Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Whoopers are Back in Lamar!

Soon after arriving in Rockport we made several trips to Lamar. The damage was widespread, and the trees had taken a special destruction. Still, Big Tree had survived. We had also heard that the whooping cranes were headed south, and we hoped to see them before we headed to Florida for the month of December. Smaller sandhill cranes watched as the two males flared their wings in displays of might.
So, it was great to finally see five whoopers vying for territory in their usual spot in Lamar. As smaller sandhill cranes watched the two males flared their wings and flew into the air chasing each other in a determination of dominance. They both looked like neither was the real dominant male we had seen the previous years.
An immature Whooper fledgling looked on as the two females appeared to disregard the males. A flock of Black bellied whistling ducks, with two spoonbills also appeared to be somewhat interested while a funeral of turkey vultures seemed to wait for something to die.
In the shallow pond two snowy egrets waded and the farmers cows grazed as they plodded across the field. They were being accompanied by cattle egrets waiting for the herd to scare their way. We talked with several other birders and it was just plain obvious that everyone was relieved to see the true snowbirds, had returned home!
The newspapers reported that about four hundred and thirty whooping cranes are expected to arrive this winter. This number is over one hundred greater than last years population and is a record for the nations only wild flock.

It’s a far cry from the fifteen birds that once remained. It looks like they should have a good winter as their two main foods are in abundant supply, a wild berry and blue crabs! Now if the duck hunters will just leave them alone, (most of the duck blinds that dominated the refuge boundary have been destroyed). Clear skies

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