Conditions: overcast skies, wind E 3MPH, temp at 36F; sunset time 4:34PM
Out on Crow Patrol with first stop about 4:15PM on Incinerator Road by the baseball field, with views of Crows staging both sides of Merrimack River. This location provides views with slightly higher elevations and an opportunity to see the gathering numbers of Crows in the staging process. This image shows the Crows lifting up in flight just after a passing train on the south side blows it powerful and loud horn!
A short while after, moved over to the south side of the Merrimack River and watched the Crows streaming in, many gathering, vocalizing, and perching in the tree tops along south side between Ferry St. and south side Rt. 495 Bridge. The vocalizing was loud and intense. Minutes after sunset time, the Crows kept streaming by and many were landing and perching in the trees adjacent to the Rt. 495 Bridge on ramp by Sutton St. in North Andover. This image, looking north from the south side of the river, shows the Crows in flight heading west towards those trees>
Each night the extraordinary flight movement into the final overnight roost is a moment well worth waiting for, filled with all kinds of vocalizations and a sky that fills with thousands of Crows. Tonight the Crows began the major push from the final staging area on south side, towards the overnight roost, about 4:48PM. This was almost 15 minutes after sunset time and consistent with recent prior nights. This is image shows the initial flight surge by the bridge towards the overnight roost!
The number of Crows that liftoff and follow is nothing short of amazing. It is very much a goose bump moment each time it happens both in sight and sound! Tonight was no exception as the numbers were overwhelming and the noise was deafening! The image below tracks the massive number of Crows as they approach the north side of the river and the trees around the roost area. For commuters heading north on the Rt. 495 Bridge, it is an exceptional show to watch and behold at the end of the day! It is literally a blizzard of Crows in the sky!
This next image below, taken about 20 minutes after sunset time shows the Crows swirling around in flight as they prepare to settle into the overnight roost!
This last image below was taken at 36 minutes after sunset time. This is a long exposure image with different settings on the camera to allow more light into the image. It provides a striking contrast from the total chaos that preceded it! The velvety smooth river is flowing below, the sparkling street lights are all on, the red lights of traffic leave star trails, and the Crows are finally settled in for the night with a big drop off in noise and calls. The Crows are tightly packed in and can be seen in both upper and lower level trees along the north side of the river!
Photo gear used for this outing:
Canon EOS 80D; Lens: Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Canon 1DX MK II; Lens: Canon EF Telephoto Zoom 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
ATN BinoX 4K 4-16x Day and Night Smart HD Binoculars with photo and video
Blog post and photos by Craig Gibson, 2020 Crow Patrol, Lawrence, MA