It’s All About The Birds


 

I‘ve so enjoyed being able to eat breakfast on the back porch several mornings this past week, and am never alone, but I am always joined by numerous feathered and furry friends, bringing me great joy!  The Tinymouse family consisting of five adorable Tufted Titmice, hang out with me constantly as long as there are treats being offered.  I spread out a lovely little buffet of sunflower seeds and peanut crunchies, which they find irresistible, and in turn, spend much of their time sitting at the table with me.

They fly all around and above me, and occasionally land on me, which is always a delight and a thrill!  While recently reading Thoreau’s wonderful book titled “Walden” I came across this statement which I totally love . . . “I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.”  I couldn’t agree more, and delight greatly in time spent with my bird friends each day! Of course, I also delight greatly in visits from my precious squirrel friends who frequent the back porch looking for peanut treats.  One squirrel named Skittles always gives me a gentle bump with her velvety soft nose after grabbing the first peanut as I’m placing them on the floor beside me, and I always feel like I’ve just been given the world!

cute squirrel photo

The shrews have also returned to secret garden in our backyard, and I’ve been enjoying watching the little furry critters runout at lightning speed, grab a peanut or seed, to take back and eat safely in the underground home. I delight in watching birds everywhere we go, and whilst kayaking one day this past week, I found myself amidst a flock of mixed birds, mostly warblers. Sitting in my kayak mere feet from the shore, I noticed one wee tiny brown bird, which I’m quite sure was a Winter Wren, exploring a dirt crevice running the length of the wooded bank.  It purposefully went along, tossing aside leaves much larger than itself, while intently searching for bugs, and at one point flew out, almost landing on the front of my kayak!

wes siegrist kayaking

While still watching the adorable wee wren, I saw a chipmunk come scampering down to get a nice long drink. Thinking to myself “This keeps getting better” I suddenly saw two male Prothonotary Warblers fly and land close by in front of me.  Then one flew down to the water’s edge where it commenced taking a nice long refreshing bath in the shallow water lined with leaves.  About that time a regal looking Belted Kingfisher landed on an outstretched tree limb close by, and I decided I could happily stay there the remainder of the day!  After paddling a few times and heading in the opposite direction, a precious little Pied-billed Grebe popped up nearby, from underneath the water where it had been searching for lunch.  It curiously swam near while trying to figure out what the big plastic pink creature was that had invaded its private swimming hole, but didn’t seem to mind me being there at all, so I stayed a while longer, just watching him swim effortlessly about.  I had indeed made more amazing memories that I will keep with me for a long while!

fall leaves in the smokies

 ~ In The Studio ~

I finished my red fox painting that is one of three paintings in a collection entitled “A Foxy Trio“. All three miniatures are painted on silk and will debut at the upcoming 24th Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival November 15th – 17th at the Thomasville Cultural Center,  in Thomasville, GA.

red fox painting by-Rachelle-Siegrist

I’ve also started on the other two, switching between them just to keep things interesting, and will share them with you once I’ve finished them both.

Wes finished his miniature painting of a baby Red-shouldered Hawk, resting in his nest constructed out of piles of lush Spanish moss.  This little fellow was born in my parents’ backyard in Florida, and my Dad was able to take the reference photo for the painting.

 

baby hawk painting_by_Wes_Siegrist
“Sitting In a Spanish Nursery”

 


~ See Our Miniatures In Person This Week ~

In the Tradition of Audubon Exhibition
September 12, 2019 – January 5, 2020: Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, OH

Society of Animal Artists’ 59th Annual Art & The Animal Exhibition 
September 19, 2019 – January 5, 2020: The Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio, TX

EXQUISITE MINIATURES ~ September 15 – December 3, 2019: Kennedy-Douglass Center For The Arts, Florence, AL


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Until Next Time . . . 

~ Rachelle

 

Falling Into Fall

Rachelle siegrist kayaking

There’s a crispness to the air in recent mornings, and leaves are starting to turn those brilliant colors that they do this time of year.  Although many here in the Smokies are just turning brown and falling to the hard dry ground below, while the trees are seemingly just trying to survive in the current drought conditions.  Our rivers and streams have dropped to extreme lows, with many boulders normally submerged, now dry as can be above the water.

wes siegrist kayaking

Wes and I enjoyed our last snorkeling adventure of the season last week, as water temps are now too frigid even with our wetsuits, to enjoy this favorite pastime any longer. However, with water levels so low, and no silt running into the streams, the water is unbelievably clear, and you can see the bottom whilst watching resident fish swimming about, without snorkeling.  I enjoyed these amazing views this past week when we slipped out of the studio one day to go kayaking.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, with brilliant clear blue skies above and abundant sunshine, so as you can imagine, it was a delightful time spent on the water!

smokies stream

Most of our time this past week was spent here in the studio painting at our easels and doing office work. I’m putting the finishing touches on a red fox miniature painting, which will be one of three paintings on silk, forming a set, while Wes is painting a miniature of a baby hawk resting in a lovely Spanish moss-lined nest.

