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Date: December 31, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 69

Location: Meigs Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 Miles

Meigs County, TN

Accumulated
Distance
738.3 miles

It seems that once each state in the flyway gets a hold of us, it is reluctant to let us go. We have freezing fog this morning. That is bad news for trike wings and obviously also for visibility which is only about a quarter of a mile. The are calling for it to be hours before the fog lifts by which time the WNW winds will have turned into winds out of the south west. This is the long way of saying we are going no where today.

Walter and I just returned to camp after more than two and a half hours visiting with the hardy Craniacs gathered at the Gazebo on the Hiwassee Refuge. We were sure we would find no one there and that we were making the trip from camp for nothing as it was so foggy we couldn't seem much more that 50 feet in front of the car.

Were we in for a surprize! There was at least 3 times the number of people there as there was yesterday - some new folks and some had returned for the second day. Both Walter and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we made some new friends, visited with some old ones, and once again sold some OM merchandise.

Our thanks to Carlotta and also to Virginia who delivered goodies that will become part of our New Year's Eve MunchieFest.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Meigs County, TN

Created in 1836, Meigs County was named in honor of a country pioneer, Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs. He was an American revolutionary officer and an Indian Agent for the Cherokee Nation from 1801 to 1823. Col. Meigs promoted the establishment of schools for the Cherokee as well as introducing them to weaving, blacksmithing and other enterprises to help them make a living in proximity to the white culture.

Lying on a southwest to northeast axis at the southern end of the Appalachians, Meigs County, population about 11,000, is a sliver of true hill country varying from 5 to 19 miles wide and about 30 miles long.

Date: December 30, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 68

Location: Meigs Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 Miles

Meigs County, TN

Accumulated
Distance
738.3 miles

Our flying 'streak' is over. With a headwind too strong to cope with on this next long leg, and the cranes and planes likely to encounter rain enroute, the decision was made to stand down - again.

Brooke, Walt, and Brian loaded up the white truck to go to the pensite on the refuge to check the birds, and I followed along to go to the Gazebo to see if any diehard Craniacs had shown up on the chance of viewing a departure.

By the time it was daybreak, there were some 20 or so hopeful and hardy souls gathered that we had to disappoint with the news that we were standing down for the day. Shortly thereafter, the three guys pulled alongside in the truck and stopped to chat with the folks and answer their many questions. And shortly after that the rain started to fall.

Undeterred by the rain, I threw open the back hatch of my rental car like an itinerant peddler and offered an assortment of OM merchandise for sale. We say thank you to'our customers'. (smile) Thanks too to Linda Mann for the gift bag containing my favorite vegetable (cheese of course). I'll share your treat with the team when we have munchies later today.

Chris thinks we have a slight chance of flying in the morning so maybe tomorrow will be the charm. Let's go!! The Peach state awaits.

Date: December 29, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject:

BACK IN THE AIR

Location: Meigs Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
48.1

Cumberland County to Meigs County, TN

Accumulated
Distance
738.3 miles

It has been 23 days since we arrived in Cumberland County TN. Our wonderful host gave us full run of his beautiful home, providing us with beds, showers, laundry, and 4WD vehicles to ease our trips out to the birds. I was starting to feel very much at home but the urge to migrate was still lurking inside – and I hoped the birds felt the urge to migrate as well.

All of the crew made it back from their Christmas break by early last evening, except for Joe who will be staying back in Canada for a time at least. In his absence, Matt Ahrens has graciously volunteered his time to fly with us in Joe’s trike. Matt has been a long time friend of OM. He also flew with us in 2006 looking for Ivory-billed Woodpeckers and flew a couple legs of the ‘06 migration as well.

The weather forecast for this morning looked good as far as winds were concerned - light and out of the northwest – but we were concerned about low clouds inhibiting our passage of the ridge immediately to our south. As dark turned to dawn, we could see the low, broken cloud layer aloft but we could also see breaks in the clouds with stars and a waning gibbous moon on the western horizon. Launching at sunrise with the trikes we found smooth air and ample room around the broken cloud layer to cross the ridge. It was time to migrate.

For the past week and a half, the birds have been given access to a small pond to bathe and forage in. Knowing that they would have inclinations to land at the pond, we sent Walt down to the pond disguised as a swamp monster to dissuade any troublesome chicks.

Richard landed at the pen and was soon airborne with all 17 birds. Matt stayed high overhead to watch, while Brooke and I stayed off to the side allowing Richard time to round up his flock. After a few circuits of the pen, Richard was able to get the birds turned on course and I fell into a chase position above and behind him.

After only a mile, birds began to break from Richard’s trike and fly back toward the pen. I dropped down to cut them off from going back, and eventually found myself with 13 birds. While Richard continued on with four, Brooke and I traded birds back and forth as we tried to dissuade them from going back to the pen.

I eventually got away with nine birds leaving Brooke to struggle with 4 birds who really wanted to go back home. 727 was refusing to climb and eventually landed in a nearby woods. Brooke landed his other 3 birds at the pen and with the help of the ground crew, retrieved her from the woods and led her back to the pen. As 727 seemed reluctant to fly, it was decided to crate her to the next destination. Brooke eventually took back off with the remaining 3 birds, a good distance behind us.

Meanwhile I was having my own troubles getting my 9 birds to climb. 733 kept getting distracted by ponds, peeling off to descend and taking other birds with him. With Matt flying overhead keeping watch, time after time I rounded up my group, giving up precious altitude that I had worked so hard to gain.

After a good hour of endless bizarre looking circles, the birds finally settled in and began climbing with me. We soon had enough altitude to cross the ridge and I turned on course to the Hiwassee Refuge. Richard was a good 20 miles ahead of me and slowly spiraling down over the pen. When he announced his landing, I was just coming to the edge of the plateau and looking down at the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee rivers.

With only 10 miles to go and 2000 feet to descend, I pulled the bar in to 42mph and began a gentle descent, allowing the birds a break from their long flight. We were soon over the river and spiraling down to the pen. There were countless thousands of Sandhill cranes along the river’s edge and sandbars, with the occasional lone Whooping crane visible. I dropped off my 9 birds to Richard then flew by the Gazebo to give the small group of people assembled there a wave.

Brooke was now 15 miles out and coming off the plateau with his 3 birds. Matt and I joined up with him and watched as he also dropped off his 3 birds to Richard. Then the 3 of us flew off to the airport where a hangar generously awaited us.

As I am writing this, Richard, Megan, and myself are coming back from setting up the pen at our next stop in Gordon County GA. 727 is safely back with the rest of her flock and in good spirits.

The weather for tomorrow looks like a slight chance of rain to our south with calm winds and a gentle headwind aloft. We may have the opportunity for a flight. There will be a viewing opportunity from the Gazebo at the Hiwassee Refuge, we hope to see you there.

Note: Cumberland County to Meigs County is only about 48 miles by air. Flying in chase position today, Matt trailed behind Chris. In his update above Chris said he spent an hour flying in bizarre circles and he wasn’t kidding. When Matt checked the odometer, it read 143 miles!

Date: December 29, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Another 5 mile Challenge Met! One 10 mile Challenge left to go.

Location: Meigs Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
48.1

Cumberland County to Meigs County, TN

Accumulated
Distance
738.3 miles

Mary Ellen O’Brien's 5 mile 'Holiday Challenge' has been met by a fellow Wisconsin native who wishes to remain anonymous. Many, many thanks to both of you!!

The 10 mile 'Tax-Break' Challenge from an Illinois supporter still stands. Wisconsin, Illinois and Tennessee MileMaker miles have all been covered, but there's still lots of room for Craniacs and Craniacs-To-Be to sponsor miles in Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia and Florida.

Whether responding to the Challenge or not,
OM will issue a 2007 tax deductible receipt for all contributions we receive before midnight December 31st. You can use PayPal online, or simply call the office before the deadline and use Visa or MasterCard. If your call goes to voicemail (we have just one telephone line) leave your number and someone will call you back as quickly as possible. Donations mailed and postmarked by December 31st are of course also eligible for a deductible receipt for the 2007 taxation year.

Date: December 29, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

THE BEAST IS BEHIND US - FINALLY

Location: Meigs Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
48.1

Cumberland County to Meigs County, TN

Accumulated
Distance
738.3 miles

As morning advanced, the clouds (see grey overcast sky in photo) began to thin revealing patches of brilliant blue sky above Cumberland County, TN. The pensite and departure area were shielded from view by a low rise topped with a deep line of tall trees. However, I did manage to snap a quick and very distant photo of one of the trikes just after take-off. (see photo below)

Richard was lead pilot today, and was first to cross the Beast with 4 birds following. Chris and Brooke had some rounding up to do before they actually did any leading. Chris ended up with 9 birds behind him and 3 followed Brooke. 727 refused to gain any altitude and after many tries, Brooke gave up and led his little flock back around to the pensite to 'drop off' 727. The ground crew returned her to the pen where she was crated, so she made the trip by road.

Once I too had crossed the Cumberland Ridge, I high-tailed it to the Mark Anton Airport just outside of Dayton to pick up Chris. Not far behind was Brian in the tracking van to pick up the other three pilots. They headed back to the pensite to check out 727 (who is just fine) while Chris and I headed down the highway to hook up with Megan and pilot Matt Ahrens who were driving the Hornet and pulling our second travel pen. These three needed hooked up so they could drive on south to our next stopover site in Gordon County, GA and get the pen set up there.

At the moment, I'm typing this perched on a lawn chair beside the Tennessee River while everyone else is scurrying around setting up camp (and the satellite dish so I can get this update posted). We're in a bit of a low area surrounded by forest and so we are having trouble picking up both satellite and cell phone signals.

Did you notice a new pilot's name above? Matt Ahrens, who has flown with us on a couple of previous occasions filling in for Richard, will, for the next little while be filling in for Joe. Other obligations have intervened to delay Joe's coming back to rejoin the migration. Matt (photo to right) hails from Madison, Wisconsin and he hitched a ride down to Tennessee with Beverly and Nathan on their way back from their few days at home. He is a super guy, a great pilot, and fits right in with the rest of the team. He's also quite an accomplished cook and we're looking forward to putting him to work in the kitchen too. Welcome to the OM team Matt!!

I know, I know!! It was one heck of a migration leg to be so long before being able to get an update posted. I can tell from my email inbox that there are a few hundred or more of you out there biting your fingernails. What can we say to convince you all not to email to ask what's happening; that we always post just as quickly as we humanly can. You would also be doing us a great favor if you posted your comments and good wishes to the GuestBook rather than emailing. Our contract for internet uploads/downloads while on the road has limits, much like minute plans for cell phones, and we'd like to 'save the room' for accessing our server so we can provide you with updates and photos.

At this point I'm not sure whether or not there will be a lead pilot report ready for posting today. Richard, who was today's lead is really unwell with the flu - which hit him about three hours after we left home on the 27th. His face was as white as the trike wing at the end of today's flight. Hopefully Chris and Brooke will pinch hit for him with an update, but as Chris is off to Georgia to do the pen set up and Brooke is dealing with electrical and propane issues here in camp, it may be tonight or tomorrow before we have more info for you. Then again, if we are able to fly tomorrow, it may have to wait for a future down day.

Speaking of flying tomorrow - if the forecast chance of rain showers doesn't keep us grounded, the pilots will likely go aloft to check out a predicted light headwind. The next leg is one of the longest of the migration - approximately 70 miles - so too strong a headwind will undoubtedly ground us.

Public Viewing Opportunity
As in past years, our stopover at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge offers the public a chance to watch a departure flyover. The best view is from the Gazebo.

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

As always, please remember the day's weather determines our ability to fly, so, regardless of the day, if you plan on going to view a take-off, keep in mind it may or may not happen. To see any 'hoped for' departure we suggest you be on site by 6:45am.

Date: December 28, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Megan Kennedy

Subject:

"ON MULBERRY STREET"

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Yesterday, Brian, Chris and I let the birds out for what we hope will be their last exercise flight at this stop. Richard and Liz have returned, and the rest of the team is making their way back to camp today so that we’ll be all set for a potential departure tomorrow morning.

On arriving at the pen, we removed the outer perimeter wire and swung open the double doors. The birds eagerly rushed out and began their routine of flying circuits of the field, making periodic trips back to the pen and buzzing us. After a few minutes they landed and began walking toward the now familiar pond on the other side of the hill (note to self – we will need a swamp monster at pond tomorrow morning!!).

While Brian and Chris prepared fresh food and water in the pen, I walked down to the pond to watch over the chicks. They flew over on their own. Most landed to one side of the water, but I walked around to the other side to keep them away from a nearby fence.

733 landed by me right away and the others slowly made their way over to join us. They filtered in around me and started playing at the water’s edge. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a turkey near the far edge of the pond. A big one at that. In anticipation of trouble, I moved out to put myself between it and the birds, but they had already noticed it too.

The turkey seemed pretty jumpy and I was relieved when only moments later it was frightened off by the large group of cranes purposefully walking towards it. It ran back to the fence and into the woods beyond it, but the birds were still slowly moving after it. I turned my vocalizer louder to call them back, when 707, who had stayed on the other side of the water, started alarm calling!

He had started developing his adult voice before we left Necedah, but until now I had heard only small, weak murmurings, as if he was afraid or unsure of the noises he was making. But now here he was, calling loudly and clearly to the others as he joined me to call them in. 706, second in vocal maturation, answered back the best he could, while the others responded in their excited chick voices.

They seemed reluctant to return to the pond, so I led them up to the crest of the hill between the pond and the pen. We had only been up there a short time when I noticed them all turning their eyes to the sky.

At first I was unable to see what they were looking at, but a moment later a goose flew over us. Instead of landing in the pond, it turned and circled overhead, getting lower and lower with each pass. Soon I was able to make it out as a juvenile snow goose.

It was calling intermittently and the birds and I, and even Chris and Brian down at the pen, were all watching it carefully. And then it landed! It landed right in amongst the cranes, who all immediately chased it back to flight. Rather than leave, it circled and landed again! And the cranes just chased it off again. It continued this routine for about 15 minutes before it finally decided the cranes weren’t going to be very welcoming companions and gave up.

By this time the pen was ready for the birds, so we all took up our usual positions to bring them in. It took a few trips to get the bulk of the birds in, but soon we were left with only two stragglers - 726 and 727, who had found a wonderful treasure and refused to give it up. Whenever we approached her, she’d jump away, trying to protect it.

After getting 726 to the pen, we watched 727 intently, trying to figure out a plan. The instant she dropped her plastic ring to pick at a cow pie, I was there to grab it away. Tossing rocks and the ring ahead of us, we got her to walk down into the pen and closed the door securely behind her. That made 17 birds all safe in the pen after one of the most adventurous mornings we’ve had without actually going anywhere.

Date: December 28, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

We're baaack....

