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: email@example.com. 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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October 27, 2004
An aerial census on October 27, 2004 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas estimated the number of whooping cranes present at 16 adults + 0 young = 16.
Recap of cranes observed: (13)
adults + young
Refuge 4 + 0
San Jose 5 + 0
Welder Flats 4 + 0
Total 13 + 0 = 13
Weather: Flight conditions were very good with sunshine and brisk southeast winds. The southeast winds and near record high temperatures forecast in the lower 90s make it unlikely that any additional cranes will complete the migration until the current weather pattern changes. The next major front is forecast to reach the Texas coast on November 1st.
Cranes Present: The number of cranes estimated present at Aransas remains unchanged at 16. I could only find 13 whooping cranes on today's flight. The distribution of cranes had changed, with 2 additional cranes on both the refuge and at Welder Flats. Thus, perhaps a few more cranes have arrived. However, I was unable to document this and concluded that the cranes already present on October 20th had simply changed locations.
Habitat Use at Aransas: Many of the cranes at Aransas were in high marsh habitat, presumably feeding on wolfberries. All the marshes had high water levels except for San Jose which had about 30% of the mudflats exposed. Graduate student Danielle Rutka is reporting blue crabs as abundant in the marshes, so the cranes should have a feast when they arrive.
Migration sightings: Whooping cranes have been sighted recently in the U.S. from North Dakota to Oklahoma, including a group of 4 at Gackle, ND on October 24th.
Whooping Crane Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 100
Austwell, TX 77950
(361) 286-3559 Ext. 221
fax (361) 286-3722
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Patty Waits Beasley
Corpus Christi, TX