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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 on November 12, 2003 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas estimated the number of whooping cranes present at 93 adults + 11 young = 104 total.
Recap of cranes observed: (104)
adults + young Change from
Refuge 37 + 5 + 12
Lamar 0 0
San Jose 9 + 1 + 8
Matagorda 36 + 4 + 21
Welder Flats 11 + 1 + 5
Total 93 + 11 = 104 + 46
Remarks: Mostly clear skies and light southeast winds made for excellent census conditions. All of the crane area was covered in 6.7 hours of flight time.
The presence of 104 whooping cranes indicated that 46 cranes have arrived since the last flight on November 5th. Just over half of the whooping crane flock has completed the migration.
Newly arrived families included the following;
Pipeline S-12 15/03
N. Cottonwood K-23 28/03
Power Lake S-15 18/03
Lakeside family on the refuge (unknown)
E. Spalding Cove New family (unknown on San Jose)
Vee Bayou family on Matagorda (unknown)
Pairs NOT expected to bring chicks that arrived this past week included;
G-YbY pair A-6 no nest in 2003
S. Matagorda S-13 37/03
Central Matagorda S-2 no nest in 2003
Middle Matagorda S-9 36/03
Pairs with chicks in August that have arrived without young include;
N. Pump Canal New NY-1 40/03
Shell Reef Old K-16 46/03
M. Sundown K-2 29/03 ? (question about identity of family in Canada)
Status of migration:
A low-pressure system that reached the Texas coast the evening of November 6th brought excellent migration conditions to Texas Nov. 7-9. A similar front favorable for migration reached Dallas the afternoon of Nov. 12 and the Texas coast the morning of Nov. 13, and is expected to bring more cranes with it.
On Nov. 5-6, several groups of whooping cranes were reported in Kansas. Several whooping crane sightings in Texas during the past week were investigated.
November 02 - a single juvenile was reported at Possum Kingdom Lake 70 miles WNW of Ft. Worth. This juvenile presumably separated from its parents, is with sandhills and is expected to winter away from Aransas.
November 07 - 8 whooping cranes 10 km northeast of Electra (NW of Ft. Worth)
November 08 - 1 subadult at Cape Vallero, just S of Rockport, close to Aransas.
November 10 - family present at quarry pond at Fort Hood (SW of Waco), departing at 8 AM.
Habitat: Tides remained at high levels, with the crane area on San Jose noted in particular with water everywhere and no exposed mudflats. Although bay salinities in Sundown Bay were generally between 15-19 ppt, 2 cranes at Welder Flats were observed flying to a Corps of Engineers disposal site to drink. Thirty working shrimp boats were counted in a small part of Aransas Bay off Allyn's Bight on San Jose.
- Tom Stehn
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Patty Waits Beasley
Corpus Christi, TX