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Yesterday was 'travel day' for Richard and I. Just in case we encountered bad weather or road conditions, we left a day early. We left home just after 6:00AM and arrived at our Stopover Host's in Cumberland County just after 9:30 last night. We weren't long tucking up into bed once we got caught up on all the news about fellow crew and the birds.

The rest of the crew are also on their way back here to re-start the migration. Some also left their respective homes yesterday, but are breaking the trip over two days. Before the evening is out however, we will all be 'back on station.'

Chris Gillikson, our resident weather guru, says that the warm temps and big rains of today should be pushed out overnight by a cold front. Winds for tomorrow make a flight look do-able, it is the potential for a low cloud ceiling being the product of the cold front that could keep us on the ground.

More news soon.

Date: December 26, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Go Ahead - Make Our Year...!!

Location: Main Office

Today we received a 10 mile 'Tax-Break' Challenge from one of our very favorite Illinois supporters and who wishes to remain anonymous. This is in addition to Mary Ellen O’Brien’s 5 mile Christmas Eve challenge (No takers as yet.)

You Craniacs and brand new MileMakers are beginning to give us hope that we might see the first complete individual sell-out of MileMaker. What a way that would be to cap off what has certainly been our most emotional year ever, and definitely the most trying.

Date: December 26, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 Video as promised

Location: Main Office

Before the holiday break we promised you some video clips. To view them, click Site Map, then under the heading Video & Audio click on "Flying with the Class of '07", and for the second new video clip, click on "Class of '07 Playing with Pumpkins".

Of course we hope you will stay tuned to the Field Journal as the first 'multi-year' ultralight-led migration in the history of the Whooping crane project resumes December 29th.

Date: December 26, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

The OM Team

Subject:

 LAST MINUTE TAX SAVINGS

Location: Home and Away

If, in the rush of preparations for the holidays, you found yourself with no time to think about one of life’s inevitables - taxes - you still have five days to lower your 2007 income tax.

As you save tax dollars when you make a charitable donation, giving is not just good for society it's good for your tax bill too. As we understand it, in the U.S., each dollar contributed gives you a tax benefit equal to your marginal tax bracket. For instance, if you're in the 25% bracket, a $100 contribution will save you $25 dollars in tax. You’ll save $35 if you are in the 35% bracket as the real cost of your donation is only $65. This means that when you give, you also get back.

OM will issue a 2007 tax deductible receipt for all contributions we receive before midnight December 31st. Donors can contribute via PayPal online, or simply call the office before the deadline and use Visa or MasterCard. If your call goes to voicemail (we have just one telephone line) leave your number and someone will call you back as quickly as possible. Donations mailed and postmarked by December 31st are of course also eligible for a deductible receipt for the 2007 taxation year.

As always, we are sincerely grateful for your support.

Date: December 24, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

The OM Team

Subject:

                               WE WISH YOU.....

Location: Ontario, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland, and Tennessee

All of us at Operation Migration would like to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.

Your awesome care, concern, and support for Whooping cranes and the people who work to safeguard them is both encouraging and inspiring. Your heartfelt messages straight through from the devastating start of this year, to cheering us on during the prolonged migration have made 2007 a year to remember.

May your coming year be filled with luck, laughter, good cheer and success. Peace to all.

The Operation Migration Team,
Joe, Brooke, Richard, Chris G, Bev, Megan, Nathan, Walter, Gerald, Chris D, James, Liz, and honorary OM'ers Brian, Robert, and Charlie.

Click here to view our Christmas Card to you.

Date: December 24, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

ANY TAKERS?

Location: Main Office
And yet another challenge has come in.

This one, from Mary Ellen O’Brien from Madison, WI, is a 'Holiday Challenge'. Mary will match up to 5 MileMaker mile sponsorships that come in to us between now and the end of the year. Thank you Mary!

Date: December 24, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

DEFINITELY NOT ‘UGH’!

Location: Main Office
At the 'almost' departure flyover in Crossville, TN, along with warm wishes and a hug, I received a gift from a lovely lady and OM supporter. Having read my bio where I expressed a like for nice wine and, my favorite vegetable – cheese, she told me she was unsure which of the two things to get. She said she didn’t know if what she decided on was 'good' and if it wasn’t, to just put, "UGH" in the Field Journal.

Far from ugh, it was yummy delicious, to which the entire team will testify as I shared her treat with everyone before we left to go home for the holiday. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness and generosity!

Date: December 22, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

WOOD BUFFALO-ARANSAS POPULATION UPDATE

Location: Main Office

On the latest aerial census conducted December 20 at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas, Tom Stehn, US F&WS Whooping crane Coordinator there reported 253 Whooping cranes were located. The size of the flock, consisting of an estimated 142 adults, 85 sub-adults, and 39 juveniles, remains at an estimated record 266 birds.

The survey was conducted in a Cessna 210 piloted by Gary Ritchey of Air Logistic Solutions of San Antonio, Texas with observer Tom Stehn. "The flight was delayed by early morning fog," Tom said, "but viewing conditions became ideal with clear skies and moderate winds as a front pushed across the coast. Transects were lined out so that flying towards the late afternoon sun was not an issue except for some low light conditions approaching sunset. Smoke from one refuge burn and two prescribed burns on private lands however, made for occasionally slightly hazy conditions over small portions of the refuge and San Jose Island."

Tom said he believed 8 birds were overlooked on the flight; a family of 3, a pair, and 3 sub-adults. He estimated that 98% of the population had completed their migration but that there were at least 4 more Whooping cranes still in the flyway and one additional Whooping crane was using agricultural lands just north of the wintering area.

”The 4 cranes known to still be on migration include one juvenile last reported in west Texas on November 28; one sub-adult still in North Dakota, and two cranes reported December 19th near Big Boggy NWR, TX.

Commenting on the record numbers Tom said, "The estimated flock size of 266 is a result of the excellent production of 40 juveniles sighted on the nesting grounds in August. With 38 juveniles at Aransas and 1 in West Texas, survival of the juveniles since August has been excellent." He went on to note that while, "One carcass of a juvenile was found this fall in Saskatchewan with an undetermined cause of death, adult survival since last spring has also been very good."

Mortality of white-plumaged cranes between spring and fall, 2007 is at most 9 birds, or, 3.8% of the flock present at Aransas in spring, 2007. (This was calculated by taking the spring flock size of 236, adding the 39 juveniles that made it to Texas, and subtracting the current estimated flock size of 266.) In the past two years, mortality between spring and fall has been above average, totaling over 20 birds each year.

Tom reported that tides were the lowest of the winter so far with large mudflats exposed on San Jose Island. 7 cranes were noted in open bay habitat; 2 on a prescribed burn done at Aransas in late November; and, multiple cranes were seen in high salt marsh habitat presumably foraging on wolfberry.

"Low numbers of Sandhill cranes were also found in similar areas, also an indication of wolfberries although they are presumably past peak abundance," he said. "A crab count indicated blue crabs were still available in the marsh, and the cranes have also been finding fiddler crabs to eat as temperatures in December have remained unusually warm."

Four new territorial pairs have been noted at Aransas so far this winter. Last week, a family group of one adult and one chick closely associated with a second adult. This week they were in a similar location but grouped as 1+1. "I guess the recently observed 'relationship' did not work out," said Tom.

Tom's next census flight is scheduled for sometime during the first half of January.

Date: December 21, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

EASILY SPOILED

Location: Main Office

You Craniacs and would-be Craniacs never cease to amaze us.

The MileMaker challenges continue to come in. One of the most recent was from an anonymous supporter in Indiana who said she would match up to 7 miles. We were just typing up the entry about her challenge for the Field Journal when the phone rang. The caller, from Illinois, said she wanted to become a MileMaker and, when we told her about our new challenge, promptly said, "Count me in."

"Which mile would you like we asked?” She said, “You misunderstand.” When I said count me in, I meant I'll meet the Indiana Craniac's challenge. I'll sponsor all 7." A few silent moments passed before we were able to stammer out, "Wow. Thank you!"

And the story doesn't end there.

The following day we received an email from a couple of OM Sustaining Members from Aurora, Ontario - we’ll call M and P. They wanted to issue a challenge to Canadian supporters for 5 MileMaker miles. Once again as we were typing up the Field Journal entry the phone rang. On learning about M and P’s challenge to Canadian Craniacs, the caller, who lives in Toronto, said, "Consider it done!"

Ohmigosh - talk about an early Christmas!

And there's still more to the story. We now have a challenge from a Craniac from New Jersey. She will match up to 2 miles for those who become MileMakers and who reside outside our seven flyway states.

Hmmm….strange…I’m all done typing the entry in the Field Journal and the phone isn't ringing. LOL Didn’t take long for me to become spoiled did it?

Date: December 20, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Megan Kennedy

Subject:

FIRST 'THIRD DAY'

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN

Today was our first ‘third day’ since moving the birds to their new location in Cumberland County, Tennessee and the excitement had Brian, Chris and me talking for days. The stress of migration has been getting to the birds as well and we were hoping that an extended period of time outside the pen might help. Plus, today’s flying exercise held a special treat for the birds; water!

Once they had finished their customary circuits of flight around the field, we walked them over to a nearby secluded pond. At first, they acted as if they had never seen water before, and indeed this morning was the first time they’ve been in water since we left the refuge in Necedah. But it only took a few minutes and some coaxing from us before they were splashing around and taking baths. It was reminiscent of the early days when we first introduced them to water at Patuxent.

They tore up the banks and played with the treasures they found beneath the sand. They ran around and flew to land back in the water. They bathed and preened and flapped their wings and puffed out their feathers to dry.

With as much fun as they were having, we were worried about getting them back to the pen. It turned out to be much easier than we imagined, with a group of 11 coming back on the first try. Brian stayed with the birds in the pen, doling out fresh food and water and providing comfort, while Chris and I went back to round up the errant six. Lo and behold, we found them back at the pond!

These birds were a little more difficult to lead, and several times they took to flight instead. But, with patience, a few treats, and kicking apart cow pies on the way, we managed to bring them back in groups of two, two and one.

That left only 726, who had come to the pen as part of the third pair, but had turned and flown at the last second. She stood watching us from the crest of a hill, wings drooping nearly to the ground out of pure exhaustion. She followed easily, but slowly after I trotted up the hill to fetch her before she tried to fly again. Stopping for a short rest every few feet made for a long trip, but she seemed in much better spirits by the time we got to the pen.

All in all, the birds seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and I am eagerly awaiting our next trip to the pond. Anyone on the team could tell you that I liked being in the water almost as much as the chicks at Necedah - and today was no different.

Date: December 20, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

EASTERN MIGRATORY POPULATION UPDATE

Location: Main Office

This update was compiled from data supplied by the WCEP Tracking Team consisting of: Dr. Richard Urbanek (USF&WS), Sara Zimorski, and Interns Anna Fasoli, Eva Szyszkoski, C. Wisinski (ICF).

Thanks to Windway Aviation and pilots Mike Frakes and Charles Koehler, Jim Bergens (IN DNR), Dean Harrigal (SC DNR), Jason Jackson and staff (TN WRA), Marty Folk (FL FWCC), and Dan Kaiser for tracking assistance. Thanks to David and Paula Urbanek for capture assistance and to Margaret and Mark Urbanek and APH, Inc., for logistical assistance in bird retrieval.

Estimated maximum size of the Eastern Migratory Population on December 15th was 59; 31 males and 28 females. All birds that were able to be tracked had begun migrating by November 27. * = females; DAR = direct autumn release birds. Overall distribution of birds was: Indiana 7; Tennessee 17; Alabama 2; Georgia 1 South Carolina 4; Florida 17; Undetermined 11.

BIRD #

MIGRATED

LAST REPORTED LOCATION

101

Nov. 22

Jasper-Pulaski FWA, IN Nov 22. Departed Nov. 29. Arrived on winter territory Citrus County before 6 December.

102*

Nov. 22

Greene County, IN Nov. 24. Still present when last checked Dec. 14.

105

Nov. 21

Jasper-Pulaski FWA, IN Nov. 22. Hiwassee WR Meigs County, TN Nov. 24. Chassahowitzka NWR pensite Nov. 28. Moved to Hernando County, FL Nov. 29. Returned to roost at Chassahowitzka NWR pensite Dec. 12. Moved to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park Dec 13 attracted by display female. Immediately captured and transported to Halpata Tastanaki Preserve pensite and then to Hiwassee WR, TN where he was released Dec. 16. (Almost all unpaired females in the population were currently at that site.)

107*NFT

~Nov. 18

May have been bird with no signal observed Nov. 28 at Hiwassee WR. Confirmed in Meigs County, TN Dec. 2 and remained through Dec. 15.

201*NFT

-

Last observed June 9.

202*

-

Last reported Mar. 13.

205NFT

-

Last located Oct. 16.

209*NFT & 416

Nov. 22

Jackson County, IN Dec 11 to end of report period.

211 & 217*

Nov. 22

(First Family) Vermillion County, IN Nov. 24. Still present when last checked on 13 December.

212 & 419*

Nov. 22

Hiwassee WR, Meigs County, TN Dec. 1. Okefenokee NWR, GA Dec. 3. Next found Pasco County, FL Dec. 6 and remained through report period.

213 & 218*

Nov. 22

Gibson County, IN Nov. 24. Morgan County, AL Nov. 28 where they remained during current report period.

216

Nov. 27

Left with 303* and 317. Bloomington, IN Nov. 27. Next found Pasco County, FL Dec 11 where they remained through current report period.

303* & 317

Nov. 27

Left with 216. Bloomington, IN Nov. 27. Moved Marion County, In Dec. 7 and remained through report period.

307

Nov. 21

Migrated with 402, 412, 511, 514, and W601* and roosted northeastern GA. Nov. 30. Not located after this date. Separated from 511, 514 and W601* by Dec. 2 and from 402 and 412 by Dec. 10.

309* & 403

Nov. 27

Reported in southern Pulaski County, IN, Nov. 29 andremained through report period. Departed Dec. 5 and has not been located since.

310 & 501*

Nov. 22

Jasper-Pulaski, IN Nov. 22. Allen County, KY Nov. 23. Through GA Nov. 24. Colleton County, SC Nov. 30. where they remained during report period.

311 & 312*

Nov. 12

Reported in Colleton County, SC since 16 November and remained during report period.

312 & 316NFT

Nov. 12

Colleton County, SC Nov. 16. See note above.

Dr. Urbanek sent this note and correction to his previous report: 311 left his territory on Sprague Pool, Necedah NWR, Sept. 29 after his mate, 301* was killed on Sept. 25. His signal was detected Oct. 3 in Green Lake County but was not detected during a ground search the following day. The pair composed of 312* and 316 moved into the neighboring territory of 301* and 311 after 311 left the refuge. Sometime before Oct. 31, 311’s transmitter failed and he is suspected to have returned to his former territory, displaced 316, and paired with 312*. Because transmitters on both 311 and 316 were nonfunctional and these males were not in areas where their leg bands could be read, their identities were not confirmed between Oct. 3 and their arrival on their respective wintering grounds.

