Jan. 10, 2023: under mostly cloudy, wind WS 12MPH, temp 46F; sunset time 4:29PM

Out on Crow Patrol with first stops by baseball field to observe nearby staging activities with nice buildup of incoming Crows along the trees near the airport. Moved to corner of Marston and Prospect Streets to watch the incoming flight streams. The heaviest inbound streams were from the east and it was group after another for over 20 minutes. This image below about 17 minutes post sunset time.

Almost every night we’re entertained with at least a few of the well documented flight bursts. As the Crows converge into the roost trees, the tend to perch in a number of separate tree top areas, then fill in rapidly. It may be part of the settling in process as they will often time burst up and out inflight, often times in a large arc movement, and then return to the roost trees. As an observer, it always creates an “WOW” moment. This image at 23 minutes post sunset time.

As the sky darkens, the nearby ambient street lights come to life, and the vocalizations decrease, the Crows start to settle in for the night. Thanks to these newer mirrorless cameras and special low light camera lenses, we’re able to capture and document scenes well after dark in ways that the human eye cannot match. This image below shows a section of the overnight roost at 45 minutes post sunset time. Another dazzling 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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