(Chelsea Update would like to thank volunteer Mickey Kress for the information in this story.)
Four volunteers needed limber thumbs and sturdy mechanical counters on Nov. 5 at the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary for the Monday sandhill crane count.
In the half-hour from 5-5:30 p.m., 6,242 cranes flew in to roost in the Sanctuary’s Mud Lake marsh. This 30-minute onslaught alone shattered the one-day record of 5,523 set Nov. 15, 2010, according to information from the count.
After a few birds and only one large flock arrived earlier, the sky exploded with cranes beginning at 5:05. Cranes arrived in nearly nonstop waves, some with more than 100 birds. Many passed over or near the 74 visitors and many of those flocks had the squeaky calls of first-year cranes. In the last 15 minutes, from 5:30-5:45 p.m., another 923 landed to bring the night’s total to 7,483.
The counters were Robyn and Don Henise, Lathe Claflin and Ron Hoffman.