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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 on November 19, 2003 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas estimated the number of whooping cranes present at 152 adults + 20 young = 172 total.

Recap of cranes observed: (172)

Adults + young Change from Nov. 12
Refuge 53 + 8 + 19
Lamar 5 + 1 + 6
San Jose 33 + 5 + 28
Matagorda 47 + 5 + 12
Welder Flats 14 + 1 + 3

Total 152 + 20 = 172 + 68

Remarks: Mostly clear skies and light southeast winds provided excellent census conditions. All of the crane area was covered in 8.0 hours of flight time, with an extra search made of the Mission and Aransas River marshes.

One family group on Dewberry Island was believed overlooked, so the number of cranes estimated present at Aransas could be 154 + 21 = 175.

Newly arrived families included the following;
CNA NEST
Ayres Island K10 54/03 unbanded
N. Pipeline Flats S19 20/03 Bands read
S. Sundown Bay S08 13/03
This one is unexpected and doesn't fit Canadian data. Perhaps it?s an
unknown family trespassing in SSB territory.
St Charles Bay K20? 47/03? Pair that brought twins in 1997.
Panther Point S21 12/03 Bands read
East Welder K8 52/03 unbanded
Pat?s Bay A09 02/03 Bands read
Spalding Lake K ? 58/03 Bands read
Behind Middle Pond unknown
(Could also be Middle Sundown Bay family (K2,29/03) or Pipeline family
wandering from territory (S12, 15/03).
E Spalding Lake unknown
SE Spalding Lake unknown

Pairs not expected to bring chicks that arrived this past week included;

S Sundown Island SK7 61/03
N Dunham Point K17 42/03
N. Lamar SK6 13/03

Status of migration:

The presence of 172 whooping cranes indicated that 68 cranes have arrived since the last flight on November 12th. Cold fronts that reached the Texas coast on 11/13 and 11/18 aided the crane migration. November 18th was especially notable with clear skies and NW winds averaging around 30 mph.

Recent crane sightings reported in the flyway include a pair seen in Kansas on 11/14, and a family in the southeast corner of Oklahoma on 11/18. One adult whooping crane was shot and killed by a hunter on 11/14 near Ennis, Texas south of Dallas. Some known territorial cranes have not yet arrived at Aransas, so additional cranes will definitely be arriving.

Habitat: Tides remained at high levels, with the crane area on San Jose noted particularly with water everywhere and no exposed mudflats. With bay and marsh salinities generally between 16-19 ppt, 7 cranes were sighted on today?s flight at freshwater sources.

Wolfberry fruits are at their peak, with the cranes currently feeding heavily on wolfberry. A crab survey done on November 17th found 21 in 1 hours of walking the marsh. This was the same as a count done in mid-October. High tides with crabs dispersing throughout the vegetated marsh are believed to have caused the crab population to be
underrepresented on both surveys. Cedar Bayou remains open, with a little water also flowing from Cedar Bayou into Vinson Slough. Sandhills but no whoopers were seen on very small recent prescribed burn at Welder Flats.

- 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/



- 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/