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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Amelia Island Artists Workshop
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034  904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell

Second Saturday Art Walk is this weekend 5:30-8:30pm! Come and visit! 
Also:  Still time to sign up for the Dee Beard Dean Plien Air Workshop on the 19th of April.
go to the website for more infor

A day trip to Marineland to meet with a large group of Sea Turtle volunteers for one of our annual
training sessions is the preamble to May's start of Sea Turtle Nesting Season.  Armed with my brand new
State Park Pass, my reward for my first 1000 hours of service as a volunteer I decide to visit a nearby
State Park, Washington Oaks State Park, just 8 miles south of Marineland on A1A.
It had been several years since I had strolled the peaceful pathways of Washington Oaks State Park,
which were whipped into shape to become this very beautifully laid out garden and orange grove by
the couple who purchased it.  The lush garden is irrigated by the water which bubbles up from Florida's
Aquifer through Artisan wells.
Situated on the river on the fairly narrow strip of land that makes up this part of the world it gives those
of us who like to garden and like a mix of landscaped with natural areas some great ideas.
Across A1A is another part of the park which I had not previously visited and it is a different landscape
 for us here in Florida with a rocky outcropping of sand stone sculpted by the sea and wind.  We don't have
many rocks here in the Sunshine State so this is an unusual area which needed preserving.
And of course the trip this far South always culminates with a trip to the Alligator Farm
since it is the beginning of nesting season for the Marsh Birds we find there.  It was feeding time
as I passed the big American Alligator pen.  I stopped to watch the young lady walk fearlessly among the large
 "well fed" gators as they jockeyed for position to get the whole chicken (feathers and all) treats she was tossing
to them.  She was quick to point out that the chickens were bought frozen which makes it seem more
palatable to the crowd, almost like going to the gator grocery store. 
A few of the little Snowy Egrets are showing up with their mating plumage for all the birds with their
special red mating colors in their face, whatever makes them more attractive to the opposite sex
is the name of the game.
Sometimes one just needs "shake it all about" to fluff all those new feathers.
Lots of primping and preening goes into the game of attracting a mate in the bird world also.
The "Old Swimming Hole" was busy as usual as the White Ibis, the Great White Egrets, and others
frequent this spot to frolic in the water.  The water is shallow and shady so probably is less likely
to attract the many cold blooded Alligators in the pond which seem to prefer the warm sunshine.
Ready or not, here I come!!!
Mating activities go on all around the place with much commotion but also very unnoticed by
the nearby birds.  We will leave these two to some privacy.
Nest building which goes hand in hand with the mating was starting to become a big activity for
the Woodstorks.
The Great Whites were further along with their mating rituals with eggs in the nests already being set
upon by some while others are into their dance of love, of slowly bending and then gracefully reaching
upward in what is called skying.  Great spreading of the long beautiful feathers which almost
caused their demise in years gone by in also part of the courtship. 
Such beautiful regal birds they were rightfully chosen to be the symbol for the Audubon Society.
Now a bird of a different color.  The pale to bright pink of the Roseate Spoonbill with its funny looking big
paddle of a beak.  They hang out in large numbers in the early morning and late afternoon but so far
have not started nesting here.  Maybe this year.
A great wingspread as this one gingerly ends its flight looking like a tightrope walker.
The telltale green "lores" are starting to show up on the faces of the Great Whites.
This interesting trio seemed to be two females with the male working to get in good with both.
Notice the pink feet which happens when those hormones start running rampant during this time
of the season, like the green or red on the faces of the other species.
The woodstork in the back went from one female to the other, not sure what happens if he succeeds
with both.  Two households would be quite a chore to keep up with when feeding time comes around. 
The mister brings more twigs to add to the nest of the already setting mom.  The nest has to be
constantly expanded and upgraded as the eggs hatch and babies grow larger and larger.
I caught on Little Green Heron hanging out.  They don't nest with the others but over in a separate
section of the park.
The shadows of the late afternoon told me it was time to try to beat traffic north as I had another
meeting to attend before crossing the big bridge over the St. John's River and be back on island time.
One last bird which was not so exotic looking was this slow moving dove with a ring around its neck.
I am not sure if it is the Ringed Turtle Dove which according to my bird book is found further South
or just some other kind of dove--maybe a pidgeon, I am not a very good bird person.  I have a pair
of this same kind of dove behind my gallery but have been unable to get a photograph of them.
It was a fun day and a long one.  I am playing catch up these days, but seeming to see progress.
Now that I've finished the Alana Grow workshop, with 5 days of intensive work, maybe I'll get
ahead soon.  Spring has finally made its way south and thankfully although warm not the
heat of
some of our more northern regions of the country--
93 in Connecticut today only in the mid 80's here.

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