetland, forest and grassland habitats for the benefit of waterfowl, neotropical migratory songbirds and other wildlife.  Little did they know back then that it would become a stopover for the reintroduced endangered whooping crane! Water levels are controlled so that water can be moved between various units of the refuge at different times of the year to provide optimal habitat for critters and vegetation.

Date: November 17, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 36

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

It's just a notch above freezing this morning in Jackson County, IN and the winds are almost dead out of the south. Despite this, the team put a up a test trike to satisfy themselves that it was absolutely a no-go. And it was. Everyone has stood down for the day.

Tomorrow morning, looks quite promising however, so Craniacs within driving distance of the Muscatatuck Refuge should have a good chance at seeing a departure flyover. (see Entry 4 from yesterday for directions)

We actually arrived at Muscatatuck one day earlier this year than last. Although admittedly, that's not any great feat given the length of last year's migration. If we are able to fly another migration leg tomorrow, we will be exactly where we were on November 18, 2006 – in Shelby County, KY.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
JACKSON
COUNTY, IN
Six cities and twenty-one counties in the U.S. have been named for Andrew Jackson. Jackson County in Indiana is one of them. It covers about 520 square miles in the unglaciated hill region of the south-central area of the state.

With an elevation of from 490 to 940 feet, most of Jackson County is rolling country with the western and northwestern one-third of the county being rough and hilly and traversed by northeast to southwest ridges. There are also scattered ridges and high "knobs" southeast of centrally located Brownstown, the county seat.

Date: November 16, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Departure Viewing Opportunity!!

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
60.9 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

Public viewing opportunity at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

The weather for tomorrow doesn't look too promising for tomorrow morning and may not allow us to fly to our next stop in Kentucky. BUT, we'll be up and ready to give it a go if it takes a turn for the better.

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

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

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

Arrival time:
The gates at the refuge will open tomorrow at 6:30am. To view the takeoff, you should be in place no later than 7am - 7:15 at the latest.

Remember:
Keep in mind all our flights are weather permitting. Unsuitable weather can delay our departure by a day, or even days, depending on weather conditions. Be sure and dress warmly!!

If weather prevents the team from flying, the OM Migration Crew will be on hand at the viewing area to meet, greet, and answer questions. We will also have OM branded merchandise available for purchase.

Date: November 16, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Brooke Pennypacker

Subject:

Migration Day 35

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
60.9 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

My turn to lead again. Seems like it was some time last year that I last led - and was forced by Liz to pay for the privilege by having to write another UPDATE. It’s as if I was back in school and my team had just won the football game and we’re in the end zone “high–fiving” each other and my English teacher, Miss Gertner comes over, hands me my book bag and says, ”Here. Do your homework NOW!”

And this time, Liz was actually here this morning. As I lined up on final approach to land after dropping off the birds at the pen, she suddenly appeared right next to my touch down spot, staring up the glide path at me, her lips forming that unmistakable word…”Update”.

For a moment I considered goosing the throttle and climbing back up and heading for another place of sanctuary, one that’s warm and safe, and where there’s a law against forcing a person to write an Update. But, I knew it was no use. She’d find me. You see, you can no more hide from Liz than you can hide from yourself. So, resigned to my fate, I did what I do when I pass a highway speed trap while driving twice the speed of sound, and I yank my car over to an abrupt stop before the officer’s hand has time to hit the siren, I reached back into my bag, pulled out pen and paper and began writing, good little scout that I am. So here we go.

This morning was an ’air pickup’ and I don’t mean the kind where, while flying coach, you’re visited with that oh so familiar fantasy. The one where you aim that big, suggestive, incredibly smooth and sophisticated smile at the beautiful young flight attendant and she responds by immediately freezing in the aisle, throws back her head and screams, “Coffee, Tea or Me!” No. The one I’m referring to is when, due to a less than suitable landing and taking off surface, we swoop in a few feet over the pen yelling at the top of our lungs, “Who’s your Daddy”, as the ground crew, with perfect timing, swings open the pen door, releasing the birds who immediately chase the aircraft into the air and on to the next stop.

And so it went this morning…minus, of course, the “Who’s you Daddy” part. The birds, after the week’s confinement since their last flight, blew out of the pen and in their quest for sweet freedom and flight, and formed up in a beautiful line off the wing.

One dropped out and was picked up by Chris as we climbed slowly, carefully, higher and higher in anticipation of the ridges awaiting us just ahead. As we climbed, we eyed the GPS hopefully for the forecasted 15 mph tailwind, an assist which could boost our speed above 50 mph and put yet another day’s destination within reach. But the 2500 foot climb did not contain that ‘push’, so we leveled off on course to Muscatatuck, taking a dogleg detour around Camp Atterbury and any warlike happenings there.

Then, as if on cue from some invisible director, the birds divided, presenting each wing with its own line. How incredible they are, like Rocketts lined up on the stage at Radio City Music Hall, their perfectly uniform wing beats striking the cold air like high stepping dancers in a dance choreographed tens of millions of years ago.

Yet it is a dance borrowed from their cousins, the Sandhill cranes, for it is the Sandhills, not the wild Whoopers, that streak across the skies in large flocks. The Whoopers prefer the intimacy of travel with their family unit, or alone, or with a small sub-adult group. And so it falls to us, the project team, to splice natural choreography with that of our own to create the dance performed now in this high place.

Below, we have said goodbye to the ‘flat’, at least for now. The thickly forested ridges offer no welcome to the ultralight or its charges as did the flat geometries of Illinois and the other Indiana. These places floated below us like an aircraft carrier on a mill pond, providing us a safe landing anytime, any place, and easy access to any dropout birds.

And gone is the land of ‘Crop Circles’, those mysterious designs drawn by the alien hand in fields of corn and beans. It is not surprising aliens are always referred to as “Little Green Men”. John Deere Green, I presume. One can only wonder at their mischievous intent as they perpetrate their artistry on the landscape then retire to their galactic orbits to watch Purdue beat Indiana U one Saturday afternoon once be a year.

There can not be a dance without missteps and even the most talented of dancers can fall prey to the boredom of monotonous repetition during a performance, when one transcends the resonant rhythms and intricately disciplined movements and reaches for more.

Midway through the flight 709 fell prey to this curse and began tugging at the batten string flopping at the end of the wing with his beak. Each time, time after time, he clamped his beak down on the string, then thrust skyward, pulling it and the wing up. This caused a bump in flight which I had to immediate correct by pulling down slightly on the wing. This became a game between us—a game within a dance—he tugged, I corrected, he released the string but only to fix completely on it until it was again in his beak—and I corrected.

“Why don’t you just go out for a pass?”, I yelled, growing tired of this little game, but, like a child playing a computer game, he cared of nothing but his game, so I countered his moves with moves of my own which aren’t in the ultralight flying manual or in “Crane Flying for Dummies” and he soon tired of this effort and focused once again on the dance.

Knowing the field near the pen was going to be brutally, possibly trike-damaging rough, Joe called on the radio and volunteered to speed ahead, land, and call down the birds as I flew over, thereby possibly saving me a trip to Wal-Mart for a new trike undercarriage.

Meanwhile Brian sped ahead in the tracking van to assist. All birds dropped from the sky with grace and delicacy landing next to Joe. All the birds that is but three. They decided the dance music was still blasting in their ears and they weren’t going to stop till the fat lady stopped singing.

‘Round and ‘round Chris, Richard and I went trying to coax these little rebels out of the sky without actually having to land ourselves. Twenty two minutes later, they got their little leotard covered butts out of the sky, off the stage, and followed Joe and Brian into the pen, their performance finally over.

The birds, the 16 of them anyway, treated us to a memorable performance today, one we hope will be repeated again and again for the rest of this migration. It was no ‘girls on one side, boys on the other’ school dance today. It was the real thing and the thing so many had worked to hard and long to achieve. But in show business as in life, you’re only as good as your last performance. The stage is set, the cast is assembled, the music has started.

Now - who wants to buy a ticket?

View the photo here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: November 16, 2007 - Entry2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 35

Location: Jackson Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
60.9 miles

Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
455.5 miles

While I was/am waiting for today's lead pilot, Brooke, to finish his update and give it to me to post, I was going to do a little write up about this mornings departure, looking up from the ground. But - what I have is something better. A lone Craniac found her way to where I was stationed this morning, and below is what I later received from her in an email. A few photos I took this morning are at the bottom of her entry.

"Friday, Nov. 16, 2007.  6:53 am.
In the dark, I'm driving south, hoping to see the Whooping Cranes leave their Morgan County stopover. It should take me about 40 minutes. Weather is calm and crisp. The OM Field Journal has predicted today will be a fly day.

7:07am. The sky is getting lighter and pinker. Traffic is light. I'm a little nervous, hoping I'm not too late. This is my fourth year to attempt to see a lift-off. Last year we missed it by 10 minutes! Don't want a repeat of that! Cross my fingers I don't get behind a school bus on these country roads.
|
7:20am. I arrive at the stopover site. Several white vehicles with black OM logos are there. In the early daylight, I spot 3 costumes crossing the levee at the end of the pond. I quickly snap a picture, hoping there's enough light to expose it. This must be a fly day if they're heading for the pen! I park and wait in my car.

7:25am. I call Mrs. (Trudy) Land's cell phone [teacher at Neil Armstrong Elementary School where Bev and Brooke recently did a presentation] and leave a voicemail: "Guess where I am!"

7:30am A trike rises from behind the stand of trees across the pond. Then another, another, and a fourth ultralight! I jump from my car, peel off my gloves, and grab my camera. In the car, my cell phone is ringing. It's probably Mrs. Land returning my call, but I can't answer now!

7:30am. A woman emerges from the nearby cabin with a camera. I call "Good morning!" and she looks my way in surprise. We stand silently, watching the trikes slowly circle. I can hear the whoop whoop recording blaring from the trikes, calling the birds to the sky! Mist rises from the pond. A small bird chirps as it leaps from reed to reed at water's edge. Overhead, the four trikes still circle the pond, the cabin, and me! The lead pilot cuts his engine and dips below the far treeline. The crane pen must be just beyond the orange-colored trees across the pond!

7:35am. And then from the north, I see a trike with cranes following! He approaches us. I stop taking pictures long enough to count 15 cranes behind the lead pilot, a small gap of empty air space, and then 2 more cranes in pursuit! Seventeen! They all left the pen together!