Rachelle Siegrist painting a red fox

While Wes has been working on the SAA office work, I created a few videos featuring highlights from the SAA’s 59th Annual Exhibition at the Briscoe Western Art Museum.  To enjoy the experience for yourself, click on the image below to watch the video.

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 1.25.53 PM
Click to watch video

 


~ See Our Miniatures In Person This Week ~

In the Tradition of Audubon Exhibition
September 12, 2019 – January 5, 2020: Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, OH

Society of Animal Artists’ 59th Annual Art & The Animal Exhibition 
September 19, 2019 – January 5, 2020: The Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio, TX

EXQUISITE MINIATURES ~ September 15 – December 3, 2019: Kennedy-Douglass Center For The Arts, Florence, AL


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Until Next Time . . . 

~ Rachelle

 

Swallows, Stars, ​And A Swimming Pig

wes siegrist

Wes and I went camping for a few days this past week, and as always it was truly relaxing and so nice to be out of touch with the world for a short time!  While we enjoyed our usual activities of kayaking, hiking, swimming, and fishing, we enjoyed a few new experiences this time which were really amazing!

rachelle siegrist.1

Late one evening while on the water paddling and fishing with friends, I had paddled a short distance further than the others when I heard something splashing and swimming in the water nearby.  Since it was so late in the evening and daylight was growing dim, I wanted to keep an eye on whatever it was.  At first, I couldn’t figure out what I was seeing, as it had a very long snout, much too long for a bear or a deer, and it was red.  After it drew nearer, I finally realized it was a BIG wild hog, and I couldn’t believe it, for the numerous times I have seen wild hogs in woods and pastures, I had never seen one swim! I must say it was truly amazing to watch, as this hog seemed to almost move with the speed and efficiency of a dolphin.  I was thrilled I had managed to capture it on video and am delighted to share a short clip of it with you.

Our friend in the canoe behind was intently fishing and didn’t even realize this large furry passerby was so close!  Afterward, as I relaxingly paddled back to the campsite, still reveling in my amazing encounter, the setting sun bathed the evening sky in brilliant pinks and oranges, reflecting on the surrounding water and filling my world with warmth and color!

rachelle siegrist

That evening as we sat around the campfire with several friends, we all delighted in watching the amazing hog encounter I had captured on video!  With a new moon and a very dark sky, it was decided that we should go to a clearing where we could see a nice open view of the nighttime sky.  We found the perfect spot for gazing up at the stars, and whilst laying on our backs, we were delighted to even see the milky way!  This became a nightly tradition, and the last evening we received a real treat, as several meteors zoomed across the vast, dark sky, making our nightly viewing even better!  There’s something quite peaceful and mesmerizing about laying on one’s back and gazing up into a vast nighttime sky filled with stars, and I enjoyed every second of it!

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Early each morning, we climbed into our kayaks and headed out on the water, and while each time I watched hundreds of swallows flying about catching bugs on the fly, I decided the last morning to just sit very still in the midst of them.  What a wonderful idea that was, as I found myself swallowed up in swallows, as the flying acrobats literally engulfed me at times, zooming mere feet from my head!  It was truly amazing, and indeed a magical experience, with these incredible speedsters coming right at me at times and pulling up inches from my face!  All that could be heard was their chirping and chattering and the sound of their wings on the fly, and hundreds of them at that!  Their numbers were so great in fact, that when they joined together and lifted into the air, they formed what looked like a tornado of birds!  I sat in my kayak and watched this incredible show for at least an hour before the beautiful little birds disappeared.  I hope you enjoy this little clip from once of the videos I captured of them.

After the swallows had left I decided to flyfish while also watching the clouds that were forming above and shapeshifting as they slowly moved across the vast blue sky.  I saw “fish” that turned into “bears” as well as “whales” and many other large fluffy creatures while laying back, relaxing in my kayak.

rachelle siegrist.4

The sky certainly wasn’t the only thing of beauty, since some of the leaves were starting to turn bright red, showing signs of impending fall weather.  We enjoyed daily hikes, followed by cooling off whilst swimming blissfully in water that was cool, but not cold enough to warrant wearing our wetsuits thankfully.

rachelle siegrist.3

It was a most wonderful four days, but alas soon came the time to leave and return home.  Although many great memories were made, my encounters with the swallows, stars and the swimming pig were truly amazing!

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Until Next Time . . . 

~ Rachelle