313* & 318

Nov. 22

Pair has not been located since beginning migration.

401 & 508*

Nov. 22

Kane County, IL NOv. 22. Departed Dec. 2 and have not been located since.

402 & 412

Nov. 21

Migrated with 307, 511, 514, and W601*. Roosted in NE GA Nov. 30. Pair separated from 511, 514, and W601* by Dec. 2. Next found in Madison County, FL Dec. 10 but not found when site was checked Dec. 12.

408 & 519*

Nov. 27

No subsequent record until found arriving with 512 in Alachua County, FL Dec. 4. Not located after apparently leaving the next day.

415*NFT

~Nov. 16

Began migration with 505 from Columbia County and reported in Jackson County, IN Nov. 24/25. Bird with no signal at Hiwassee Nov. 28 may have been 415*.

420*

-

Jasper-Pulaski, IN Nov. 22. Hiwassee WR, TN Nov. 24 and was still present through current report period.

503 & 507*

-

Last recorded on May 26.

505

Nov. 27

Migrated with 512 from Rock County, WI at least as far as central IN Nov. 27, but found without 512 at Hiwassee Dec. 1. 505 and 514* were observed together in Meigs County, TN Dec. 2 and remained together in the Hiwassee area through the report period.

506

 

Left Necedah NWR Oct 6. Radiosignal next detected from undetermined location during aerial survey Oct. 10. Reported in Iowa County Nov. 17, and was still present Nov. 23rd. No subsequent record.

509

Nov. 23

Hiwassee WR ~Nov. 24. Departed between Nov. 25 - 28. Reported in Quitman County, GA Nov. 30 and remained in area through Dec. 8.

511

Nov. 21

Migrated with 307, 402, 514, and W601* and roosted in NE GA Nov. 30. He was next found when he arrived with 514 and W601* in Hernando County, FL Dec. 2. Left Dec. 3 with 514 and was found in Marion County, FL with 316 Dec. 6.

512

Nov. 27

Migrated with 505 from Rock County at least as far as central IN Nov. 27 but separated by Dec. 1. Next found arriving in Alachua County, FL with 408 and 519* Dec. 4. He moved Dec. 7 and on Dec. 10 but remained in the area at least through Dec. 12.

514

Nov. 21

Migrated with 307, 402, 412, 511, and W601*. Group roosted in NE GA Nov. 30. 514 was next found when he arrived Dec. 2 in Hernando County, FL with 511 and W601*. He left there with 511 the next day and has not been located since.

516

~Nov. 19

Migrated with Sandhills from Jackson County, MI after Nov. 19. Next  found over Columbia County, FL Dec. 12 and landed in Alachua County FL. Found in Marion County, FL Dec. 14.

520*

Nov. 27

Hiwassee WR, TN Dec. 1 and remained there through current report period.

524NFT

?

Jasper Pulaski FWA, IN on Nov. 4. Last confirmed present Nov. 23.

DAR527*

~Nov. 22

Jasper-Pulaski, IN by Nov. 22. Hiwassee WR, TN Dec. 3 and remained during report period.

DAR528*

Nov. 22

Hiwassee WR, TN Dec. 1 and remained during report period.

DAR533*

~Nov. 19

Migrated from Van Buren and Cass Counties, MI after Nov. 19 and found on Hiwassee WR Dec. 1 where she remained during report period.

W601*

Nov. 21

Migrated with 307, 402, 412, 511, and 514. Group roosted in NE GA Nov. 30. W601* next found Dec. 2 when she arrived in Hernando County, FL with 511 and 514. The two males departed the next day but W601* remained.

DAR627 & 628

Nov. 5

Left Juneau County, WI and arrived on wintering area in Pasco County, FL by Nov. 12. Remained during report period.

Unidentified

 

Dec. 15 two color-banded Whooping cranes were reported in Davidson County, TN.

DARs 737, 739*, 740*, 742*, 743*, 744*


See Map Below

Nov. 6

Migrated to Peoria County, IL Nov. 6 and remained until Dec. 5. After their roost pond froze over they moved to Clinton County, IL, and on Dec. 6 to Monroe County, IL where they were retrieved Dec. 11 and transported to Hiwassee, TN. Z
Dec. 12th DARs739* and 743* separated from the others but stayed together during the remainder of the report period before departing southbound on Dec. 17.
Dec. 13th DAR740* separated from DARs 737, 742*, and 744* and moved with Sandhills to nearby Hamilton County. Dec. 14 she moved with Sandhills to Franklin County, TN.
DARs 737, 742*, and 744* stayed together at Hiwassee during the remainder of the report period.

DAR746*

Oct. 31

Began migration with DAR736 and 741. She arrived in Gibson County, IN Nov. 4 and moved to Haywood County, TN Nov. 23. On Nov. 27 she moved to Desha County, Arkansas. She was retrieved Dec. 1 and transported to Hiwassee where she remains.

 

Date: December 17, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

VIDEO CLIPS COMING

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
10.2 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN to Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Just a note to let everyone know that we have some video clips to share with you. We will be on the road driving home for the next couple of days, but as soon as we can we'll edit the video and get links to them posted for your viewing enjoyment.

Date: December 17, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

NOT FOR LACK OF TRYING

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
10.2 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN to Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

We have been on the road for 66 days, and for every leg we have flown there have been three mornings when we’ve taken off at sunrise just to test the conditions. We dress warmly and carry full fuel with every expectation of going, but there is far more disappointment than elation. We have fought headwinds, braved icing conditions, and slipped under low ceilings, all in an attempt to give these birds every opportunity to be wild and migratory.

But that disappointment takes it toll, and it’s time to give the team a rest. We’ve checked the weather for the next few days and things are looking dismal for a while. Three team members have volunteered to stay with the birds and the rest will head home to be with families over Christmas.

We have rented cars and will be sending one to the east, another to the Midwest and a third to Ontario. We have an experienced aviculturist from Patuxent, one of our capable interns and an OM pilot staying behind. The birds are in a fresh site with lots of room to relocate the pen or let them out for exercise. The aircraft are safely tucked into a hangar and our stopover host has generously welcomed us over Christmas.

We will be back on the 29th to start again. Historically we have always completed the second half of the migration in short order and we are hoping that will be the case again.

We are confident the birds will still follow us. In fact these birds have followed better than most. Sometimes it takes us a while to corral them and get them on course, but so far only 6 birds have missed any portion of the migration - and that was mostly at the top end when they were younger and the concept of migration was new. Normally only a few birds make the entire flight to Florida under their own steam. Even this morning after a ten day delay, the birds all followed us after only 10 minutes of encouragement.

We would all enjoy our holiday more if the migration were finished. We have a big job to face in the New Year, but relaxing for a few days will help ease the stress and rejuvenate us for the final push. We can all take pride in the fact that if we haven’t finished it yet; it’s not for lack of trying.

NOTE: While we will continue to post other information and reports as they come in here, this will be the last migration update in the Field Journal until the team is all back together and ready to fly on December 29.

Above: Photo shot by Joe during today's 10 mile flight.
Below: Brooke with 9 birds is in the top of the frame and Joe with 3 is at the bottom. Photo by Kay Stanley.
Above: Joe shot this picture of the three birds off wing as they neared the end of the flight.
Below: Nine birds form up on Brooke's wing. Photo by Kay Stanley.

Date: December 17, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

MORE ON TODAY'S 'ALMOST MIGRATION LEG'

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
10.2 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN to Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Thanks to Craniac Dick Reisz, who has braved the cold mornings on each of our attempts to escape from Cumberland County, we have more pictures to share with you. In his email that included the photos Dick said…..

“Exciting day! And another at least one million thanks for a morning filled with emotion and excitement. You and your team were superb! And it is sad that the effort did not pay off as wished. We are amazed that you have backup for such a complicated operation. I'm attaching a few snaps I got that are a little different from those posted from those Vickie sent. You can see the pilots!”

We’re grateful to you for both the photos and your support Dick. And again we say a warm “Great meeting you and thank you” to the hardy bunch at the Stan Winery this morning.

You can expect one more field journal entry to appear here before the day is out. Joe is working on an update and an outline of what the next few days have in store.

Today's lead pilot Chris with three charges. Brooke followed with nine birds - three of which are captured in this photo.

Date: December 17, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Chris Gullikson

Subject:

LEAD PILOT REPORT - MIGRATION DAY 66

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
10.2 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN to Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

We awoke to clear and very cold skies this morning with a gentle breeze from the north. As we drove out to the hangar, a low, broken cloud deck appeared and we could see that the tops of the ridges were covered – I had a moment of déjà vu.

We had a plan in place to move the birds to a different location in case we had problems crossing the ridge. We took off and found the conditions were adequate to try a flight with the birds so we turned north to cover the 10 miles to the pen.

I landed at the pen and gave the signal to Bev and Megan to open the doors while Nate hid in the trailer ready with the swamp monster. The birds busted out of the pen and I soon had all 17 birds flying with me. We circled the pen area a few times to gain altitude and to pick up birds who kept wanting to turn back.

I turned on course once I had a good group on my wing and let the stragglers get picked up by the chase trikes, knowing we needed to split these birds up if we wanted to climb up over the ridge. I only ended up with three birds as, one by one, they split off from me to go back to the trikes behind me. I pushed on with my three, wanting to get out of the way and hopefully encourage the rest of the flock to continue south.

I made a bee-line for the interstate exit where a group had assembled to watch us fly over and as I passed overhead I gave them a big wave. 703 was surfing my left leading edge and kept looking down at the assembly of people, or more likely the semi-trucks passing by 500 feet below us.

I was out ahead of the others, Richard had two birds, Joe had three and Brooke nine. We were flying under a low cloud deck that opened up into a blue hole a couple miles across once we got closer to the ridge. Joe and I climbed our birds up through this huge hole in the sky to get over the cloud layer.

It was during this time that I noticed my right wing getting heavy and stalling at a higher then normal speed. The other pilots were also commenting that their wings felt heavy and were flying faster then usual. We were experiencing light icing on our wings which was disturbing the air flow over the airfoil shape of the wing and increasing the stall speed.

As we discussed our options, Jack, John and Margie in the top cover aircraft climbed up over the ridge and reported that the low cloud deck continued along our flight path for as far as they could see. Given the ice on our wings and the low cloud deck, we threw in the towel and landed the birds at a pensite we’d used in previous years.

The birds are safely in their pen, and while we feel let down for missing another opportunity, we are glad to have given the birds some exercise with the trikes.

Date: December 17, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

NO ONE SAID LIFE WOULD BE FAIR

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Only one out of three today. Cold temps that's the one. Numbers two and three, too low of a ceiling and wind were the flies in the ointment. While the direction was favorable, at 35mph aloft they were a lot more than the cranes and planes would like to handle. And even if they could have, the ceiling was hovering at about 900 to 1000 above ground level which meant the clouds bottoms were below the top of the ridge.

We all broke camp this morning and headed for our respective positions. The trike pilots along with top cover and spotters headed for the hangar; the balance of the ground crew tore off for the pensite; and me to the departure viewing site to wait with the rest of the hardy souls hopeful of seeing a flyover.

Heads hunkered down into shoulders, feet stomped and hands clapped as everyone tried to keep warm during the wait for the star attractions to appear. We watched as the trikes and top cover Cessna flew past in the distance on their way to the pensite. Then we waited, some flapping like chicks to generate heat – all of us feeling sorry for the pilots and the brutal cold they were about to face.

"I see one!" someone cried, and all eyes strained to pick out the flash of white wing in the distance. And then there were two – and eventually we could see all four teeny tiny trikes. As we watched, one trike grew larger and larger until we could see there were specks following it. The vignette above us enlarged slowly, like a gradual zoom-in of a camera lens.

Soon we could see the green leading edge of the wing so we knew it was Chris Gullikson. Tucked close up to him were three birds – one off the right and two off his left wing. He and his charges, who had at least a mile or more lead on the other planes and cranes, flew almost over top of watchers heads. As he and his 3 little ones made their stately way past and out of sight, we turned back to see if the performers in the next act were following.

Sure enough, the remaining three ultralights approached, and as they neared we started to count the birds off each trike's wing. At one point there was a group of birds that seemed to be having difficulty deciding which ultralight they were going to give their allegiance to. By the time the trio were in camera range, 3 had decided Joe was their leader, and another 3 Richard. Brooke gathered up the rest, and, as if they knew they were in the spotlight, they all formed up off Brooke’s right wing in an unbelievably straight line, one directly behind the other. It was about this point eyes started to tear up. (Darlene, I forgot my tissues again.)

Once the cranes and planes had faded in the distance, the attention of those gathered returned to the ground. I think I was as happy that their dedication and perseverance had been rewarded as they were at having witnessed the stirring sight. While the temperature was darn cold, there was as much warmth in that crowd as anyone could ask for. I can tell you that the folks from Tennessee give good hugs – and they're sweet and generous too. More than one sidled over to me and slipped some dollars into my coat pocket. What a wonderful bunch of people!

When the pilots could not get over the ridge, the decision was made in the air to fly the birds to an alternate pensite. Fecal matter builds up in the pen when they are held in one location too long, and this move will be healthier for them. Today's 'exercise' will also have been good for them, and helped to refresh their memories of what 'their job' is after such a long time on the ground.

There will be another posting here a little later today informing you, our readers, about our plans for the coming days. In the meantime we can share some photos taken by our Board Chair, Vickie Henderson from Knoxville, TN who was on hand to share the excitement of our 'almost' departure.

A rare shot showing our top cover aircraft. Pilot Jack Wrighter with spotters John Cooper and Margie Carroll aboard circle off in the background. Chris Gullikson gave watchers a real eyeful as he flew overhead with three of the Class of 2007.

Here you can see that all of the birds haven't quite made up their minds who they are going to follow this morning. (The 3rd trike is in front and out of this frame.) They finally made up their mind. Maybe it was Brooke's bright red leading edge that appealed to them.

Just like veteran actors, they pulled themselves together to give the watchers below an exhibition of 'their best behavior'. And away they went, like pre-schoolers out for a walk with their teacher, all in a line and hanging tightly on to a rope.
A few of the shivering diehards gathered at the Stonehaus Winery on Genesis Road.

Our thanks to Bob Ramsey, the manager there for allowing us to take over his parking lot.

Date: December 16, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED....

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Once again tomorrow morning the intrepid OM pilots will take to the air hoping for an opportunity to ‘beat the Beast’. Winds on the surface are forecast to be out of the northwest at 5mph. The difficulty that they may encounter is what's predicted for up top – winds at 30 to 35mph. However, we are going to try.

The parking lot at the Halcyon Days Restaurant will once again be the viewing site for what we sure hope will be a flyover. It is located at Interstate I-40 exit 320. The address is: Stonehaus Winery, 2444 Genesis Road, Crossville, TN.

