Right Place at the Right Time

Last evening Jo-Anne and I attended a sneak peek showing of “Think Green – Green Lake Country,” which will air this weekend on a number of Wisconsin channels as well as online. The production is part of the Discover Wisconsin series and features the five communities, which comprise ‘Green Lake Country’: Princeton, Berlin, Ripon, Green Lake and Markesan.

I’m sure the producers had a monumental task of editing the content down to just 22 minutes of airtime when you consider all Green Lake Country has to offer. One of the highlights of the episode is the Whooping crane training site in Green Lake County, near Princeton so naturally, Doug and Mako Pellerin and Tom and Wendy Schultz were also in attendance. It was great fun catching up with them and the local Whooping crane Festival committee members.

Before the screening I asked Tom if he and his trailer might be available to help Jo-Anne and I move the mower from our Princeton hangar out to the site the next morning and as usual, he didn’t hesitate.

After loading it into his trailer we made the drive up to the marsh and off-loaded it fairly easily. After a quick boost, Jo set out down the path toward the runway, while I followed and Tom headed to the viewing blind. About halfway there the mower stalled and within seconds, I heard the unmistakable alarm call of a Whooping crane.

Thankfully the grass is quite tall and I’m still short so I was able to sneak up ahead for a peek and saw two glorious white Whooping cranes. Jo handed me her binoculars and I could make out just a hint of juvenile brown on the back of their heads. I quickly texted Tom who unbenownst to me was already snapping photos of them as they stood roughly 50 feet from the viewing blind.

As they sauntered off to the north, we sauntered back to the van where I was able to check legbands and discover the duo was 9-14 and 10-14. Since Brooke and Colleen returned them to White River Marsh in early May they, along with 8-14 have been doing what we call spring wandering – something common among sub-adult cranes.

Jo and I went off to get the tracking van so we could have a listen for number 8-14 to see if she too was in the area. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any beeps on her so we’ll have to wait for a PTT hit to come in to see if she stayed behind at their former location or perhaps moved off somewhere else.

As we were pulling out of the site I heard another Whooper calling and looked up just in time to see number 4-12 fly overhead.

Then later in the afternoon we went out looking for number 4-14 (Peanut) and found him also – north-northeast of the marsh, and 5-12 at the north end of the marsh. If you’ve lost count that’s five Whooping cranes at or very near to White River Marsh. Enjoy the photos!

Whoopers 2015 - 6-17-15_TS

10-14 on the right and 9-14, left.

Whoopers 2015 - 6-17-15_TS_1

Notice the hint of tawny coloring on the back of their heads?

3 yr. old male number 4-12 flies overhead.

3 yr. old male number 4-12 flies overhead.

Peanut (4-14) is a former flockmate to 9 & 10-14. And the only male from the Class of 2014.

Peanut (4-14) is a former flockmate to 9 & 10-14. And the only male from the Class of 2014.

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  1. Sue Snyder June 21, 2015 4:14 pm

    How do I get involved with this wonderful purpose in the Green Lake, WI area?

    • Heather Ray June 21, 2015 4:53 pm

      Sue, if you’re interested we’re always looking for volunteers to help out with our Whooping Crane festival, which will take place the weekend of Sept 11th.
      Shoot me an email: heather @operationmigration.org

  2. Calistus Holland June 18, 2015 7:21 pm

    Heather with the amount of Whoppers that are in the area are you still going to need help to get the area ready for the 2015 class on the 20th at 8:00AM or will it scare them away.


    • Heather Ray June 18, 2015 7:39 pm

      We’ll still be working. They won’t hang around

  3. Russell Allison June 18, 2015 4:34 pm

    Keep all the good news coming. Several new wild born Whoopers, the return to White river marsh of several. And most of all Peanut is back . Life is good. Go Whoopers.

  4. Bobbie June 18, 2015 1:16 pm

    When using the mower are you wearing the TUME outfit? Or is it a rule that whenever someone is out on the training area they are in TUME attire? Thank you for the wonderful photos!

    • Heather Ray June 18, 2015 1:33 pm

      First we’d have to get the mower working but if we know there are cranes in the area we’d be in costume when mowing.

  5. Mindy June 18, 2015 12:36 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous! So good to see all of them! Thank you both for your efforts to make the pics and for posting them……I needed that fix this morning! If nothing else goes right today, these images will immediately make it better……

  6. Mollie Cook June 18, 2015 9:28 am

    What a whooping way to start the day……..so excited to see all of them especially more of the 2014 class. Thank you Heather & Jo !!

  7. Sue McCurdy June 18, 2015 8:03 am

    Thank you so much for the post. I loved it! Y’all are awesome and so are the whoopers.

  8. ffmn June 18, 2015 7:37 am

    TY Heather, for sharing the experience you ALL experienced yesterday. So hard to think they grew into their beautiful ‘adult’ looks since departure from the marsh last fall. *** Where can I get the info on how to apply for watching a training session from the blind. (Son interested. Very much an outdoor man, wildlife phtog/ observer etc. Told him it is VERY early, and wx dependent. Didn’t know cost, but would try to obtain info. Thanks, (just in case you can direct me)

    • Heather Ray June 18, 2015 8:33 am

      To arrange to participate in a blind tour and check available dates, please contact Doug Pellerin by email: pelican0711(AT)gmail.com or call him at 920-923-0016 between the hours of noon and 7:00 PM Central time. These tours will happen somewhat early in the morning – starting by 6:00am CT