7:35am. A cell phone rings. The woman on the dock answers briefly. "I've got it. Thanks!" (I'll be looking for her photos on the website later today!)

7:40am. Southward and eastward against a beautiful sunrise, I watch the cranes wing their way out of sight, trailed by two more ultralights. Or is it 3 more trikes? It all happened so quickly, I can't be sure. I try not to blink! They're gone, and the sky is silent again.

7:41am. I introduce myself to the woman on the dock as "one of the teachers from Neil Armstrong Elementary." Her face brightens. She is Liz Condie and we shake cold hands.

Me:"I read you every morning on the web journal."
Liz: "Thanks. Sorry, but I need to go bang that report out right now!"

She heads for her laptop in the cabin. As she walks away her phone rings again and I hear her tell someone that she can't talk now, but that the cranes are in the air. She's friendly, and I'd love to wait around to talk with her, but I know she has a full day ahead. It's time for me to leave. Mission accomplished (after 4 years!).

7:44am. I snap a few more pictures of the area and head home. In the gravel lane, I pass an OM pickup truck. The driver stops and says, "They're pretty far along the way now!" He is happy, and I congratulate him on the success of the morning. I assume he must be the driver who took the pilots to the hangar earlier. [Yes – that was Walter in returning from dropping the pilots, and now on his way to help take down the pen.]

I smile all the way home, eager to upload my photos to send to the school in a Kodak Gallery Album. For a while I follow Bus #14 as it picks up students. I wish you students could have been with me to watch the departure! It was special! It was awesome! It is humanity and nature at their finest!    
Nina Langley View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: November 16, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 35

Location: Morgan Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
?? miles

Morgan County, IN to Muscatatuck NWR, IN

Accumulated
Distance
?? miles

Goodbye Morgan County!!!

After an extended stopover, the team awoke to a cool and very "crisp" morning, with very still air. The pilots made the 5 mile trek to the ultralights before light this morning, excited to be flying once again.

At first it seemed that the birds weren't quite so excited. When the lead pilot - Brooke, we think - made his first pass no one left! However, after a few passes things were off and run, with all seventeen cranes following the leader!

Stay tuned to the field journal for updates later today including some great new photos.

Date: November 15, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Nekoosa 4th graders claim Wisconsin’s
largest Origami Crane

Location: Indiana
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance
394.6 miles

Now folks – this is something you have to see to believe. These Craniac Kids are among the most energetic, dedicated, and innovative of any we’ve encountered. And we must give three cheers for their wonderful teacher, Heidi Hartman.

We don't want to tell their story here and steal ALL their thunder, so click the link to Wisconsin’s Largest Origami Crane and let the kids from Nekoosa put a big smile on your face.

View the photo here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: November 15, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

James Popham

Subject:

Migration Day 34

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance
394.6 miles

Yet again the weather has prevented the OM planes and cranes from leaving Morgan County.

With gusty easterly winds, it seems more likely that the team would have ended up in Cincinnati rather than the Muscatatuck NWR destination.

Tomorrow's weather looks much more promising, so keep your fingers crossed that after 5 days we will finally be able to depart Morgan Cty.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
MORGAN
COUNTY, IN

The Jasper-Pulaski State Fish and Wildlife Area in northwestern Indiana is east of our migration route but has become a stopover for a few of our now-wild migrating Whooping Cranes.

Jasper-Pulaski's suitable habitat provides an ideal stopover for many migratory birds and it's 8,062 acres offer a unique opportunity to observe the largest gathering of Greater Sandhill Cranes in fall migration in the Mississippi flyway.

Sandies stage here from late September to mid-December, with numbers in the thousands peaking about the second week of November. They feed in surrounding farmland by day then, as evening approaches, they gather for what seems to be simply "cocktail hour socializing" before they disperse at sundown to spend the night in the safety of the nearby marshes.

Two observation towers overlook their gathering field offering great photo ops

Date: November 14, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

The OM Team

Subject:

It's Deja Vu all over again

Location: Canada/USA

Many Cranics will undoubtedly recall our 2005 "Will We Run Out Of Gas" appeal. On October 7, 2005 when we put out that letter of appeal, MileMaker had enough miles sponsored to get us to the Tennessee border - and we were really nervous.

Little did we know that two years and a month later, we’d be in the same boat, only paddling even harder. Here it is mid November and MileMaker is going to 'run out of gas' one state earlier; just over the Indiana – Kentucky border.

Two more ‘fly days’ and the cranes and planes will have caught up to the spot that the total of MileMaker sponsorships cover to date.

You have our deepest gratitude if you have already taken out a MileMaker sponsorship for 2007. If you haven’t as yet sponsored a ¼, or ½ or mile of the migration PLEASE make today the day. Maybe you know others (individuals or corporate) you could encourage to help us get the Class of 2007 to Florida.

Whether from an individual, a foundation or corporation, your contribution - small or large - is crucial to our getting the young Whooping cranes in the Class of 2007 safely to Florida. Please be as generous as you can and help chalk up another successful year toward safeguarding the species.

Without doubt, the entire OM team is totally committed to completing the ‘07 migration. And if need be, as we did in 2005, we will again donate our time in order to ensure we get the Class of 2007 to Florida.

Won't you call us today (1-800-675-2618) and let us put your name beside one of the yet to be sponsored 600+ miles?!

Note: We only have one telephone line so if you get shunted to voicemail, leave a message and we’ll get right back to you.

Date: November 14, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Bev Paulan

Subject:

A Busy Down Day

Location: Morgan Cty, IN

Another down day yesterday. Well, okay, maybe three down days so far, but who is really counting. Boring, you think? Au contraire, mon ami. I see it as anything but.

The last two days have been very exciting, as Brooke and I have had the privilege of talking to over 400 elementary school children about Operation Migration and our work with the Whooping Crane. There are quite a few Craniac Kids here in Morgan County. I think almost more than any other county along our route. Or so my voice thinks.

Yesterday, we were honored to speak at Neil Armstrong Elementary School in Mooresville. This is one of the three schools whose names were drawn and won a visit as a result of their signing up for OM’s ‘Change4Cranes’ program. Mrs. Trudy Land’s 6th graders were very attentive and asked very insightful questions. They all have picked out a favorite bird and were anxious to hear the slightest details about how ‘their’ bird behaved (or misbehaved); if it ever got boxed up; if it was aggressive or submissive; or if it had shown Joe a threat posture. (Most all of the chicks have!)

Today, Brooke and I went to Monrovia Elementary school at the invitation of teacher Robin Shields, and spoke to a combined group of 4th and 5th graders. Mr Shields has been tracking our migration for the last 5 years and has a great display of our progress posted in the school hallway. Even though there were over 300 kids in this group, they were very well behaved and asked us questions that had us thinking hard, and even sent me to the computer to look up some of the answers.

The most noticeable thing about doing these education/outreach programs is how excited the kids and teachers are to have us come. For us, it is not only an opportunity to educate, but it is remarkably humbling, too.

Both of these schools are in small towns, with a mostly rural population. Yet, somehow, they have embraced the cranes and pool their pennies together to help us along the way. They know there is never a chance of seeing the birds take up residence in their county, but they believe in the project and are so earnest in their support, that we can’t help but be moved.

I know I have said it before, but I’ll keep saying how impressed I am by the ‘little people’ who are truly large in their support. Their pennies add up to dollars that help keep us going on this migration.

Thanks to both Neil Armstrong and Monrovia Elementary Schools for caring about the birds enough to invite us into your classrooms. It was a pleasure.

Date: November 14, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 33

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance
394.6 miles

Today will be day four on the ground in Morgan County, IN. As pleasant as the surroundings are, the team is chomping at the bit to get moving!

Although the weatherman is promising Indiana a beautiful day with a chance for highs in the 60's, the WSW surface winds favor a flight plan to Philadelphia, while aloft, it looks like we'd be blown to St. Louis, MO - not Florida. Go figure. (s'plain that Lucy! Where's Chris G. when I need him?)

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
MORGAN
COUNTY, IN
Monrovia is the home of Gary Bettenhausen, legendary Indy Racing League driver.

At this early date, we hate to even mention Christmas, but Bobby Helms who once lived in Martinsville popularized "Jingle Bell Rock".

The Goethe Link Observatory near Brooklyn is noted for its large collection of daffodils assembled by Dr. Link's wife.

Date: November 14, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Falling under the, ‘Did you know’ category…..

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance
394.6 miles
Non-Profits Do More Than Good Works
A study by the
John Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies found that not-for-profit organizations in the U.S. and seven other major nations contribute an average of 5% to the gross domestic product.

Canadian non-profits generated the highest amount at 7.3% followed closely by the U.S. at 7.2%. Other countries studied included Japan (5.2%), Belgium (5%), New Zealand (4.9%), Australia (4.7%), France (4.2%), and the Czech Republic (1.3%).

Date: November 13, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject:

The 'Whether' of the Weather'

Location: Morgan Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance
394.6 miles
At 9:00am it was absolutely beautiful here in Morgan County, IN. Sunny skies, and the pond next to our RV is a perfect mirror reflecting the golden leaves of the trees surrounding us.

So why are we not migrating? A cold front came through central Indiana early this morning bringing a needed soaking rain across the state. This cold front and line of showers is still in the southern part of the state, and a dense, low cloud deck has been left in its wake just to our south.

Another cold front is forecast to move through tomorrow morning followed by brisk northwest winds. Although the wind direction will be favorable Thursday morning, it may be too windy to fly with the birds. Friday however, is looking great with calm winds and a gentle push aloft from the northwest.

Date: November 13, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

POTHOLES ON THE ROAD TO US F&WS HABITAT GOALS

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance
394.6 miles

Excerpt from Birding Community E-Bulletin

About half of the annual distribution of the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund (made up mainly of "Duck Stamp" revenue) goes to secure wetland and grassland habitat in the Prairie Pothole Region. This is money well spent. It's not, ‘just for ducks’; it's for a broad sweep of wetland and grassland birds that benefit.

On this very subject, there was a powerful Government Accounting Office (GAO) report, released in the last days of September, concerning habitat protection in the Prairie Pothole Region. Its lengthy title was, "Prairie Pothole Region: At the Current Pace of Acquisitions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Is Unlikely to Achieve Its Habitat Protection Goals for Migratory Birds."

