What Is That BIG Green Thing?

rachelle siegrist kayaking

Wes and I took a much needed break yesterday! We loaded up the kayaks and headed over to the lake, and since it had been over two months since we’ve been on the water, I was very excited about returning to one of our happy places! It was a beautiful day, with calm waters and partly cloudy skies, which was a blessing with our current heatwave. We paddled to a beautiful spot for lunch, and very much enjoyed cooling off in the icy water for awhile beforehand. And yes, this was my seat (below) during lunch as well, and it was perfect! I don’t know about you, but for me there’s something extremely relaxing and restorative about being in or on the water.

Rachelle siegrist

 

 While paddling along after lunch, I spotted several gorgeous siren-red Cardinal Flowers scattered along the bank, and they certainly brighten up anyones day.

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Farther along, I stopped for a few minutes and enjoyed watching several bumble bees and a big hover fly drinking the sweet nectar of what appeared to be a Carolina Jasmine. At one point the hover fly, or friendship bee as we call them here, was obviously living up to its name, as it landed and went up into the very same blossom that a bee was in and amazingly neither one of them seemed to mind!

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While I had already deemed it a wonderful time, it got even better later on! I was relaxingly paddling along and watching the bank slowly pass me by, when suddenly I noticed what looked like a BIG mint green fishing lure laying on one of the rocks nearby. So I paddled over to investigate it further, and when I saw that it was moving, I realized it was a giant caterpillar and not a lure as I had previously suspected. I was completely taken back by the sheer size of it, as I had never seen such a huge caterpillar before! 

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It was truly amazing and I can’t tell you how blessed I felt to be given the chance to see this awesome critter! From a distance it appeared to have a cute almost clown-like face, and honestly looked too big and amazing to be real! 

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As I was taking photos and videos of it, it walked over and started munching something off of the moist rock nearby. I was completely mesmerized and could’ve spent the remainder of the afternoon, sitting right there and watching this beautiful creature. After returning home later that day, I looked up “big green caterpillars” and discovered that it’s among the largest of our native saturniid caterpillars, measuring up to 6 inches in length! I later told Wes that this amazing hickory horned devil or Regal Moth caterpillar was about the size of a hotdog . . . really unbelievable! 

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Speaking of awesome critters, I was delighted to see this little toad while walking about one morning this past week!  

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See our miniatures in person this week

Society of Animal Artists Art That Matters to the Planet Show
August 14 – October 25, 2021:The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Jamestown, NYSociety of Animal Artists

Animal Impressions Show
August 21 – November 7, 2021: The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ

Exquisite Miniatures is currently at the beautiful Elliott Museum located in Stuart, FL 

We are delighted to have our history-making tour on display in this beautiful museum! So if you’re in, or are going to be in the area, plan a visit to see over 60 of our miniature paintings in person, grab a magnifying glass and experience the “wow factor!” And if you fall in love with one . . . well, it can be yours forever, as all paintings in the exhibition are available.

To see our available miniature paintings, visit our WEBSITE hereartofwildlife.com

Contact us by EMAIL here: siegrist@artofwildlife.com

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

Glow Worms, Beavers and Bears, Oh My!

rachelle siegrist kayaking

We spent a few days this past week camping, kayaking and exploring, and I must say had great fun doing so! The tropical system sitting atop us kept dumping rain, so we drove in the rain, kayaked in the rain, hiked in the rain and slept in the rain. Thankfully though, there were a few times that the rain stopped and the sun even came out, and we ourselves almost dried out . . . Ha Ha! We’ve kayaked several times in the rain, and actually find it quite peaceful, albeit not a serious downpour. 

wes siegrist kayaking

One of the times whilst kayaking, we had already put on our ponchos and were relaxingly paddling along in the light misty rain, when we could hear and see it coming in the distance, and it was drawing nearer fast! So we quickly paddled over to a large overhanging sandstone cliff, tucking ourselves beneath it’s protective shelter. What a terrific viewpoint it offered, as the rain pounded down, bouncing and dancing across the surface of the water, with the energy of dancer performing a river dance! 

