Date: 4/15/18 5:48 am
From: Dana Duxbury-Fox <danafox...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] White-winged Gulls Lawrence & Those Crows
While on crow patrol last night (April 14) at 7 PM we were sitting on the
south side of the Merrimack River in the Philip J. Riley Park (looking north
- across the river parked along a fence). Slightly to our right at the
beginning of the road entrance to the park, at the edge of the grass,
someone had thrown many old big rolls. We were parked there, I hardly have
to say why - watching the evening spectacle of crows across the river and a
small flock - many Fish Crows to our left. We have found it easier to watch
the crows stage from the south side of the river either from the boathouse
on Eaton St. or now this park.

There were some leafless small trees along the river and this pile of rolls
on a slight mound to our right. Suddenly, both the nearby crows and many
gulls started to gather. More and more gulls - some dropping down to grab a
roll. I cried out, "Bob white-winged Gulls". In the end there were at least
4 Iceland Gulls and a Glaucous - all so white. This was April 14th in
Lawrence at 7 PM. There were so many gulls. They swirled, dipped to the
water, chased one another, some dropping down to feed and kept making
circles up and down the river in front of us. Fish crows now quite easy for
us to identify in the field were also feeding and moving from the water's
edge to the ground and to the rolls. Now it was hard to focus - we had to
keep an eye on the thousand plus gulls across the river who were much
farther east than any other night and all of these gulls. Finally, when the
crows started moving east to roost we had to snap back on Crow Patrol and
head over to the other side of the river.

We stopped in the little gray house of the end of December-early January
fame just off Broadway St. at the first turn in on the north side to see the
gulls which were now roosting along the south side of the river JUST above
the dam. Bob counted 340 roosting gulls !!!! but they were too far away and
our scope was at home to see them well and the crows were on the move.

The crows seemed to be as far east as the Lawrence Girl and Boys Club off of
Water Street. We pulled in behind the club and found they were still to the
west of us. We had to get nearer the river and went down Caukling St. and
found a bumpy old dirt road running parallel to the river with just a few
big trees right along the river. This road it appears is used for parking
for the many multifamily dwellings. It was dark now and we were off in
unfamiliar territory but carry on we did. The crows were in a furtive mood
- I have never seen them so undecided - they would fly to one set of trees
along the river and then move further north amongst these dense multifamily,
multistory building to the few tall trees. They were beside us then, in
front of us and back of us - on and on it went. It was really quite dramatic
in the dark of night with these huge flocks milling around us. Finally,
after 8 PM they left the river area and we went back to Water St. were we
could see them now and then in trees to the north of us. We pulled down
this narrow ally - Thornton St. and found a group at the end of the street
densely perched across in this big tree.

Yes, I do now shutter to think how we have so brazenly moved around Lawrence
the part few months. Never could I have projected it. Having Bob to
accompany me has made a big difference. Also, when I reflect how many nights
I have been in cemeteries and behind churches, I feel the crows are surely
protecting us!

We have concluded on some pretty thin evidence that the crows still roosting
are sub-adults that have not either migrated north to their nesting
territories or permanent residents that have moved with their cooperative
helpers to their nesting territories in MA and southern NH.

You all missed an exciting night - again something new!!!


North Andover, MA

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