If you are planning to go to the Genesis Road viewing site to see the flyover remember that it may or may not happen. To see the 'hoped for' flyover we suggest you be on site around 6:45 to 7am.

Hope to see you there in the morning!

Date: December 16, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

MIGRATION DAY 65

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Can you believe it?!?!? Today is a record breaking 10th consecutive down day. Cumberland County has thrown just about every variation of weather and wind at us over the past week. We’ve basked in 70 degree sunshine, and today we've got sleet driven by high winds peppering our faces when we work up the courage to stick our noses outside.

On the summer-like days the two hundred yard walk from my bed to where I can pick up a satellite signal was a pleasant stroll. This morning, with shoulders hunkered down and nose tucked into my coat, that stroll became a half jog.

This system should move through quickly today, leaving behind still cold temps and favorable WNW winds for Monday. We hope sure hope so. If the forecast holds, we’ll be tackling 'The Beast' tomorrow.

Thanks to Bev, we have some photos to share with you this morning.

Above: The birds have, not for the first time, managed to knock down the adult replica we leave erected in their pen. Here, 726 investigates.

Below: 712 pecks away at a piece of pumpkin.
Above: 735 digs right in to the share of pumpkin she's appropriated as his own.

Below: 714's coloring is changing and her black mask is starting to come in.

Date: December 15, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Relinquishing control

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

From the time our birds first peck a hole in their egg shells and begin the process of hatching, we control every aspect of their lives. We monitor their surrounding temperature and humidity. We manage who interacts with them and how. We play recordings of a brood call and the ultralight engine, dictating what they hear. We pen them next to adult Whooping cranes that serve as sexual imprint models and although we strive to replicate what would happen in nature, there is nothing natural about it all.

Once the birds are in Necedah, we supervise their schedule, manage their food intake, direct how much time they spend in the marsh and on dry land and where they roost at night. We modify their behaviour with swamp monsters or rewards, and control who gets near them. We have an entire protocol to govern our isolation rearing techniques and after you spend a season or two within its dictates, you could best be described as a control freak.

Any psychologist will tell you that a control freak leads a tormented life. Things that happen by chance, lead to anxiety, and a serendipitous approach can cause heart palpitations.

So -- you assemble a team of outspoken, self-made, independent thinkers, immerse them in a project that requires absolute discipline to draw out the internal control freak in each one of them – then watch the strain in their eyes when they face something as variable and seemingly random as the weather.

We waited a week for yesterday to arrive. We checked the weather reports each windy morning and watched as all the conditions moved slowly into place to create a perfect migration morning. Cool temperatures, slight tailwind and calm air all came together on Friday morning and we were ready.

The Cumberland Ridge is 12 miles south of where the birds have spent the last 8 days. We use that distance to slowly climb and lead them high enough to clear the biggest obstacle we face on this migration. We need to get the birds up to 1800 feet to get us over the top, but the heavy cloud cover on Friday morning only extended to 1100 and our passage south was blocked.

Control freaks don’t give up easily. We all took off to try each valley and ravine. We stayed low, just above the trees, hoping there would be a layer we could slip through. But the clouds were as impenetrable as the mountains, and eventually we had to give up and land. It was the perfect morning and a rare chance to move, but it was stolen from us by a low ceiling.

Our host held his company Christmas party last night at his splendid home. He invited us to join them and for a few hours we excised the anxiety.

Top Left:
We tried to fly up each valley but they all dead-ended.

Bottom Right:
Nothing more useless than a pilot on the ground, unless its 4 of them. 

Bottom Left:
the aircraft packed safely back in the hangar generously provided by our host.

Date: December 15, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Younger and Younger

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

We recently received an email from Claire Michael, who is with Conservation Initiatives for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. She had received the letter you see here, and in her email Claire said, “When it came to me I thought to myself, hmmm, OM is recruiting fundraisers much younger than I remember.” (Smile).

Claire told us that she wrote the young lady back to tell her about all the great things the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund and Operation Migration do together, “…and how we have enjoyed our partnership to help save such an amazing species.”

We were glad Claire shared Ashlee's note with us and thought our Field Journal readers might enjoy our sharing it with you too.

Date: December 15, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

ANOTHER CHALLENGE MET!

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Georgia MileMaker Challenge
We are delighted to report that the challenge issued just a week ago to new MileMaker sponsors by an anonymous contributor has been met! We will be letting this generous Georgia Birder know today that all 5 miles she proposed to match have been sponsored by individuals who have never before been MileMakers. Our gratitude goes to both the challenger and those who stepped up to meet her challenge.

Date: December 15, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

MIGRATION DAY 64

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

37F degrees here this morning. Surface winds are 5mph out of the SE with a chance of rain and likely thundershowers by midday. Aloft it is blowing 20mph also out of the SE. Yesterday we had favorable temps and winds, but the low ceiling kept us on the ground. Today, the temps and the cloud ceiling at around 7000 feet are fine, but now we've got wrong-way winds. Two out of three just isn't good enough.

Today will be down day #9, tying the all time record for consecutive down days set in 2006 - also right here in Cumberland County, TN.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
TENNESSEE

Persons from other parts of the US may encounter these indigenous menu items in Tennessee eateries: Homemade biscuits, Moon pies, Goo-Goo Clusters, Fried strawberry pie, Fried banana pudding, Turnip greens. All delicious and nourishing as heck.

Date: December 14, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Megan Kennedy

Subject:

Fly - No Fly - Grounded

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

This morning we awoke to a new smell. Instead of what’s become the norm as of late – biscuits and bacon – there were the faint aromas of anticipation and possibility wafting from the kitchen where the crew was gathering for pre-dawn greetings.

Today was the first day in over a week with any real signs of a potential departure. There was a slight tailwind and the air was cool and crisp. The temperature had been dropping over the past few days, after a record high set on Sunday, followed by two days with temperatures reaching above 70°F.

Even before the first sign of light, I said goodbye to our host, and Nate and I embarked on our cross-town journey to join Bev at the pensite. Just after dawn, the activity began with Brian calling in a radio check to the pilots. Richard broke the bit of silence following the unanswered call (indicating the ultralights were still on the ground or out of range at the time), with the announcement we’d been dreading.

If this had been any other day, on any other stage of the migration, we would have been golden. But with ‘The Ridge’ looming ahead on this leg, we need at least 2500 ft above ground of flying space to safely cross. This morning, the clouds seemed to hang just low enough to prevent safe travel.

Our top cover was grounded due to the low ceiling as it was, and we listened as the pilots flew back and forth trying to find a pocket of clear air with enough space to make it through. Meanwhile, Bev made a call to flight services to find out when the clouds might lift. Finding no passage, and learning the ridge wouldn’t be completely clear until noon, the pilots landed to wait for even some minor gain.

Back at the pen site, Bev went to check the birds, the neighbors went to put on the coffee, and Nate and I studied the directions and maps to future stops. On her way back from the pen Bev got the final word that we were down for the day. Unfortunately, there is rain and snow in the forecast for the next two days. Tomorrow, our third, third day will be another wet one to let the birds out to fly in.

We arrived back at camp to find some rearranging in progress. Luckily, our down day has afforded us the opportunity to attend our host’s annual holiday party….provided we moved our trailers out of the way and replaced them with BBQ grills.

Photo: Left to right - Brooke, Chris, Joe and Walter pull down BBQ pit duty.

Date: December 14, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 63

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

It was great to have the hustle and bustle and nervous energy that goes with an anticipated departure back this morning. By shortly after 5:30am CST, the team and top cover were all gathered around our stopover host’s kitchen table, quickly downing juice and coffee, and re-confirming who was taking what vehicle where.

With the temperature and the wind both co-operating, the only thing of concern was the low ceiling. At just 1100 feet, the pilots were hoping for it to lift by the time take-off time rolled around.

It was not to be. All four trikes launched from the airstrip at the hangar, but try as they might, they couldn’t find any way they could get enough altitude and still have visibility. When we checked with aviation contacts, they advised it would likely be at least noon before it would lift sufficiently for us to be able to clear the Cumberland Ridge. Drats!

All this is to say, we will spend yet another day (down day #8) in Cumberland County. I can’t tell you how disappointed everyone on the team is.

There was a good sized group of Craniacs gathered at this morning's departure viewing site who we had to disappoint with the news it was a 'no-go'. It was great to have an opportunity to meet and chat with them though. What a great bunch of Whooping crane enthusiasts!

I wish we could say that tomorrow, Saturday, or even Sunday, held lots of promise, but it appears the area could get anything from rain to light snow. More drats! Stay tuned.

Date: December 13, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

A GIFT WITH WINGS

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

"A gift with wings," that’s the title of an article by Val Cunningham published December 11th in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota StarTribune.com.

The article read: "Give the gift of flight to 17 young whooping cranes following an ultralight aircraft on their first migratory journey. A MileMaker sponsorship helps Operation Migration lead the endangered young cranes to their winter refuge.

These young birds were raised at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin last summer. They've been trained to regard the ultralight as a parent and they're following it across seven states and 1,250 miles to Florida. They're expected to reach their destination within the next few weeks, depending on weather and other conditions.

Their journey requires a great deal of expensive support, in the form of pilots, ground crews and monitors. You can sponsor a mile of the journey for $206, a half-mile for $103, or a quarter-mile for $51.50. Find out more at www .operationmigration.org."


OM is grateful to Val Cunningham for the promotional piece, and we are also grateful for contributions small and large – which reminds us of a quote – "Together we are mighty. Nobody makes a greater mistake than one who does nothing because they could only do a little." Edmond Burke.

Date: December 13, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 62

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

63°F and overcast this morning. Blustery SSW winds on the surface are even stronger aloft and the forecast is for rain here. Today will be Down Day 7 in Cumberland County. Late today and overnight it appears we will have a wind shift and we are very hopeful for a flight tomorrow.

With that in mind, we remind everyone that once we reach Meigs County, our next stopover location, there will be a public viewing opportunity on our departure from there. As in past years, the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge offers the public a chance to watch a departure flyover and there is generally a great view from the Gazebo.

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

As always, please remember the day's weather determines our ability to fly, so, regardless of the day, if you plan on going to view a take-off, keep in mind it may or may not happen. To see any 'hoped for' departure we suggest you be on site by 6:45am.

Date: December 12, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Bev Paulan

Subject:

Déjà vu

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

As the saying goes, it's déjà vu all over again. Today was our second, third day of being here in beautiful Cumberland County, TN. Every third day, if we don’t fly, we let the birds out for exercise. When we woke this morning, the sky was overcast and hinting at rain. Rain it did, as we walked out to the pen to let the chicks out. Getting wet is no big deal, and it’s actually fun to be with the birds when it is raining. There is a lot of preening that goes on and it is quite the show to watch them extend their wings and rake their beaks through the feathers. It’s almost as if they are showing off the beautiful plumage.

About half the birds came out of the pen, quite enthusiastically really, and the other half couldn’t quite find their way to the door. So after some herding on my part, all the chicks joined Walt and Brooke out on the runway. At first, only five birds took to the misty air, but after some time and some run/flapping on our part, all the chicks were airborne. After a few quick laps, they seem to have had enough of the warm, heavy air and decided it would better serve their time to probe and peck.

Too quickly, the time was up and we started our 'chick roundup' back into the pen. Five chicks went in very easily, and while Walt stood guard at the door, Brooke and I tried enticing the others in. Slowly, but surely, one bird at a time, we got eight others in. The remaining four, however, caused the onset of the déjà vu. 726, 727, 733 and 735 would not budge. Just when we thought we got one headed the right direction, he would spin away and run back to join the others, seemingly taunting us to play tag in the rain. Flashing back to Patuxent, when 726 and 727 would wander off and cause me great vexation, I slowly counted to ten before attempting to round them up again.

At one point, 726 turned on Brooke and made a great show of jumping at him, spinning, jumping again and generally showing Brooke who was the boss of this game. At this point I became fairly useless due to the great convulsions of laughter I was experiencing at the sight of bird and man joined in a weird sort of dance. Amazingly, Brooke can manage to shoot dirty looks through his mirrored visor, so I resumed helping.

Meanwhile, Walt was attempting to keep 13 uncooperative chicks in the pen. 703, being the oldest and obviously the wiliest, kept Walt occupied while the others kept sneaking out the door. I could almost hear the dialogue between 703 and the rest as he said, "I'll distract him, you guys go for it."

Eventually, we managed to convince the four holdouts that it would be much more fun in the pen than out, and we got them in with the rest and closed and locked the door.

Thoroughly soaked, we walked back to the motor home, still chuckling over the antics of our little chickies. Let's hope that there is no third, third day here and we can be on our way. I’m getting too old to wrangle these youngsters on a regular basis.

Date: December 12, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Misc

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

We received an email this morning from Brian Pendleton, the Illinois land owner where the off-course six 2007 DAR birds had situated themselves for much of the past week. Brian reported that the DARs were collected yesterday for transporting to Tennessee (presumably to Hiwassee), and he wanted to thank the Tracking team "for allowing us to be a part of the round up."

3RD NWRA REFUGE PHOTO CONTEST ANNOUNCED

The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) announced its third annual digital photo contest, showcasing America's Refuge System. Entries for the 2008 Refuge Photo Contest may be submitted until 15 December 2007. Results will be announced in March 2008 in connection with the 105th anniversary of the establishment of the first national wildlife refuge. Images submitted for the photo contest may be of birds, mammals, insects, fish, and other animals, as well as plants, people, or simply shots of scenery. The images must be from taken on Refuge System property.

This year, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. has donated the grand prize: a 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Other prizes include a class at the Art Wolfe Digital Photography Center, a Canon EOS 40D Camera, Steiner 8x42 Peregrine Binoculars, a TrekPod, and offerings from Barbara's Bakery, Wild Bird Centers of America, and Houghton Mifflin.

At least 200 images will be selected for inclusion in the NWRA Refuge Image Library, and every photographer submitting an entry will receive a one-year membership in the National Wildlife Refuge Association. For photo contest details, submission categories, requirements, and procedures, visit: http://www.refugenet.org/contest/2008ContestHome.html

Date: December 12, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

MIGRATION DAY 61

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

54°F, overcast, and SSW winds again this morning means it is another 'go nowhere' day AND down day #6 in Cumberland County.

Comparison: Last year on Migration Day 61 we were in Gordon County, the first stopover in Georgia. However, December 12th, 2006 was Migration Day 69 and the crew were spending their third down day in Terrell County, GA.

The ground crew will be releasing the birds today for some exercise, and we are hoping for a few pictures to share with Field Journal readers later today. In the meantime, here is a photo intern Nathan Hurst took of costumed intern Megan Kennedy with the recently wayward 733.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
TENNESSEE -
Some of the many famous people born and/or raised in Tennessee.