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The falling rain intensified and was truly amazing to watch and listen to, instantly lulling us into a state of complete relaxation and bliss, making us feel as if we could sit there forever! I filmed a short period of the dancing raindrops with my GoPro, and absolutely love these still shots I grabbed form a couple of frames! Looking closely at the shapes and with a little imagination, one can see a dolphin jumping out of the water, a sea turtle atop the water, a duck with one large wing, as well as numerous other things! So . . . what do you see?

raindrops

During our first kayak trip, I couldn’t believe when I saw a large mammal swimming towards me. At first I thought it was an otter, but quickly realized it was much too large for that, and knew instantly that it was a beaver! I was thrilled beyond belief, since I’m always hoping to see beavers when we kayak, and here I was just mere feet from this beautiful animal. I sat very still while videoing it, watching its every move, as it swam closer and closer, until it disappeared into the cave, slipping below the water. 

beaver photo by rachelle siegrist

The next day while kayaking, we were delighted to come up on this large beaver dam constructed across the narrow stream. Beavers are marvels at engineering and I was super impressed not only with their construction of the dam, but as well as the aesthetics of it and the amazing soothing sound of trickling water in surround sound! 

beaver dam

Their pool on the other side of the dam was at least a foot or more higher than the side we were on, and the soft, carefully placed and packed mud along the bottom of the dam, was filled with lots of beaver footprints and scrapings. What an amazing opportunity to be able to witness one of nature’s marvels so up close and personal! Amazingly, we would go on to see at least two more beavers while kayaking, and get to hear one slap it’s tail on the water, creating a sound like a shotgun being fired!

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The beavers weren’t the only critters we encountered whilst kayaking, we often found ourselves being visited and surrounded by a couple of Canada geese families, and I was totally in heaven! I absolutely love Canada geese, and being this close to them, and having them swim alongside me was truly amazing, not to mention that the continual “peeps” of the babies were adorable! We spent quite a bit of time removing fishing line from trees along the banks, and at times the geese stayed right with Wes, watching him work, as if they were thanking him for removing this lethal hazard. 

canada geese photo rachelle siegrist

We enjoyed several hikes as well, walking in the rain much of the time. It certainly made the abundant moss and lichen extremely soft, and I had to stop often to pat and gently squeeze it, telling Wes “Oh, it feels amazing!” The forest was filled with the pink blossoms of the Mountain Laurels and they were everywhere we looked! At one point I asked Wes to take a photo of me standing amongst a group of them, and just as we started to round the corner, he exclaimed “That’s not gonna happen, as there’s a big black bear right in the middle of the trail!” Since it was a loop, we had no choice but to turn back, and let the bear have it to himself, but Wes managed to snap this photo real quick, before we headed back.

black bear photo

If you’re like me, there are things that you really hope to see in your lifetime. Well, for me seeing glow worms was one of them, so I was thrilled to be given a chance to do just that while camping. Having signed up for the glow worm hike, we showed up at the destination a few minutes early. Within a minute after arriving, a Whippoorwill flew over and landed directly beside us! This is one of my favorite bird calls, so I quickly started recording it, and here it is for you to enjoy as well.

When I found out we were going to get to possibly see the glow worms, I researched about using my GoPro to try and get a photo of them. I learned that I needed to use night lapse, and read up on the best settings for it. Excitedly armed with my camera, off I went using my flashlight with red film over it, like all others on the tour, to lessen the disruption of our vision. Arriving at the cave, the ranger told us all about the glow worms, stating that there’s still so much to yet be learned about these incredible insects! To make sure my camera didn’t put out any blue light from the back screen, I went ahead and started recording, thinking for some reason that it worked like a time lapse video and would keep filming the duration of our visit. So as we moved along and gazed in wonder at the illuminated green dots, I stood as still as a soldier, whilst holding my GoPro up next to my stomach, sure that I was gonna capture some amazing shots. When we went to the back off the cave, I carefully knelt down in the sand and sat my tripod down, while covering the back of the camera with my hand to block out the light. At that point my face was mere inches from some of the worms, and I can’t express what an amazing experience it was! Later on at one point, we were standing on a boardwalk in total darkness, and everywhere you looked were hundreds of green glowing dots! It made me feel as if I was walking amongst the stars in outer space. One log was covered with so many worms that it actually glowed green! It was all so truly incredible that I we could say was “Wow!” 

night lapse photo

I continued to proudly film as I stood and moved to new spots, knowing that it was gonna be great. Well, when I checked my video later on, I was so disappointed to see that I had obviously done something very wrong and had only captured one two second video and a one second video, and burst out in laughter at what I had captured, and the folly of my entire attempt at capturing these amazing little creatures. Nonetheless, it made for a funny story to share with you and I thought these two still shots I grabbed from the wee videos, actually look pretty cool! 

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Here’s a link to visit if you’d like to learn more about glow worms, which are actually not worms at all but are indeed maggots! Now that makes it all even more interesting doesn’t it? . . . Glowing maggots . . . Ha Ha! From what I can find, I believe this is one of their silk threads covered in sticky, reflective droplets to attract and capture prey. 

glow rom silk thread

 

We had an awesome time, even in all the rain, and I’m currently working on a video of our experience for you, as there’s just way too much to share in just a few photos on my blog. So be watching for it soon!

