Four Join 16 at Stopover #7
November 21, 2009: Migration Day 37

Captured from Operation Migration's TrikeCam

Last night #903, 906, 907 and 924 must have wondered where their 16 flockmates were. This morning they were eager to burst out and fly. Chris's test flight showed today's conditons would have been impossible for flying 20 birds, but with four crane-kids left in LaSalle County (see yesterday's surprising afternoon events) they scrambled into action after a one-hour wait for fog to burn off. Today's lead pilot Chris wrote in the field journal: "With only 4 birds and the ability to climb well, I stayed under 1000 feet, below the stronger headwind aloft and above the inevitable thermals that would be lurking below as the flight continued. We passed interstates, wind farms, freight trains, passing aircraft, and a power plant with steam rising off the still waters of a huge cooling pond. The birds reacted to all of this, jostling around for positions, flying ahead and above me, as we encountered these manmade hazards that obviously alarmed them a bit.

"The birds flew wonderfully despite the headwind and the occasional scary distraction, and I was able to push them along at a 43mph airspeed. As we neared the Livingston site, I made contact with Bev, who was awaiting us in costume, ready to help lure the birds in. I descended down into the thermals with the four on my wing, making a low pass over Bev and the rest of the birds before applying full throttle and climbing. They briefly tried to follow me, but soon turned back and landed at the pen. We three pilots escaped to land at our hosts' private airfield. We will once again have the safety of a hangar for our aircraft, which is quite a relief for us."

Ahhhhhh. No surprises and a 54.5-mile flight for four young cranes to rejoin their group. Their mile total is now 239.9 miles gone.

CraneCam is LIVE each day from 6:30 to 10:00 a.m. and again from 3:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon, just before sunset. The TrikeCam is LIVE during flights.

In the Classroom

  • Today is Saturday, your day off!

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure presented in cooperation with the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP).