An aerial census of the Aransas NWR and surrounding areas made 15 November,
2001 estimated the number of whooping cranes present at 123 adults + 10
young = 133.
Recap of cranes observed: (133)
Refuge Lamar San Jose Matagorda Welder Flats Other Total
49+6 2 17+1 37+2 18+1 0 123+10=133
Remarks: Occasional rain disrupted the flight so that coverage was not
quite complete on parts of Matagorda and San Jose Islands. Thus, the 133
cranes estimated present is a minimum number.
Twenty-seven cranes that completed the migration since the last flight
November 8 were aided by a cold front that reached the Texas Coast and
brought favorable migration conditions November 9-10. This included two
families and three banded pairs. The two families were the Ayres Island
(nest 37/01, K10) and an unknown family in the Sundown Bay marshes possibly
referred to last winter as the Pump Canal family. Pairs to arrive that
lost their chicks since mid-August were Boat Ramp New (32/01, K19) and
possibly the Pipeline pair (10/01, S12). The St. Charles Bay (27/01, K20)
and S. Matagorda Island (22/01, S13) pairs have not yet arrived and are
expected to bring chicks. One family group was still present in
Saskatchewan a few days ago.
The South Sundown Bay family (50/01,S8) that arrived as a single unbanded
adult with a chick may have re-paired already. Two adults and a chick were
observed on today?s flight all grouped tightly together.
New pairs to arrive that are banded included Mustang Lake, Boat Ramp New,
Long Reef, Central Matagorda, and North Pump Canal. Missing bands were
noted on individuals in the Long Reef and Boat Ramp New pairs.
Habitat: Tides have remained high covering tidal flats with water,
particularly notable on San Jose. A notably large group of 10 cranes seen
on Grass Island at Welder Flats was in an area of saltmarsh that presumably
held lots of wolfberry No cranes were at fresh water sources or on
prescribed burns. One crane on San Jose was on an upland island.
Families: The ten families present include;
known pairs in Wood Buffalo
N. Sundown Bay (34/01, K14)
Middle Pond (07/01, A6)
S. Sundown Bay (50/01,S8) (arrived as 1+1, may have re-paired already)
Cottonwood Bayou (28/01, K3) ?? (in same area third consecutive week)
N. Cottonwood (33/01, K23)
Ayres Island (37/01, K10)
unknown pairs in Wood Buffalo
Fenceline on San Jose (unknown)
Grass Island (unknown)
E. Welder (36/01, K8) or Unknown family at Welder (not sure which pair
Pump Canal (unknown)