Whooping Cranes near Regina, SK Canada

Whooping Cranes near Regina.

On April 21st, Friends of the Wild Whoopers posted a couple photos of a few whooping cranes spotted near Regina, SK, Canada. If you missed that update, you can click on this link Whooping Cranes Migrating Back to Canadian Nesting Grounds to view the photos.

FOTWW has been given permission to share this video of a few whooping cranes near Regina, SK, recorded on April 20, 2014. A very special thank you to Sask Birder for allowing FOTWW to share these rare glimpses of the wild whoopers with everyone.

 ***** FOTWW’s mission is to protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population
of wild whooping cranes and their habitat
. *****

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org

 

 

Share

Wild Whooping Crane News from the Nesting Grounds…

Whooping crane nesting grounds
Wood Buffalo National Park – Photo courtesy of John David McKinnon

Wild Whooping Crane News from the Nesting Grounds…

The following is news courtesy of Wood Buffalo National Park Technician, John David McKinnon,.

“Welcome Home Whoopers!!!

Spring is here and the whooping cranes have begun to return to their nests in and around Wood Buffalo National Park.

Wood Buffalo National Park and the Canadian Wildlife Service are pleased to report the first arrivals of whooping cranes to their nesting grounds in the vast wetlands in northern WBNP. An ongoing telemetry project, a cooperative effort between CWS, Parks Canada and six US-based agencies, has allowed us to see that the cranes first arrived back on April 23rd.”

Long live the Wild Whoopers!”

Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) talked about the migration with McKinnon. He explained that “We are always excited when the whooping cranes return to Canada from the U.S. We understand that they had a good winter at Aransas National Refuge and hope the birds will have a productive nesting season at WBNP.”

As of today only a few of the estimated 304 wild whooping cranes have completed their 2,500 mile migration to WBNP from the Texas coast. Others are expected to arrive throughout the month of May. Soon the mated pairs will return to their traditional nesting sites to construct their nest, lay two eggs and hopefully raise twin whooper chicks. Whooping cranes form pair bonds at ages 4 to 5 years and mate for life.

Friends of the Wild Whoopers wishes to thank John for this update on the first arrivals.

 ***** FOTWW’s mission is to protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population
of wild whooping cranes and their habitat
. *****

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
Share

Experts Fear Impacts of Oil Cleanup on Texas Gulf Coast

Experts Fear Impacts of Oil Cleanup on Texas Gulf Coast|
April 11, 2014 | 9:45 AM
By

Oil cleanup itself could disturb the ecosystem along the Texas Gulf Coast. Nowhere is threat more apparent than at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
Workers scraping oil-drenched sand from the beaches of Matagorda Island.

MATAGORDA ISLAND, TX — Recovery efforts continue weeks after a barge accident in the Houston Ship Channel dumped tens of thousands of barrels of oil into Galveston Bay. That oil kills wildlife and damages the environment. But some are worried the cleanup itself could also disturb the ecosystem along the Texas Gulf Coast. Nowhere is that threat more apparent than in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Every morning this week, hundreds of workers have gone out to Matagorda Island, a part of that refuge, to try to remove the oil. On a recent tour organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the response team appeared to work with great care, gingerly scraping thin layers of oil-drenched sand away with shovels, then depositing it into nearby excavators for delivery into larger dump trucks. Over ten tons of sand has been removed so far.

Randal Ogrydziak, the U.S. Coast Guard captain who is one of the coordinators of the spill response, likens the painstaking process to shoveling a gravel driveway after a snow storm.

“You can think of it as the snow is the oil — not that thick — the driveway is the good sand underneath, and you just want to take bad stuff and get rid of that, and leave the good sand,” Ogrydziak says. “We don’t want to dig up the whole beach here. That’s not what we want to do.”

Oil cleanup itself could disturb the ecosystem along the Texas Gulf Coast. Nowhere is threat more apparent than at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
Photo: Mose Buchele ~ Randal Ogrydziak, the US Coast Guard Captain who is one of the coordinators of the spill.

Ogrydziak’s concern that the cleanup could do “more damage than the oil” is not limited to the sand. This thin barrier island, like the rest of the National Wildlife Refuge, is not meant for people. Now it’s home to ATVs, bobcat excavators, dump trucks, helicopters, and hundreds of response personnel. They – and the oil – all arrived right as migratory animals are passing through on their annual trip.

“The oil spill could not have happened at a worse time,” says Nancy Brown, a spokesperson for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “You have these birds that have migrated literally across the Gulf of Mexico. They arrive here, they are exhausted, [and] all they want to do is get something to eat, get something to drink, rest, and then continue their migration.”

