Tues. Jan. 18, 2022: clear skies, wind W 14MPH, gusts 26MPH, temp 25F, wind chill 13F; sunset time 4:39PM

The Merrimack River Watershed Council hosted a very enjoyable for members and friends tonight. This outing took place one week after the online webinar. Minutes before joining the assembled group, we made a number of quick scouting stops north of the prior roost location; Crows were seen streaming in and assembling in trees about 1.5 miles north of roost area, just over the line into Methuen. Headed back to overnight roost area by Brook Street and met up with group of 25+ people for the Crow Roost walk and talk around the roost. At first, about 15 minutes after sunset time, the Crows were seen in growing numbers atop tall trees located about 3 blocks north of the roost area. This image below is looking north at the incoming Crows, about 14 minutes after sunset time.

Over the next 10 minutes, the Crows started to arrive in much bigger numbers, and settled atop trees along the Spicket River by the north end of Brook Street. It is always fascinating to watch after the first Crows actually land and perch in the tree tops, others follow suit in rapid succession. Then the Crows will often burst up and out in a flight circle, and return to the tree tops. This image was captured about 26 minutes after sunset time.

We were able to gather one part of the MRWC Crow Walk group, and assemble in the middle of the bridge, located on East Haverhill Street for a group photo!

The group largely remained on the bridge and keeping an eye on the loud Crows streaming into the overnight roost trees on the east side of the bridge. The Crows packed in very close to one another in the upper canopy area of each tree, from the bridge down past Scarito Park area. This image was captured about 43 minutes after sunset time.

Almost every night around the Crow roost, as the Crows go through the process of settling into the roost, and without a moment’s notice, we experience these momentary, yet magnificent, flight bursts out over the roost area. It is almost like a reshuffling of the overall deck before locking into location for the night. This image below, captured about 47 minutes after sunset time, shows one of those moments. At this point the vocalizing has fallen off, but you hear the ruffling of the wings all at once!

At close to 60 minutes after sunset time, the entire roost become much quieter, and the overall activity level falls way off. For the most part, the roost basically goes into lockdown mode until early morning.  Another dazzling show!

The 2021 Audubon Christmas Bird Count for the Andover Circle, for this separate Crow Count is 12,250 Crows. Last year, the 2020 CBC Andover Circle Crow Count was 15,200.

Note on counts/estimates: we are now using improved methods for counting the large number of Crows while streaming, staging, and in the roost. For all images, we use both a modified open source counting software program, as well as a hand count approach to carefully document our observations and to increase reliability and accuracy of the presented numbers. 

Remember to check out the newly launched Crow Patrol Podcast: wintercrowroost.com/podcast/

Photo gear used for this outing:

Canon EOS 80D with Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS 

Canon EOS 80D with Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (Infrared)

Canon R5 with a Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM           

Canon 1DX MK II with Canon EF Telephoto Zoom 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Sony AX700 4K HDR Camcorder

ATN BinoX 4K Smart HD Binoculars with photo/video

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Blog post and photos by Craig Gibson, 2021 Crow Patrol