Albert Gore Jr.- Born March 31, 1948 in Washington, D.C. Raised in Carthage, TN. US Senator 1985-1993, Was 45th Vice President of United States in the Bill Clinton administration 1993-2001. Won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Tennessee Ernie Ford (Ernest Jennings Ford)- Born February 13, 1919 in Bristol, TN. Country music legend, recording artist, and television host. Best remembered for his famous rendition of the song "Sixteen Tons." Ford died from a serious fall on October 17, 1991.

Oprah Winfrey: Born on January 29, 1954,  in Kosciusko, Mississippi, moved to Nashville, TN at age 14. Actress, talk show host, entertainment executive, graduated from Tennessee State University and was selected as Miss Tennessee in her freshman year of college. According to Forbes magazine, she was the richest African American of the 20th century and the world's only black billionaire for three straight years.

Date: December 11, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

CUMBERLAND COUNTY DEPARTURE FLYOVER VIEWING OPPORTUNITY

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

We have found a suitable location for those interested in viewing a departure flyover when the cranes and planes leave Cumberland County for Meigs County, TN (Hiawassee Wildlife Refuge).

The folks at the Halcyon Days Restaurant have kindly agreed to allow viewers to use their parking lot. They are located at Interstate I-40 exit 320. Their address is: Stonehaus Winery, 2444 Genesis Road, Crossville, TN.

It is important to remember the key role weather plays in our ability to fly on any given day. This means that individuals planning to go to the Genesis Road viewing site to see the flyover need to keep in mind that it may or may not happen tomorrow morning, or the even the next day - or the next. To see the 'hoped for' flyover we suggest you be on site around 6:45am
.

Date: December 11, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 GETTING Ready at the Florida end

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

The folks in Florida have been hard at it getting the pensite at the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve ready.

In preparation of our arrival with the Class of 2007, Mary (Super Woman) Barnwell and the Southwest Florida Water Management District have mowed and burned the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve Pen site. On November 28th, staff from the Jacksonville Zoo (JZ), Disney Animal Kingdom (DAK), and others, spent the day clearing out the past year's growth of dog fennel out of the Halpata pen and the fence line to get it ready to host this year’s young Whooping cranes.

Our good friend, Scott Tidmus, Zoological Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom sent this photo of the volunteer clean-up crew.

In the picture in no particular order are: Mary Barnwell Southwest Florida Water Management District and Halpata Tastanaki Preserve Land Manager, Mary Dowdell SWFWMD volunteer, Donna Bear-Hull Curator of Birds Jacksonville Zoo, Danielle Buck, Aimee Kephart, Mike Toloczko, also JZ staff, along with JZ volunteer Bob Simpler. The DAK folks included Barbra Salas, Brenda Eppenstiner, Leanne Blinco, and of course the photographer, Scott Tidmus. Right in front is the amazing Billy Brooks from the Jacksonville office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

While aerial tracking some of the Whoopers in the Florida non-migratory population, Marty Folk, Biological Scientist with the Florida Fish & Conservation Commission dropped in at the Dunnellon Airport for a break. While flying out, he snapped this picture of the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve pensite from the air.

Date: December 11, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 Migration Day 60

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

At 59 degrees at first light this morning, it's even warmer than yesterday. The sky is jewel blue and the skiffs of soft clouds do nothing to block the bright sun. It will be another beautiful day here. While small consolation, it is good news for the migration crew because we aren't going anywhere again today.

Surface winds are at 5mph and aloft they aren't as strong as they have been. However, strength is immaterial as they are out of the SSW. It will be down day 5 in Cumberland County.

Crew plans for the day include: Joe installing new wheel bearings on the white truck; Brooke finishing repairs to his trike; Chris working with our supplier and service provider to get our satellite working again; and Richard working with me to lay out the locations for the balance of this year’s departure flyovers. When Brian Clauss and I did the grocery shopping yesterday we bought some spaghetti squash for the birds, so he will be taking their treats to the pen this morning.

2007 Migration Trivia Compliments of Patricia Dreyer Parr, Natural Resources Manager at the Oak Ridge, TN National Laboratory
The 34,000 acre Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR) includes a Department of Energy National Environmental Research Park that serves as an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) outdoor research facility. It provides more than 20,000 acres of protected land for research and education, especially in the environmental sciences. Lying in the heart of the eastern deciduous forest eco-region, the research park contains wetlands, prairies, streams, reservoirs, and other uncommon habitats in addition to upland mixed forests. More than 200 species of birds have been documented on the ORR, more than on any other single tract of land in Tennessee. You can find out more about it at the following web site: http://www.esd.ornl.gov/facilities/nerp/index.html

Date: December 10, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 Georgia Challenge

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

In the spirit of the couple from Colorado, an anonymous Georgia Birder has issued a similar challenge. She will match up to 5 miles sponsored by new MileMakers. If you have never before sponsored a 1/4, 1/2, or 1 mile of the migration - now is the time to double the impact of your contribution.

You can click on the MileMaker logo to the right to be taken to the online page, or simply call the office toll free (1-800-675-2618) and Chris or James will be happy to take your information in person.

Date: December 10, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 MAJOR LAND CONSERVATION INITIATIVE IN CANADA'S NW TERRITORIES

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Excerpt from the Birding Community E-bulletin

In late November, the Government of Canada announced one of the biggest land conservation agreements on the North American continent since the ANILCA settlement of 1980, which effected Alaska conservation.

The initiative will secure over 25.5 million acres of land in the Northwest Territories. During a 21 November celebration at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Environment Minister John Baird and Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl announced plans to create a new national wildlife area along the Mackenzie River (3.7 million acres), a new national park on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake (8.3 million acres, of which 6.5 million is actually new protection), and the Akaitcho Settlement Lands, ecologically and culturally important lands to Native people (15.3 million acres to be conserved and managed under tribal direction for environmental protection and sustainable development).

Date: December 10, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 MIGRATION DAY 59

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

At 57 degrees before first light it's another warm morning in Cumberland County, TN – and it will also be another down day - the fourth in this location.

This photo says it all as far as the winds go, and aloft they are blowing out of the SSW at more than 30mph. The weatherman is forecasting light rain showers for later today and even thunderstorms in some areas. It appears the current weather system may hang over the area for a few days. We need it to move on before we will be able to tackle the Cumberland Ridge.

For Craniacs in the area, we are working to confirm an appropriate location for a departure viewing and will post the information here once we have it all nailed down.

2007 Migration Trivia
The origin of the name 'Tennessee' is associated with the Overhill Cherokee town of Tanase (in what is now Monroe County) and the Tanase River (the Little Tennessee), in southeastern Tennessee. The Cherokee word, of uncertain meaning, has been given the fanciful derivations of “winding river” and “river of the great bend”. The modern spelling of “Tennessee” was noted as early as 1754 and was applied by 1793 to that section of transmontane North Carolina then known as the Territory of the United States of America South of the River Ohio.

The third county to be established in what is now Middle Tennessee, created in 1788 by the State of North Carolina, was called “Tennessee County”. Its life span was eight years. When a constitutional convention met in Knoxville on January 11, 1796, to organize a new state out of the Southwest Territory, it adopted “Tennessee” as the name of the state.

The suggestion for naming the state for the river has been “loosely and erroneously” attributed to Andrew Jackson, who was a member of the Tennessee Constitutional Convention of 1796, but there is no documentation that Jackson proposed the adoption of a name already applied to a North Carolina county and to the entire Southwest Territory.

Date: December 9, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 MIGRATION DAY 58

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Woke up to a 40 degree temperature difference this morning. Yesterday, as I headed for the Toronto airport it was 21 degrees. Brrrr. This morning I was outside in my PJ’s at 3:30am and the thermometer read 57 degrees. By 6:30am it was above 60 degrees creating mist and fog. (see photo)

It is not flying weather in Cumberland County this morning however. The ceiling which earlier was around 1200 feet was down to 500 feet by our potential flight time, and winds, both on the surface (5mph) and at 2500 to 3000 feet (+30mph) - the altitude we need to get over 'The Beast'.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Cumberland County, TN
Located just east of Cumberland County is the city of Oak Ridge, also known as "The Atomic City, The Secret City,’ and ‘The City Behind The Ridge’. In 1942, the federal government chose the area as a site for developing materials for the creation of the atomic bomb (the Manhattan Project). The area was shifted to civilian control in 1947 under authority of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, but remained an official government secret and did not have a name or appear on maps until 1949.

Oak Ridge was finally incorporated as a city in 1959 and, at present, the Department of Energy runs a nuclear and high-tech research establishment at the site. Tours of parts of the original facility are available to American citizens from June through September and are so popular that there is a waiting list for seats.

Date: December 8, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

James Popham

Subject:

MIGRATION DAY 57

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

This morning Supervisor of Field Operations, Bev Paulan, reported that the crew awoke to strong winds blowing from the wrong direction. The cranes and planes will remain on the ground in Cumberland County, TN, at least for today.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Cumberland County, TN
The United States Chess Federation moved its corporate offices to Crossville from New Windsor, N.Y. in 2005, reportedly to reduce labor costs.

The first American oil well was struck in 1829 in Cumberland County. It is generally not recognized as such, however, because the drillers were not searching for oil.

Date: December 8, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

More on the Wolf Creek Departure

Location: On the Road
Distance
Traveled
? miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

And this came to us from Amanda Patrick, from the Wolf Creek Hatchery.

“I just wanted to send endless gratitudes to you and the entire OM team! I transferred to the hatchery a week after last year's fly over and was disappointed that I missed the 2006 event. But since learning about you all and the project, I have studied and read up on all your tremendous work!

It made me realize more than ever that one person CAN truly light a fire that can change the world for the better. In fact, as I watched the crew and the birds fly over on Thursday, I thought of the words of Baba Dioum, who said, In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what have been taught. Through OM's work, you all are teaching so many to conserve these amazing birds, and I must admit that I am an officially on board as a Craniac!

Please tell the entire crew that it was truly an honor and a pleasure to meet each and every one of them as they are such a wonderful and caring group of people - the door is always open here if they ever find themselves back this way again too. I am also glad that my driving directions helped Bev out!

Lastly, I took some photos during the fly over yesterday and am including a few of the best ones with this message. I am also including a photo of our staff in front of the planes after talking with the OM folks - its a great photo for our crew!

I counted between 30 and 35 people braving the cold air on the dam to watch the event as well. Pretty awesome considering the cold morning!  One lady had tears in her eyes as she recounted how much she had enjoyed the fly over.  Most drove from all over to watch too, so again, thank you all for everything!  I am always here to help out in any way, so keep in touch!"

Date: December 7, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

OVER THE DAM

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Yesterday was a perfect example of why we want to change our migration route.

The pathway we use to lead our Whooping cranes from Wisconsin to Florida loosely follows a Sandhill migration route. We have to avoid the congested airspace around Chicago so we head directly south from Necedah until we reach central Illinois. Then we turn east with the original intent of stopping at Jasper-Pulaski. This is a major staging area for cranes in Indiana. From there we head directly to Florida which takes us over the mountains in Kentucky and Tennessee, and subjects both the birds and the pilots to less than ideal conditions.

During the first migration we decided not to go to Jasper-Pulaski for a number of reasons, but the route was already decided. For many years our ambition was to develop a new route a hundred or so miles to the west. We would travel directly south from Necedah and keep going south until we reached Alabama. Then we would make our turn to the east and continue on, through the Florida panhandle to Chassahowitzka. This detour would circumnavigate the mountains bringing us over flat ground most of the way.

This sounds simple enough but it will take a month or two of hard work to develop a new route and until recently we haven’t had the funding. That changed this past summer when a generous supporter donated enough capital for us to lay out the new route and identify all the stopover locations we need.

Our last flight gave us lots of motivation to get the new route activated and considerable regret that we haven’t already.

On Thursday morning we left Wolf Creek, Kentucky. Our stopover site sits in the spillway just below a huge damn that holds back most of Cumberland Lake. Brooke led and circled twice before gaining enough altitudes to clear the concrete wall and accompanying high tension power lines. Three birds were late coming out of the pen and couldn’t catch him. Rather than turn back he carried on and once he was clear, I dropped down to pick them up.

Brooke, with Chris and Richard in chase, crossed the damn and headed south gaining altitude faster than normal because of the lift created when wind hits the hills and pushes up over them. The three late birds and I had to circle twice to get high enough to clear the damn. At low level we crossed Cumberland Lake. With its steep rocky banks and cold water, we put a lot of faith in our engines.

We climbed through the valleys and over the ridges getting pushed up and pulled down in aircraft that weighs 400 pounds. Eventually we reached a thin layer of cloud at 2500 feet and droned along against a steady headwind. Even at high levels the turbulence was strong enough to make you feel a bit like a canoe in an ocean.

We spend a lot of time flying at low level and we get very familiar with that environment. At 2500 feet you tend to feel a little disquiet when flying over the mountains where converging winds could hit like a rogue wave. Some of the birds broke from Brooke’s wing and were picked up by Chris and Richard. We each had our allotment and found our own passage through gaps trying to anticipate where the next wave would come from. We looked down at a carpet of solid trees with no where to land and we counted the minutes.

In a normal flight something changes every few minutes. A bird drops low and has to be retrieved, the lead changes, or they move from one wing to the other while the pilot constantly adjusts. But as we hammered our way across the Tennessee border between the high ridges and low ceiling, the birds on my wing stayed in exactly the same formation all the way there.

At different attitudes there were varying degrees of headwind and soon the four trikes were separated. The three birds and I were last to leave the site but were soon ahead of the others. Our top cover pilots, Jack Wrighter and John Cooper circled overhead keeping their eyes on four tiny trikes each a mile or so apart.

The only break in the quiet concentration was the occasional chatter on the radio comparing distances remaining and the time left to go. After 2 hours we circled the site and landed in a strong wind. When Chris arrived, a pair of Sandhills flew over the pen and his birds broke to follow them. He had to cut them out like a cowboy herding cattle to get them back. Eventually we all landed safely with all the birds.

The pilot’s mind has an amazing capacity to round the edges of the trauma we impose upon ourselves each time we lead birds over mountains. But even through that dull-mindedness, the advantages of a new route are clear. Our next flight will take us over the Cumberland Ridge.

Date: December 7, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Brooke Pennypacker

Subject:

Brooke's lead pilot report

Location: Cumberland Cty, TN
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Most days I really enjoy flying with birds. But some days I prefer to HAVE FLOWN with birds. Yesterday was one of those days.

For two days we were camped at the foot of the Wolf Creek Dam, which prevented the Cumberland River from washing our little tribe away downstream. The sign on the dam says it was constructed for three reasons; Flood Control, Hydroelectric power generation, and Recreation. There is, however, a fourth reason for its construction…..DRAMA!!!!

The Dam is undergoing emergency repairs, but the surf shop which opened adjacent to it did not instill much confidence. Despite the incredible kindness and generosity of our wonderful hosts, I felt like a citizen of Pompeii, listening to the burps and farts of Mt. Vesuvius, waiting for the ultimate spa mud treatment - only to reappear between the covers of National Geographic a whole bunch of years later. And those folks, as I remember it, didn’t look all that good!

