St. Marks Arrival – Photo Round-up

Yesterday’s arrival of another small cohort of Whooping cranes at the St. Marks Refuge wasn’t at all like arrivals in the past. I’ve included a selection of photos below, which I hope will provide some details…

Instead of being shepherded to the winter site by aircraft, the Class of '15 arrived in crates. Here the crew prepares to open the crates about a half mile from the pensite.

Instead of being shepherded to the winter site by aircraft, the Class of ’15 arrived in crates. Here the crew prepares to open the crates about a half mile from the pensite. Photo: Joe Duff

Released...

Released… and stretching their wings. Photo: Joe Duff

Away they go - checking out their new surroundings. With the brood call playing on a loudspeaker in the pen a half mile away, they head in the right direction. Photo: Joe Duff

Away they go – checking out their new surroundings. With the brood call playing on a loudspeaker in the winter release pen a half mile away, they head in the right direction. Photo: Joe Duff

Jeff, Colleen and Brooke make the walk with them. Photo: Joe Duff

Jeff, Colleen and Brooke make the walk with them. Photo: Joe Duff

Our first glimpse of them as they clear the treeline in the distance. Photo: Heather Ray

Our first glimpse of them as they clear the treeline in the distance. Photo: Heather Ray

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Taking your cranes for a walk isn't at all like taking your dog for a walk. Photo: Heather Ray

Taking your cranes for a walk isn’t at all like taking your dog for a walk. Photo: Heather Ray

As usual #2-15 leads the way. She's followed closely by the only male crane #11-15. Photo: Heather Ray

As usual #2-15 leads the way. She’s followed closely by the only male crane #11-15. Photo: Heather Ray

Approaching the release enclosure. Photo: Heather Ray

Approaching the release enclosure. Photo: Heather Ray

One youngster lands inside next to Bev & Richard while the others are a bit reluctant and keep flying. Photo: Heather Ray

One youngster lands inside next to Bev & Richard while the others are a bit reluctant and keep flying. Photo: Heather Ray

They landed adjacent a small pond, which is a favorite foraging location for the older Whooping cranes. Photo: Heather Ray

They landed adjacent a small pond, which is a favorite foraging location for the older Whooping cranes. Photo: Heather Ray

Eventually, Brooke was able to coax them toward the gates of the pen. Photo: Heather Ray

Eventually, Brooke was able to coax them toward the gates of the pen. Photo: Heather Ray

Whooping crane #1-15 was the second crane to enter and immediately began her typical leaping and dancing. Photo: Heather Ray

Whooping crane #1-15 was the second crane to enter and immediately began her typical leaping and dancing. Photo: Heather Ray

#1-15 is still leaping as the others are all eventually coaxed in through the large gate. Last crane to enter, was of course #2-15 and she did so at 11:11 am. Photo: Heather Ray

#1-15 is still leaping as the others are all eventually coaxed in through the large gate. Last crane to enter, was of course #2-15 and she did so at 11:11 am. Photo: Heather Ray

Finally, all are in the top-netted section of the release pen, where they'll be until the final health check and banding takes place later this week. Photo: Heather Ray

Finally, all are in the top-netted section of the release pen, where they’ll be until the final health check and banding takes place later this week. Photo: Heather Ray

VISITORS! The four adults/sub-adults appear just as the gate to the top-netted section is closed. Pictured are: 5-12, 4-13, 4-14 & 7-14. Photo: Heather Ray

VISITORS! The four adults/sub-adults appear just as the gate to the top-netted section is closed. Pictured are: 5-12, 4-13, 4-14 & 7-14. Photo: Heather Ray

Curious about the new arrivals they approach the colts to check them out. Photo: Heather Ray

Curious about the new arrivals they approach the colts to check them out. Photo: Heather Ray

Hey look! The new kids on the block finally arrived! (been there - done that) Photo: Colleen Chase

Hey look! The new kids on the block finally arrived! (been there – done that) Photo: Colleen Chase

Two adults check out the colts. #4-13 left/foreground. Photo: Colleen Chase

Two adults check out the colts. #4-13 left/foreground. Photo: Colleen Chase

 

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67 Comments

  1. Sue Scribner February 8, 2016 10:08 pm

    It has been a heartwarming experience to follow the path of these magnificent birds on their trek to St. Marks through the many wonderful pictures, videos, and journal entries. Thank you to all the personnel who were a part of guiding these birds.

