Thursday, October 05, 2006

18 Whooping Cranes on their way to Florida!

Led by four ultra-light aircraft, the young cranes left Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin today, bound for Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. This is the sixth group in a program directed by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

Here's an excerpt from Operation Migration's field journal, taken from today's first entry:

Clear skies, 35 degrees and frost everywhere greeted the team this morning. With just a little bit of fog and calm to light tailwinds, a great fly day.

It was after 7:00 CT by the time all the wings were de-iced, and 7:42 when Chris, lead pilot for today, left the ground at Site 1. Brooke was assigned first chase, backed by Joe, and trike pilot Matt Aherns who is standing in for Richard VH until he returns from his pre-migration vacation.

Chris took off with all birds following (sort of). Over the radio Bev heard Joe’s voice, "There’re birds everywhere!!"

17 birds made it to Stopover 1 on the first try. 613 was the first to land, followed by 614, and then the whole troupe. The trikes are back in the air going to track down the one recalcitrant stray.

The 2006 Migration is officially underway! Today’s departure sets a record. It is the earliest migration start ever. The next closest was October 10th back in 2004.
The field journal includes a photo journal and ask for donors to become MileMakers by sponsoring portions of the 1,228-mile journey.

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