Aerial views!

Dec. 6, 2023: under mostly cloudy skies, wind NE 7MPH, temp 29F; sunset time 4:10PM (this will be the earliest sunset time for this winter season!)

Out on Crow Patrol tonight proved to be another exhilarating experience! Our initial destination was the baseball field on Incinerator Road, where we sought out the staging Crows. A captivating sight unfolded as hundreds of them gathered across the river to the northeast, setting the stage for another exciting evening. Our expedition continued to Mill240 Park, providing wide open views across the Merrimack River.

Just after sunset, a spectacle of endless incoming flight streams unfolded. The majority of Crows chose to gather on the south side of the river, creating spectacular formations in and around the extended National Guard substation area and along South Canal Street.

The grand finale awaited us at the Duck Bridge, where Crows converged and consolidated within the rows of trees along New Balance. Notably, tighter concentrations were observed in the trees at the west end of the building and beyond, with many Crows still loitering on the ground within the National Grid enclosed area.

The night’s action was nothing short of amazing, with the number of Crows steadily increasing as the evening unfolded. Witnessing numerous flight bursts added an extra layer of excitement to the outing. This flight burst image below at 2.5 hours after sunset time. It was a truly mesmerizing experience that left us in awe of nature’s wonders!

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, while outside next to the roost, to carefully document our observations and to significantly increase reliability and accuracy of the presented numbers. Please refer to our new roost counting guide on main page.

The Canon mirrorless cameras with the RF 50mm f/1.2 lens and the RF 28-70mm F2 excel in low-light conditions, blending versatile focal lengths with an ultra-wide aperture. Both focal lengths work extremely well in very low light conditions, while the f/1.2  and F2 aperture settings ensure exceptional performance in low light conditions, offering stunning clear, and aesthetically pleasing images, making them ideal for the challenging very low light conditions around the overnight roost.

For all aerial documentary films with migratory and/or wintering birds or other wildlife, advance project planning and aerial imaging flight mission protocols are subject to rigorous review for “no disturbance” to any flight and perch behaviors, use of high resolution/optical zoom optics, overly cautious altitude/buffer zone levels, and low noise signature levels; all to avoid even the smallest disturbance on these migratory and/or wintering birds.

Remember to check out the latest Crow Patrol Podcast with John Macone (Merrimack River Watershed Council):

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 EOS R6 Mirrorless with Canon RF 28-70 f/2 L IS USM 

Canon EOS R6 II Mirrorless with Canon RF 50 f/1.2 L USM 

Sony AX700 4K HDR Camcorder

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