  2. Sue Scribner February 8, 2016 10:00 pm

    It was heartwarming to be a part of this adventure through the wonderful pictures and videos of these magnificent birds. Thank you to all the personnel who guided these birds to St. Marks.

  3. Mary Maxwell February 8, 2016 8:36 pm

    Thank you so very much for these photos!
    I hope you all realize how much you are appreciated!
    Whoop!

  4. Melba Olsen February 8, 2016 6:33 pm

    As a new 2015-16 OM follower, I am totally fascinated with everything I have read and learned about Whooping Cranes from such dedicated people at OM. I love the pictures, and am amazed at the team’s accomplishments. 6 new migrating whooping cranes! How awesome is that?!! Thanks for sharing your story and know that I am honored to have been able to experience (from Texas, yet) this “last” ultra-light led migration. Thank you for caring for God’s creatures in such a wonderful way!

  5. Mollie Cook February 8, 2016 10:24 am

    Thank you all for the wonderful pics. Blessings to all of you as OM takes a new path to even greater things for Whoopers. We all look forward to being a part of that. Safe travels……….teach them well Brooke as you always do & send pics when you can. We love our babies!

  6. Mary Ann February 8, 2016 7:16 am

    thank you very much for posting these beautiful pictures, but sad to see the end of an awesome era, but looking forward to the future of OM’s participation in the Whooping Crane’s welfare!

  7. Mac Grimm February 7, 2016 10:28 pm

    Thank you for sending the pictures. Good job done. It looks like they will be content.

  8. Warrenwesternpa February 7, 2016 7:44 pm

    St.Marks Arrival and Photo Round-up Heather Ray and Others

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures and words of wisdom from everyone. All good things must end, I suppose. I feel like when the Norfolk Eagles fell prey to the nearby airport. Sad days are blended with happy occasions too. May you all have an abundance of spirited days. Peace!

  9. Catherine Walters February 7, 2016 5:40 pm

    OM Team – you are and will always be heroes to these precious birds and all who love them. Your efforts have been magnificent. My heart is heavy indeed that there will be no more guided migrations. Blessings on you for all you have done and continue to do for the cranes.

  10. Kathie Rushlow February 7, 2016 4:41 pm

    Thanks so much for the “Arrival” pics, and all of your hard work over the years. As I’ve shared the migration each year with my 2nd Graders, another batch of up-and-coming Naturalists were groomed. Students still stop me and ask, “How are the Whoopers doing?” Please know that FL includes a segment on OM in the 3rd Grade Science books. Blessings to all of your future endeavors!

  11. Shepherd February 7, 2016 4:05 pm

    WONDERFUL photoes!
    I see you even have them at the starting gate. LOL!
    The Whooper Derby!
    Thank you!

    http://cj.myfreeforum.org/about5291.html

  12. Barb Stolz February 7, 2016 4:02 pm

    How thoughtful of you to share these wonderful pictures of the colt’s arrival. All of us who will never get to Florida or Wisconsin can get some sense of their habitat. You’ve all been so wonderful in bringing all of us into your crane family. I can only pray that OM continues, in another direction, to ensure the population will thrive. The OM team is one class act! I’m so glad I got a short glimpse of this family. God bless!

  13. Mindy February 7, 2016 3:20 pm

    Joe, Heather, Colleen….thank you so very much for the wonderful pictures! We all needed them desperately! So glad to see all 10 cranes together! Love it! God bless you all as you travel….

  14. Sarah Gramentine February 7, 2016 3:19 pm

    Thanks for all you’ve done–you’ve completed and shared a long, exciting chapter in the history of Whooping Crane recovery. I ache for the end of this chapter but look forward to supporting the continued work of OM. Blessings always on your courage and dedication.

  15. Cindy February 7, 2016 2:48 pm
  16. Becky Keaton February 7, 2016 2:35 pm

    Thank you for sharing that the birds are where they belong. I guess it doesn’t matter (except to those who are still a little sad) how they got there as long as it was safely.
    Someone else said they were sad for all of you and I agree with her. But know you have done something amazing, and made a difference.

