Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Whooping Cranes Airborne this Morning

A Picture from my last visit to the ICF, Baraboo

Woo Hoo. The weather cooperated today and the second leg of the journey was made this morning - another 19 miles added to the 4 from the first leg and we are up to 23 miles. The mileage per day will get longer after this. All the birds seemed ready and willing to fly today. From the Operation Migration journal -
The planes are safely on the ground and the Class of 2008 are all tucked in the travel pen at Stopover #2 in Juneau County, WI. This leg is the second shortest of all, just 19 miles (by air) from pensite to pensite.

It was our first morning with a temperature below freezing - 19F at 6:15AM - and everyone reached for their long underwear and grabbed sets of hot packs for inside their gloves and mitts. Winds were out of the WNW at 4mph, and while there was shallow fog, it was clear above ground level. The promising conditions sent everyone scurrying out of camp.

On his signal, (7:43am) the ground crew released the birds, and today's lead pilot, Chris, swooped in. With the exception of 830, who had to be chased out of the pen, all the birds took to the air and the crane rodeo began. After several circuits, 10 birds had found Brooke's wing and he turned to head south. The other pilots were left to round up the other four.

Although we're still in Juneau County, albeit South Juneau, we've finally made it to migration Stopover #2. In fact, despite leaving on migration 4 days later this year, we've reached stop #2 two days ahead of when we did in 2007. Admittedly, not much to brag about given the slowness of last year's journey, but I'm going to take the optimistic view that we're setting a trend.

We try to get the EarlyBird e-bulletin sent and this Field Journal posted as quickly as possible every morning. It can be challenging, and it has been more than challenging the last couple of days. Our contract gives us a specific limit of bandwidth and - oops, we'd exceeded our allotment. This means we're taken down to a pace that would make a snail a contender at a Nascar race. All this is to say that we do know you're anxiously waiting for news and thank you for bearing with us.

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