The Operation Migration Class of 2012 are off and flying. The six chicks took to the air on a bright, crisp morning (Friday, September 28), following pilot Richard van Heuvelen on their first leg of migration. Although number 5 turned back soon after takeoff, pilot Brooke Pennypacker picked it up and the lone bird followed without much trouble. The first scheduled stopover, just five miles from home, was skipped and 38 minutes later they landed. The chicks had logged 19 miles.
Here's Richard's report of that first glorious day:
"And so it begins. All six out of the gate and on the wing. With six birds keeping me company, I circled around to head on course we begin a slow climb hoping for more favorable winds. Then, as we left the marsh area, #5 did an abrupt turn to the left and headed back. The rest of us didn't waver - we stayed on course.
We could not leave Brooke out of the party, so we left #5 to him. While Brooke worked on convincing #5 to follow him, the rest of us continue to climb out on course. Wisps of displaying fog floated by below temporarily obscuring the ever changing foliage, now almost at peak color. A small lake passes by below, still emitting wisps of fog.
Before long, the hill near the next stopover loomed closer and we began to descend. We flew over a stand of green pine trees standing in stark contrast to the the fall colors blanketing much of the rest of the landscape.
I walked the birds to the travel pen, and very shortly looked up to see Brooke with #5 appear in the sky overhead. The two circle the field and touch down safely.
We're off to a good start with the entire Class of 2012 making the whole journey. Next job is to cover the trikes and head back to White River Marsh to break camp, tear down pens, and get one travel trailer down to Stopover Site #3 and the pen set up there in readiness for the next migration leg."
For updated reports, log on to the OM website and check "In the Field"."
Thought you might like a look at the Class of 2012's baby pictures. All photos taken from OM's website.