The full document can be found at http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-1093
or a one-page highlight at http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d071093high.pdf

As the 40+-page GAO study illustrates, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has purchased outright 700,000 acres and acquired easements on 2.3+ million acres of wetlands and grasslands in the region since 1959. At this pace, to reach the desired goal of 12 million acres saved in the Prairie Pothole Region, it could take the USFWS another 150 years!

Reasonable solutions to help address this crucial acquisition backlog include investing more of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) from offshore oil and gas revenue; creating a new Wetlands Loan Act (WLA); and increasing the "Duck Stamp" price. Unfortunately, there was no discussion in the report on possible efforts to increase the sales of the Stamp.

You can access an archive of past E-bulletins on the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) website at http://www.refugenet.org/birding/birding5.html

Date: November 13, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 32

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance
394.6 miles

Going no where for the third day in a row, and tomorrow isn't shaping up to be a whole lot better.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
MORGAN
COUNTY, IN
UCLA's legendary basketball coach John Wooden, dubbed the "Wizard of Westwood," spent his early childhood and high school years in Martinsville. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he was the first man to be named into the Hall as both a player and coach.

 
Date: November 12, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 31

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance
394.6 miles
Although unavoidable, it sure gets tiresome talking about the weather – especially when it doesn’t favor flying.

Overnight, Morgan County, IN had light rain showers and, in some areas, isolated thunderstorms. This morning brought a temp of 49F, 82% humidity, and wrong way winds out of the southwest at 9mph on the surface and stronger aloft halting the migration for a second day at our Morgan County, IN stopover.

WHERE WERE WE?
On November 12 last year we were also in Morgan County, Indiana. We did a bit better in 2004 and 2005 when we were one stop further along in Jennings County - just to the southeast of Morgan County. In 2002 and 2003 we were in Washington County, KY, three stops further along. The first year, 2001, on November 12 we were already in Tennessee at a stop we no longer use in Bledscoe County. (Bledscoe is southeast of Cumberland County where we currently stop, and northwest of our next Tennessee stopover location at the Hiawassee Refuge in Meigs County.)

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
MORGAN
COUNTY, IN
Gravity Hill is a locally famous land mark in Mooresville, IN. Because of an optical illusion, cars parked at the bottom of the road appear, quite convincingly, to roll uphill. Gravity Hill has been featured in many regional television and newspaper reports.

Date: November 11, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Craniacs Share Photos

Location: Main Office

Thanks to Chris and Charlie Linnell for sharing their photos with us. View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

 

Date: November 11, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

It's almost Thanksgiving and right after that.....

Location: Main Office

Dare we mention the Holiday Season is approaching? Think whoever it was who said we should have a holiday called "Thankshallowistmas" had a good sense of what we all feel at this time of year?

Back by popular demand are our beautiful, embossed Whooping crane holiday cards. Available in packages of 16, (including 17 envelopes), the cards feature an adult crane in flight, and carry the simple message, “Peace’.

Also available are OM’s all new tongue-in-cheek holiday greeting cards. Perfect for the Craniac in your family or to raise awareness for Whooping cranes and create new Craniacs. These cards come in packages of 10 and include envelopes.

Hurry, only limited quantities of both available.

Date: November 11, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 30

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance
394.6 miles

Contrary winds will keep the Migration crew on the ground today in Morgan County, IN.

Last year we arrived in Morgan County one day later than we did this year, but were stuck there for four days. Here's hoping we don't repeat.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
MORGAN
COUNTY, IN
A sign at its city limits declares Mooresville to be the "Home of the State Flag". Designer Paul Hadley lived here and won a contest in 1916 sponsored by the local DAR to commemorate the centennial of Indiana's entry into the union.

John Dillinger, the famous gangster, spent most of his childhood in Mooresville and sometimes retreated to this small town to hide from authorities.

Date: November 11, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

OM

Subject:

Lest We Forget

Location: US & Canada

Today, along with millions of others, Operation Migration honors Veterans everywhere.

Originally known internationally as Armistice Day, Veterans Day in the U.S., Remembrance Day in Canada, and Poppy Day in other parts of the world, marks the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which formally ended World War I. The signing, which took place in a railroad carriage in the Forest of Compiegene in France, happened at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Two minutes before the armistice came into effect, a final
Canadian soldier was killed by a German sniper. Private George Lawrence Price is traditionally acknowledged as being the last fatality of WWI.

On November 11, 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day in the U.S. with the following words:
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

To commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and civilians in conflicts past and present, we reprint here, what is undoubtedly the most memorable war poem ever written. The words were penned by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian soldier and surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, located at the time near Ypres.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Date: November 10, 2007 - Entry 6 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject:

Migration Day 29

Location: Morgan Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled

55.2 miles

Boone County, IN to Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance

394.6 miles

Near perfect migrating conditions greeted us this morning on our first opportunity to fly two consecutive days. The temperature was 26 degrees F and it was absolutely calm at the surface. A heavy frost was building on the grass and the covers of our trikes. An area of high pressure nearly overhead was forecast to slowly drift east, giving us gentle winds aloft from the northeast.

After saying goodbye to our wonderful hosts, we fired up our engines, removed our wing covers and took off into silky smooth skies as the sun was rising.

Joe taxied down to the pen and gave the signal to release the birds while I hung back in a chase position to the south. 16 birds quickly rushed out of the pen and joined Joe in the air while 721 hung back at the pen, as if saying “I will wait for the next ride.”

The pen site was located in a shallow bowl, and Joe flew a 360 degree circle to give the birds time to climb high enough to clear the trees. Turning on course, I fell in behind Joe, while Richard went down to pick up 721 who was now airborne thanks to Megan in the swamp monster outfit.

I don’t know if it was the calm skies, the consecutive days, or the piloting, but the 16 birds on Joe’s wing flew very well and continued on course without incident. At 5 miles out a small gap formed in the line with 8 birds falling back.

The end bird, 710, did a quick 180 and made a beeline back towards the pen. As the 7 birds pulled back into formation with Joe, I gave chase after 710, passing underneath Brooke and Richard. I soon caught up with the wayward bird and got him turned back on course, 1 mile behind the others.

Paula advised us that we couldn’t climb more then 1200 feet above ground level to stay out of Indianapolis’s airspace. With smooth air and a 6mph tailwind, we didn’t see much need to gain altitude, and were content to cruise along at 800 feet AGL. With the birds flying so well we talked about skipping a site and moving on to Muscatatuck, but the southeasterly heading would have nullified our tailwind, making the trip too far.

At less than 10 miles out from our destination, 727 fell back off Joe’s wing and Brooke was able to move in and pick her up.

We landed in a lush field of grass surrounded by trees and walked the birds down to the pen where they eagerly strode in to get a drink of water. After setting up the perimeter electric fence we took back off and landed at a nearby airport where one of our friends has generously allowed us use of their hangar.

It looks like we could be down for some time as a stationary front moves in to set up camp over Indiana, giving us a prolonged rain event.

Date: November 10, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 29

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

55.2 miles

Boone County, IN to Morgan County, IN

Accumulated
Distance

394.6 miles

The eagle...er cranes have landed! Everyone is on the ground in Morgan County, IN after almost an hour and a half in the air. Joe landed with 14 of the 16 birds that took off with him - so far, the biggest group to have stayed on the wing for a whole leg.

Richard flew in and picked up 721 who was slow coming out of the pen, and he was the first to arrive at the new stopover site. A short way out, 710 broke away from Joe's trike and Chris, flying chase swooped in and managed to get him off his wing. Mid flight, 727 fell back, and Brooke picked him up and led him the rest of the way.

Joe's lead pilot report will follow later today.

Date: November 10, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 29

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

? miles

Boone County, IN to ?

Accumulated
Distance

? miles

Boone County, IN this morning had a temp of 33F, 81% humidity, and 3mph NNW surface winds. At altitude the winds were blowing about 19mph. All this to say – it was 'a go' today.

16 birds took off with Joe, today's lead pilot, with 721 lagging behind. We're waiting to hear that they've landed - and also, where.

Note: Thanks to Craniac Marnie Gaede for pointing out that National Geographic’s website is currently running the 2006 segment from 'Wild Chronicles'. We enjoyed viewing it again, and if you think you might too, here's a link to it.
Video: Rare Cranes Taught to Migrate

Date: November 10, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Check Out Our Hero

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

? miles

Boone County, IN

Accumulated
Distance

? miles

Disney Wildlife Conservation Heroes Featured
DWCF has put out a release congratulating and highlighting all its 2007 DWCF Conservation Heroes. To find the release click on the DWCF logo and then look for OM’s nominee, Walter Sturgeon who was among those named a DWCF Hero.

In their communiqué, DWCF said, "Thank you again for nominating these amazing people and helping us to recognize them for everything they are doing to save species and change the world. They, like all of you, truly are one in a million!"

We couldn’t agree more – 'Our' Walt is definitely one in a million!

Date: November 10, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Wood Buffalo - Aransas Population Update

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

? miles

Boone County, IN

Accumulated
Distance

? miles

In its most recent newsletter, Bird Studies Canada noted that Canada’s National News Program had aired the documentary, ‘Bye Bye Birdie’.

Quoting from the newsletter: "Inspired by Audubon's Summer 2007 Common Birds in Decline report, the new Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) documentary Bye Bye Birdie offers a Canadian perspective on the state of North America's bird populations. Canadian BirdLife partners Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada are featured prominently in the piece, which aired on The National on Wednesday, October 31.

Reporter Joan Leishman interviewed Ted Cheskey of Nature Canada and Stuart Mackenzie of Bird Studies Canada. Mackenzie, the Landbird Programs Coordinator for the Long Point Bird Observatory, spoke about how migration monitoring across Canada is helping scientists to derive North American bird population trends, while Cheskey discussed how modern trends in farming, forestry, and housing are destroying tens of millions of common birds in North America."

You can visit the website for The National to watch the 13-minute documentary online.

Date: November 10, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Wood Buffalo - Aransas Population Update

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

? miles

Boone County, IN

Accumulated
Distance

? miles

On a 5 hour flight with pilot Gary Ritchey of Air Transit Solutions out of San Antonio, Texas, observers Tom Stehn and Darrin Welchert counted 211 Whooping cranes as they conducted their aerial census of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas on November 8th.

Tom, USF&WS's Whooping crane Coordinator at Aransas, estimated that approximately 80% of the flock had completed the migration, with 30-50 whooping cranes were still in the flyway.

This was Tom's first aerial census of the season. Prior to the flight, reports from staff, volunteers and landowners up to November 2nd, had recorded 50 cranes present (a minimum number).

