Dec. 12, 2023 under clear skies, wind SW 8MPH, temp 40F; sunrise time 4:10PM
On Crow Patrol with first stops by airport, then baseball field at Incinerator Road while observing light incoming flight streams. While heading west on Merrimack St. observed staging Crows along Market St. around O’Connell South Common. At Market St. observed small numbers building up on the ground and in trees at sunset time.
Next stop was along South Canal Street to watch the incoming flight streams and buildup on the warehouse rooftops; observed significant flight streams and massive flight swirls over warehouse roofs about 25 minutes after sunset time.
The flight swirls over the roof tops turned into a stunning vortex with loud vocalizations and endless Crows initially descending onto the warehouse roof tops about 40 minutes post sunset time. The image below shows the initial small group on the roof.
Often time under very clear skies, the Crows will stage longer and delay going into the overnight roost. After this later then normal staging action, the Crows lifted up and off in flight towards the roost trees. Well after dark there were numerous intermittent flight bursts around the roost trees. Another dazzling night!
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): wintercrowroost.com/podcast/
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