Just before the pandemic started, after decades of part-time bird photography, Ray switched from wedding photography, his primary source of income, to focus on his passion for bird photography. Originally from southern New Jersey, Ray now lives out of the camper van, travelling around the country to conduct group workshops wherever the birds are; South Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Alaska, Utah etc. The day started at 6:30 AM in Stokes State Forest in northwestern New Jersey. Stokes State Forest Park is over 90 minutes from my home. I met Ray in one of the parking lots where he had parked his camper van.
Ray knows the birds by their call, and he has remembered the locations where he has seen the specific birds he expected to see that day. We drove around to his list of sites, searching for the birds on my shot list. We sat among the leaves in a clearing just off one of the roads in Walpack. We waited patiently for a black-throated Green Warbler to land on a log nearby. After about twenty to thirty minutes and many missed opportunities, I was rewarded with this photograph.
The black-throated green warbler is a common breeder from northern boreal forests to hardwoods of the southeastern U.S. I have not yet learned the calls, but Ray knows the distinctive and persistent song. Black-throated Green Warblers are the easternmost representative of a quartet of closely related warblers. Black-throated Green Warblers often remain high in the canopy, so this was a very lucky capture.
This stunning adult male bird is olive-green, white below, with a bright yellow face and extensive black on the throat turning to black streaks on the flanks, with two bright white wing bars.