Action packed time lapse with Crows filling in the roost!

Conditions: mostly cloudy, calm winds, temp at 29F; sunset time 4:13PM

Out on Crow Patrol before sunset time and preparing to estimate roosting Crows for Christmas Bird Count as part of the established Andover area. Made scouting visits at many of the regular staging locations within a 2 mile radius of the overnight roost area. Then just before sunset time, met up with Bob and Dana Duxbury-Fox. They had graciously agreed to be part of Crow counting efforts on behalf of the local Andover Christmas Bird Count. Bob was fortunately able to make it out onto the Duck Bridge to catch most of the action while Dana remained behind in the car in a nearby parking lot. We’re so glad she had views of the downriver area and the bridge.  Since the heavy snow snowfall earlier in the week, the Crows have shifted one of the primary staging areas, about 3/4 of a mile to trees and roof tops to the east and downriver. This image below, showing Crows staging downriver, captured about 9 minutes after sunset time.

The Crows were seen streaming in from the S/W/E and gathering in trees on both sides of the Merrimack River about 10-15 minutes after sunset time with very active vocalizations all around.

Then much larger swarms of Crows came streaming in from the West and over the Duck Bridge to join the staging downriver.

At 20 minutes past sunset, we observed a major flight movement towards the overnight roost area. Large numbers of Crows were seen converging into the roost trees, both directly from the west, and the east/downriver as well. Other Crows landed and perched on nearby roof top edges, before landing in the roost. It was certainly one of those nights were the only way to catch all of the action, particularly for Christmas Bird Count purposes, was by being out on the Duck Bridge. This key vantage point provided views to the east, west, north, up and down the Merrimack River for Bob and myself. More importantly, it provided views of the overnight roost, as the Crows were still coming in from both the east and the west after dark. The vocalizations worked up to a fever pitch in amplitude, and then subsided after all became quiet. This image below was captured about 30 minutes after sunset time.

It is always a treat to work with the cameras around long exposure images. These images require special time and handling by using all manual exposure and after dark manual focus techniques. Often, it requires a great deal of trial and error to achieve the right look. This image was captured from the Duck Bridge about 90 minutes after sunset time.

We had a final look with the infrared camera gear just over two hours after sunset time showing remarkable details of the Crows perched in the roost. Final count numbers will be posted once we complete the tally from counters and then complete a full review of all photographs to fully document the number of Crows in the overnight roost. Another amazing Crow show!!

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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 1DX MK II with 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/video

SiOnyx Aurora Pro Digital Color Night Vision Optics

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Blog post and photos by Craig Gibson, 2020 Crow Patrol, Lawrence, MA