The Red Hen Bakery here in Middlesex is known for its bread, pastries, coffee, and ambiance. What I found today is that they can also be sort of a birding hotspot.
It was another cold, barren Vermont winter day but Penny and I took off in the truck for some errands and some birding. We were up at the airport, checking the Luscombe’s tiedowns, when a landing corporate jet stirred up a gaggle of snow buntings. I couldn’t go out on the taxiway, which I normally might do, since the jet was coming up our way and the birds swirled away. No chance to look for horned larks or others.
I had a coffee date with Mary at Red Hen so I worked my way up the back dirt roads looking for hawks but all I found was clouds of dust from fast-moving pickups who had little time for a birder. So, I was sort of discouraged since my arm was aching again and we were seeing nothing as I pulled into the busy parking lot. As I maneuvered the big truck in tight space, I caught a flash of red out the passenger window and saw a male Northern Cardinal flying around a parked pickup. I grabbed the camera and shot a few shots and then moved the truck so that I could get the window down as the guy preened in the pickup mirror. It reminded me of state parks in Texas where we had to cover our mirrors with Walmart plastic bags to keep the cardinals away. It also was a bird I needed for my County Big Year.
I was running late for coffee so I jumped out of the car and started toward the bakery when I heard bird song from some trees nearby — a rare sound this time of year in Vermont. Back to the truck for the binoculars and camera — and I spotted a couple of finches singing away. I got some shots in bad light and I thought they were House Finches but couldn’t confirm it until I go home and saw the photos. We spotted a Dark-eyed Junco on the way out — it was a nice end to the outing, to say nothing about the coffee and scone that were the celebratory brunch.