  17. Catherine Wohlfeil February 7, 2016 1:38 pm

    Absolutely beautiful pictures. It’s wonderful seeing them in their new home. And there’s even adult crane companionship and nurturing already on-site! And the presence of little Peanut to show them all can be done if you just keep trying. Thank you all for your wonderful caring, your strength of heart, your vision, and your dedication. You’re an inspiration for all. Carry on…

    And what’s with male 11-15 following our feisty 2-15? Maybe he’ll have the spirit to tame that firey spirited little bird.

  18. Craniachumbird February 7, 2016 1:31 pm

    Thank you so much for the beautiful pictures of our babies happily flying towards their new home. It makes my heart ache knowing we won’t be flying with you and the birds anymore. Yesterday will be a day that none of you will ever forget and a day all of us craniacs won’t forget either. Hugs to all of you.

  19. Karla Ritter February 7, 2016 1:25 pm

    It may not be the arrival you planned for, but it was very special nonetheless. The memorable photos of all the cranes arriving safely at the pensite are testament to the care and devotion of the team.

  20. Kathy Butler February 7, 2016 1:11 pm

    Is this Crane Heaven here or what! They made it to winter home. The two adults checking out the colts is simply..Priceless to see.
    ~Thank you ~ Thank you ~ Thank you ~ Thank you ~ Thank you ~
    OM team for the pictures. Who knew Brooke can catch an alligator? Amazing! Anything to protect the cranes. To the Class of 2015, enjoy your..new..wild and free life. As we say in chat WCSD (whooping crane sweet dreams) everybody. Job well done OM. Thank you for your dedication to these cranes.

  21. Christopher Nixon February 7, 2016 12:53 pm

    Thanks for that flock of photos! I know it was a disappointment with the weather not cooperating for this final 25 miles. But it is so encouraging to see this years cohort being greeted by four adults. Thanks to all of you with OM for making this encounter possible – and for sharing it with the rest of the world. I know Joe posted what he called his final lead report yesterday. But, with how this reintroduction has set so many milestones and captured so many supporters, I have to believe the kinks in rearing will be figured out and that you have other migratory routes to establish in the future for this species. Please keep us informed on what is happening with the Whooping Cranes until then. You have certainly been the best at keeping the rest of us Crane fanatics informed on the current situation with this species.

  22. Diane McAllister February 7, 2016 12:43 pm

    So awesome! Thank you for your years of work and dedication. It has been a great ride that has brought great joy to me! I will look forward to the next journey and will forever be touched by this experience. God speed and may the wind always beneath their wings…

  23. Genie Ogden February 7, 2016 12:10 pm

    Thank you for the photos and for doing so much to save Whooping cranes.

  24. vannie zychowicz February 7, 2016 12:03 pm

    Thank you for potoing wear the young whooper are going to stay for the winter wonderful I am going to miss see them fly with tthe trick that white river Marsh in the fall My hate is off to you ‘s Jor Brook JoAnn richer Lori Colleen and Jeff for all your work you did this fall year of 2015 to 16 and I for got Heather Take care ho to see yous again great job

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  25. Donna Silva February 7, 2016 11:25 am

    Thank you for sharing all your pictures and I have enjoyed following you each year on your journey to St Marks everyone has done a amazing job and I hope to see you again maybe at Ouzts Love to all

  26. Sue February 7, 2016 10:53 am

    Thank you SO much for these awesome pictures!

  27. Kathy Moore February 7, 2016 10:31 am

    As disappointing as the last leg was to everyone, the pictures look very exciting! Thanks so much for posting them. Good luck to all, especially the class of 2015, as they start their new life.

  28. Larry Moe February 7, 2016 10:21 am

    Awesome pictures ! Thanks for all the work you have done with the Whoopers. A lasting memory.

  29. anna osborn February 7, 2016 10:19 am

    All the beautiful words above. Thank you from Texas. Good luck to all of you as your lives take a different turn. What pride you can have in your efforts; how spectacular are your resulting birds!
    The Crane Chicklet posts will be missed so much. Love all of you, feathered and not so feathered!

  30. Ellen February 7, 2016 10:16 am

    Thank you OM crew for your dedication to the whoopers over the years, and for letting us come along on the journey! Joe, I’m sorry that it didn’t end like you wanted it to, but on the glass is half full side, you all got to be together on the ground and experience the cranes’ release in a different way. It must’ve been awesome walking in that field having those beautiful cranes flying around and above you. Best wishes to the OM crew and on your future endeavors.

