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Greetings all!

The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and US Whooping Crane Coordinator.

Where applicable, CWS stands for Canadian Wildlife Service; USFWS is US Fish and Wildlife Service. Crane monitoring involves cooperative efforts and support by both countries, plus many volunteers and non-profit organizations along the way.

Anyone wanting to contact Tom about the report or the whooping crane projects can reach him via email at: tom_stehn@fws.gov. Other information, including archived copies of these reports, can be found at the Texas Whooping Crane web site at http://www.ccbirding.com/

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An aerial census of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas on April 23, 2003 estimated the number of whooping cranes present at 2 subadults.  The flight indicated that 5 whooping cranes had started the migration since the previous flight on April 15.

RECAP OF CRANES OBSERVED:

                 adults + young  total
Refuge                             0
Lamar                            0
San Jose                           0
Matagorda          2   +    0   =  2
Welder Flats                       0
         Total     2   +    0   =  0

Results and Conclusions: Cloudy skies provided difficult census conditions. The flight was delayed 3 hours by a low ceiling.  Most of Matagorda Island was covered since all the remaining cranes last week had been on Matagorda. The main crane areas on Welder Flats and Aransas Refuge were also searched, as well as three areas on San Jose where cranes had last been seen April 9. Flight time totaled 3.0 hours.

Today's flight found 2 subadults on Matagorda's Shell Reef Bayou in almost the same location where the duo had been present last week.  So far, 182 cranes (98.9% of the flock) have started the migration, with just 2 cranes remaining.  The chick that had separated from its parents early in the winter apparently started the migration with another subadult during the past week.  114 cranes headed north between April 10 ? April 15.  The nearly completed migration is on schedule.  A few cranes sometimes remain at Aransas into late April or even May.

A cleanup effort involving 7 boats and 17 agency personnel took place April 16 on both sides of Matagorda Island's Panther Point.  Approximately 400 abandoned crab traps were picked up.  The marsh looked remarkably better on today's flight with most all traps removed.  An additional 52 traps were located from the air that will be picked up at a future time.  Many of these abandoned crab traps continue to kill critters and thus need to be removed from the refuge.  Thanks go to personnel from TPWD, GLO, and USFWS that helped with the pickup.  It is very rewarding to ask for help and receive lots of assistance

- Tom Stehn
Email: tom_stehn@fws.gov 

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Patty Waits Beasley
Corpus Christi, TX
email: patty@ccbirding.com
web:  http://www.ccbirding.com/