The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and National Whooping Crane Coordinator.
CWS stands for Canadian Wildlife Service; USFWS is US Fish and Wildlife Service. Crane monitoring involves cooperative efforts and support by both countries.
Anyone wanting to contact Tom about the report or the whooping crane projects can reach him via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Other information, including archived copies of these reports, can be found at the Texas Whooping Crane home pages at http://www.electrotex.com/aoc/. (Please link to the Texas Whooping Crane pages through the AOC main home page, as the URLs for the special site pages may change over time as updates and reviews occur.)
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November 17, 1999
TO: Division of Endangered Species, USFWS, Albuquerque, NM
FROM: Whooping Crane Coordinator, Aransas NWR, Austwell, Texas
SUBJECT: Whooping Crane Census at Aransas
An aerial census of the Aransas NWR and surrounding areas made
11/17/99 revealed the presence of 108 adults and 11 young = 119
whooping cranes. The flight was made in USFWS aircraft with Jim
Bredy, pilot/biologist and Tom Stehn as observer.
Recap of cranes observed: (119)
Refuge Lamar San Jose Matagorda Welder Other Total
51+5 22+1 29+4 6+1 108+11=119
Remarks: Visibility was excellent. An estimated whooping cranes
85+8=93 have arrived since the last flight on October 27. About
35% of the whooping crane flock is estimated still in migration,
with numerous sightings reported.
Family groups present are from nests 4, 5, 12, 21, 35, 36, 38, 42,
47, and two unknowns. Additional locations are needed before I can
be sure of the identities of 21, 38, and 42. Chicks from nests 21
and 42, if correctly identified, were unexpected based on Canadian
survey data. One pair has arrived but has lost their chick since
August surveys in Wood Buffalo National Park (pair 39/99).
Due to salinities greater than 24 in the bays and marshes because
of drought, the Aransas whooping cranes are flying to freshwater
sources (dugouts and ponds) to drink. Some of these areas are in
prescribed burns conducted this fall by the refuge. Many cranes
have been observed at dugouts and on prescribed burns. On today's
flight, seven cranes were observed on burns and 3 at a freshwater
pond. Blue crab numbers are at moderate levels in the marshes, so
the cranes are finding enough to eat.
My appreciative thanks go to USFWS pilot Jim Bredy who willingly
conducted this survey flight despite an extremely busy schedule.
Contract pilot Dr. Tom Taylor of Rockport Aerial Services who
conducted the flights the past several years had recent heart
bypass surgery and is recovering. There are no contract pilots in
Texas certified for low level missions by the Office of Aircraft
Safety. Until a contract pilot can be found, we will rely on USFWS
pilots for future census flights, hopefully two flights a month.
- Tom Stehn
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Corpus Christi, Texas