But Brown says if they’re constantly being disturbed by the cleanup activity, “they’re not only not eating, they’re wasting calories trying to get away.”

They can also be spooked from their nests by the activity, leaving eggs and young animals vulnerable to predators. Workers here say they’re doing their best by limiting trips to and from the island, being careful with vehicles, and enforcing a “flight ceiling” on helicopters so they don’t disturb the birds.

Oil cleanup itself could disturb the ecosystem along the Texas Gulf Coast. Nowhere is threat more apparent than at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
Photo: Mose Buchele ~ After the oil was pushed ashore, it was covered by a layer of sand, making it more difficult to detect.

Of particular concern is the endangered whooping crane. This refuge is home to the only naturally-occurring flock of those birds in the world. Around 300 whooping cranes winter here, and many have not yet left for their summer grounds in Canada.

Right as the cranes leave, the Kemps-Ridley sea turtle arrives. That’s also an endangered species. It lays its eggs on the same beaches – now oily beaches – where the response crews are working with excavators and dump trucks to remove the oil.

Jeremy Edwardson, a Fish and Wildlife Biologist, says it will be difficult to measure the full impact of the spill and the recovery efforts.

“I don’t think we’ll ever understand it,” says Edwardson. “There’s some stuff to document and it’s easy to document. But there’s also the potential for oil to be here for years, so it’s possibly going to be an ongoing response.”

Source: StateImpact Texas  ~ A reporting project of  NPR member stations

 

 

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
Share

Texas oil spill a concern for whooping cranes

Northern Journal

Environment — April 7, 2014 at 8:31 PM From International

Texas oil spill a concern for whooping cranes                                          

by Maria Church                                                                                  

 

Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Carlos Vega Crew members work to remove oil on the beaches of the National Seashore Park on Apr. 1 following the Galveston Bay oil spill in Texas. Whooping crane advocates expressed concern after hearing reports of heavy machinery being used in the cleanup effort.

Crew members work to remove oil on the beaches of the National Seashore Park on Apr. 1 following the Galveston Bay oil spill in Texas. Whooping crane advocates expressed concern after hearing reports of heavy machinery being used in the cleanup effort.

An advocacy group for the protection of endangered whooping cranes says it’s “very concerned” about the impacts of a tanker spill in Texas that resulted in 168,000 gallons of oil being dumped into Galveston Bay, less than 300 km from where the birds overwinter.

Oil globs as large as basketballs began washing up on Matagorda Island last week, an area of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge where whooping cranes spend the winter season before heading to their northern breeding grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park.

A sizeable operation has been launched by the US Coast Guard to clean up the spill, which happened on Mar. 22 when an oil tanker collided with another ship in the bay, but some are expressing concern that the effects of the cleanup could be devastating to the fragile crane population in the middle of migration.

Chester McConnell, one of the advocates behind Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW), told The Journal his concern stems from what he sees as a lack of concern for the cranes and other endangered species by the cleanup crew.

“The intensive cleanup efforts were doing the job for other needs associated with the beaches and were not too concerned about wildlife,” he said.

FOTWW, along with other conservation groups, made significant noise after hearing reports of heavy equipment and machinery being used early in the cleanup process.

Last week, their outcry made some headway when it was confirmed that cleanup crews will switch to hand tools and equipment that has a “light touch” in areas sensitive to wildlife.

“As of today, our concerns have subsided a bit,” McConnell said in an email Friday.

Lessons to be learned

The whooping cranes are currently in the middle of a staggered migration period that will eventually see the entire population leave Texas and make its way through the US to their summer home in Wood Buffalo.

According to observers, around 25 per cent of the population has already begun migration.

While immediate concern about the safety of whooping cranes has eased, McConnell said it’s important for leaders and politicians to reflect on how they will respond to future emergency environmental threats.

“Those of us interested in whooping cranes have been concerned for many years that something like this oil spill would occur. There is much boat traffic that goes immediately by the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Any of these vessels loaded with oil, chemicals, etc. are a serious threat,” he said.

“Plans need to be developed specifically for the Aransas Refuge vicinity to respond to any future emergencies. Equipment and supplies need to be on call so immediate attention can be directed to any future catastrophe near Aransas Refuge.”

Reports from US media last week confirmed that hundreds of birds were killed by oil from the Galveston spill, a close call for the endangered whooping crane population of less than 300.

“The whooping cranes that use Aransas are the only wild flock remaining on the planet. They are the crown jewels and all other efforts to restore whooping cranes in other locations are dependent on these birds,” McConnell said.

Tags wildlife

Share:                                                                                          

friendsofthewildwhoopers.org logo
friendsofthewildwhoopers.org
Share