Northern Visitors in Bolton Notch

By josh • 251 Birds, Architecture, Nature, Wildlife • 10 Dec 2012

Bolton (Chittenden County)
Preston-Lafreniere Farm
Town #42

Any lower 48 birder who is paying attention knows that this has been an extraordinary year for “winter finches”- pine siskins, evening and pine grosbeaks, red and white-winged crossbills, common and hoary redpolls, and bohemian waxwings have been showing up in all sorts of southerly locations.

Last week I was out documenting barns at the Preston-Lafreniere Farmstead in Bolton when I saw some waxwings arrive in a fruit-laden tree across the road.  I ran back to my car to get my tele lens (I was using a wide-angle for the barns), but when I returned the birds were gone.

It’s a nice collection of barns in reasonably good condition, though some modifications to the east barn (at right, below, probably the oldest of the three) to accommodate a tractor have caused some fairly serious structural problems, and a stable addition to the west barn is dragging it down from behind.

Lafreniere Farm

Lafreniere Farm 
Tokina 12-24mm f/4 PRO DX at 12mm, f/9, 1/200s, ISO 200

The farmhouse across the street, which is roughly contemporary with the two older barns, is also a mostly intact and representative example of early 19th century rural architecture in Vermont.  I always associate Vermont “classic cottages” like this one with the Greek Revival period, but in this case there aren’t many clues to give it away beyond the entry surround.

Preston-Lafreniere House

Preston-Lafreniere House 
Tokina 12-24mm f/4 PRO DX at 24mm, f/9, 1/400s, ISO 200

After I finished photographing the barns and assessing some of the issues with the timber frames, I came back out to the road to find that the waxwings were back in the same tree and that they were bohemians!  They took off again, but this time I thought I’d set up the tripod in a likely spot to see if they returned.  After about five minutes they came back to raid the fruit for a few minutes and then again disappeared in the direction of the Winooski River.  This time I got a few images.

Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 400

I thought I’d stick around for a few more minutes to see if they returned one more time, and while I was waiting a large flock of common redpolls briefly passed through headed west.  They stopped in the same tree long enough for me to get a few nice shots and they were off again.

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/5.6, 1/1000s, ISO 400

Sure enough, the waxwings came back one more time before I left.  It was certainly a serendipitous day: the first sunshine in a month, scheduled field work, fantastic birds, and a few spare minutes to spend with them.

Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/7.1, 1/1000s, ISO 400

Here’s the full list from my 10-15 minutes at the roadside:

  • Canada Goose (47)
  • Red-Tailed Hawk (1)
  • Pileated Woodpecker (1)
  • Black-capped Chickadee (3)
  • Bohemian Waxwing (6)
  • Common Redpoll (15)


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