Birding In The Everglades

Rachelle SiegristChris, Melissa, Emma and me in the 90s 

Yesterday brought gorgeous fall weather, so we set up a few card tables spaced far apart in our backyard, Wes built a nice fire in an old metal wash tub, and a few neighbor friends brought their lunch and joined us in dining Al fresco. It was a delightful time as we ate, laughed and shared stories. After Wes and I had finished telling one story, our friend Elise brilliantly suggested that I should start sharing these stories of our pre-blog adventures with you, so I thought I’d begin with this one . . .

Whilst still living in Okeechobee, Florida, we had a group of wonderful friends for many years, which included my biology and economics teachers from high school. It was a delightful group and we enjoyed eating and playing games together, and shared a love of birding. It was a fairly serious group, with the guys even having bird names for their “handles” which they used while communicating with one anther when traveling to various birding locations. 

Flamingo painting by Rachelle Siegrist

My miniature painted on silk “Primping With Mommy”

One particular weekend trip we went to Everglades National Park in search of the Banana-faced Grassquit. We had intently searched the areas in which it had been spotted, and finally Wes exclaimed “There it is!” as the wee little bird flew across the pond and lit on a reed right in front of him. Of course everyone came running and there in the spotting scope was the little bird sitting atop a limb with the “X” pattern showing when it looked directly at us, and it made our day!

While there we also hiked other trails including the Snake Bight Trail in hopes of seeing the flamingoes that usually inhabit the area. It was a beautiful sunny day in January as we walked along, and although we didn’t see any snakes or flamingos, we were bitten by countless mosquitoes, constantly smacking ourselves as we walked along, laughing and saying it should be renamed the “Skeeter bite trail” instead.

Roseate spoonbill painting by Rachelle Siegrist

My miniature painted on silk “Tucked In Pink”

We spent the night at what I believe was the old historic Flamingo Lodge, which sadly was pretty much destroyed by a hurricane years after our visit. It was as dark as coal when we arrived that night, as we had stayed out birding and exploring as long as possible. The old quaint hotel backed right up to the water, and had one small restaurant at the end, which consisted of a screened in porch, with lights strung around. We ordered a pizza and listened to the small live band playing Jimmy Buffet style music, and I felt as if we had somehow managed to slip back in time, it was great! We watched the sun rise and left early the next morning for another full day of birding and exploring before heading back home. 

Florida Sunset painting by Rachelle Siegrist

My miniature painting “Sunset At The Marsh”

Another fun trip was made prior to the one above, to DeSoto State Park to search for a Stripe-headed Tanager. Arriving at the trail where it had been seen, we unloaded all of our gear and started down the boardwalk which was lined with numerous other birders carrying out the same mission. Wes and I being wildlife artists, get excited about any bird posing nicely or back-lit beautifully by the sun, etc, that would make a gorgeous painting. Wes walking slightly up ahead of me stopped and asked “Did you see him?” As soon as the words had left his mouth, we found ourselves surrounded by anxious birders wanting to also see it! When we pointed to the gorgeous Great Blue Heron, I thought we would be stoned alive, since it was not the tanager. Thankfully Wes was the one who would later spot it for all to see, thus saving face for us both . . . Ha Ha!

Oh, we truly made so many wonderful memories with that group of friends, and I must say that we miss those times! I’ll be sharing many more adventures from our past with you on future blogs.

~ See our miniatures in person this week ~

MIGRATION Exhibition & Sale
November 13, 2020 – January 10, 2021 at the Thomasville Cultural Center, in Thomasville, GA. Below are our five miniature paintings included in the exhibition. Wes’ Southern Sentinel has been sold.

Rachelle and Wes siegrists miniature paintings at MIgrations show

Until next time ~ Rachelle

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