An aerial census of the Aransas NWR and surrounding areas made 22 November,
2000 estimated 166 adults and 9 young present at Aransas for a total of
Recap of cranes observed: (168)*
Refuge Lamar San Jose Matagorda Welder Other Total
78+7 5+0 20+0 31+1 26+0
*Mustang Lake and St. Charles Bay pairs and Spalding Lake family (6+1
total) were not located.
Remarks: Heavy overcast skies in the afternoon made for difficult census
conditions. An estimated 19 whooping cranes have arrived since the last
flight on November 15. A strong cold front that reached the Texas coast on
November 18 provided excellent migration conditions for three days. It is
hoped that one additional family group seen in Nebraska on November 16 is
still in migration.
Only eight family groups were located on today's flight. The Spalding Lake
family on San Jose with banded female R-YbY was not found. One chick
accompanied by a single adult was seen for the second consecutive flight on
the refuge. Evidence of mortality of one adult subsequent to nesting is
the arrival of only one of the Hippo Lake adults (formerly RwR-nil, 1978
that now appears as nil - high silver) as a single on its winter territory.
Another instance of mortality was the arrival of pair 39/00 without a
chick which they had in mid-August.
Additional pairs identified that have arrived since the previous flight on
November 15 were Bray's Cove (unknown), 19/00 (Egg Point New), 27/00
(Cottonwood Bayou A), and 45/96, the pair with banded crane R-Y (1986) that
once nested in the Sass-Klwei but may have switched to an unknown nesting
There was much movement of cranes on today's flight which made them
difficult to count. The flight was notable in having so many cranes in
places that only occasionally receive use by a few cranes. Fifteen cranes,
including two family groups, were located in Willow Creek. One of these
family groups was on the edge of a grain field; the rest were in the salt
marsh. At 4:50 P.M., nine cranes, including one family, had presumably
moved from Willow Creek to Goose Lake to roost. Five cranes, including the
Long Reef pair from San Jose, were on the uplands south of Holiday Beach
on the Lamar Peninsula. The Egg Point New pair was on uplands near the
east side of St. Charles Bay on Melle Dietrich Point. One family group
with a notably light-colored chick first seen in flight over Shoalwater Bay
at Welder Flats crossed Espritu Santos Bay and landed on the shore of
Forty-six cranes were located on uplands, a very high number since no areas
have been burned so far this winter for the whoopers.