  31. Leota Hopper February 7, 2016 10:06 am

    It was Great seeing the pictures and thank you for sharing, as we all wonder their safety and adjusting to their new home and soon to explore the wildlife. Again to All the OM staff, Joe, Brooke, Heather, volunteers, the farmers who lent them their fields, for your time, patience, sacrifices for the safety of the Whooping Cranes growth. I will be following FJ of events on our 2015 class and previous cranes.
    A Super Job Well Done!!

  32. Dora Giles February 7, 2016 10:05 am

    To copy the above comments, Thanks, Thanks, and Many Thanks again. As one stated, I have learned so much in the past 3 years not only about these beautiful cranes and their existence and struggles to continue to survive, but also about aviation, weather, geography, biology, and other wildlife and endangered cranes around the world. Keep your chins up all OM crew. YOU all are the best ever! I know that your future is a bit uncertain right now, but your love for the cranes will continue to show up in other ways.
    I hope to be there to see this population increase and these chicklets start their own families back at WRM hopefully maybe one or 2 new families this coming year. Please continue to keep us posted thru pictures and FJ updates as you can. For right now, get home, rest, relax, and rejuvenate your spirits. Love and God bless each and every one.

    http://OM

  33. Laura Merrill February 7, 2016 10:05 am

    Wonderful work. Thanks to all.

  34. Anna Ely February 7, 2016 10:03 am

    What wonderful photos! Thanks for sharing them. May they live long and happy lives. I’m going to miss seeing them each day.
    Thanks crew for all you’ve done!

  35. Patricia Ewing February 7, 2016 9:53 am

    Thank you for these great pictures. Glad to see the 4 visitors also.

  36. Kay Huey February 7, 2016 9:49 am

    Your photos help wipe away the tears and provide good memories for years to come. Thank you.

  37. Kelly Walker February 7, 2016 9:33 am

    Loving these photos! I wish the solo bird from Southwood would find his way over to join the flock.

  38. Carol Giancola February 7, 2016 9:21 am

    Thank you for these wonderful pictures and captions! It really completes the year warmly. I especially love the one with the older cranes welcoming the colts. God bless you all and all Whooping Cranes.

  39. PattiLat February 7, 2016 9:14 am

    Thanks so much for these wonderful pictures. Once again, a successful mission accomplished thru intelligent decisions, dedication, and patience. The welcoming committee was right on spot-great! Look forward to notes on the progress of our 2015 colts learnng to be wild. We are all behind you forever.

  40. Diana Hanson February 7, 2016 9:14 am

    Wonderful photos. Great to see the welcoming committee — thanks to all of OM for your dedication and hard work. We’ll keep following you.

  41. Barb February 7, 2016 9:10 am

    Thank you so much for posting the pictures of the new arrivals. I have been thinking about them all night, and was very happy to see them this morning.

  42. John Outland February 7, 2016 8:54 am

    Joe,

    Thanks so much for your talk about the Cranes and OM at our recent Apalachee Audubon Society meeting. We all appreciate the dedication of OM to the Cranes and our environment.

    Regards,

    John Outland

  43. Deanna uphoff February 7, 2016 8:52 am

    Thanks so much for sharing all the photos. Tears are flowing knowing this journey is over. My heart still aches for Joe not getting his last flight. It aches for all the team and volunteers as there will be no more OM the way we knew it. I hope our whoopers safety as they become wild birds. I hope and pray the future of all whooping cranes will increase their population and that the birds will learn to better parent and continue to migrate. Thank you again OM for all you have done throughout these years and I trust will continue to do even though it will be in a different capacity.

  44. Bruce February 7, 2016 8:52 am

    thank OM for the all work you have done with the birds going too miss you all

  45. Kathy Terwilliger February 7, 2016 8:52 am

    Thanks for sharing. Wonderful.

  46. CrabtowneMd February 7, 2016 8:42 am

    Beautiful photo essay ! Thank you for sharing these awesome birds with all of us. I am imagining 4-13 & 5-12 saying– ” listen kid, forget that dry crane kibble stuff and follow us to yummy blue crabs !”
    OM’s work has brought so much joy to so many and given hope for a future with whooping cranes. You have my admiration and support as the next chapter unfolds.

