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Birding in New Jersey: Catching Warblers with Sigma Supertelephoto Zoom Lenses

If you live in New Jersey, you’ve heard all the jokes, everything from “What Exit?” to all the Snooki wisecracks, but here’s the real ‘situation’: New Jersey is one of the best locations for bird watching in the United States, thanks to the Atlantic Flyway. From the northern Skylands near the tristate border with New York and Pennsylvania, to the southernmost point of Cape May on the Delaware Bay, New Jersey is a year-round birding hotspot. 

Yellow Warbler – f6.3 / 600mm / 1/400 / 2000ISO – Sports 60-600mm A rainy and grey day in the forest, the 60-600mm had it covered while retaining detail at 1/400.

In the spring, there is no better time to get out and see the Warblers. For those not familiar, Warblers are neo-tropical birds  that winter in Central or South America and then fly North to as far as Canada with stops in New Jersey to fuel up on bugs and spiders, while resting before hitting the ‘road,’ to continue the journey on to their breeding grounds. 

Prairie Warbler – f6.3 / 550mm / 1/3200 / 640ISO Sports 150-600mm

For a photographer, Warblers can be the most rewarding and most maddening birds you will ever take shots of. They are both erratic and fast, as well as tending to hang out on tree-tops. However, when you do lock in on a Warbler, you’ll see birds in a variety of amazing colors. Warblers range in colors from yellow, blue and orange to red, green, black and white. 

Blackburnian Warbler – f6.3 / 600mm / 1/640 / 1250ISO Sports 150-600mm Patience is the key to bird photography. We waited a few hours for this Blackburnian Warbler to come close, and were rewarded with this cool shot with prey in it’s mouth.

To be able to get the shots I prefer, I always bring my Nikon D500 and alternate between two Sigma lenses. In my bag, I have a 150-600 Sports and the new 60-600mm Sports.  

Northern Parula – f6.3 / 600mm / 1/5000 / 640ISO Sports 60-600mm A pleasing background with a Northern Parula at eye level made for a nice shot.

On any given outing, I can expect to shoot over 1500 frames, and look for 3 to 5 perfect images. I’m looking for everything from detail, sharpness, bokeh, and contrast on both my subject as well as the habitat I’m shooting. 

Black and White Warbler – f7.1 / 600mm / 1/640 / 800ISO Sports 60-600mm Incorporating the bird’s habitat will always lead to a more creative composition in your shots, providing more of visual story versus just a documentation shot.

For birds like Warblers, I prefer using Sigma zoom lenses over  prime lenses for their flexibility in the field. In many instances, you don’t get a second chance to move your shooting location. With regard to performance, the 60-600 Sports easily handled it’s business with its fast autofocus acquisition, bokeh & contrast. 

Chestnut Sided Warbler – f7.1 / 600mm / 1/1250 / 1250ISO Sports 60-600mm

Next time you think of New Jersey, forget all the jokes and reality TV nonsense, and think about the amazing variety of birds New Jersey offers for the wildlife photographers.  

Cerulean Warbler – f6.3 / 600mm / 1/320 / 1250ISO Sports 150-600mm While the Cerulean Warbler is on the decline due to habitat loss, it was spotted regularly in various birding locations throughout New York State and New Jersey this past season.
Blue Winged Warbler – f6.3 / 600mm / 1/640 / 1250ISO Sports 150-600mm This Blue Winged Warbler refused to lose that worm, even if it meant hanging upside down in the rain.


Comments (2)
  1. Glenda Foster says:

    These photos are exceptional. Thank you for putting the blog together and sharing.

  2. Jim Benedetto says:

    Beautiful photographps of a variety of birds that are very diffult to photograpgh. Brilliant details are capture using the Sigma lens that he regularly discusses on Facebook & his webpage about the advantages of these high quality lens that are evident with his brillant photographs!

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