Jan. 13, 2022: Clear skies, calm, temp at 37F; sunset time 4:34 PM

Out on Crow Patrol with first stop at baseball field on Incinerator Road to scan for incoming flight streams; major streams seen coming in from the NE and S towards west side of Prospect Hill. Moved to lower Prospect Street area, by the hospital, and observed flight streams closer to the Everett Mills flying in NNE direction towards Holy Family Hospital area, but with much lower numbers than usual. This image was captured about 7 minutes after sunset time.

When scouted around the NE section of Prospect Hill, and discovered a growing group of Crows in final staging mode. The Crows were vocalizing loudly and assembling in a roughly 1/4 mile radius around the intersection of Prospect and E. Haverhill Streets. At 20 minutes past sunset time, moved back down Prospect Street and pulled into school parking lot opposite the hospital, with elevated views to the west. The Crows were vocalizing and assembling in the trees below the hospital lot for the overnight roost, with regular flight bursts. The views to the west against the sunset sky were spectacular! The flight action and overall chaos picked up quite a bit. This image shows the swarming Crows, in wild flight patterns, at 26 minutes after sunset time.

The Crows filled the trees along the Spicket River, below the hospital parking lot at north end of the campus, on the east side of the skateboard park, and at the south end of the GLFHC parking lot. This image below was captured from the skateboard park, at 39 minutes after sunset, looking ESE, with the hospital smokestack in the back right area.

We made a final visit to the hospital parking lot for views of the Crows in the trees, in tightly packed groups. In this location, we had a lot of nearby ambient lighting. The Crows filled all of the trees along the west side of this lot. This image was captured at 52 minutes after sunset time with stunning dark blue sky colors!

The last stop was back at the school parking lot with elevated views to the west, overlooking the Crows packed into all of the tree tops, a bit of cityscape lights, and the stunning dark blue sky colors. On a clear night like tonight, the transition from day to night can be a very colorful spectacle. The “blue hour” refers to the phase of twilight when the Sun is so far below the horizon that the light’s blue wavelengths dominate. The blue hour refers to a state of natural lighting that usually occurs during the very last stages of twilight in the evening, just before dark. This image was captured at 57 minutes after sunset time. The Crows were finally all quieting down for the evening. Another spectacular Crow Show!

The estimate for the 2021 Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in 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