  47. ffmn February 7, 2016 8:41 am

    How great to see all of these photos of the colts being led to their new quarters in St. Marks. But t h e y did fly and the Tumes did the walking lol, See the marshy liquid up pretty high on the costumes, Good job OM! Pat (ffmn)

  48. Richard P. Chase February 7, 2016 8:39 am

    Thanks for the really great pictures and dialog. Really glad to see the birds at their new winter home and I’m sure that they will enjoy it for years to come.

    Pretty much a “bitter/sweet” time for me right now. I just hope that the opinions of the “experts” work for the birds.

  49. Elsie Sealander February 7, 2016 8:32 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for these great pictures. Yesterday was like living in an empty box not knowing how the Whooping Cranes were doing.

  50. Kay Larche February 7, 2016 8:25 am

    Congratulations to all-excellent job, well done! I feel like I’ve had a “Crane Migration” graduate level course these last 5 years online,
    with extra courses in biology, weather , wind power, ultralight aviation geography,online communication,volunteer power and extraordinary Leadership. Thank you all.

  51. H.F. Eshuis February 7, 2016 8:23 am

    At great distance in The Netherlands I’ve enjoyed this migration. Thanks and good luck in the future for Operation Migration an her crew

  52. Lindi Allen February 7, 2016 8:16 am

    Awesome pictures, thanks fr sharing them 🙂 I hope all goes well for them in their future.

  53. clara siedelmann February 7, 2016 8:15 am

    The patience you have is amazing and I am envious of your opportunity. I plan to visit next summer when you are back in Wisconsin. Great job.

  54. Marcia Morgan February 7, 2016 8:06 am

    A job well done, brave and constant friends of birds.

  55. Kat Williams February 7, 2016 7:58 am

    Thank you so much for sharing the pics. Being able to see them arriving home makes up for not having that last flyover. And the last pic tugs on your heart. 4-13 wants them to know they are welcome and part of the family. Enjoyed seeing all of you again yesterday. Thank you all so much for allowing us to be a part of Operation Migration and for sharing so much with us. We will continue to support you and our beloved cranes. God bless you all.

  56. Betsy February 7, 2016 7:55 am

    Great to see the photos of the new cranes coming to the pen! Let’s hope the older cranes will teach them how to be wild and free…

  57. Jane Maher February 7, 2016 7:47 am

    The meet and greet is the most remarkable event, and symbolic.

  58. Lil Gillar aka Lilsunrise February 7, 2016 7:45 am

    Love the pictures! Thank you again for all you have done for this LONG migration and for all you have done for the past migrations. You all are the best! <3

  59. Ruth Mitchell February 7, 2016 7:44 am

    wonderful photos and Colleen managed to keep BOTH Boots on this time!!! 🙂 I know this is all bittersweet for you….thank you for years of hard work and dedication!!!

  60. Robin Lee Anderson February 7, 2016 7:43 am

    Thanks for posting these wonderful photos of their arrival to St. Marks. I so appreciate being able to follow along as year by year you have brought more cranes into migration and enriched all our lives with your talent and expertise. I will be watching to see where your next path leads. Thank you, and best wishes to all the crew of Operation Migration.

  61. Jeanne Huie February 7, 2016 7:37 am

    Good to see them at their new site with welcoming committee! Our best wishes for the OM team! You all are special!

  62. Mary Eggert February 7, 2016 7:37 am

    They are so beautiful. What an amazing job you do. Thank you

  63. AintThatAmerica February 7, 2016 7:33 am

    Are they top cover penned at night? Did the Bobcat get relocated? What else can you tell me about how they are managed during their first time at St. Marks?

  64. Barbara Wing February 7, 2016 7:27 am

    Thanks very, very much for these pictures and including WBs and sub-WBs visit. Looks like it didn’t take long before these visitors showed up. Keep them all safe Brooke!

  65. Jeannie Ulrich aka jogulrich February 7, 2016 7:01 am

    Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing. So glad they are in their new home. Love to all of Operation Migration.

  66. Carol Thompson February 7, 2016 6:59 am

    Beautiful pics..thanks again for all your hard work. We just want them to make it!

  67. Judy Lorenz February 7, 2016 6:57 am

    Thank you so much for the wonderful pictures. I am so sad to see this all end.