Then there’s the thought of flying birds up over that monster dam with that spider web of high tension power lines radiating from its bottom, then all the water behind it, and the tall hills surrounding it - - well, if that’s not DRAMA, I don’t know what is.

But then we enjoy drama. We thrive on it. And if it doesn’t come naturally, we’d have to create it. But that’s usually not necessary. If and when some computer game geek creates  “Migration—The Game” with it’s ever increasing levels of difficulty, this place will be up there. “You actually got the birds over the dam????? Cooooool!!!!! Now how about a beer?”

But I wasn’t worried because the day before, while on a tour of the Wolf Creek Fish Hatchery, a wonderfully enthusiastic, sincere and personable lady by the name of  Amanda Patrick, USFWS Outreach Specialist, told us she sent for and received a St. Francis of Assisi prayer and had sent it heavenward that morning. St. Francis was, as you probably already know, the Patron Saint of Animals and the natural world. Bev, Walt, Jack and I were personally touched by Amanda’s sweet and sincere gesture, which gave a special meaning to the word ‘Outreach’.

So off we launched into the low 20’s cold sky. All but me, that is. My engine, perhaps an Unbeliever and intimidated by its role in this little drama, decided to rebel by bogging down in defiance, causing Walt to run for tools and Joe, Richard and Chris to climb down out of the sky as we all began emergency surgery on the patient.

Worried that Mr. Assisi had been away from his desk the previous day during Amanda’s prayer, I sent up one of my own. Only this one was addressed to St. Rotax, the manufacturer of the engine. From past experience I knew that such prayers are usually accompanied by a credit card number, but before I could get my wallet out of my snowmobile suit - usually a two day job - the engine decided that  its bad behavior only served to attract a lot of frenzied behavior by a bunch of crazy people , so it sprang to cooperative and reassuring life and we were once again off.

The air was bubbly and as usual, the predicted tailwind was 180 degrees off, but it was still a GO. As our good shepherds, Jack and John, circled over head, I landed at the pen and faced 17 very impatient birds and 3 even more impatient handlers. Then the gates flew open and we were off.

Now, the trick here is to circle up to gain dam and wire clearing altitude, leaving the slower climbers to the other trikes. It takes altitude, and plenty of it, to jump this hurdle and “Get out of Dodge”.

The birds, sensing the opportunity for a scenic flight, formed up well initially, save three that headed back towards the pen. Up and over the dam we went only to be met by lots of water and the surrounding hills which had seemingly grown in height since the day before. And there was the turbulence. No time for sightseeing on this leg. Not for me, anyway.

There was astounding beauty below however, and I hoped the birds took a little time to enjoy it. As I looked off my right wing, I saw 703 looking over at me dragging a thought balloon containing the words, “OK, Dummy. If your engine quits, do you really think you can drink all that water?!”. I never did like 703.

So on we climbed. But as usually happens during such forced marches/climbs, a bird or two or three will drop down, confident that if they are patient, they will soon have another trike with its attending invisible vortex of lift all to themselves, compliments of one of the other pilots. The process continued during the flight until all but six birds abandoned me for greener pastures; two with Chris, six with Richard and three with Joe.

The four of us, now widely spread out, continued on course facing a series of ridges, one higher and less hospitable than the other, as Jack and John drew ever widening circles in the sky above. John Cooper and Dave Mattingly had driven up from Atlanta the night before to join Jack Wrighter sleeping on the floor of the local airport terminal to be ready for today’s flight and to insure our safety.

Below, the earth continued to morph into accordion-like folds, each higher and more treacherous than the other, each with a ‘No Vacancy’ sign glowing clearly. The three cardinal rules of flying ultralight aircraft powered by two-cycle engines, engines which trade light weight for reliability, are: 1) Always have a suitable landing field within gliding distance should the engine quit. Then cardinal rules 2 and 3 repeat this mantra. Over such terrain as this a positive attitude and a good imagination are a must. Oh, if we could only put some of our project partners in the back seat at times like this. I’m confident it could only serve to increase the productivity of our meetings.

The turbulence increased and every few minutes a bird would drop down and down the rest of us, the birds and me, would go to pick it up, giving up some of that precious hard won altitude. Then the headwinds exerted their presence prolonging our little agony by dropping our speed over the ground to 18 mph at one point.

Jack radioed that the temperature was 10 degrees not factoring in wind chill. Lucky for us the turbulence was keeping us working and warm, but it was trying to dry up my right eye causing a series of futile winks in defiance.

The cold did however succeed in killing my GPS batteries, put in fresh only a couple hours before (Have you pulled out the crying towel yet?) About the time I was going to launch into my favorite rendition of “Poor, Poor Little Old Me”, Jack called down to say, “Just steer 10 degrees right and you’ll make the destination. As I approached closer, he circled the field about 5 miles ahead, the field came into view and I began my decent from 3000 feet.

Nearing the ground, I heard Chris report his two birds had flown off with two Sandhill cranes. Now this does not reflect well on their parents and measures must be taken. Chris separated the bad boys as I watched from above. Joe landed just ahead of me and yelled that just before touchdown he hit a area of “sink” which even at full power tried to slam him into the ground. Forewarned, I came on down, making an ugly but safe landing, and since most of my landings are pretty ugly affairs, no one noticed. Minutes later we were all on the ground and the birds were safely in the pen. Then it was off to our host’s airfield and the sanctuary of his home and hangar.

We moved the trikes and cover plane into the hanger and it was then I saw Joe over at the workbench hitting his thumb repeatedly with a hammer. Thinking this was odd, even for Joe, I inquired as to the reason. He stopped his hammering long enough to explain that the hot pack he put into his glove prior to the flight to warm his hand was a dud and that his now white thumb had been so painful during the flight that hitting it with a hammer makes it feel better!

There is a subtle euphoria which comes from having safely completed a difficult flight. It is unspoken. But it is very much alive in our eyes, the way we move around, the way we reduce the events of the flight into the language of the casual and mundane. These are the days I enjoy HAVING FLOWN.

Now, I just need a minute to send a silent Thank You to Amanda, and to find out if St. Francis takes VISA.

Date: December 7, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

An update, an update, my kingdom for an update!

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Are you still wondering where Brooke's lead pilot report from yesterday is? Well it is done, and one from Joe as well, but.... It's the old story. Technology is great - when it works. They can't get the satellite dish to work. Four hours of moving it from place to place, fiddling, jiggling, and twiddling and - nothing. As soon as they figure out if it just can't get a signal or if they need to tighten a widget, and get it working, the updates will wing their way to me and then to you here.

In the meantime, here is a photo of yesterday's departure we received from Al Gibson of the Clinton County News.
 

Date: December 7, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 56

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Rain is falling in Cumberland County, TN this morning and Bev reports the wind is making the motor home 'hum'. It's 45 degrees there, with winds gusting to +20mph out of the south. The team will spend the day on the ground.

Are you wondering where Brooke's lead pilot report from yesterday's flight is? The engine on his trike has been 'missing' so he and Walter had to tackle cleaning some parts. Then, with the rest of them team already tasked, he and Bev pulled pen duty.

Being with the birds means they are in a location with no electricity and no internet, but Brooke promised that as soon as their morning bird and pen check duties are done, he will head for camp (and electricity and our satellite dish). So his belated report will reach us this later morning and we will post it to the Field Journal the minute it arrives.

To read Tony Harvey's recounting of his morning at the Wolf Creek Hatchery for yesterday's departure viewing, go to www.columbiamagazine.com. Thanks go to Columbia Magazine's Ed Waggener for his coverage and promotion of OM and the Whooping crane project.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Cumberland County, TN

The land that was to become Cumberland County came from the 1805 Tellico Treaty with the Cherokee Indians. The Cumberland Mountains, from which the county draws it's name, once bore the Cherokee Indian name "ousiotto."

70% of the U.S. population is within 600 miles of Crossville, the county seat of Cumberland County.

Date: December 6, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Fundraising Presentation TONIGHT in Crossville, TN

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
60.1 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Flying with Birds – Saving a Species
If you are within driving distance of Crossville, TN you might want to take in a presentation on the Whooping crane project being delivered this evening by Joe Duff.

Joe's presentation is scheduled for 6:00pm at the Roane State Cumberland County Center, and if possible other OM team members will accompany him. Click here for directions.

With spectacular images as a backdrop, Joe will lead you through the story of this amazing project in a way that captivates the imagination as much as raising endangered species awareness.

Come out and hear the incredible story of how endangered Whooping cranes are taught to migrate following OM’s ultralight planes. Hear the inside story of this amazing project from someone who knows what it is like to fly with the birds!

Date: December 6, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
60.1 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

We received the following in an email from Kentucky Craniac Tony Harvey and wanted to share it with you.

"I was one of the lucky ones that were on hand this morning to watch the flyover from the Wolf Creek Hatchery. It sure didn't look to promising when I arrived at 5:30cst for a flight, but as you well know, they got off the ground reasonably well. It was worth both the trip and the wait." We are also grateful to Tony for these photos.
 



 

Date: December 6, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

The cranes have landed

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
60.1 miles

Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
680 miles

Everyone is safe on the ground in Cumberland County, TN. The flight lasted about 2.25 hours and they had very rough - the tailwind turned into a headwind  Brooke and Richard each led 6 birds, Joe 3 and Chris 2.

They had a low ceiling, low visibility, updrafts, down drafts, and it was so cold, the pilots’ fingertips had turned white by the time they touched down. Joe said, "The conditions made for the most difficult flight in recent memory."

Date: December 6, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 55

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
? miles

Russell Cty, KY to Cumberland Cty, TN

Accumulated
Distance
619.9 miles

And they're OFF!

It was 38 degrees when the Class of 2007 took off – considerably later than usual this morning - under partly cloudy skies. Almost dead calm on the surface with what slight breeze there was coming out of the north.

Brooke is lead pilot today and he had a good start with all the birds taking off. However, apparently one or two started to 'act up' shortly thereafter. The pilots reported it was a little choppy as they climbed, but once they were above 400 feet the air smoothed out.

At about 19 miles out things were going well but the pilots reported their tailwind had turned into a headwind and it was getting bumpy up there.

Note: There is still time for students / classes to join in the Change4Cranes fun. Any teacher who would like a Change4Cranes kit - whether one for their class, or one for each student - please click the link above to go to a fill-in-the-blanks form. If you are a Craniac Kid and would like a kit of your own, just email us your name, mailing address, the name of your school and the grade you are in.

Date: December 6, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

DR U'S DAR UPDATE

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
? miles

Russell Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
619.9 miles

This hot off the press at 5am this morning. Dr. Richard Urbanek reported that after their roost pond in Peoria County, IL froze over, '07 DAR birds, 737, 739*, 740*, 742*, 743*, and 744* moved to Clinton County, IL.

With the 401 and 508* the only remaining previous years cranes as far north as Illinois, (in Kane County about 50 miles west of Chicago and almost 300 miles north of the DAR birds' location) the odds can't be high the DARs will find Whooping cranes to migrate with.

Richard sent us this great map showing the DAR birds travels. The green line shows the movements of 737, 739, 740, 742, 743 and 744. The red line tracks 746 - as well as 741 on October 31, and 736 on October 31 and to first stop on November 3rd.

DAR746*, who was retrieved and transported from Desha County, Arkansas to the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Meigs County, TN, is seen in the photo here with 420* and a myriad of Sandhills. Here’s hoping the two ‘ladies’ will stick together.

 

Date: December 5, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

WOOD BUFFALO-ARANSAS POPULATION UPDATE

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Russell Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
619.9 miles

On his aerial census conducted December 4th, Tom Stehn, Whooping Crane Coordinator at the Aransas NWR counted a whopping 260 Whooping cranes! Tom, along with observer Darrin Welchert flew with pilot Gary Ritchey of Air Logistic Solutions out of San Antonio, Texas.

Tom found 222 adults and 38 youngsters during the survey. He noted he believed two additional birds were present but were not located on the flight. Additional cranes in the flyway included one bird in Saskatchewan sighted Nov. 24; two cranes sighted at Cheyenne Bottoms WMA, Kansas on Dec. 4; and one juvenile crane first sighted with Sandhill cranes at Muleshoe NWR in West Texas on Nov. 27.

"I estimate that about 98% of the flock has completed the migration, with at least 4 Whooping cranes still in the Flyway," said Tom, and two additional Whooping cranes are with Sandhills using agricultural lands near Aransas. The addition of these 6 birds brings the estimated size of the flock to 266. The flock consists of an estimated 140 adults, 87 subadults, and 39 juveniles."

In his report, Tom noted that no additional Whooping cranes are believed to have completed the migration since the last census done November 27th. This despite a very weak cold front that reached Aransas on the 330th, and a strong cold front that came December 3.

The increase in the flock count since last week was the confirmation of one additional family group present that last week Tom had treated as a duplication. Meaning that he thought one family group had moved during the census and had been counted twice. "Today's flight confirmed that this family was not a duplication," said Tom. "It is a new family carving out a new territory."

Stehn commented that, "The estimated flock size of 266 is a result of the excellent production of 40 juveniles sighted on the nesting grounds in August. With 38 juveniles at Aransas and 1 in West Texas, survival of the juveniles since August has been excellent. One carcass of a juvenile was found this fall in Saskatchewan with an undetermined cause of death."

Adult survival since last spring has also been very good. "Mortality of white-plumaged cranes between spring and fall, 2007 is at most 9 birds, or 3.8% of the flock present at Aransas in spring, 2007," he said. "This is calculated by taking the spring flock size (236), adding the number of juveniles that made it to Texas (39), and subtracting the current estimated flock size (266). In the past two years, mortality between spring and fall has been above average and totaled over 20 birds each year."

Tom said that there could have been crane movements on this survey that resulted in a duplicate count involving several birds. However, he said that the numbers and distribution matched closely the crane distribution on the previous flight, so he considers the flock estimate of 266 solid.

At the time of the aerial census, tides were the lowest so far of the winter and 8 cranes were noted in open bay habitat, and no cranes were found at fresh water sources or unburned uplands.

"Three cranes were found loafing on an oyster reef in St. Charles Bay just off the refuge’s Bird Point," said Tom. "In 25 years of watching cranes at Aransas, this is the first time that I recall Whooping cranes ever standing on an oyster reef. One crane was on the high part of the reef while the other two were in shallow water on the edges of the reef."

Low numbers of Sandhill cranes were found in vegetated saltmarsh habitat, an indication of foraging on wolfberries, which are currently very abundant and near or at the peak of fruiting.

Tom highlighted a family group of 1 adult with a chick found last week on Matagorda Island. They were found this week in a similar location but grouped as 2+1. "This is the first indication that re-pairing of the widowed adult may have occurred," he said. Also noted were three new territorial pairs.