"Many additional cranes arrived following a strong cold front that reached the Texas coast the morning of November 5th," said Stehn. "This large arrival is right on schedule since the majority of the Whooping cranes always seem to arrive with an associated front during the period November 4-7."

Tom noted, "30 of the 211 Whoopers present were young birds. An indicator of good survival subsequent to mid-August surveys done in Wood Buffalo National Park. Of the 13 chicks from pairs where both summer and winter territories are known, 12 of the 13 have made it to Aransas safely. The 13th family group is not at Aransas and presumably still in migration," he said.

On the flight indication of one mortality was found. Present on the Narrow Peninsula territory at Welder Flats was a single adult with one chick, indication that an adult had died subsequent to nesting.

Tom reported that they had observed several territorial encounters during the flight as newly arrived pairs staked out their winter territories. One notably large group of 9 cranes split up into groups of 2, 3 and 4, with a territorial pair showing aggression against sub-adults.

In his update, Tom went on to note, "Recent habitat surveys indicated abundant blue crabs in the marshes, and multiple wolfberry flowers that would soon be producing fruit. Salinities are quite moderate at 8-10 ppt. On the flight, no cranes were found on uplands, prescribed burns, or fresh water sources.

One worry about the habitat is the increasing amount of mangrove bushes proliferating on the northern part of the crane range on Matagorda Island," he said. "Mangrove is killed by hard winter freezes and its range has for decades remained south of the Whooping crane range. With ongoing global warming, the range of the mangrove will likely move north and decrease the value of the salt marsh for Whooping cranes."

"Cedar Bayou is very close to becoming completely silted in. This bayou between the Gulf of Mexico and the bays within Whooping crane critical habitat is important in the life cycle of many marine organisms, including the blue crab. The bayou apparently was shut or very nearly shut during August, 2007, and studies are ongoing to assess environmental impacts for a proposed dredging project to increase flows."

Note: We have also received and posted Tom's semi-annual Summary of Whooping Crane Recovery Activities Report. This report, covering the period April - October 2007, can be found on our Site Map under 'Important Documents' or by clicking the link above.

Date: November 9, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Richard van Heuvelen

Subject:

Migration Day 28

Location: Boone Cty, IN
Distance
Traveled

89.6 miles

Kankakee County, IL to Boone County, IN

Accumulated
Distance

339.4 miles

We said goodbye to Charlie Shafer who is leaving today to go home. His humorous good nature and expertise with the birds will be missed. However Brian Clauss who has another kind of humor, and other skills, will be replacing him, so all is not lost.

Weather forecasting is, what it is. Getting it right is about as lucky as hitting a hole in one. This morning was breezier than forecast, but we were determined to try. Luckily, the air was smoother than expected, and soon we were off with all the birds off my right wing.

Things were looking good with a slow wide arc to get on course. We began to climb. With the busy highway below the chicks were soon distracted and so the round-up air show began. Eventually I emerged out of the melee with eight birds, Joe with six, and Brooke with three. The air was getting rough down low so we began the long climb to smoother air and we soon lost sight of each other in the morning haze.

Just as we gained enough altitude to fly in smooth air, 727 set her wings and was looking for a place to land. With Chris behind me with no birds he gave chase to pick her up - but she landed anyway. As Brian moved in on the ground she took to the air, and flew over the road to land again. So Chris again gave chase when she became airborne once more. Eventually he landed with her and Brian soon had her boxed and loaded into the tracking van and was on his way.

Not hearing much from Brooke or Joe I continued on with six birds on the wing. One, 733, seemed to be afraid of something flying below the wing. He began to tire as the battle to keep on the wing was slowly being lost. He would fly on the wing for a bit but then, screaming he would duck under the wing and refuse to get back on top. After many attempts and many miles we lost altitude and soon we were being bounced around in the rough air down low.

The other chicks were having a hard time staying with a wing getting tossed around in the morning sky and soon began to tire. With Don and Paula overhead to keep an eye on 733 who had dropped down to tree level and was irretrievable, we continued on. Soon we heard Chris over the radio flying at 4500 feet AGL, zooming in to help at 80 miles an hour ground speed. Eventually with Don and Paula’s help he located and landed with 733 to keep it company while Don directed Brian to the scene.

Fighting the rough air, we attempted to climb out of it with twenty three miles to go. We were almost out of the blender when the valley the pen was in came into view. While Brooke and Joe landed we began our descent through the blender again. Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as earlier and the landing was relatively smooth.

An hour later Brian showed up with the two boxed wayward birds. As the rest of the crew arrived, Brian who hit the ground running, Megan who is always eager to help, Chris who is more than willing, and I, feft to go set up the pen at the next site.

Happy trails to Charlie for a much deserved rest.

Date: November 9, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 28

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

89.6 miles

Kankakee County, IL to Boone County, IN

Accumulated
Distance

339.4 miles

After skipping over one stop this morning, the pilots and birds are on the ground in Boone County, IN. The flight time was just over 2 hours. Two birds (may be 733 and 727) dropped out and were picked up by the ground crew, crated and are being transported in the tracking van.

By reaching Boone County today, the '07 migration has now caught up to where it was last year on this date. Winds and weather stalled the '06 migration in Boone County for 8 days last year. Hope we have better luck this season.

Date: November 9, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 28

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

? miles

Kankakee County, IL to Boone County, IN

Accumulated
Distance

? miles

The winds were favorable this morning, but at first there was some debate as to whether they were too strong for the cranes and planes to cope with. Turns out the pilots thought they could manage, so off they went, headed for Benton County, Indiana.

Richard is lead pilot today and Bev reported that all 17 birds took off.

At last word they were over flying the next stop (which would have been in Benton County, IN,) and are headed for our stopover location in Boone County, IN.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
BOONE COUNTY, IN
Lebanon (commonly pronounced "Leba-nen") is the county seat of  Boone County. The honor of naming the town fell on Adam French, one of the first commissioners. Because a cluster of hickory trees reminded him of the Cedars of Lebanon from the Bible, French shouted to a group of onlookers, "The name of this town shall be Lebanon."

It was necessary to expand to the points of the compass around Boone County to find any famous names: Some well known people from the area are NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon from Pittsboro, south of Boone County. Actor Will Geer, best known for his role as Grandpa Zeb on the television series "The Waltons", resided in the town of Frankfort, north of Boone County. Rex Stout, the creator of the popular detective series "Nero Wolf," was born in Noblesville, east of Boone County.

Date: November 8, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Kankakee Departure Viewing Opportunity!

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Kankakee County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

249.8 miles

Great news for Craniacs within driving distance of our Kankakee, IL location. We've secured a site for viewing the departure. The viewing site is located at: 4150 E. Exline Club Road, Kankakee, IL. We suggest you use MapQuest or GoogleEarth to come up with driving directions to it from your home location. Please park your vehicles well off the road.

We ask that you be careful, considerate, and courteous when parking your vehicles, and respect the surrounding privately owned property. Keep in mind too, that sound carries in the cool, morning country air.

REMEMBER, you will want to be on site shortly after first light, AND, also remember, that you could make the trek for naught if conditions are such that the cranes and planes can't fly tomorrow morning. Should this be the case, members of OM’s flight and ground crew will stop by to meet and chat with those gathered.

Date: November 8, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Bev Paulan

Subject:

A Day in the life of a Crane Mama

Location: Kankakee Cty, IL
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Kankakee County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

249.8 miles

A question I get asked quite frequently is, what do we do on our down days during migration. This is actually a difficult one to answer as it really depends on where we are and what the weather is doing. This job is not unlike my last one in the sense that my days off are usually when and because of bad weather.

As the designated crane mama out of the crew, I spend a lot more time with the birds than the others. My mobile domicile is the one parked as close to the away-pen as possible, to keep watch over the area for potential problems.

Problems, you ask? What could possibly be a problem to the chicks? Some of the areas we park the pen is quite a ways away from where camp is set up, and in rather isolated areas. There is always the potential for unintended human interactions, whether it is a hunter walking across the field, an ATV motoring by, or even a farmer trying to harvest his crop. I stand at the ready to intervene as necessary, to ask, plead, cajole, and educate the people about why they can’t continue doing whatever it is they are doing.

Luckily, so far this year we have not had any problems. I hope this continues, but I can’t help but worry just a little bit about the what-if…

Besides trying to keep ‘my little chickies’ isolated, I worry about them getting bored. As any mother knows, boredom leads to misbehaving children. So I make it my job to make sure they don’t get bored. This is where the pumpkins come in.

When we have to stand down for more than a day due to weather, we break out the pumpkins. Literally. I smash one to pieces and let the chicks have a go at it. It doesn’t take long for 17 bored adolescents to make a couple of medium sized orange squash disappear.  Usually, the only evidence of a pumpkin having been in the pen, are the seeds. And the dirty water. They love to take the pieces and drop them in the water buckets to play with them.

Ears of feed corn also are a good distraction, and those also disappear rather quickly. When we stay somewhere for an extended period of time, I try to mix things up so they don’t get bored with the distractions. Rotten logs and downed tree branches are also a favorite target. Down in Florida last year, we even found some rotted cactus pods that seemed to garner lots of attention and disappeared quite quickly too.

Never a dull moment for me on migration, what with all the worry about my charges. I don’t have time to get bored with trying to plan all the parties for these 17 feathered teens and making sure they all stay healthy and secure.

It’s always a guessing game whether all 17 will be in the pen when I get there in the morning, (à la 619 last year) or if they have figured out how to dump all the water buckets, (they have once already) or, if any one chick is getting picked on by the others (so far not).

If we are down for three days we take them out to fly. Then a whole new set of worries rears its ugly head. Is it too windy? Will they keep flying? Will someone land in the trees and get hurt? Will they all go back in the pen easily or will it be a battle (again, this is where a pumpkin or some grapes come in handy). Or, will they not fly and then not get any exercise? So many worries - - no wonder motherhood is so exhausting.

Date: November 8, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Whooping Crane Recovery Report (Apr-Oct 07)

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Kankakee County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

249.8 miles

Tom Stehn, Chair of the Whooping Crane Recovery Team, and US F&WS Whooping Crane Coordinator at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, has sent his semi-annual WHOOPING CRANE RECOVERY ACTIVITY REPORT for the period April – October 2007. Tom's report will always be accessible via a link on OM’s site map, but to view it now, CLICK HERE.

