Thursday, December 15, 2011

Migration Rundown!

Tuesday, November 29th was a cold and lonely day. It started like every previous day that week: the 7 Dar juveniles were alone, they weren't really flying around too much. They were huddled in a field together. All of a sudden, they were in the air. This isn't really something new. They've flown large circles before only to land back in the same spot. They have done this on multiple occasions over the past week. I was determined to catch a picture of them flying.

As I saw them fly over the hills south of Madison, I noticed that they were with 2 sandhill cranes! This was different; maybe they would actually migrate. I quickly packed away my window-mount scope and camera. I just as quickly unpacked my Illinois map and GPS. I followed them down through Wisconsin, but got ahead of them in Northern Illinois. It's best to be in front of your birds.

I lost them in northern Illinois. The last faint signal I heard was North East of me. I was on a south bound expressway and I was trying to cut East but waiting for a fast road to drive on because they were moving at 75 miles per hour that day.

Once I cut east, I didn't hear their signal again for 3 days. I waited that night for the Satellite transmitters to return a reading to my e-mail. It comes in about 7:00 pm. This was torture because I lost them in early afternoon. Well, the satellite reading was no help: it gave me information from the day before. :(

Wednesday, November 30th, I went a little south and sat a the border of Illinois/Indiana hoping to hear a signal. Worst luck ever: They reading from the previous day showed they were in Terre Haute Indiana. I drove to Terre Haute that night and didn't find a single signal once I was down there.

Thursday, Dec 1st. While I was waiting for the next set of Satellite signals to come in I tracked around Indiana's Western edge. It was a long day but I found a lot of birds. When the satellite PTTs came in that night at 7 pm. I started my drive from western Indiana to South Eastern Tennessee. What? Yes. I drove until 1:30 am to get to Tennessee.

Friday, Dec 2nd. Thankfully, 3 of the birds were still there. 14-11, 17-11, 20-11

The other 4 may have split off during Migration. 2 Arrived in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Two of the original 7 still haven't been spotted. Also, we're still looking for 19-11, who hasn't been seen since November 16th, in Wisconsin.

Sat Dec 3rd - Tues Dec 13: Since I've been in TN, only one bird split from the 3. 14-11 is down at Weiss lake with Sandhill buddies. Last year, a bird (maybe two) was shot down there so I hope it doesn't happen again this year. Some adults may be on their way to join her since this is a common wintering area for some adult whoopers, but considering events from last year, we'll see if they do join her.

17-11 and 20-11 have quite contentedly remained at Hiwassee Wildlife refuge. I'm here with my buddy from last year, 21-10, or Roquefort. Also, our Michigan bird is here: 37-07.

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