Date: December 5, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

FLYOVER INFO

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Russell Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
619.9 miles
Assuming favorable weather and winds tomorrow, the '07 migration will leave Kentucky behind and cross into Tennessee. For the convenience of those who would like to try to take in the sight of the cranes and planes as they depart, we repeat here the information we posted a few days ago.

Flyover Viewing Opportunity - OM's pilots leading the Class of 2007 are going to try their best to overfly the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery near the Wolf Creek Dam in Russell County as they leave Kentucky for Tennessee - hopefully tomorrow morning. The Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is located at 50 Kendall Road Jamestown, KY 42629. The following link will take you to directions and a small map.

It is important to remember the key role weather plays in our ability to fly on any given day. This means that individuals planning to go to the Hatchery to see the flyover need to keep in mind that it may or may not happen tomorrow morning. To see the 'hoped for' flyover we suggest you be on site no later than 6:45am. Remember to dress warmly.

Date: December 5, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Russell Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
619.9 miles

Operation Migration will be participating in the 11th annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival January 23 – 26, 2008 in Titusville, FL. Sponsored by NIKON and the Brevard Nature Alliance, the event is being held at the Titusville Campus of Brevard Community College.

Joe Duff will be giving two presentations during the Festival; Friday, January 25th, at 1:00PM and Saturday, January 26th at 10:30AM. Seating is available for 150 people.

OM's booth in the Exhibit Hall will feature streaming video and PowerPoint shows, and in addition to information on the Whooping crane project, offer ‘OM Gear’and other items for sale. One of OM’s ‘working trikes’ will also be on display.

To make our attendance a success we need help.

We need volunteers to help our on-the-ground coordinators, Mark and Peggy Chenoweth man our booth, as well as volunteers to stand sentinel beside our ultralight, respond to questions, and offer informational brochures to visitors. If you are interested and able to commit to one or more of the following shifts, please contact Mark and Peggy at greybyrd@earthlink.net. If possible, we'd like to have two volunteers for each time slot.

DATE

TIME

TASK

Wed. Jan 23

10am –  2pm

Set up exhibit, organize booth and display merchandise for sale.

 

 2pm –  6pm

Work Booth. Greet visitors. Answer questions. Handle sales.

Thu. Jan 24

12pm –  3pm

Work Booth. Greet visitors. Answer questions. Handle sales.

 

3pm –  6pm

Work booth. Greet visitors. Answer questions. Handle sales.

Fri. Jan 25

9am – 1pm

Work at Ultralight Display.

 

9am – 1pm

Work Booth. Greet visitors. Answer questions. Handle sales.

 

1pm –  6pm

Work at Ultralight Display

 

1pm –  6pm

Work booth. Greet visitors. Answer questions. Handle sales.

Sat. Jan 26

9am – 1pm

Work at Ultralight Display.

 

9am – 1pm

Work Booth. Greet visitors. Answer questions. Handle sales.

 

1pm –  6pm

Work at Ultralight Display

 

1pm –  6pm

Work Booth. Greet visitors. Answer questions. Handle sales.

Date: December 5, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 54

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Russell Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
619.9 miles

We have different words for you today. Instead of 'too windy', it's 'too rainy'. Actually there is some wind involved too and it will keep us on the ground in Russell County, KY.

Remember the musical 'Annie'? Tomorrow, Tomorrow. The sun'll come out, tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar, that tomorrow there'll be sun! Well, maybe you shouldn't bet your bottom dollar.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Russell County, KY
Formed in 1825, Russell County was named after American soldier William Russell, a pioneer and politician.

In 1773 Daniel Boone guided a group westward in the first attempt by British colonists to establish a permanent settlement in Kentucky. The excursion was abandoned after an attack by American Indians in which both Henry Russell, William's son and James Boone, Daniel's son, were killed.

Date: December 5, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

EASTERN MIGRATORY POPULATION UPDATE

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
64.4 miles

Russell Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
619.9 miles

Whooping Crane Update, Richard Urbanek, Anna Fasoli, Eva Szyszkoski, Danielle Desourdis, and Sara Zimorski. Thanks to Windway Aviation and pilot Mike Frakes, Jim Bergens (Indiana DNR), Dean Harrigal (South Carolina DNR), and Jason Jackson (Tennessee WRA) for tracking assistance.

Estimated maximum size of the Eastern Migratory Population on December 1st was 31 males and 28 females for a total of 59 Whooping cranes. All birds that were able to be tracked had begun migrating by November 27. Females are indicated by *; DAR = direct autumn release.

BIRD #

MIGRATED

LAST REPORTED LOCATION

101

Nov. 22

Jasper-Pulaski FWA, IN. Departed Nov. 29.

102*

Nov. 22

Greene County, IN Nov. 24. Still present November 28.

105

Nov. 21

Jasper-Pulaski FWA, IN Nov. 22. Hiwassee WR Meigs County, TN Nov. 24. Chassahowitzka NWR pensite Nov. 28. Hernando County, FL Nov. 29.

107*NFT

~Nov. 18

May have been bird with no signal observed Nov. 28 at Hiwassee WR. Confirmed in Meigs County, TN Dec. 2.

201*NFT

-

Last observed June 9.

202*

-

Last reported Mar. 13 (suspected dead)

205NFT

-

Last located Oct. 16

209*NFT & 416

Nov. 22

 

211 & 217*

Nov. 22

(First Family) Vermillion County, IN Nov. 24. Still present Nov. 27.

212 & 419*

Nov. 22

Hiwassee WR, Meigs County, TN Dec. 1. Okefenokee NWR, GA Dec. 3.

213 & 218*

Nov. 22

Gibson County, IN Nov. 24. Morgan County, AL Nov. 28.

216

Nov. 27

Left with 303* and 317. Bloomington, IN Nov. 27.

303* & 317

Nov. 27

Left with 216. Bloomington, IN Nov. 27.

307

Nov. 21

Roosted northeastern GA. Nov. 30.

309* & 403

Nov. 27

Reported in southern Pulaski County, IN, Nov. 29 andremained through report period.

310 & 501

Nov. 22

Jasper-Pulaski, IN Nov. 22. Allen County, KY Nov. 23. Through GA Nov. 24. Colleton County, SC Nov. 30.

311

-

Last detected Oct. 3

312 & 316

Nov. 12

Colleton County, SC Nov. 16.

313* & 318

Nov. 22

 

401 & 508*

Nov. 22

Kane County, IL NOv. 22. Remained through report period.

402

Nov. 21

Roosted northeastern GA. Nov. 30.

408 & 519*

Nov. 27

 

412

Nov. 21

Roosted northeastern GA. Nov. 30.

415NFT*

~Nov. 16

Jackson County, IN 25 Nov. Confirmed associated with 505 in Meigs County, TN. Dec. 2.

420*

-

Jasper-Pulaski, IN Nov. 22. Hiwassee WR, TN Nov. 24 and was still present through Dec. 1.

503 & 507*

-

Last recorded on May 26

505

Nov. 27

Central Indiana Nov. 27. 505 at Hiwassee WR, TN Dec. 1. Observed with 415* Meigs County, TN Dec. 2.

506

-

Iowa County. Still present on Nov. 23

509

Nov. 23

Hiwassee WR ~Nov. 24. Departed between Nov. 25 - 28.

511

Nov. 21

Roosted northeastern GA. Nov. 30. Arrived Hernando County, FL Dec. 2.

512

Nov. 27

Central Indiana Nov. 27.

514

Nov. 21

Roosted northeastern GA. Nov. 30. Arrived Hernando County, FL Dec. 2.

516

~Nov. 19

 

520*

Nov. 27

Hiwassee WR, TN Dec. 1.

524NFT

?

Jasper Pulaski FWA, IN on Nov. 4. Still present Nov. 23.

DAR527*

~Nov. 22

Jasper-Pulaski, IN Nov. 22. Hiwassee WR, TN Dec. 3.

DAR528*

Nov. 22

Hiwassee WR, TN Dec. 1.

DAR533*

~Nov. 19

Hiwassee WR, TN. Dec. 1.

W601*

Nov. 21

Roosted northeastern GA. Nov. 30. Arrived Hernando County, FL Dec. 2.

DAR627 & 628

Nov. 5

Jasper Pulaski FWA, IN on Nov. 5. Pasco County, FL ~ Nov. 12 and were present through Dec. 1.

Unidentified Bird

-

Reported with Sandhill cranes in Quitman County, GA. Nov. 30.

DARs 737, 739*, 740*, 742*, 743*, 744*

Nov. 6

Peoria County, IL through Dec. 1.

DAR746*

Oct. 31

Gibson County, IN , Nov. 4. Hatchie NWR, Haywood County, TN. Nov 23. Desha County, Arkansas Nov 27. Retrieved and released Dec. 1 at Hiwassee WR, Meigs County, TN.

Date: December 4, 2007 - Entry 5 Reporter:

Joe Duff

Subject:

Foibles with Feathers

Location: Russell Cty, KY
Distance
Traveled
64.4 miles

Russell Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
619.9 miles

Each bird in our flock has its own personality. They are as complex as people with quirks and idiosyncrasies. We, of course, are not adept enough at their language to know them the way we understand our friends or family, but if you spend enough time, you can get a pretty good idea of what to expect.

It’s hard to communicate life lessons when all you have is body language. I’ve often wished that we had some way to pass on messages that they could understand, like whispering in their ear. We’d give them little pointers to help them along like,“if you tuck in behind the wing tip, you can get a free ride,” or, “keep following and we will take you to a place where it’s warm.”

Of course if I were talking to number 703 I’d have a few choice words for him that Liz couldn’t post. That bird will drive you crazy. I’ve never met a more aggressive Whooping crane. As soon as I walk into the pen, he begins stalking me. And I’ve seen him do it to others. He struts around with his neck arched to show his, yet to develop, red patch. He feigns indifference while keeping his eye on you.

The dominance structure in a flock of Whooping cranes is maintained by biting and poking. It starts with an extended neck as each bird tries to be taller than his opponent. When they run out of altitude, they often jump in the air and rake forward with the one inch nail on their center toe - and they can be formidable. Twice now I have used my height to back 703 down and then chased him around the pen with the beak of my puppet nipping at his back. His reaction is to poke at some lesser bird in a simple case of displaced aggression.

In the air, 703 is aggressive to the aircraft. To them we are just another bird, albeit a loud one. In their formation flight, the leader is the most aggressive member who pushes his way to the front. Most of the birds are content to hang behind the wing and take advantage of the free ride, but 703 can only do that for a few minutes. Then his rebellious nature takes over and he begins to fly above, below or in front of the wing. He calls to the rest of the flock and leads them off in other directions.

If number 703 is leading, the pilot must work a lot harder than if any other bird is up front. Several times during today’s flight, 703 and I did battle. I bumped him several times, cut in behind him and once even pushed up hard when he was above the wing. I could see his shadow flat on the upper surface as I pancaked him. He slid off the tip and into the number 3 position, and for the next 20 minutes my job was easier.

For the fourth time in a week we pushed our aircraft out of the hangar and took off into cold clear air. Only this time we were not faced with a show stopping headwind. We turned north and covered the four miles over to the pen. I landed and gave Bev, Nathan and Meagan the thumps up. The birds came charging out ahead of me so I waited until they were clear before taking off.

It wasn’t long before they were formed on the wing and we were on our way. Despite the nine days on the ground none of the birds turned back. They followed well for a few miles but started to break up as we climbed. Richard picked up a bird that fell behind, and then another. Brooke moved in to help.

We each had bird on our wings and were only a few hundred feet apart. That split the loyalties of the birds following us and they moved back and forth between us. We separated, and 11 birds went with Brooke while four stayed with me. We climbed steadily and were a half mile apart but my birds kept breaking to the left while his broke right and they met in the middle.

Eventually 9 formed on Brooke’s wing and 6 on mine and we put about a mile between us. Brooke was able to climb but I had to continually chase 703 and kept losing altitude. We stayed below 1000 feet. Richard in the meantime had reached 2500 feet with his two birds and managed to pick up a slight tailwind. He cruised overhear while we plodded below.

The air was very smooth and only 24 degrees but it was moving against us and our ground speed was never above 34 miles per hour despite the fact we were flying at 42. I normally use two GPS units. Maybe it wishful thinking but I had one programmed to our first stop in Tennessee. When we arrived at our destination, the Cumberland County stop was still 1 hour and 47 minutes away. It had taken us almost 2 hours to cover 57 miles so skipping a stop was again out of the question.

Richard landed first and his two birds acted as decoys for the others. Brooke and I circled while our birds landed next to them. The pen was not set up at this location,(another attempt to promote a missed stop) so Richard walked the birds into the next field while the rest of us put it together in about 40 minutes.

I left to tie down the aircraft before the birds were led to the pen. It was my way of avoiding another little discussion with 703 about dominance.

Date: December 4, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Flight Report

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
64.4 miles

Washington Cty to Russell Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
619.9 miles

Brian Clauss reported that an elated air crew and 17 wonderful Whoopers are safely on the ground in Russell County, KY! We'll have the lead pilot's report for you later today so be sure and check back.

Date: December 4, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

"BANKING ON NATURE" 2006 REPORT RELEASED

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
? miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Excerpt from a recent Birding Community E-bulletin

Since 1997, the USFWS has released "Banking on Nature" reports that attempt to estimate the economic benefits to local communities that result from National Wildlife Refuge visitation.

The latest report, the fourth in this series and a study approaching almost 400 pages, was released in the last days of November. (The study only reflects figures for the lower-48 states and for refuges with more than 1,500 annual visitors.) This most recent report announced that recreational use on National Wildlife Refuges generated almost $1.7 billion in total economic activity during fiscal year 2006. As a result of this spending, almost 27,000 private sector jobs were sustained and $542.8 million in employment income was generated.

The report also revealed that recreational spending on refuges generated nearly $185.3 million in tax revenue at the local, county, state and federal level. In addition, it demonstrated that about 87 percent of refuge visitors traveled from outside their local area to visit refuges.

About 82% of total expenditures on National Wildlife Refuges came from activities other than hunting and fishing. Fishing accounted for 12 % of the total, and hunting 6%. For the first time, birding as an activity, both for area residents and non-residents, was separated out for at least 66 of the 80 sample refuges that received specific examination.

Due to a lack of specific birding data for all refuges, birding impacts were not extrapolated nationwide. One would hope that this initial look into birding in "Banking on Nature" would be expanded and examined more closely in future studies in the series.

Still, in an overview on the role of birding, the newly released study charted sample high-volume birding visitation (i.e., refuges with more than 50,000 birding visitors per year) and high-expenditure birding NWRs (i.e., refuges with local birding expenditures of over $1 million per year). The study also pointed out that, "quality birding is an outgrowth of the Refuge System's national and international role in conserving quality habitat. In fact, one-third of all Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in the Unites States are located on National Wildlife Refuges... illustrating the key role that refuges play in attracting both birds and bird enthusiasts."

