I've just returned from what always feels like a whirlwind trip to Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. While there, I had the pleasure of seeing our juvenile Whooping crane Class of 2009 training for migration behind their ultralight parents--Operation Migration's (OM) pilots and planes--and participating in Necedah's Cranefest, as well as, reuniting with Operation Migration crew members, volunteers and fellow Directors.
Saturday morning (Sept 19th) was chilly and cloudy, but overall the weather was wonderful for both training and the Necedah Whooping crane festival that followed. Above you see Richard Van Heuvelen testing the wind and visibility prior to the morning training. And below, (left to right) Heather Ray of Operation Migration and several of OM's volunteers, Dale Richter, Director; Bob Rudd, Director; and Nan Rudd, a volunteer in many capacities, including the layout and design of OM's InFormation magazine. And the moment we were all waiting for?--ultralight migration training and a wonderful look at the fledged juveniles who will soon be making their way south, learning the migration route they will use in future migrations.Low light and thick overcast in the early morning didn't make for award winning images but the excitement of seeing juvenile Whooping cranes , who will soon add their numbers--21 in the class of 09--to the eastern population of migrating Whooping cranes, always brings both spine tingles and smiles of awe.
Against all odds, Whooping cranes have been returned to the eastern flyway and this year will mark the ninth ultralight-led migration, with an estimated departure date of October 10th. Having numbered only 15 in 1941, Whooping cranes have taught us many lessons about the fragile nature of species ecology and survival. That we continue to enjoy Whooping cranes in our world today offers a powerful symbol of hope and tenacity.
Let's hope that we, their human guardians, continue to examine these lessons--both the historical ones and those currently unfolding--and in doing so, become wiser in our efforts to protect and preserve the richness of our natural world.
Next: Necedah NWR's meadow! (then back to my visit to Ijam's meadow in TN!)
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.