Staging on Rollstone Hill!

Feb. 7, 2024 under partly cloudy, light wind, temp 41F; sunset time 5:08PM

Made visit to Fitchburg to locate winter crow roost based on tips from members of The Crow Patrol in Lawrence and with thanks to recent posting by Jon Skinner. After driving around extended area around cemetery and Rollstone Hill, moved up to top of cemetery for best elevated vantage point overlooking the city. A small stream of Crows were vocalizing while streaming in overhead from the east. Successive flight waves arrived and perched in trees, located about 500 yards away, along the upper east facing ridge of Rollstone Hill.

Looking west, the stretch of trees ran from the 37m tall communications tower and then to the north. Loud vocalizations were heard throughout this staging process as huge flight streams arrived from the NW and converged into the line of trees. Due to a scheduled phone call, I departed at 5:28 while noticing a massive flight shift to the north, and likely final movement into the actual overnight roost location. Overnight roost may be located between River Street and Nashua River. It was an amazing show!

For the 2023 Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the Andover Circle, this separate Crow Count was 11,600 total Crows, including American Crows and Fish Crows. In 2022, the CBC Andover Circle Crow Count was 13,750. 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, 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.

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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