Date: November 8, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 27

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Kankakee County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

249.8 miles

Yesterday we said, "Kankakee County here we come!" This morning we have to tell you that it is also where we will spend the day today unfortunately. The winds are dead out of the south.

Chris G. predicted we'd have strong, wrong-way winds this morning and he wasn't wrong. The good news though is, it is still shaping up to be a GREAT flying day tomorrow, Friday. Once again we are working on finding a site for a departure viewing and will post the info to our Field Journal IF we are successful.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
KANKAKEE COUNTY, IL

Mayor Donald Green puts in this plug for his city: "The Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra, Kankakee Valley Theatre, Kankakee County Historical and Art Museum, Riverview Historic District, Kankakee Community College, concerts in the park and Lunch on the Square are just some of the things that give our city its unique energy and style."

Sherb's ice Cream Store opened in Kankakee in 1938 featuring a new dairy product, "Soft Serve - All You Can Eat For 10 Cents." This was the beginning of the hugely successful chain of Dairy Queen shops, the first one opening in Joliet, now widespread in Canada and the USA.

The actor Fred McMurray was born in Kankakee in 1908. He is best remembered for his film rolls in "Double Indemnity" and "The Caine Mutiny" as well as the television series "My Three Sons."

Date: November 7, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Craniacs Share Their Photos

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

59.3 miles

LaSalle County, IL to Kankakee County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

249.8 miles

As promised, here are a few photos taken at this morning's departure. Thanks go to Susan Popp for sending them to us. Chris Gullikson has also promised to send us photos for posting. View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Thanks also to John Heneghan who sent along this link to a website where he posted his photos from this morning. Click here to view John's pictures.

Date: November 7, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject:

Migration Day 26

Location: Kankakee Cty, IL
Distance
Traveled

59.3 miles

LaSalle County, IL to Kankakee County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

249.8 miles

My alarm went off at 5am this morning. I reached out into the chilled air and hit the snooze button. Eight minutes later I reached out again to silence the disturbance, the cold air chasing me back into my warm sleeping bag.

It seemed like only moments later that the intruder was back. I reached back out into the cold before realizing that Charlie was fumbling to turn his alarm off. Ahh… six more minutes of sleep. BEEP-BEEP.. BEEP-BEEP..  BEEP-BEEP.. Richard’s watch had come to life in the back, followed by Megan’s melodious phone 2 minutes later. It was definitely time to get up.

I fired up my laptop and logged onto one of my favorite weather sites. Conditions over ‘the flat’ looked perfect – light, west north-west winds at the surface with a 15 knot NW tailwind aloft at 3000 feet.

As Richard put on a pot of coffee, the rest of us tucked away our sleeping bags and pillows, turning our sleeping quarters back into a couch, a table and a dashboard. The temperature outside was 25 degrees – I grabbed my long underwear, wool socks and an extra sweatshirt.

Thanks to our generous hosts, our trikes were once again inside a spacious hangar, safe from the wind of the previous days. As we donned our cold weather flying gear and checked over our trikes, the ground crew grabbed their gear too and began the trek out to the pen.

At 6:15 am, Don and Paula pushed out of the hangar and were soon aloft, reporting a gentle tailwind at altitude. The four of us soon followed, the sun a glowing orange ball just rising from 'the flat'.

My turn to lead. The pen was located in a hollow at the east end of a long grass runway. Flying east and low over the runway I passed by the hangar, giving a wave to the crowd of people that had braved the freezing temps to witness our departure.

I landed well short of the pen, not wanting the wake of air created by my wing to spoil my departure back to the west. Taxiing up to the pen I did a quick 180 and signaled to Bev and Megan who quickly swung open the two pen panels that span 20 feet in width.

16 birds blasted out of the pen and lined up on my right side as I got airborne. Richard assumed a chase position, while Joe swooped in to pick up 714 who has habitually been late coming out of the pen.

My plan to make a gentle turn to the left and go on course was spoiled by happenstance. With all the birds lined up on my right side and some falling back, I needed to turn towards them if I had any hope of keeping them with me. The spectators at the hangar must have gotten a good show as I swept low over the hangar and back to the southeast; 16 birds beginning to form a nice long line on my right wing.

Two miles out and things were looking great. The birds were settling into a rhythm and we were slowly climbing into the smooth air. Then, one by one, they began breaking off to the left, mocking me to follow them. I held my course, hoping that some would stay with me and help encourage the rest to continue on a south-easterly course.

The rodeo behind me was relatively brief with Brooke rounding up six, Richard one, and Joe, six miles back, bringing up the rear with four. I heard Joe call for the swamp monster but he was able to get his birds rounded back up before they made it back to the pen.

We all continued our climb, encountering a layer of slightly turbulent air at 1500 feet that smoothed back out above 2000 feet. The tailwind was a bit less than expected, about 6mph, giving me a groundspeed of 44mph.

We talked amongst ourselves about skipping a site, eager to be farther along the route, but wondering if the birds could handle the extra hour plus of flight time. It was eventually decided to stay with our original plan and be happy with no birds being boxed.

I have had the pleasure (?) of flying with 726 for the last two flights. This bird loves to be in the lead position and is constantly pulling my strings (literally). Our fabric wings attain their airfoil shape by aluminum battens that are inserted into the wing and secured at the trailing edge by strings under tension. 726 has picked up a habit of tugging on the outer batten string; an amusing thing to watch the first few times but it becomes a bit annoying after awhile.

Surfing my right wing, she would continuously grab the knot at the end of the string and give an upward tug, trying to hold on as long as possible. Each time she tugs the string, I need to counteract by bringing the wing back down, otherwise I begin to turn to the left. This went on for the entire flight and I had visions of her actually succeeding in removing the batten – a scary thought for me as well as the unfortunate person standing on the ground below me.

For the most part, the flight was rather uninteresting. There was the occasional jet traffic overhead that the birds kept staring at, and we flew by an industrial area with huge, billowing smokestacks. Our flight continued over ‘the flat’, and the fields are featureless with no end in sight. Our descent at the end of flight was smooth and the birds looked happy in their familiar pen in their new surroundings.

As I am writing this, we are driving back from setting up the pen in Boone County, Indiana. Our next scheduled site is actually in Benton County, Indiana but conditions look well enough for Friday that we may decide to skip a stop. We can easily hide the birds to set up a pen at the Benton County location if conditions are not favorable to skip. We will likely be down tomorrow due to southerly winds.

Note: Check back later this evening for photos from this morning's flight. Liz

Date: November 7, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 26

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

59.3 miles

LaSalle County, IL to Kankakee County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

249.8 miles

One hour and a half after take-off from LaSalle County, the cranes and planes were all safely on the ground in Kankakee County, IL.

Today's lead pilot, Chris, had most of the birds with him for a good part of the way before they started to break off. In the end, Chris and Brooke each led 6, while Joe had 4, and Richard 1. Yea! That means all 17 chicks flew the entire leg.

Tune in later today for Chris's lead pilot report.

Date: November 7, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 26

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

? miles

LaSalle County, IL to Kankakee County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

? miles

Kankakee County here we come! Bev reported it was a beautiful morning in LaSalle County, IL, and the team hustled to get ready for a fly day. Chris was lead pilot, and 16 of the 17 youngsters took off with him. 714 was the laggard this morning.

A sizable 'flock’ of Craniacs gathered very early at the departure viewing spot in anticipation of seeing a flyover this morning. We hope they got an eyeful.

P.S. Click here if you are looking for Gerald Murphy’s biscuit and/or tomato gravy recipe.


2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
KANKAKEE COUNTY, IL
Kankakee County takes its Native American name from the Kankakee River flowing through it from east to west for 57 of its 225 miles. From its source in Indiana, it flows to the junction with the DesPlaines River to form the Illinois River. Its water is very clean and the fishin' is good! The Indiana/Illinois state line is the eastern boundary of Kankakee County.

The county seat, the city of Kankakee, population 110,000, is located 75 miles south of Chicago. Frank Lloyd Wright designed two homes in Kankakee that still are standing: the Warren Hickok House and B. Harley Bradley Residence.

Date: November 6, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Nathan Hurst

Subject:

Interesting Things We Do Besides Fly With Cranes

Location: LaSalle Cty, IL
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

I expect you sometimes wonder what it is we do on days we can't fly. Sometimes I wonder myself. So yesterday I got out the camera and captured a few of the things we find to keep us busy while the wind blows.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Stay tuned for more installments of "Interesting Things We Do Besides Fly With Cranes."

Date: November 6, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Eastern Migratory Population Update

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

This update was compiled from data provided by Dr. Richard Urbanek (USFWS), Nicole Frey (ICF), Anna Fasoli, Danielle Desourdis, and Eva Szyszkoski. Thanks to Windway Aviation and pilot Mike Frakes for tracking assistance and to Marianne Wellington (ICF) for capture assistance.

In the highlights below, * = female; DAR = direct autumn release; NFT = non functional transmitter. With the release of the 2007 DAR juveniles, the estimated size of the Eastern Migratory Population is 59 individuals; 31 males, 28 females.

ON MIGRATION:
- DAR 627 and DAR628 migrated to Jasper-Pulaski FWA, IN on Nov5.
- Nov. 4 an unidentified Whooping crane was reported among thousands of Sandhills on Jasper-Pulaski FWA, IN.

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, 307, 310 & 501*, 312* & 316, 313* & 318, 309* & 403 were observed building another next on East Rynearson Pool on Nov. 2nd. They had previously built a nest in mid October. (no eggs are expected)
- 401 & 508*, 402, 408 & 519*, 412, 415*NFT.
- 505, 506, 509, 511, 512, 514*NFT
- W601*
- DAR 627 and DAR628NFT with large staging Sandhill crane flock in Adams County.

Outside central Wisconsin core were:
- 107*NFT last reported with staging Sandhills in Dodge County
- DAR527* with Sandhills in Winnebago County
- DAR528* with Sandhills in Marathon County.

Recorded earlier in Wisconsin but current location unknown were:
- 201*NFT last observed June 9. Mate 306 was found predated July 6.
- 311 left his territory September 29 and has not returned. His signal was detected Oct. 3 but he was not found during an aerial search Oct. 10. His mate, 301* was apparently killed by an eagle Sept. 25.
- 420* last observed foraging with Sandhills in Chippewa County September 26 was not found during last check done on October 14.
- 503 & 507 were last recorded in Wood County May 26.
- 506 left Necedah NWR Oct. 6. Last radio signal was detected Oct. 10 from undetermined location near Mill Bluff.
- 520* last found with staging Sandhills in Clark County Oct. 9.
- 524NFT last observed on Sprague Pool September 28.

