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December 5, 2003
Day 51

Not Today, But Maybe Tomorrow
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No go again today. The winds are from the right direction, but the cloud ceiling is 300 feet at the site in Terrell County, Georgia. But there's hope for tomorrow; the winds should remain out of the northwest overnight, so the team is hoping they can make Gilchrist County (FLORIDA!) tomorrow. They are two 2 or possibly 3 stops from Chassahowitzka. So stay tuned!

What about the wild whoopers? Tom Stehn flew over the Refuge on December 3rd to count Whooping cranes now at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas. You may recall that Tom was hoping for 200 or more cranes to arrive. While excellent migration conditions on November 27-28 would have allowed remaining migrants to reach the refuge, there've been no recent reports of whooping cranes in migration. "Stragglers" have been known to arrive in mid-December, so let's keep hoping for more. Aransas has 25 crane family groups. Tom reports: "New arrivals from last week included the Pipeline family group and the Allyn's Bight pair. If these 5 newly arrived cranes are added to last week's population estimate of 183, then it is probable that 188 whooping cranes are present. However, since we could only find 185 on the flight, this lower number remains my current estimate. Efforts will be made on future flights to get a more accurate count. Although more cranes are hoped for, it is troubling that a few more cranes weren't found on today's flight. Peak population counts are usually made at Aransas no earlier than mid-December. I am hopeful that the population this winter will exceed the all-time high of 188 reached in the 1999-2000 winter, but I am concerned that today's early December total wasn't higher." We sure hope some stragglers turn up soon!

Map the Migration
Make your own map using the latest migration data


Try This! Journaling Questions
  • Heather said 16 of the 20 experienced Eastern cranes have "checked in" at their pen on a remote island at Chassahowitzka. How do you predict they will act towards this year's chohort when the young ones arrive at the same site? (Last year Crane 105 spent the winter in the pen with the 2002 youngsters and migrated north with some of them!)
  • You may recall that Crane #214, who spent the summer/fall in Illinois, finally started her migration on November 28. How long did it take her to reach her winter home at Chassahowitzka, FL? See our crane chart for the 2002 flock.
  • Check over your Migration Comparison chart, because in a few days this migration will be history. (We'll post our chart so you can compare it with yours.)


Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure made possible by the

Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).

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