Oct. 27, 2022: clear skies, wind NW 12MPH gusts 17MPH, temp 57F; sunset time 5:44PM

Out on Crow Patrol with initial scouting visits along Merrimack Street on both sides of the Casey Bridge with incoming flight streams and Crows building up in multiple nearby perch locations.  Moved over to Mill240 park with views up and down Merrimack River and a great vantage point towards the back side of the truck depot area. From this location, great flight burst action and incoming flight streams from upriver, downriver and other headings. Below is an image of incoming flight streams from upriver; image captured about 24 minutes after sunset time.

It was fascinating to watch the Crows in final staging mode, as they moved in erratic flight bursts, back and forth across the Merrimack River, before making the final move to the overnight roost trees. This next image was at the same time as the image above.

After consolidating in and around the National Grid substation area, the Crow burst into large flight groups in final movement towards the overnight roost trees. This image captured one of those flight burst moments as the Crows approach the west end of the New Balance building complex. This image below was captured about 26 minutes after sunset time.

After darkness started to settle in, made a move over to the Duck Bridge for final looks at the Crows in the roost. The vocalizations were diminished, but there was smaller movements with Crows shifting positions before things really quieted down for the night. We’re making great progress on utilizing the infrared camera to make the most out of dwindling natural ambient light in the area. This approach helps to pick up a view of the roost after regular cameras show diminished capability in very low light conditions. This infrared image was captured 90 minutes after sunset time and provides nice contrast of the Crows against the trees and backlit New Balance building. The overall roost numbers are really starting to grow!

For the 2021 Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the Andover Circle, this separate Crow Count was 12,250 Crows. In 2020 CBC Andover Circle Crow Count was 15,200. Many thanks to Donna Cooper who coordinates and compiles the Andover Circle each year!

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 significantly increase reliability and accuracy of the presented numbers. 

Remember to check out the latest Crow Patrol Podcast with Prof. Sylvia Halkin: wintercrowroost.com/podcast/

Photo gear used for most outings:

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

Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless with Canon RF 24-70 f/2.8 L IS USM Lens

Sony AX700 4K HDR Camcorder

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Blog post and photos by Craig Gibson, 2022 Crow Patrol