Oct. 28, 2021: clear skies, wind NNE 4MPH, temp at 48F; sunset time 5:42PM
Out on Crow Patrol with first stop at parking garage roof deck with views of gathering Crows on warehouse rooftop to the west. Just over 325 Crows observed from this image about 15 minutes before sunset time.
Moved over to north side of Merrimack River to the Mill240 complex. Over next 30 minutes, great views of Crows streaming in from all directions into area around the truck depot with typical heavy vocalizations. The sunset sky colors provided a stunning backdrop to all the action! This image below, with over 350 Crows in flight, was captured about 8 minutes after sunset time.
After the incoming flight streams, the Crows settled into the final staging area along Merrimack Street before converging into the overnight roost area. It is always a sight to behold as they lift up, and make their flight movements towards the overnight roost. This image below shows about 90 Crows in flight!
In the dark, about an hour after sunset, had a nice opportunity to capture infrared images with Crows well settled into the roost in the trees along the Merrimack River. The infrared lighting covers a wide swath of the roost from top to bottom. This image shows a lateral view for a small section of the overall roost area. We tallied over 800 Crows in this sectional view.
A bit later, we had a further opportunity to capture a number of terrific aerial images directly over the roost on the north side of the New Balance building. The nearby ambient lighting helps a great deal for imaging purposes. We adhere to strict guidelines on keeping a safe distance from the roost trees with zero observed disturbance to the Crows in the roost below. This image below, with just over 600 perched Crows, was captured about almost two hours after sunset time.
Note on counts/estimates: we are now using much 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 software program, as well as a hand count approach to carefully document our observations and to increase reliability and accuracy of the presented numbers.
THE OFFICIAL 2020 NATIONAL AUDUBON CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT (CBC) ESTIMATE FOR THIS CROW ROOST: 15,200
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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 Smart HD Binoculars with photo/video
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Blog post and photos by Craig Gibson, 2021 Crow Patrol, Lawrence, MA