Stunning Aerial Views!

Feb. 9, 2023 under clear skies, wind S 3MPH, temp 47F; sunset time 5:07PM

On Crow Patrol with initial scouting stops at Incinerator Road with views of staging Crows at end of Charles Street and around the airport. Moved back to lower Marston Street and watched initial incmong flight streams arrive at close to 15 minutes after sunset time. The numbers in the successive flight waves picked up substantially over the next 20 minutes.

The Crows converged onto the hillside trees in growing numbers with rowdy vocalizations and numerous flight bursts. As always, there was a lot of flight action with many Crows resettling from one tree to another tree nearby. A plane on a repeat low altitude flight pattern, perhaps doing after dark touch and go’s from the airport, kept flying by over the roost area (see video) with some of the Crows reacting a each time.

By 60 minutes post sunset time, the vocalizations had subsided and the Crows in the roost were largely settled in for the night. Another spectacular outing!

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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