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North America » United States » Mississippi » Gautier
August 26th 2010
Published: August 26th 2010
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Fontainebleau chickFontainebleau chickFontainebleau chick

he is the one on the right (no red head yet). isn't he gorgeous? (despite having parents who are brother and sister. lol. I forgot to mention that in the entry...)
Wanna know why I haven't updated in so long? Possibly because of frustration! I just started writing a new entry. I had a few paragraphs written. Then the computer wigged out and I lost it all. :-/ Harumph.

Ok, so maybe that isn't why I haven't written (although that really did just happen). I could say things were busy. Cause they were there for a while. But it did become less hectic. But then I didn't have much exciting news to report. And when I did, I just never felt like writing about it. However, two things have made me decide to write this now. First of all, my friend who is currently living in Japan and keeping a blog about her times there (who also hadn't updated in forever) finally wrote a new entry, thus making me feel as though I must as well. haha. Secondly, today was simply too insane for me to not write about it.

So here goes. This morning I went to sit in a bind in Fontainebleau, to see what birds came into the crop unit. This is because yesterday one of workers on the refuge was out there and saw 3 brids
Sprayfield chickSprayfield chickSprayfield chick

me holding the chick after we banded him!
flush.. which is odd because normally it is a pair that hangs out there and the other cranes in the area are a group of 4. So, I sat for 2 hours, and saw nothing (but as a side note, in the early morning (from about 5:30 until 7 or 7:30) it was actually chilly outside! I wore a light jacket! for serious! it was thrilling). With no cranes appearing, I listened for the transmitter that is on 459 (one of the pair that normally hangs there). By following the direction of that signal, I figured he might be near the airport landing strip (another place they have been known to hang out) so I drove on over there. And what do I see? 3 cranes. That's right. 459, his mate (661), aaaaaaaaaaand their chick! Say what?!?! You heard correctly my friends. This pair had twins back at the end of April. We took one chick and left the other. The one we took is actually the one that I crane-sat for a night, and who is now alive and well at the audubon in New Orleans (did I ever write about that? I dont remember. oh well. if I
Go free!Go free!Go free!

sprayfield chick after I released him. has since been seen with his parents. :)
didn't just nod and smile and move on. tis not all that important). The one that we left in the wild we thought did not survive, although to be fair, we never were 100% certain. Well, it turns out he did survive! And he fledged (meaning he can fly)! Super super super exciting. Totally made my morning/week.

That brings the total of chicks that are on the refuge (that we know about mind you lol) up to 4! From 1! Because that's right! That is one of the other things that I meant to write about but never did. July. Crazy month. Went by super quickly (and was split in the middle by a trip to Texas for Henfest... woohoo!). Early july, before I went to Texas, I was driving down one of the roads and was scanning for cranes, as I normally do, when I thought I saw a crane. So I pulled over, backed up and looked with binoculars. Yup, it was a crane. Not only was it a crane, but it was a crane SITTING ON A NEST! In JULY! Let me just say, this is NOT common. I believe it has only happened once or twice before that they knew about. I was so pleased that I actually saw it! And as both Scott and Lauren were busy, I got to go out to the nest myself! This was at a time when I thought all my nest visits were over and done with. It was a fantastic surprise. I pulled both eggs and gave them to people from Audubon, who happened to be here getting a tour of the refuge. Now, as it turns out, the eggs were no good, but hey, it was worth a shot. And still good to know data wise, that there was a renest that late in the season. Ok, so that was the one crazy unexpected thing. Then when I came back from Henfest, I was just driving on the refuge when I saw the unbanded pair really close to the road. I thought, hm, this is odd. Just around that time I saw a smaller head bobbing near them .WHAT?!?! That's right, a chick. Only got 2 glimpses of its head but was fairly certain of what I saw. Called Scott and Lauren all excited. That meant we had 2 chicks on the refuge! For a while no one else saw that chick. I began to get concerned that I hadn't seen what I thought I saw. We put out cameras in the area to try to get pics of them. On the second try we succeeded! Woo! Since then the chick has been caught on film one more time (August 13th), so hopefully he is still alive and well. We had no idea those parents even had a nest! Sneaky birds. I think it was the oil spill that threw us off... we lost the helicopter and so did not do any more searches from the air for nests. Anywho, a few weeks after I first spotted that chick, Scott saw ANOTHER previously unknown chick in the sprayfields in Ocean Springs! We had no idea those parents nested either. Sneaky sneaky. Finally, last week, Scott and I were able to run down that chick and I got to hold him (ahhhh) while Scott banded him! It was really really amazing. And we have since seen that family multiple times. So that meant 3 chicks on refuge. Now, with today's finding, we are up to 4! Happy times indeed.

But just when everything is so lovely, something sad happened. I only had one crane left to monitor for the week (out of the ones with transmitters on them). When I went to listen for him, I heard his signal, but it was the mortality signal. This bummed me out, but I tried not to be too discouraged, since I have heard signals go to mortality a few times since I've been here, and on both occassions I did not find a carcass, just a transmitter (the birds managed to slip them off). So, I thought/hoped that was the case now. Not so. When I homed in on the signal, it lead to a drain (wooded area with some standing water, where cranes often roost) and near the edge of the drain I saw the body. 😞 It was really really sad. Although we have had a few adults die already this year, I never found the bodies, so this was the first dead crane I ever saw. And what really stinks is that he was killed by a predator, but whatever killed him didn't eat him at all! Seriously. Wasteful. If you are going to kill something, at least eat it. Alas. I guess that is just how things go. Circle of life. In one day we gained a crane and lost another.

So there you have it. That was my crazy day. I love working with wildlife - you never know what to expect! 😊


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