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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)

 
Story to follow brief announcements...# 1 being that we now have at least 78 Sea Turtle nests on the island.
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Attention Watercolor Artists.  Another great opportunity to study with the best.

Early Bird Discount of $25 for registration up until July 4.
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Little Pink Babies
 
I picked up my friend, Sandra Hunter, one of my jewelry designers, and the two of us headed to the
Alligator Farm last Monday in search of little pink babies and an actual day off without working at
home.  On our arrival I was struck by how pretty the new blooms and baby fronds of a
couple of the palm trees in their landscaped parking lot.
It is always an interesting place if you are a plant person.  I told Sandy that you could get a lot of
ideas there for your yard and she replied, "yes, if you have lots of money", which as artists neither
of us do.  This year I grew most of my plants for my flower and vegetable garden from seed and have
had tons of plants.  Being a tomato addict I go out each morning and pick my little cherry
tomatoes, put them in a bowl, and eat them like candy.
 
There is such a vast array of palm trees available, Sago, Queen, Majesty, Cabbage, and our
"grows like a weed"  Palmetto Palms .  Some will not tolerate the cold here but most of these
will.  This one had especially pretty blooms.  This is a variety of dwarf palm, of which I have several
(rescued from my neighbor's trash).  I'm the Queen of Dumpster Diving.
 
It was a scorching hot day.  Even the gators didn't want to move.
 
Inside the birds were actually panting.  This poor little guy looked so dejected, -
he seems to be comforted by his big bro who seems to be telling him to be

patient; it will cool off after a while.
 
There are still new hatchlings, like the late Snowy Egrets, but many of the birds which were babies last
time I was down are now fledglings.  You will notice that a lot of the foliage had turned white at this stage. 
What goes in must come out and there are lots young growing birds eating great quantities of food.
 
It is very funny to watch their antics as they practice with those newly feathered wings.  Lots of jostling
and competing for the best places to sit.  I love the Little Blue Herons which start out white.  The
tips of their wings and the dark beaks give away their linage.
 
This trio of Little Blue babes, although reaching out beyond their nest, still look to the sky for
that happy meal delivery.
 
But here is the reason for the trip.  Two nests of Roseate Spoonbill hatchlings are within sight.  This
mom was panting as well as hacking up some din din for the children.  I could tell she was feeding
the chicks but could not see them.
 
I waited a long time taking pictures of twigs in anticipation of getting at least a glimpse of one of them
peeping up above the nesting material, but I was finally able to see them a little bit by learning to
look for the bright orange spots which were their beaks through the branches.  These were a week old.
 
This nest of Cattle Egrets was more visible than they usually are with their
habit of nesting further away from the boardwalk.
 
The chicks in the second nest at the far end of the boardwalk were a bit more visible since they
were a few days older and were situated lower.  The mom was using her body and wings to provide
shade for her tender offspring on this 98 degree day.  Instinct is so amazing in the animal world. 
 
This is the first time Roseate Spoonbills have nested this far north, -hence all the excitement.
With these bright orange bills they looked like little pink "rubber duckies".  I had wondered about
those bills and how long they would be.  Now I know that they have to grow a lot to measure up
to mom and pop.
 
Many of the Great Whites were also of fledgling size now.  It gets very noisy in the rookery at this
time as the little chirping babies give way to rambunctious and demanding loud mouthed teens.
 
Its hard to believe that these guys were so small on my last trip that I had trouble
getting a photo because they were too short to show up above the nest twigs.
 
This bird says exactly what the two Sandy's were feeling as we began to wilt in the heat, but
 unlike the birds we could find relief inside the air-conditioned Reptile buildings. 
 
Allow me to introduce you to Mrs. Komodo Dragon.  She is only 3 years old but as soon as she is
old enough she will be introduced to her betrothed.  The park has been approved for a Komodo
Dragon breeding program.  Looking quite long and sleek and much smaller than the male, it looks like she
is getting ready for her lunch, as you may notice the big fat dead rat at the mouth of her dragon cave.
 
Back on the beach I have been able to get a few good shots of our speedy little Wilson's Plover
chicks this week as they scurry around the beach giving the parents a good workout.  Some are
almost full grown and some still little sand colored fuzz balls.
 
The week before, it had been an uneventful week as far as new turtle nests, but the beach was not disappointing with
this great sighting of one of our Bobcats.  One of the rangers had a jogger ask him that same morning
if we had some very large cats in the park.  He told him we had several Bobcats, which reassured him;
he was relieved to hear and to know he really had seen a "big" cat.
 

This was very near the River Campground at the end of my beach run.  This big cat strolled along the edge

of the nearby dune and then disappeared into the bramble of what looked like a good den area to me. 
Don't you love the white spots on the back of their ears?  This makes their enemy believe those are
eyes and "I'm heading for you" instead the reality of "I'm outa here".

We had already spotted one shark in the edge of the water before we got to the Fort, but just after the
Bobcat disappeared, we spotted another shark in about a foot of water just working the river's edge
looking for breakfast.  Sharks have to eat also, you know!  Dolphins had also been playing further out
in the river but with a shark you will see both the back fin and the tail tip sticking out of the water. 
Also they travel in a line whereas the dolphins go up and down on the surface.  You will only see the
dolphins when they surface to breathe or to just play.
It has been hot but not as hot as inland toward Atlanta and points beyond.  At least we have a shore
breeze most of the time and that big cooling body of water at our doorstep acting like an air conditioner. 
Humidity comes and goes as afternoon showers are frequent.  I really meant to go back and do some
more bird shooting at the Alligator Farm after we cooled down, but like Ms. Dragon, sitting in
air-conditioning eating lunch had a much stronger call at that moment than little pink babies.

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