Since my last census flight on 12/10/09, I have received confirmed reports of 6 more whooping cranes in the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population, including two more chicks. So the estimated flock size of 238 has now been increased to 244 (223 adults + 21 chicks). The 21 chicks accounted for indicate very good survival from the 22 that fledged in Canada.
The following are the 6 cranes added since my flight:
2+1 on a part of the refuge I did not fly over were reported by the refuge fire crew 2 days in a row, including the afternoon I was flying.
2 + 0 flown directly over but not seen on the Lamar Peninsula – they were reported by a refuge volunteer walking his dog that saw my plane go over them. They were in uplands so I can see how I missed them.
0+1 confirmed 12/14/09 in northern OK about 30 miles east of Salt Plains NWR. The juvenile was by itself with no sandhill’s around.
My next flight may not be until the first week in January. I hope and expect the flock total to go up a few more to at least reach the 247 present last spring.
– Tom Stehn