An aerial census of the Aransas NWR and surrounding areas made 10
2002 estimated the number of whooping cranes present at 110 adults +
chicks = 118. The size of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo whooping
population in spring, 2002 is estimated at 174, with a maximum of 56
having started the migration. An estimated 31 cranes have migrated
the last flight on April 4.
Recap of cranes observed: (118)
Refuge Lamar San Jose
Matagorda Welder Flats Indianola
110 + 8 = 118
Census conditions were a high overcast throughout the day which made
somewhat difficult to find all the cranes. All areas were covered
Copano Bay. Light northeast and east winds were present that
prevented any cranes from migrating.
Migration Status: It is estimated that 31 cranes, including 4
groups, have started the migration since the last flight on April 4.
Extremely strong southeast winds blew April 6 which some of the
presumably used to initiate migration. The cranes were grouped
than usual indicating impending migration. With good migration
forecast for the next 3-5 days, a majority of the remaining cranes
expected to migrate in the coming week. The peak migration period
normally just before tax time. Are the cranes flying to Canada to
Wally Jobman of USFWS in Nebraska reports that a single whooping
confirmed March 20 on the Platte River in Nebraska is still there,
with a pair on the Loup River in Nebraska.
Notes: On San Jose Island, the crane with an injured left wing was
in a duo about two miles away from where it was seen last week.
change in distance makes me believe the injured crane has some flight
The Indianola and Dewberry pairs were not located and believed to
migrated. The pair of cranes in front of the refuge observation tower
Mustang Lake were still present, allowing visitors to still see
A whooping crane tour boat was also on the GIWW during the census
A single bird was located on the North Sundown Bay territory where a
group had been present all winter. The bird acted extremely nervous
plane approached. Although I could not see juvenal plumage, I still
if maybe the adults had left their chick behind. This time of year,
sometimes difficult to differentiate adults from juveniles.
A break in a natural gas pipeline in Aransas Bay near Rockport was
after take-off at 12:17 PM and called in to the Coast Guard. A light
of product that covered a narrow strip of water about ½-mile long
from the violently bubbling water. Although gas was still bubbling up
the break at 3 PM, the Texas General Land Office assured me that the
to a local platform owned by Coastal Production had been shut down and
Habitat: Tides that have risen and covered oyster reefs in the bays
all the mud flats on San Jose with water are above average.
were observed flying to fresh water to drink. Several cranes were
holding small crabs. The drought continues in South Texas despite
somestorms that brought rain to north Texas and Louisiana.