Sunset flight bursts!

Feb. 28, 2022: clear skies, wind W 12MPH, temp at 26F wind chill 15F; sunset time 5:32PM

Out on Crow Patrol with Crows staging on the Riverwalk complex rooftops along Merrimack Street on the south side of Merrimack River. Even from a distance you could hear them vocalizing and then minutes after sunset time they launched skyward in a magnificent flight burst!

The initial waves of incoming Crows first settled a bit more to the east than normal along Marston Street. Massive numbers gathered on rooftop of Marston Medical building and in trees around the mouth of the Spicket River. Massive and loud recurring flight swirls kept taking place over the Spicket and the Ferrous Foundry Park with large numbers of Crows staging in trees along the river. This view is looking SW and was captured 10 minutes after sunset time.

The numbers started to build up in the regular roost trees on the hillside along the north side of Marston Street just before the big intersection. As they first land and set anchor in the roost area, they perch in the very tops of the trees, and then later at lower elevations. This image below, looking north and skyward, was captured about 20 minutes after sunset time.

Tonight we set up from the top parking lot at the Marston Medical building with terrific views to the SW, out over the Merrimack River, and the Clock Tower in the distance. At 23 minutes after sunset, the Crows were still swirling in flight, and perching in trees around the mouth of the Spicket River, all a prelude to converging into the overnight roost trees.

This final image shows the Crows concentrated in trees along the Spicket River on the south side of Canal Street, almost 40 minutes after sunset time. Minutes later they lifted off in large numbers, and flew over to the overnight roost area. It was one of the most awesome and exhilarating nights out on Crow Patrol, especially with stunning orange yellow sunset skies in the distance!

The 2021 Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the Andover Circle, for this separate Crow Count was 12,250 Crows. Last year, the 2020 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 increase reliability and accuracy of the presented numbers. 

Remember to check out the latest Crow Patrol Podcast with Prof. Sylvia Halkin:

Photo gear used for this outing:

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

Sony AX700 4K HDR Camcorder

ATN BinoX 4K Smart HD Binoculars with photo/video

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Blog post and photos by Craig Gibson, 2022 Crow Patrol