Michigan:
- 516 was reported with staging Sandhills in Jackson County.
- DAR533* remained with Sandhill cranes in Van Buren County and Cass Counties.

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

Transmitter Replacements:
Between October 24th and November 3rd 101, 211, 217*, 218*, 307, 402, 403, and 511 were fitted with new transmitters.

2007 Direct Autumn Release Recap - data from Dr. Urbanek
DARs 736, 741, 745, and 746* were released on the Necedah refuge October 29. They flew to the nearby main Sandhill crane roost, which was also occupied by 312* and 316. Early on October 30th 745 was found dead near the release site, presumably killed by a coyote. 736 joined a group of ~40 Sandhills and 741 foraged alone. 746* attempted to associate with 312* and 316 but was met with aggression.

By the following morning 736, 741, and 746* had rejoined. They spent most of the late morning and afternoon in undirected flight, landing briefly in Adams County before flying back over the refuge, and then heading south. Trackers lost their signals south of Mauston. 741 died on Oct. 31 when struck by a landing aircraft at the Dane County Regional Airport.

November 1st, 736 and 746* continued southward roosting that night in western Indiana, and in Vigo/Vermillion Counties, IN November 2nd. On Nov. 3 they continued migration and were tracked to Grayson County, KY where they separated.

736 was killed as a result of colliding with a powerline after apparently roosting at a nearby reservoir. 746* roosted in Daviess County, KY on the 3rd and then continued retreating northward to eventually roost in a power plant reservoir in Gibson County, IN. She was not with Sandhills and was still at that location as of Nov. 5.

The DAR rearing facilities at Site 3 at Necedah were closed October 30th, and DARs 739* and 743* were passively released there with 102*. In the evening, DARs 737, 740*, 742*, and 744* were released. 737 and 742* flew to roost on the north Sandhill roost, and 740* returned to Site 3 and rejoined 739* and 743* and 102* to roost in the day pen marsh. 744* landed in scrub oak between ERP and Site 3 and she was retrieved and re-released with the roosting cranes at Site 3.

These six DAR juveniles remained together during the remainder of the week. They roosted each night at Site 3 with no. 102* and also moved to ERP, the East DU Unit, and to a field and pond E of the refuge during the day. They associated with 211/217*, 309*/403, with Sandhills, or remained alone.

Date: November 6, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 25

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

The word for the day is 'blustery'. This morning in LaSalle County, Illinois it's partly cloudy, 2 degrees below freezing, with surface winds at +17mph out of the WNW and much stronger up top. OM's resident meteorologist, Chris Gullikson's prediction was correct, (perhaps he's missed his calling?), the cranes and planes are going nowhere today.

For an interesting 'down day' report from intern Nathan Hurst, including photos, check the Field Journal later today.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
LA SALLE COUNTY, IL
Ottawa, the county seat, was the site of the first of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. Here Douglas accused Lincoln of forming a secret bipartisan group of Congressmen to bring about the abolition of slavery. Ottawa was a major stop on the Underground Railroad for slaves heading to Chicago.

The Boy Scouts of America were incorporated February 10, 1910 by Ottawa resident, William Dickson Boyce. The Ottawa Scouting Museum features the history of boy scouting, girl scouting, camp fire and the City of Ottawa.

Date: November 6, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Responding To Your Many Questions About DAR

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

With the mortality of three of the ten 2007 Direct Autumn Release (DAR) birds, OM has been deluged with emails asking numerous questions. The simplest expedient seemed to be to post an entry to our Field Journal.

First, some background. Both the ultralight-led reintroduction and the direct autumn release program are managed by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. Working with the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Operation Migration is lead on the ultralight method, and the International Crane Foundation (ICF) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service conduct the direct autumn release.

While Operation Migration has no direct involvement in the DAR program, we do try our best to keep our field journal readers informed on 'all things Whooping crane' by posting DAR reports, just as we do for the Wood Buffalo-Aransas and Florida Non-Migratory populations.
 

Each partner within WCEP has agreed to carry out specific roles and shoulder certain responsibilities. They are:

PROJECT PHASE

PERFORMED BY
WCEP PARTNER(S)

AUTHORITY AND RESPONSIBILITY
FOR THE BIRDS RESTS WITH

Breeding/Incubation/Hatching/Rearing

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Imprinting/Early Conditioning

Operation Migration and
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Operation Migration

Summer 'Flight School'

Operation Migration and
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Operation Migration

Migration

Operation Migration
and Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Operation Migration

Winter Monitoring at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, International Crane Foundation, and Operation Migration

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and
International Crane Foundation

Tracking of Previous Years’ Birds

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and International Crane Foundation

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
and International Crane Foundation

Direct Autumn Release Program

International Crane Foundation and
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

International Crane Foundation and
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


The DAR program was initiated as a method of supplementing the number of birds that could be released into the wild. It was developed to be used once the ultralight-led method had established a viable population and additional birds needed to be periodically added to supplement the flock.

Direct Autumn Release involves releasing juvenile Whooping cranes with older birds that have learned a migration route by following Operation Migration's ultralight aircraft. The DAR birds are hatched and reared at ICF, and eventually are moved to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge where they are acclimated to the wetland habitat. It is hoped that these naive young-of-year birds will associate with experienced Whooping cranes and then learn a route south by following the older birds when they leave on migration.

Whooping cranes are not naturally social birds. Unlike Sandhill cranes they do not gather in large numbers, and are territorial and less accepting of ‘strangers, particularly once they have pair bonded. This means releasing the DAR birds with unattached sub-adults or bachelor cohorts in the ultralight-led population.

The DAR birds are released in and around the Necedah Refuge in the late fall after the ultralight-led birds have begun their migration. This gives the DAR juveniles an opportunity to 'mix and mingle' with previous years unattached birds prior to their migration departure.

It is not always possible to associate the young DAR birds with their more experienced conspecifics, and as a result, the DAR birds often follow Sandhill cranes. The Sandhills can teach them to migrate and improve their wild behavior, but association with their own species is preferable.

This is just the third year for the DAR program and it will take time to determine if it is a viable method. It took six years before the ultralight-led reintroduction method produced a pair that successfully fledged a wild-hatched chick and proved that the concept worked. It will take a few more years of testing before the DAR method can be properly evaluated.

It is hoped that once the self-sustaining population target is reached, that the DAR method could be used to supplement the Eastern Migratory Population on an ongoing basis. This could help offset losses from predation, boost numbers in low fertility years, and insert genetically valuable birds into the flock to increase diversity.

Although we do our best to respond to all emails and inquiries, it is difficult to keep up with the average 300+ emails that hit our inboxes daily. While we will of course continue to try to keep you informed about all Whooping crane news, if you have detailed inquiries about the DAR program, or specific questions about one or more of the DAR birds, they might better be directed to ICF or the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

We hope this explanation is helpful and answers many of your questions.

Date: November 5, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Sleep In Instead

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

OM's resident meteorologist, Chris Gullickson, is predicting an almost zero chance that they will fly tomorrow. Winds just aren't shifting around to a favorable direction for the planes and cranes.

Chris says with some confidence, that anyone who was thinking of taking in the departure tomorrow can sleep in instead. Maybe Wednesday will be a go. 

Date: November 5, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

LaSalle Departure Viewing Opportunity!

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

Great news for Craniacs within driving distance of our LaSalle County, IL location. We've secured a site for viewing the departure. The site is located at: 4548 E. 2351 Road, Leland, IL. We suggest you use MapQuest or GoogleEarth to come up with driving directions to it from your home location. Please park your vehicles well off the road.

There is an aircraft hangar on the site, and we ask that you be careful, considerate, and courteous when parking your vehicles, and respect the surrounding privately owned property. Keep in mind too, that sound carries in the cool, morning country air.

REMEMBER, you will want to be on site shortly after first light, AND, also remember, that you could make the trek for naught if conditions are such that the cranes and planes can't fly tomorrow morning. Should this be the case, members of OM’s flight and ground crew will stop by to meet and chat with those gathered.

Date: November 5, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Wood Buffalo - Aransas Population Update Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator at Aransas, advises that his current estimate of Whooping cranes in or around the refuge is a minimum of 44 adults + 6 young, for a total of 50 birds that have completed their migration.

Tom said, "If the typical fall arrival pattern holds, I anticipate that an expected cold front moving through tomorrow should double or triple Whooper numbers here by the end of this week." He said he hoped to start census flights soon which would enable him to get a more accurate estimate.

Date: November 5, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Migration Day 24 Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

It's 48F, only 54% humidity, and mostly overcast skies this morning in LaSalle County, IL. But. There's that darn 'but' again. Winds are out of the WSW at 11 on the surface and more than 20mph up top. So, unless they want to go sideways- - -

The OM Migration team and their 17 young charges will spend a second day grounded in LaSalle.

A check of the aviation weather shows the winds gradually swinging around throughout the day and over night.

If the forecast holds true, by 6:00AM tomorrow they would have northwest winds and a potential opportunity to log another migration leg.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
LA SALLE COUNTY, IL

The Kankakee and DesPlaines Rivers join in eastern La Salle County to become the Illinois River at Ottawa. The east-to-west flow bisects the county and supports a large volume of barge traffic between Lake Michigan and the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1848 the Illinois and Michigan Canal was opened to towed barge traffic. Paralleling the Chicago, Kankakee and Illinois Rivers for 97 miles, it linked Chicago and the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River. Ending at the city of LaSalle where it merges with the Illinois River, the towpaths have been restored to hiking and biking trails.

Date: November 5, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Mortality Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

This morning Dr. Richard Urbanek reported the mortality of a third 2007 DAR bird. "Intern Nicole Frey recovered the carcass of DAR736 in Grayson County, Kentucky early Sunday (Nov 4) afternoon," he said.

Richard noted that, "Earlier in the day, DAR736 had collided with a power distribution line in a hayfield after apparently roosting at a nearby reservoir on the previous night. One feather remained adhering to the lower line."

DAR 736, 741, and 746 began migration together from central Wisconsin October 31st. 741 died on that night in Dane County, WI after being struck by a landing aircraft. 736 and 746 continued migration the following morning. They roosted at an undetermined location in western Indiana. PTT data for 746 indicated that they roosted in the Vigo/Vermillion County, IN area November 2nd.

