The following report is forwarded with permission from Tom Stehn, USFWS biologist and US Whooping Crane Coordinator.
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An aerial census on 19 April, 2006 of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas found 12 subadults and 0 chicks = 12 total.
Recap of cranes observed on the flight: (12)*
adults + young
Refuge 8 + 0
Lamar 2 + 0
San Jose -
Matagorda 2 + 0
Welder Flats ___-___
Total 12 + 0 = 12
* Visibility was poor over San Jose Island but improved rapidly to sunshine by mid-morning.
Remarks: Nearly all of the whooping crane flock (94.6%) has migrated right on schedule. Since last week's flight on April 12, an additional 23 cranes have headed north, including the last two family groups that had been present. Thus, all of the adult cranes have now migrated, which normally happens by April 20th as was the case this year. The weather has been favorable for migration on a daily basis since last week's flight.
Remaining at Aransas are 12 subadults. No cranes were located on San Jose Island or Welder Flats, both areas which had contained 3 cranes on last week's flight. The cranes starting migration included the juvenile that had stayed behind on San Jose when its parents had migrated.
On today's flight, cranes were located on the Big Tree Marsh on Lamar (2), Big Brundrett Lake on Matagorda Island (2), and the Blackjack Peninsula on the Aransas Refuge (8). From north to south, these 8 cranes were located at Mustang Lake (1), Middle Sundown Bay (4), Cedar Marsh on Bludworth Island (2), and Grass Island (1) near Dunham Bay. No cranes were seen on today's flight at sources of fresh water, on prescribed burns, or in open bay habitat. Yesterday, a group of 5 adults and 1 juvenile were sighted at a freshwater dugout on the refuge's C7 prescribed burn across from Sundown Bay. However, only a group of 4 subadults were in the Sundown Bay area on today's flight.
A contractor has started levee construction work on Beneficial Use Site 'J' on the south end of Dunham Bay. This is part of the summer scheduled maintenance dredging across Aransas Bay by the Army Corps of Engineers.
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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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/
Patty Waits Beasley
Corpus Christi, TX