Click here to be taken to the full Banking on Nature report.

Click the following link to access an archive of past Birding Community E-bulletins on the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) website.

Date: December 4, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 Migration Day 53

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
? miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Getting tired of weather instead of flying reports? Us too! So we have good – no – great news! They are in the air!!!! and headed for Russell County in southern Kentucky. Joe is lead pilot today and Bev reported that all 17 birds are flying.

Had we not flown today we would have tied the record (set in 2006 in Cumberland County, TN) for consecutive days grounded. Because the migration leg from northern Tennessee to Meigs County (Hiwassee) takes the cranes and planes over the Cumberland Ridge (aka The Beast), they need almost perfect weather to attempt the flight.

However, we’ll worry about that bridge when we come to it - which hopefully will be soon. For now we’ll just concentrate on the next flight, and hope we won't have more down time in Russell County.

Assuming they don't manage to overfly the Russell County stopover today, (yes, ever the optimist) there will be a flyover viewing opportunity on their departure from that location. OM's pilots leading the Class of 2007 will try their best to overfly the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery near the Wolf Creek Dam in Russell County as they leave Kentucky for Tennessee.

The Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is located at 50 Kendall Road Jamestown, KY 42629. The following link will take you to directions and a small map. http://www.fws.gov/wolfcreek/wolf_map.html

It is important to remember the key role weather plays in our ability to fly on any given day. This means that individuals planning to go to the Hatchery to see the flyover need to keep in mind that it may or may not happen tomorrow morning, or the next, or the next. To see the 'hoped for' flyover we suggest you be on site no later than 6:45am. Remember to dress warmly.

2007 Migration Trivia
From Carlotta Abbott, Lexington, Kentucky

Interesting coincidence: Route 555 connects Springfield, Kentucky to the Bluegrass Parkway. The Class of 2007 Whooping Cranes have logged 555.5 miles thus far on their migration south.

And this from Peter Vander Sar of Mara, British Columbia.
As the story goes, back in the 1940's trustees of the Madrid Zoo in Spain heard there were only a few Whooping cranes left in the world and decided they must have one for their facility before the species went extinct. Only one zoo was willing to let any go and arrangements were made to trade a pair of its Whooping cranes for a species of Wildebeest that they didn't have in their collection. The cranes were dispatched by air freight. It was very cold and windy when they arrived at the Madrid airport and the birds refused to disembark. The bird handlers reported to the zoo director that, "The cranes in Spain stay mainly on the plane." Okay - all together now - Grooaan.

Date: December 4, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
? miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

In recognition of all the work they have done for the Wye Marsh Wildlife Center in Midland, Ontario over the past five years, Craniacs Margaret Black and daughter Emily were recently presented with the 2007 Harry Lumsden Conservation Award.

You will recall, Emily is the six year old who designed a note card for Operation Migration to sell in memory of the Class of 2006 and her mom is one of the three original teachers in OM’s Craniac Teacher/Kids/ Network. Emily also designed two note cards for Wye Marsh to sell in support of the Ontario Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction Program.

Their work for Wye Marsh has included Trumpeter Swan monitoring and sponsorship, fundraising to send over 60 underprivileged kids to day camp on full sponsorships, and volunteer work at the marsh and at home, via computer.

In the photo, Laurie Schutt, (center) Executive Director of the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre presents the dynamic Black duo with their award.

Date: December 4, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 Eastern Migratory Population (EMP) Update

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
? miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

In response to your many emails regarding an update on the progress of the Whooping cranes from previous years, we can only advise that we have not had a report from the Tracking Team since November 22 (see entry below). As always, we will post updated information when/as soon as it is received.

Reports from a variety of sources have come in re DAR746*. (Thanks folks.) Apparently not having 'hooked up' with any other birds, she ended up in Arkansas. She was retrieved and transported to the Hiawassee Refuge in Meigs County, TN where she was released on Sunday, Dec. 2. Watchers there report there are approximately 10 adult Whooping cranes (along with an estimated 3,000 Sandhills) currently in the Hiwassee area, so hopefully DAR746* will begin to associate and stick with our Whoopers when they resume their migration south.

Date: December 3, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 Migration Day 52

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

While the Migration Team and the Class of 2007 have not advanced in over a week, many of you have been busy '‘moving' MileMaker along. As of today, the new total of sponsored miles is 781.75 miles, 50 more than last Monday.

Current sponsorships will now carry the cranes and planes to about 60 miles inside the Georgia border. However, there are still 470+ miles 'looking for love' and waiting for sponsors. So, if you’ve never been a MileMaker, there is still lots of room for YOU.

We are delighted to announce the success of the MileMaker Challenge issued by a Colorado Craniac couple. We will be letting them know today that their challenge to NEW MileMakers to match their 5 mile sponsorship has been met.

Date: December 3, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Bev Paulan

Subject:

 Migration Day 52

Location: Washington Cty, KY
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

It has been windy here in KY. I mean, Winnie-the-Pooh, blustery day kind of windy. It was windy enough yesterday during the day, that we kept walking to the top of the hill to look at the pen via binoculars to make sure the EZ-Up was still up. It was so windy, I felt like we were living in a sail boat, not a motor home. Well, anyway, I think you get the idea.

Shortly after 10 pm last night, the wind shifted, and increased. A lot. It went from windy and rocking the trailer, to freight-train strength in a heart beat. As I held on, we quick turned on the weather radio to check to see what was going on.

The reports coming in were that the wind was gusting to at least 50mph and scheduled to last until at least midnight. With the gust that nearly upended the motor home, Brooke quickly donned his costume and ran out to check the pen. After a worrisome 15 minutes, my phone rang and he asked me to come down to help him put the pen back together. He assured me the birds were all fine, but to bring flashlights.

The end panel which is half wood, half canvas, had buckled in, twisting the panel next to it and pulling up the top net. With Brooke's ingenuity (mine was still sleeping), we rigged up some ropes and stakes to hold the panel in place. The wood had splintered at its connection point to the trailer, so we had to tie it on, and then we used several more bungies on the top net. After an hour and a half of repairs, we were satisfied the panel would survive the now lessening winds.

During our midnight visit, all the birds remained calm and seemed to tolerate the interruption to their sleep. Thank goodness for the brood calls to let them know mom and dad were there to help.

At first light this morning, Joe, Brian, Brooke and myself went out to double check that everything was still standing and all the chicks were still safe in the pen. Everything was just fine and the chicks remained as unfazed as they appeared to be the night before.

As the saying goes, all’s well that ends well.

Date: December 3, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 Migration Day 52

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Sometimes you just can't win for losing.

This morning in Washington County, KY it was overcast and 31 degrees with WNW surface winds at 13mph. Yesterday we reported it looked like the winds would swing around to come out of the WNW overnight. And they did. The winds aloft were also out of the WNW, but but blowing at 40 – 50mph and higher, they were too strong for the cranes and planes.

Last night the winds on the ground were so strong that the crew was worried about the pen and they did pen checks throughout the evening. Around 11pm they found that one of the trailer pen panels had blown down so they had to make the necessary repairs. We expect a report on this from Bev later in the day.

Today will be Day #8 for the crew in Washington County, KY. This is just one day less than the all time record for being stuck on the ground. That happened in 2006 when the migration was stalled for 9 days in Cumberland County, TN.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Kentucky
In 2001, at a Dairy Queen in Danville, (just east of Washington County) a woman attempted to purchase a sundae with a $200 bill featuring George W. Bush's picture. She received the sundae and $197.88 in change.

Bardstown, which is just west of Washington County, holds the title of Bourbon Capital of the World. It is the home of the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival. A public museum, the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey, showcases this aspect of local history.

Date: December 2, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 Migration Day 51

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

The team woke this morning to a temp of 52 degrees, rain, and 15mph winds out of the SSW. Need we say more?

Overnight tonight it looks like the winds are going to swing around to come out of the WNW, so we MAY have hope for a flight tomorrow. Today however, the crew will have to stick it out in Washington County, KY for a 7th day.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Kentucky
The world's biggest baseball bat is 120 feet tall and leans against the building in Louisville, Kentucky that houses the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. It is an exact replica of Babe Ruth's 34-inch baseball bat. John A. "Bud" Hillerich made the first Louisville Slugger in 1884.

Legend has it that Bud, who worked in his father's woodworking shop, slipped away one afternoon to a Louisville Eclipse major league ballgame. The team's star, Pete Browning, in a batting slump, broke his bat. Bud invited Browning to his father's shop and made him a new one to Browning's specs. Browning got three hits with it the next day.

This started a wave of players who came to Bud to have him hand-craft bats for them. The name "Louisville Slugger" was registered with the U.S. Patent Office, and by 1923, more of them than any other bat were being sold.

In addition to Babe Ruth, other famous players of the past who swung Sluggers were: Honus Wagner, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, Henry Aaron and Lou Gehrig. To date more than 100 million of them have been sold, with 60% of all Major League players using them.

Date: December 1, 2007 - Entry 4 Reporter:

Captain Joe D. 'Kirk'

Subject:

 Captain’s Log: Star Date 22-97

Location: Washington Cty, KY
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

The crew of the Enterprise continues to supply the 2007 OM migration team. We have been on station now for several millennia. The OM Team reported in a cyber-com communication this morning that they hope to make progress soon. Tuesday looks good.

This message came from meteorologist, Kevin Gullikson, son of original project pilot, Chris Gullikson. The Operation Migration team have been stalled in Washington County, in the state once known as Kentucky for several decades.

The city of Springfield, with its population 1.5 million has set up memorial to the dedication of the team. Most original members have now passed away and a monument was erected on the old Grundy farmstead behind the Ultra-WalMart Space-Mall.

Attending the opening ceremonies were Dr. Nathan Hurst and Lt. Col Megan Kennedy (retired). These are the only two surviving members of the original OM Team. Later that day Dr. Hurst and LT. Col. Kennedy were guests of honor at a luncheon held the Brooke Pennypacker Memorial Home for Seniors where the two retirees reside.

Date: December 1, 2007 - Entry 3 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

 Excerpt from KY's WHAS11 NewsBlog

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

November 29, 2007: WAS IT WHOOPING? By Joe Arnold

I tend to invest myself in many of the stories that I cover. This was especially easy to do when I began reporting on the effort to save Whooping Cranes from extinction. When one crane became lost in Kentuckiana, I felt that I was part of the team to find it.

So often, the media is accused of getting in the way. In this case, the media - and WHAS11 in particular - became a valuable tool for the Operation Migration team as they searched ground and sky for the five month old whooping crane, dubbed "733."

From the OM website:
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!

The "7" indicates from the class of 2007 and he is the 33rd hatchling. As there are only 17 in his class, now, that's an indication that about half didn't survive to make it this far in the first place.

My first story on the ultralight led migration instruction was Sunday night, after photojournalist Paul Landers had brought back video and an interview he conducted that morning with Operation Migration co-founder Joe Duff. I was fascinated by their dedication, their creative use of baggy white costumes and pledge to never speak around the whooping cranes so as not to domesticate them.

While researching the organization, I discovered that 733 had been missing since Friday, when the flock and ultralights had taken flight from Jackson County, Indiana to Shelby County, Kentucky. I asked Monday morning to be assigned to covering their search for the crane, one of only about 350 in the wild.

After my report aired Sunday night, the tips came pouring in, both to WHAS11's newsroom and to Operation Migration.

Photojournalist Ron Johnson and I went in search of those tips and 733. One man said he saw the whooping crane on his pond near Simpsonville. That turned out to be a blue heron. White plastic bags were mistaken for 733 on several occasions. A Shelby County caller wondered if the lone white bird in a V formation of Canada geese was 733. I asked him if he could hear the white bird apart from the others. He said he did and it sounded different. This prompted my next question which Ron caught on tape and will be with me the rest of my career.

"Was it whooping?," I asked.

He wasn't quite sure.

The experts told me later that they saw a similar anomaly, but it was a single goose amidst a flock of sandhill cranes.

We printed "missing" posters and took off for Shelby County. That's where I met up with Joe Duff and thanked him personally for his efforts to save a species. For one day, I was on a National Geographic-esque mission, driving the WHAS11 Ford Explorer on back roads past gushing streams in the pouring rain.

With me for part of the ride was Touch the Planet's Dave Mattingly, a former Delta pilot who volunteered to fly his plane for "top cover" of the migration. He was part of the ground crew search with me. I thought how odd that this adventurer finds himself on the back roads of Shelby County. He described how from his plane he had discovered the calving grounds of the northern right whale. Only 300 of these whales currently exist. His work is helping to save that endangered species.

With only 500 whooping cranes on earth, I realized that this drive in Shelby County was as relevant as any exotic National Geographic locale. The survival of an entire species was suddenly very close to home.

We didn't find 733 on Monday or on Tuesday, but Wednesday afternoon I got the call from Liz Condie in the Operation Migration office and I could not wait to share it with my colleagues. The e-mail shot around very quickly and before we knew it, the Associated Press had picked up on the story.
 
For a video version of the story to which Joe’s blog refers – click here (sorry folks can't get link to connect - working to fix, check back later.

Date: December 1, 2007 - Entry 2 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Migration Day 50

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
0 miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

Grounded again.

The pilots went aloft to try, but quickly called it a 'no-go'. In fact the winds are so strong, Bev said, Richard, who took off in the wrong direction, had a hard time battling the headwind to get back to the airport.

Today will be the crew’s sixth day on the ground in Washington County, KY.

2007 Migration Trivia compliments of Vi White and Steve Cohen
Washington County, KY
Abraham Lincoln's uncle, Mordecai Lincoln was married Mary Mudd. Dr. Samuel Mudd, the man who treated John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of the President, was the first cousin, twice removed of Mary Mudd Lincoln. The home of Mordecai and Mary Mudd, built by the Lincoln family in 1797, still stands in Washington County on it's original foundation.

Date: December 1, 2007 - Entry 1 Reporter:

Liz Condie

Subject:

Emails, We Get Emails....

Location: Main Office
Distance
Traveled
? miles

Washington Cty, KY

Accumulated
Distance
555.5 miles

We don't want you upset with us so we are writing this note to let you know that we cannot possibly respond individually to the many of you who have emailed looking for updates on the migration progress of previous years' Whooping cranes.

We have not received a report from the Tracking Team since the last one we posted on November 22nd. However, we see from ICF's website that 105 is the third bird to arrive in Florida. DARs 627 and 628 arrived there November 12. They also advised that 6 of the 7 2007 DAR birds are still in Illinois and that DAR746 is in Arkansas.

We continue to be overwhelmed with emails. If you are looking for migration news or information re departure viewing opportunities, please be patient, hold your emails, and watch for postings here. We promise that ALL news and information is posted here to the Field Journal as fast as we receive or it becomes available.

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