Massive flight swirls

Dec. 13, 2022 under clear skies, wind NW 10MPH, temp at 37F; sunset time 4:11PM

On Crow Patrol with first stop along Incinerator Road to scout for staging areas to the east. Found large numbers streaming in from downriver and gathering on west side of the airport. On to Marston Street to observe arrival into the roost area, with initial flight streams coming in from upriver against stunning background sky colors. This image looking NE and skyward was captured 20 minutes post sunset time.

By 25 minutes after sunset time the action went full boil with huge numbers arriving mostly from the east and south with remarkable flight burst action.

The flight bursts continues for longer than usual with massive flight swirls and raucous vocalizations out over Marston Street opposite Marston Medical Center.

The arrivals continued until about 50 minutes after sunset time, and then the roost settled down with Crows largely in place for the night and continuing but very minor movements within the roost trees. A very dazzling 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):

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