This wasn't the first time I had photographed the Common Yellowthroat Warbler, but it was my first time doing so at Mercer Meadows.
After a brief distraction watching a rabbit enjoy breakfast, I continued my search for birds. Earlier, two photographers with impressive zoom lenses on their cameras had passed by, clearly interested in capturing avian moments. I walked past them and found a spot about ten meters ahead to focus on my own bird photography.
I attempted to capture images of birds coming and going from their nests in the meadow, but unfortunately, I didn't have much luck. As I was trying, the two photographers caught up with me, and we struck up a friendly conversation. The elder photographer seemed quite familiar with the park and shared some helpful tips on where I might have better chances of spotting birds in the meadow. The other photographer appeared to be around my age and was relatively new to bird photography.
While we were talking, I heard a chittering sound coming from a nearby thicket, and I immediately got my camera ready. This wasn't the first time I had photographed the Common Yellowthroat Warbler, but it was my first time doing so at Mercer Meadows. The male warbler was busy hunting for insects in the thicket, and I was fortunate to capture a shot of him holding his prey in his beak.
The Common Yellowthroat Warbler stands out due to its unconventional nesting habit. Unlike other warblers, it chooses to nest in open marshes, making it a common sight in reed beds and areas with cattails throughout the country. The male of this species can often be seen perched on tall stalks, delivering its unique song, characterised by the rhythmic repetition of "Wichita-Wichita-Wichita."
I spent three hours in the Pinelands with Ray Hennessey hoping to get a photograph of the pine warbler. We could see the birds flying back and forth between the trees that lined the swampy area that Ray had scouted. We waited patiently, but the pine warbler kept out of view the camera. The light was fading, and we were ready to call it quits. Ray suggested that we stay just a bit longer. Our patience and effort were rewarded when this male landed in just the right spot.
NOTE: The light was fading, so the photograph was shot at ISO12800. It's not as sharp as I wanted.
This well-named bird is not often seen away from pine trees, especially during the breeding season. More sluggish than most of their relatives, Pine Warblers forage in a rather leisurely way at all levels in the pinewoods, from the ground to the treetops. This species is only a short-distance migrant, and almost the entire population spends the winter within the southern United States. Unlike most warblers, it regularly comes to bird feeders for suet or for other soft foods.Pine Warbler at the Audubon Society’s website
You can learn more about Ray Hennessy's work and signup for his workshops on his website. You can learn more about the Pine Warbler at the Audubon Society’s website.
Last weekend I joined photographer Ray Hennessey for a field trip to one of his birding spots in Woodbine in the pine barrens of New Jersey. While we had some challenges photographing the elusive pine warbler, we had no problems photographing this Prothonotary Warbler. The bird kept performing for us, stopping on sticks that poked out from the swampland and branches of the trees that lined the water.
The Prothonotary Warbler loves wooded swamps and breeds in flooded river bottom hardwoods, including black willow, ash, buttonbush, sweetgum, red maple, hackberry, river birch, and elm; or wetlands with bay trees surrounded by cypress swamp. This warbler nests near borders of lakes, rivers and ponds, normally only in areas with slow-moving or standing water and Winters in the tropics in lowland woods and mangrove swamps.
I am learning from my bird photography field trips because of the need for patience and persistence. For three hours, we stood among the trees waiting for the birds to arrive and put themselves in the right spots. There was no rushing, no bathroom break, and we kept our talking to the minimum. I could imagine being out in these woods by myself, listening to bird calls, to the sound of the wind in the trees and the water trickling over the stones of the nearby stream.