Aerial views!

Jan. 15, 2024 under mostly clear skies, wind W 7MPH, 28F; sunset time 4:35PM

Out on Crow Patrol with first looks along Charles Street in North Andover to observe staging Crows downriver. Moved to Marston Street for viewing of Crows incoming to the roost with incoming flight streams arriving just after sunset time, with a bias to perch in trees along both sides of Prospect Street, with quite a buildup, with loud vocalizations, around the hospital parking multi level parking areas.

After dark, made a census loop along Marston Street, Prospect Street, and around the hospital parking lots. The majority of Crows were roosting on west side of Prospect Street. Found large clusters of perched Crows in trees along the Spicket River and many of the hospital parking lots. This view from one of the upper lots, shows cluster of perched Crows in the trees beside the parking lot and overhanging the swollen and noisy Spicket River below; captured at 72 minutes post sunset time.

Moving toward the hospital visitor lower lot, with the Spicket River flowing just behind it, and lined with trees, we found another series of perched Crows in clusters. The red brick building behind the tress is One Canal Street, and the Crows were seen here many nights last winter as well. This image captured a few minutes later.

While wrapping up for the night, returned to one of the upper lots with views back towards the west end of the main hospital building. This view is looking NW and shows more Crows in treee clusters and enjoying substantial ambient lighting from the parking lots. This image almost 80 minutes post sunset time. Another dazzling night….enjoy the short video!

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.

For all aerial documentary films with migratory and/or wintering birds or other wildlife, advance project planning and aerial imaging flight mission protocols are subject to rigorous review for “no disturbance” to any flight and perch behaviors, use of high resolution/optical zoom optics, overly cautious altitude/buffer zone levels, and low noise signature levels; all to avoid even the smallest disturbance on these migratory and/or wintering birds.

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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