They continued migration November 3rd and were tracked from the ground to the area where the mortality of 736 later occurred. The birds separated, and 746 roosted in Daviess County, KY where she remained last evening.

Date: November 4, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Gerald Murphy

Subject:   Location: LaSalle Cty, IL
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

Well, today I have to say goodbye to my 'other life' as an OM volunteer/truck driver, cook, and general all-around flunkee.

What a great four weeks it has been, even with all the down time (standard), and south winds. I did get to see some dear friends again, but my replacement, Walt Sturgeon, is arriving at Midway airport today. We will pick him up, have lunch together, and then the crew will drop me off for a later flight. I should be back in Florida (Milton-just outside of Pensacola) by tonight.

I would like to thank the whole crew for putting up with my biscuits, omelets, tomato gravy (unknown outside of Walton Co. Florida; recipe available upon request), and other various dishes that I prepared for the crew.

It was a great treat to see the cranes in person again, and to be present while they were let out to fly for exercise. One of the great experiences of my life.

So for another year (and life), "Farewell," and I look forward to seeing everyone at Chass at the end.

Note: It's we who thank you Gerald. It's always a treat having you join the team. See you in Florida!

Date: November 4, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Migration Day 23 Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

Disappointing news. It was too windy for a departure this morning. The winds were blowing out of the SSE, both on the surface and up top. Based on aviation weather forecasts, it could be Tuesday before the cranes and planes are on the 'right side' of the system giving them favorable winds.

Today the team is going to scout the nearby area for a 'departure viewing location'. They're looking for some place that that will afford watchers a view yet be sufficiently distant from the pensite location. The spot also has to offer parking, so that Craniacs and road traffic are safe.

IF they find a spot, we will post the information/directions here sometime later today. REMEMBER, you would need to be on site shortly after first light, AND, also remember, that you could make the trek for naught if conditions are such that the cranes and planes can't fly.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
LA SALLE COUNTY, IL
Thank you to reader Peter Vander Sar, of Mara, BC and sometimes Rockport, TX, who sent in this unusual connection between the explorer and the western flock of Whooping cranes. LaSalle County is the namesake of Robert de la Salle.

In 1684 La Salle's flagship, the Labelle, foundered in the waters of Matagorda Bay in the Texas Coastal Bend, the wintering site for present-day Whooping cranes. Not long ago the ship was found, and exhibits relating to it are found in seven museums in that area including the Texas Maritime Museum in Rockport, gateway to the Aransas Refuge.

Date: November 4, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Migration Day 22 photos Location: Main Office

Thanks to Craniac Jamie Johannsen of Rockford, IL, (and a Member of OM's Board of Directors) we have photos to share with you from yesterday's departure.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: November 3, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Brooke Pennypacker

Subject: Migration Day 22 Location: LaSalle Cty, IL
Distance
Traveled

62.8 miles

Winnebago County, IL to LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

My turn to lead - your turn to read. My sympathies, but it's like my father used to say before my whoopins, "This is going to hurt me a lot more than it does you!"

If Christopher Columbus had been from Illinois, he never would have put a single one of his itzy bitzy toes into a boat to go to sea and prove the earth is round. He would have already known with absolute certainty, as I do after this morning’s flight, that the world, at least the world of Illinois, is FLAT!

And I mean, FLAT. Pancake flat. Pool table flat. Twiggy's chest flat. I mean, you could drop a handful or marbles anywhere in Illinois and they wouldn’t roll anywhere. You could come back in 10,000 years and there they'd be. That's the reason not a single school child in Illinois even knows who Christopher Columbus really is. They think he's the quarterback for Indiana!

Of course, this is not news to me. I was informed of this geological anomaly many years ago when hitchhiking through the state. A middle aged woman sporting a bouffant hairdo like Marge Simpson's thought my thumb had a certain attraction and picked me up. When I asked her how she liked living in Illinois, she paused for a moment to freshen up her lipstick, cast a furtive glance at the rearview mirror as if to assure herself her hand had been steady, looked at me with the solemnity of a priest giving the Last Rites, and answered with great reverence, "Ya gotta like FLAT."

This morning, we awoke to a perfect flat-escaping morning, and after fond farewells to our wonderful hosts, we, the ultralights, and the birds, launched and slowly climbed into the calm, still dim morning, leaving the flat behind if only for a short time.

One bird, 714, remained in the pen, so as we headed on course, Chris landed and coaxed our shy little reluctant angel skyward. The rest followed well until they realized it was 'Showtime,' and the 'Dance of Migration' began.

Some broke off to be picked up by Richard and Joe in the usual rodeo roundup, leaving eleven in a nice line off my wing. With throttle adjustments, changes in control bar position, slight turns first one way then the other, and enough head swivels to make a chiropractor squeal with delight, I BEGGED the birds to follow.

And, for the second time in three days, we enjoyed a tailwind; that wonderfully delicious invisible push that added 15mph to our standard anemic airspeed and subtracted from our time to destination, but more importantly, my wait to use the bathroom.

The birds seemed to enjoy the flight, some more than others as the Dance progressed. As always, there were more steps to try out; like the 'Let’s Act Crazy' step as we passed over the highway and they momentarily scattered slightly. And the 'Let’s Drive Brooke Crazy' step as one bird would start heading for the deck while the others remained in perfect formation.

Like a teacher who must accommodate his most challenging student, the class…or flight, in this case, is asked to change their steps, their rhythm interrupted to drop down, sacrificing hard earned altitude just to get that bad boy back on the wing.

The result of his infraction, if left unchecked, is, that he's left to dance alone, then tires, then becomes a class dropout. And Charlie hates dropouts! (kidding) Plus, my principal penalizes me for my Standards of Learning failures. So, not wanting to trade my incredibly lucrative teaching/migrating position for one in the soupline, I give my sweat glands the green light.

Then 703 charges ahead in what has become his signature step. He is after all the oldest, the fastest, and the strongest flier. But as he does so, he never fails to look back at me with that 'Make My Day' grin on his face; a face that at such times I feel could benefit from just a little more mud on it!

Then there’s 710 who sits like a statue out on that invisible vortex of lift looking over at me with pure contempt, a thought balloon above his head saying “Better make this ride a smooth one, baby, cause if you don’t, I’m out of here for the rest of the day and the ground crew won’t be buying you drinks any time soon!” So, I climb a little to keep him happy, remembering the day before yesterday on our last flight when he made me climb while 727 begged me to descend. You just can’t please ALL the cranes ALL the time.

Meanwhile, little 733 is doing her very best to stay in the lineup. But pecking orders being what they are, she's relegated to the back of the bus and starts to tire, forcing me to drop down to maintain her position, and by so doing coax her on. This satisfies her for 10 to 15 minutes until she drops another 15 feet and the process repeats itself. Still, her fiery young spirit won’t be denied inclusion, and she hangs on with everything she's got.

Meanwhile another bird does a 180 and Joe picks it up not far behind me. I heard him on the radio calling in frustration as one of his bird taunted him with frequent descents towards the deck. I wondered if it's 727. I now have 10 birds.

Richard is now ahead a few miles with 4 birds, and Chris has 1 which he drops off to Richard so he can come back to lend assistance to our little group. Each of our four trikes has a different colored leading edge on our wings, and Chris's florescent green is the easiest to spot in the air. It soon passes and takes up station behind us.

Perhaps it is the insurance policy Chris has just written by his presence which allows my eyes to shift downward once again to the Land of Flat; a place of monotonous geometry, a Pathagorean heaven - a putting green where every shot is a sinker. But monotony is good because it is familiar, and familiarity is security, and security means warmth, comfort, a chance at satisfaction, even peace of mind.

And it is, I think, in honor to the god of these things that these People of the Flat have erected their silos, their horns of plenty, which reach spiritually to the sky like the spires of a European cathedral. It is no wonder so many great pilots have come from this land. The quest for elevation is so compelling and real that even time spent on a ladder in the middle of a field can be logged as flight time. And how could it not when a man standing on the ground must look down to see the horizon.

But there are threats to this condition and they lie below the whisper of our wings. The land is becoming forested by cell towers which grow up over night and which lie in wait for the unwary crop duster. And there are wind farms growing even faster, converting the circuits of propeller blades into light, and noise and bits and bites, and providing death to the birds that invade their domain. These structural invaders thrust a finger skyward at the natural world while standing sentry over waves of corn soon to be converted into ethanol and miles per hour.

But enough of this. 733 is dropping again and it is clear that it is her spirit more than her wings that has finally fatigued and prompted her descent. At the perfect time as not to disrupt the rest of the flight, Chris moves in and works to pick her up on his wing for the last 8 or so miles to the destination. He struggles low over the Flat, he and his new charge, as we continue through the still wonderfully calm air.

Minutes later, as we circle the field for landing and look down at Richard leading his little flock into the pen, I hear Chris call Charlie to give the coordinates of 733's landfall. Meanwhile, the Flat, which by its nature is a friend to all ultralights, offering a runway anywhere anytime, welcomes Chris down to look after 733 'til Charlie arrives with, you guessed it, the BOX.

The most beautiful emerald green runway rises up to greet our little flight and we are soon wheels down, birds away, and are busy finding shelter for our trikes - which is almost instantly provided for us by the kind generosity of our  LaSalle County friends. Soon after that we enjoyed a great breakfast at the home of another dear friend.

Another step closer to Florida, flying over a great State with great people. How could it possibly get any better? Now, if I could only find a hardware store that sells LEVELS!!!

Date: November 3, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Migration Day 22 Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

62.8 miles

Winnebago County, IL to LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

190.5 miles

In a quick call from the field, (literally from a field) Joe advised that with the exception of 733, all the birds made the 1 hour and 23 minute flight from Winnebago to LaSalle.

733 dropped down about 13 miles out and Chris landed with him and waited for Charlie to arrive on the scene. Between the two of them they crated 733 and he is traveling to the LaSalle pensite in the tracking van.

Worthy of noting is that 727 flew an entire leg - again, and 710 behaved like a champ.

Lead pilot Brooke's report will follow later today.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Thanks to Kathy Miner of Wisconsin for this timely trivia, prompted by the recent pictures of the Whoopers 'playing' with pumpkins, plain and carved into jack-o-lanterns. Guess how the crew amused themselves when stuck in Green County, WI on Halloween. Kathy tells us that this exposure to the fruit is most appropriate and even may be inspirational to the birds. Chassahowitzka, their final destination in Florida, means "Place of the Hanging Pumpkins" and was bestowed on the refuge by the Timucuan band of Seminoles. Their pumpkins, however, were smaller than the giants we grow today and are rare or may be extinct.

