Extraordinary flight action

Dec. 14, 2022 under clear skies, wind NW 12MPH w/ gusts 23MPH, temp 34F; sunset time 4:11PM

On Crow Patrol with only stop at west end of Marston St. by the Marston Medical building. The larger incoming flight streams started about 15 minutes after sunset time from the W, NW, and E. The largest streams are now coming from the East, and at times up and over Prospect Hill. This image looking NE and skyward at 22 minutes post sunset.

The flight burst action tonight was extraordinary. The flight bursts explode up and out from the roost, in major waves, above traffic below, and with a prompt return back into the roost trees. The vocalizations are wild and totally unrestrained. It is almost like a reshuffling of a deck of cards. This image at 27 minutes post sunset.

Close to 45 minutes after sunset time, many Crows were still yet to converge into the roost, and were gathered on nearby rooftops and trees, including the roof at One Marston Street, opposite the area of roost trees. The sky colors were stunning. This image at 45 minutes after sunset time.

By 50 minutes after sunset time, the roost had quieted down with only minor movements within the roost. An extraordinary night!

For the 2021 Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the Andover Circle, this separate Crow Count was 12,250 Crows. In 2020, the 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 John Macone (Merrimack River Watershed Council): 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