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I was on my morning walk, a 2-mile round trip along my road. I stopped near what I like to call the five-acre woods and waited for my subject to arrive – birds in flight. I had been practicing lately and any subject would do. I noticed a bunch of titmice (or is it titmouses?) flying in and out of some roadside bushes. I was at the limit of my lens but, I figured what the heck, practice is practice. So, I took a bunch of shots.

Later that day I was reviewing the images on my computer. It’s my habit to review all of the images first and delete all the hopelessly fuzzy ones. I got to my session with the little birds and thought something was wrong with my white balance. The birds had yellow edges to their tails. No, my white balance was fine. Most of these images were blurry so I still thought I was capturing titmice. I got to an image where a bird was perched and relatively still. That didn’t look like a titmouse…OMG! I had been photographing cedar waxwings! That’s why there was yellow on the tails!

I was like a kid on Christmas morning and had gotten the best present ever! I had started out with the ordinary and now it had become extraordinary.

It’s moments like this that I usually miss because I don’t have my camera. In fact, it’s practically a guarantee that I’ll see something amazing when I leave my camera at home. And here I was, photographing what I thought were everyday birds. I was wrong. How amazing!

About the Author

Hi! My name is Yvonne Kunz and I’ve been asked to share my images of the Sourlands with you.
I’ve lived in the Sourland area for over 25 years. But I became obsessed with photographing around my home in 2020.

I was under a lot of stress from my job. I was a floor nurse at a local hospital when patients with COVID started to arrive. It was a scary time as the whole healthcare industry was struggling with treatment and isolation protocols. I relieved the pressure by going for walks, either in nearby parks or just walking up and down my road. And sometimes, I would bring my camera.

Fast forward to 2023. I’ve been retired since 2021 and I still frequent local parks and take a walk almost every day, often with my camera.

All the creatures around my home are very special to me. During 2020, they helped me stay sane and grounded. Birds became my neighborhood friends. Vernal pools, teaming with tadpoles, were sought-after destinations. And wildflowers provided stunning vistas accompanied by music from bees and butterflies.

When you get to know a subject, it takes on a life of its own. It’s like when you get a new car, you start to see it everywhere. Or a friend has turned you on to a small patch of wild orchids along a path that you thought you knew very well. Yesterday, you didn’t see them and today they are everywhere. It’s like that for me and the Sourlands.

My hope is that you will get to know the Sourlands through my stories and images. And start seeing the wonder and beauty that can be found throughout the area. From the tiny wild orchids to the majestic bald eagles. Enjoy!