Looking But Not Seeing

bald eagle photo2

Did there come a time in your life where you realized  your eyesight “ain’t what it use to be?” Well I hate to admit it, but that time came for me recently. Whilst having to make a trip to the post office this past week, I convinced Wes that we should drive the extra mile and take a short walk alongside the lake where we usually see lots of birds this time of year. Shortly after we arrived he got a business call, so I made my way to the edge of the lake, where I spotted a group of Canada Geese floating with what appeared to be a dark log sticking up behind them. So I snapped a couple of photos with the camera and later that I day as I was scrolling through the photos, I zoomed up on the geese, and lo and behold I saw that the “log” was actually a beautiful Bald Eagle sitting there eating a fish! Then zooming in on the next photo, I saw that there were actually two eagles, and I was indeed pleasantly surprised! As always I was excited to see the geese, but would’ve been even more excited had I known I was watching two eagles!

bald eagle photo

While also at the lake that morning, Wes pointed out that there were a couple of white pelicans near the area where I had photographed the geese, so once again I snapped a few photos of them. However, excitedly another surprise lay in store for us, for when I zoomed in on what we assumed were white pelicans, I realized that they were actually tundra swans. Since it was the first time we had ever seen tundra swans, we were thrilled to say the least and very happy to add a new bird species to our life list!

tundra swans

Another morning we decided at the last minute to tie a trip to see the cranes again with doing some grocery shopping. So off we went, hoping there would be lots of them still in the vicinity, and I was thrilled as we climbed out of the van and everywhere I looked, I saw Sandhills! It was an amazing sound and sight, as the surrounding fields were full of them and the air filled with their incredible calls as more and more groups flew in to join the others. Incredibly, cranes can fly up to 35 mph! There was no fog and they were closer to us this time allowing us to get several nice photos. 

sandhill cranes

It was the most cranes I’ve ever seen in one location and once again I felt like a little girl at Disney World!

sandhill cranes5

I was absolutely delighted when a couple of them started dancing, taking turns jumping up into the air, with wings outstretched, appearing as long-legged ballerinas wearing feather costumes, gracefully preforming. It’s truly amazing to see these 3 to 4 ft tall birds with a wingspan of 6 to 6 ½ ft when they commence to dancing. Add the sound to it and it’s an incredible experience!

sandhill cranes4

These stately birds mate for life and only chose a new one when their current mate dies. The female usually lays just 2 eggs, and according to some statistics, only 1 out of 3 nests produce a chick that survives to migrate in fall. The biggest threat to Sandhills is habitat loss and you can see in the photo below just how important certain habitats such as wetland areas are to their survival. 

sandhill cranes2

Whilst standing there mesmerized by the cranes, I noticed two very large predators fly into the scene, which raised excitement from all of the photographers there, trying to see what they were. I heard a couple with supersized lens call out “they’re Golden Eagles!” Since we had only seen them one other time, plus the fact that they are very rare here in Tennessee, I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of them! You can see one of them in the middle of the photo below.

sandhill cranes3

Not only were there thousands of cranes, but hundreds of ducks too! It was truly another amazing experience and we’re planning to return one more time to meet some friends there and watch the cranes before they fly back north starting the end of February. Oh yeah, and this time we’re hoping to remember our spotting scope! Want to learn more about these amazing birds click here: The National Wildlife Federation’s website.



I’ve started a new painting on silk of a beautiful little Prothonotary Warbler, I watched and photographed whilst kayaking one day. The great part is that I found a small limb in our woods with lichen on it, which is proving invaluable for showing the details.

painting a bird on silk in progress




Our touring exhibition EXQUISITE MINIATURES has gone international and is now on display at the MUSE (Douglas Family Art Centre) in Kenora, ON, Canada. It will be on display there thru March 15, 2023. For more info,  visit their website The MUSE

48th Annual International Miniature Art Show (MASF)
January 15 to February 5, 2023: Leepa Rattner Museum of Art, Tarpon Springs, FL

38th Almost Miniatures Show at Francesca Anderson Fine Art, Portraits North,                                                               Lexington, MA, until February 25, 2023 (My 3 available bird paintings are shown below)

miniature paintings by rachelle siegrist

To see our available miniature paintings as well as some upcoming shows,

visit our WEBSITE  artofwildlife.com     Email us

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle


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