 

See our miniatures in person this week

 Exquisite Miniatures recently opened at the beautiful The Elliott Museum located in Stuart, FL 

We are delighted to have our history-making tour on display in this beautiful museum! So if you’re in, or are going to be in the area, plan a visit to see over 60 of our miniature paintings in person, grab a magnifying glass and experience the “wow factor!” And if you fall in love with one . . . well, it can be yours forever, as all paintings in the exhibition are available.

We still have paintings available through these miniature shows listed, so visit their websites linked below to see what can still be yours!

Masterpieces in Miniature
 May 2021: Picture This Gallery, Alberta, Canada

 The Art of the Miniature XXIX
May 2 – June 13, 2021: The Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA

To see our available miniature paintings, visit our website, artofwildlife.com

Would you like to commission us? If so, contact us by Email

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle

The Day My World Turned Pink

wild azaleas pink

Our weather here has been like a yoyo this past month. It gets warmer than normal, and then a cold front comes and kills back much of the flowering shrubs, trees and more. Well, the past few days brought the most recent cold snap which killed a big part of the baby leaves on the trees this time! It’s another “limbo-spring” here in the Smokies to say the least. However, before the last cold front, Wes and I loaded up the kayaks, packed a lunch and headed to the water for the day. It was a gorgeous day too, with clear blue skies above and the bright pink blossoms of wild azaleas dotting the hillsides. 

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Unbelievably the water’s surface was smooth that morning, with a gentle wind at our backs, just enough to help push us along, which was very nice! After paddling for awhile, we climbed out of the kayaks and ate our lunch, while perched on a large rock in the sunshine. While Wes walked along the shore fishing for Rainbow Trout, which he caught a couple of, I sat on the big rock whilst dipping me feet into the icy water. After they went numb, it actually felt good . . . Ha! The air was filled with the symphony of cascades and springtime birdsong, it was heavenly to say the least, and I could literally feel myself melting with relaxation. 

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We’ve learned with kayaking, to enjoy and appreciate good paddling conditions when we have them. Paddling along after lunch, all was going pretty smoothly, until I came to a certain section in the river, when all of a sudden I was hit with what seemed like near hurricane force winds, so strong that it caught my BIG pink sun hat, and pulled it down over my face, completely covering it whilst turning the world pink and blocking my vision entirely! At that point the wind blew my kayak sideways, making it parallel with the waves that were now white capping. I could feel the intense wind and waves about to roll me over, while I was still trying to get my strapped on hat off of my face, so I could see where I was going. Finally I got it off and quickly realigned myself, facing my kayak into the wind and oncoming waves. I realized that as hard as I was paddling, the wind was strong enough, that it was actually blowing me backwards, so I just kept myself facing that direction until I was able to slowly make headway once the wind died down some. 

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Thankfully once I paddled through that section, the wind subsided for quite sometime. So I happily went back to photographing and videoing the beautiful wildflowers scattered about. Delicate bright red flowers of the Fire Pinks covered the banks in areas, and white flowering trees canopied above, adding to the beauty!

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There were several large clumps of beautiful Dwarf Crested Iris blooming as well, and this one in particular looked so lovely perched upon this moss covered rock near the water’s edge, appearing almost jungle like! 

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We enjoyed relaxingly paddling along until rounding another sharp bend, at which point we faced directly into the mouth of what felt like a “hurricane” once more! As I paddled, the waves were actually breaking over the front of my kayak at times, sending a spray of icy water clean over my head! I was so thankful that the sun was out and that the air temp was warmer that day. I have to admit though, that I had a blast riding over the waves and was sad when we reached our take out point. It was another great day and adventure indeed!

This Week’s Tip From The 1892 Cookbook

Okay, so this is what “Dr. Hall” said about good eating practices, and I’ll share the rest next week. I don’t know about you, but it seems that anxious thoughts have become more prevalent during the past year, so I’m thinking if everyone followed that rule, there’d be starving people all around! But who knows, he could be right. I do have to wonder though, why one shouldn’t eat after intense mental effort, such as spending time on the phone with let’s say . . . insurance companies’ computer, etc! Perhaps he was concerned that after such taxing mental conditions, one might miss their mouth and poke out an eye with a fork… HaHa!

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See our miniatures in person this week

See the show online now here: 30th International Miniature Art Show
May 1-31, 2021: Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC (We are the judges for the show this year!)

See the show online here: The Art of the Miniature XXIX
May 2 – June 13, 2021: The Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA

To see our available miniature paintings, visit our website, artofwildlife.com

Would you like to commission us? If so, contact us by Email

Follow us!

Until Next Time ~ Rachelle