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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
http://www.sandrabaker-hinton.com
http://www.ameliasanjongallery.com
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)
 
 
Happy Mother's Day:  New and Expectant Mothers of the Bird Species

A middle of the night decision was made last Monday a week ago that I would go to The
Alligator Farm the next morning.  I had been told earlier that day what a great time it was
there with all the chicks hatching and I was fearful of missing the best time.
***
It was Shrimp Festival week, so I took the only chance I had for the week ahead and headed 
south. The turtles formed a receiving line to greet me as I came through  the gate...
 
This old fellow even stopped me to inquire where I had been so long.  I told him my pass had
expired and I was waiting until the best time to renew it.  That way I could return all the way into
next mating season.  He was very understanding as I hurriedly said goodbye and rushed off to
see the birds.
 
For those of you who have never been to The Farm the far end tree which we call The Woodstork
Tree was filled with nesting Woodstorks (no babies there yet) and Great White Egrets.  The Egrets
did have some hatched kiddies and many more sitting moms, but it was definitely not at the
peak I expected.  It will still be a a little while before the Little Blues and more of the Cattle Egrets,
Little Snowys, and Tricolor Herons are full swing into the nesting mode.
 
The most exciting thing this year is the number of Roseate Spoonbills showing up and also the fact
that they are exhibiting more mating and nesting signs than ever before.  They have never nested
this far north so we are excited at the possibility that these wonderful birds might be hatching
chicks right before our eyes.
 
The colors on this pair was much more intense than usual and could be a sign of mating plumage
with some interesting interacting and strutting and wing displaying that was out of the usual sleepy
mood they normally exhibit.
 
 
Both kept messing with the branches as if they were thinking nest building thoughts.  I can't wait to
see how that bill looks on a hatchling.  It has to be some of natures finest engineering capability
to fit it into a round egg.
 
Many of the birds I like to photograph like this Little Snowy Egret were either scarce too far 
back in the foliage to get a clear shot.
 
The colors in the Tricolored bill is a beautiful blue contrasting nicely with that deep
Indian Red eye.
 
Only a few Cattle Egrets have arrived and they were as usual pretty elusive by nesting further away
from the boardwalk. 
 
I spent a lot of time trying to get birds in flight and practice my manual focus without depending
on the auto setting so much.  It was a disappointing day overall with the quality of my photographs
ending up mostly in my computers trash bin.
 
But a few turned out to be not so bad.
 
The Great Egret chicks which had hatched were not in good shot range either.  More will be hatching
with better visibility later as they continue hatching over the coming weeks.
 
The Woodstorks were busy egg sitting with others still only in the mating stage of the game.  This
male kept breaking off branches with bunches of leaves and bringing to feather the nest for momma. 
He would carefully tuck them in around the mother to be.
 
The soft pillow underneath this lady was actually a bundle of three offspring snuggling and napping.
 
A glimpse of what the other mom with the calm sleeping children has to look forward to as these which
were a bit older were up and about the nest, fussing, preening and begging mom for food. 
This begging will shortly give way to out and out agressive greed before very long.
 
Some very new chickies here.
 
One handsome Snowy with his golden slipper feet majestically sat posing atop an Elderberry bush.  
 
Oh yes, one great show of color from a Roseate overhead.  I love that pink.
 
There were actually three of these Storks lightly floating on the air currents but my
reaction time was not quick enough to get them all three in the same shot.
Such a beautiful wing spread on these birds.
 
I decided that it was time to head back toward home but took a quick trip to another part of
the park to see if the Little Green Herons might have started their nesting.  They were nowhere to
be seen but the McCaws were decked out in their beautiful colors to give me a final burst of color
too intense to be for real.
 
The big red on leaned over to say, "hurry back" to which I replied, "you can count on it".
But for now turtle season is starting and the Shrimp are coming to town.
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