Date: November 3, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Migration Day 22 Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

? miles

Winnebago County, IL to LaSalle County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

? miles

And they're off! 16 birds blasted out of the pen this morning and took off with today's lead pilot, Brooke Pennypacker.

The one lagging bird eventually took off too, but from Bev's perspective on the ground she couldn't see which of the pilots, if any, managed to get it on the wing.

Don and Paula who are above in the top cover aircraft will have spotted the loner however and directed one of the trikes to the bird.

Date: November 3, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Nasty PayPal!! - Grrrr Location: Main Office

Thanks to emails from dedicated and generous supporters who were responding to our "Can You Spare Some Change" appeal in yesterday's Field Journal entry, we discovered we again had a problem with PayPal.

PayPal is not operating properly. They, not OM, are adding a 'shipping charge' to donations. Despite our repeated attempts to get them to fix the problem they have not done this.
 
We are trying to get them to fix the problem but they are less than responsive and very difficult to deal with, and, we don't know how long the 'fix' will take.
 
Be aware of this if you use PayPal to donate to OM. Also watch carefully if you use PayPal on other sites as we understand their problem is not unique to our site. Also, please be aware that if PayPal does refund the charge that they have wrongly tacked on, that OM will.
 
OM can most definitely NOT afford to have PayPal putting impediments in the way of our generous donors. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and ask for your understanding as we try to get PayPal to resolve things.

Date: November 2, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Can You Spare Some Change? Location: Main Office

We just checked our MileMaker figures and - Holey Scary! Compared to the end of October last year, 2007’s MileMaker sponsorships are down – way down – 157 miles down! In fact, (shudder) we are in an even worse position today than we were when we launched the “Will We Run Out of Gas” appeal back in 2005.

Many thanks if you are already a MileMaker. If you are not yet a MileMaker sponsor, there will never be a better time to become one than right NOW!

Here are the numbers.

Flyway State

# Unsponsored Miles

@ $206

Wonderful Wisconsin

0

0

Incredible Illinois

0

0

Indiana

139.0

$28,634

Kentucky

111.0

$22,866

Tennessee

85.0

$17,510

Georgia

227.0

$46,762

Florida

134.5

$27,707

Still needed to get the Class of 2007 to Florida is a heart-stopping total of

 $143,479

So folks – if you can spare 'a little change' to help us get the Class of 2007 to Florida, just click on the MileMaker logo that appears here.

Date: November 2, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Second '07 DAR Mortality Location: Main Office

Dr. Richard Urbanek emailed today to advise us of the mortality of DAR741. He said the death had been reported yesterday morning, and that the bird was apparently struck by a small jet at Dane County Regional Airport the previous evening.

"The two other DAR birds  who had been in the company of DAR741, (DAR736 and 746) left that area yesterday morning and continued southbound," he said. "The tracker lost their signals in northwest Indiana late the same afternoon."

Date: November 2, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Migration Day 21 Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

0 miles

Winnebago County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

127.7 miles

Up one day - down the next. Winnebago County has clear skies this morning, cold temps (29F), and winds - you guessed it - out of the south. At altitude it's blowing about 30mph. As a result, the migration team will, of course, spend the day on the ground.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
WINNEBAGO COUNTY, IL
Winnebago County boasts about its Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center in Rockford, the oldest continuous community music organization in the United States. Quality live musical performances by local and world-renowned artists are featured there.

The legendary rock band ‘Cheap Trick’ was founded in Rockford. They are now into their fourth decade of recording and performing to sold-out audiences throughout the world. Senate Resolution No. 255 designates April 1 of every year as ‘Cheap Trick Day’ in the State of Illinois.

Date: November 1, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject: Sore Arms Location: Winnebago Cty, IL
Distance
Traveled

35.8 miles

Green County, WI - Winnebago County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

127.7 miles

It's a good thing I can write this update on my computer because I’m not sure I could hold up a pencil.

Yesterday was very windy, and every five minutes one, or the other, of the pilots would wander behind the barn to check on the airplanes. We moved them twice before we could finally relax, assured that they weren’t going to blow over. The wind was out of north and rolling over the hills so we had airplanes in every nook around the property.

We had been waiting a few day for a morning as calm as today. It was cold and the frost built up heavily on the new wing covers. Frost can form on any exposed surface in only a few minutes, and the new wing covers allow us to start the engine and suit up, before we pull them off. There is 34 yards of fabric and 75 feet of Velcro on each cover. Once we’re ready to go we rip the last of the Velcro apart and let the covers slip to the ground. We taxi out and take off before the frost can form and spoil the lift on our wings.

Rather than wait for the sun to rise before we risked uncovering the wings we decided to test the covers and we pulled them off while they were still white with accumulation. This gives us a head start so we can take advantage of the calm air first thing in the morning.

The pensite in Green County is on top of a hill, so as soon as the lead pilot takes off, we’re already a 100 feet up. Most of the birds followed but one ran behind the pen. Brooke moved in low to pick it up while Megan pulled on her swamp monster costume. The action at the pen was enough to encourage most of the birds to turn back and it wasn’t long before the air above the field was a swirling collection of wings and confusion. The whole thing looked like slow motion tornado or a whirl pool with birds and planes all moving in the same circle but on opposite sides.

Chris Gullikson broke out the top with 4 birds and asked if he should leave. That would mean 4 less to distract the others so we sent him on his way. Six birds formed on my wing as I headed down the valley and Richard intercepted another six.

About a mile south of the pen, the smooth air turned rough as we hit an area of wind sheer or mechanical turbulence as it rolled over the hills. It was so rough that we stopped watching for birds and focused our attention on flying. I was lifted out of the seat twice and thought my shoulders would pull out as I fought the wing.

There are a very few times on each migration when we’re nervous enough to lose interest in the birds. You add some power so you’re not so close to a stall and stop turning your head from side to side. The aircraft pitches and pulls as you try to keep it straight and level. You climb or descend in whatever it takes to free yourself from the air that is trying to kill you. When the right side is finally up again you sneak a glance and, sure enough, the birds are still there. They followed you through a manoeuvre that would normally shake them off.

I'm not sure why this always happens but it is a regular occurrence. Just when you expect them to break, (and there would be nothing you could do about it) they stick like glue. Maybe they’re insecure too - but I somehow doubt that. After all, it’s not like they are going to crash, unless, of course, they’re foolish enough to follow us in.

Maybe they become focused on following the gyrating wing tip and lose sight of everything else like an obsessive wingman during aerial combat. Or it could be that they sense it’s time to stop fooling around and pay attention. Maybe it’s avian sympathy, and they take pity of us mere humans, completely out of our element, held aloft by tubes and fabric. Alright, he’s in trouble now so let’s not add to his woes.

You are finally out of the maw of the monster that eats ultralights, and the last thing you want to do is go back in to retrieve the birds, and there they are, sticking with you when you really needed them. Maybe it one of those spiritual things like when the dolphins carry a drowning man to shore. You help us and we’ll help you. We can lead you out of here if you can lead us home. Nah, I’m too pragmatic for that. It’s more likely that we were just all going the same direction.

As we climbed in the cold air, it became slightly smoother but I saw Chris below us getting tossed in the trashy layer. He was first to leave but last to arrive.

Richard managed to climb with his six birds. The higher he went, the faster the ground speed became and he began to pull ahead. Brooke collected two birds and fought his way up and out of the turmoil while one bird dropped back from Chris and landed out. He had no choice but to leave it behind so Don and Paula relayed the coordinates to Charlie Shafer in the tracking van.

Once we were above the turbulent layer the winds that caused the problem now began to push us along at over 60 miles per hour. We passed through 1000 feet and finally found the smooth tailwind. As we progressed, the turbulence increased and came up to pull at us. We climbed higher but decided that the day was going to get worse if we kept going. The rough air that tossed us around at lower levels would eventually get us up high too. So we abandoned hopes of skipping a stop and after 47 minutes began to spiral down.

We crossed into Illinois and the flatter country reduced the turbulence close to the ground. The descent wasn’t quite as bad as we expected and soon all the birds were on the ground. Only one had turned back and we scanned their leg bands to see who was missing. Surprisingly 727 made the whole trip along with 710. This is the first time 727 has competed a leg and not been crated. During the last 2 flights 710 took off and spent the day soaring the thermals while the chase crew and the top cover pilots spent the day following it.

In fact it was a short flight today. It just seemed like forever.

View the photos here in the 2007 Migration photo journal.

Date: November 1, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Migration Day 20 Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

35.8 miles

Green County, WI - Winnebago County, IL

Accumulated
Distance

127.7 miles

This just in from Joe Duff - a successful flight into Illinois this morning! Sixteen of the cranes, 714 being the exception, made the 35.8 mile flight from Green County, WI to Winnebago County in Illinois.

Of special note was the success of 710 and 727, who both made the entire flight without issue. 714 broke away and went down early but was easily found. She is currently en route to the next stopover, safely crated away in the tracking van.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
WINNEBAGO COUNTY, IL

The county was named for the Native Americans that occupied it. The tribe, located primarily in Wisconsin, changed its official name in 1994 to the Ho-Chunk Sovereign Nation (meaning People of the Big Voice). Several casinos in Wisconsin are operated y the tribe with a new one for Illinois in the planning stage.

Famous IRL racecar driver Danica Patrick grew up in Roscoe and claims it as her hometown. She was the fourth woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and the first ever to take the lead in the race.

Date: November 1, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject: Migration Day 20 Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled

TBA

Green County, WI - 

Accumulated
Distance

TBA

Cranes and planes are flying today! At 7:00AM CST it was 34F, humidity was at 66%, and surface winds were next to calm.

For their departure from Green County the pilots have clear skies, and winds out of the WNW at around 30mph up top - one heck of a tailwind - and which, with the cooperation of the birds, could present an opportunity to overfly a stop.

Reporting from the field, Bev said it was another rodeo this morning. From her vantage point she could one see two of the trikes, both with birds; one with 6, one with 8. They are having a hard time convincing the birds to go. At that moment, she said it appeared the pilots were back circling around, likely trying to keep the birds following the wing instead of breaking off.

From their top cover position, Don and Paula reported that the winds '‘upstairs' were great for a terrific flight if the pilots could just get the birds to follow long enough to get up to altitude.

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