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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
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

The progress continues on the "Turtle Trot" painting, as yet unnamed.  Maybe it will be called The Sargassum Sea but that doesn't seem to be a fun enough title.  I have another day's work and it is nearing completion.  Seeing it in photograph form helps me to look at it more objectively.

If you look closely you will see changes to the smaller, lower turtle, some of which have been changed even further since then.  Also the background colors have continued to change with darker more intense colors between the two bottom turtles to add contrast.
-Insert finished photo. Brighter aqua colors to add lively color to the Leafy areas.

Friday & Saturday's finish work
 OK.  I think this is it.  The painting is finished except for the signing (unless something jumps out at me crying for change in the days ahead).  I changed the back of the larger sea turtle to make for a more accurate representation of the scutes,  Same with little guy in the foreground.  Moved his nostrils, etc.  Played with spots of aqua color throughout the water, lightened up the berries in the grasses and added more stuff there to make it more interesting, added details like texture in the larger turtles neck, flippers, and just lots of stuff but I have reached the point where it feels finished.  That could change with the smaller back turtle but we will see.  I may add a water line around the part of the turtle up out of the water.  But for the most part; Ta-Dah!!!
We had lots of Turtle nest excavations over the weekend both in the park and on the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch's areas.  They have all been very successful in that most babies are getting out without stragglers left in the nest.  As a result I spent 4 mornings in a row getting up at "the crack of dawn" heading into the Park.  You just never know what you will encounter out there.  Sometimes it is man and his flying machines.
We have a bird feeding station in the park where in the past I have be able to see the Painted Buntings.  The feeders were empty but the mister water bath pool was active.  Even had a snake taking advantage of the fresh water.  After he slithered away this pretty Ground Dove, much smaller than the regular Mourning Doves, came for an early morning dip.  Painting Buntings which nest here are having a hard time because Cow Birds are invading their nests laying their big eggs and leaving the poor Bunting parents to raise this huge demanding baby instead of their own chicks.  Now that is a dirty trick to pull on an unsuspecting parent.
It has become quite evident that our rotund Miss Shelly is for sure ready to become a mom once again.  A first birthday present since this should be about her own 1st birthday date.  I got her in mid August and she was about 3 weeks old at the time. 
I was wondering if those toe nails were actually going to hold her up with all that additional weight while she did her upside down dining act.  I have not seen her for a few days so she is probably sequestered in the nest becoming a new mother again. 
The beach was full of baby turtle tracks as we excavated 4 of our nests over the weekend and into Monday morning.  I also attended several by the Town Beach folks.
This is one of the Amelia Island Sea Turtle nests.  It is a very good example of what we look for to determine if a nest has hatched:  many tiny flipper prints and the telltale nest "depression" left by all that sand being displaced as the hatchlings marched upward and out.  The Turtle Watch people dig down and "verify" that there are indeed eggs there before they mark the nest.  That way they are able to mark a much smaller and more exact spot than we do with our "educated" guessing as to where the eggs are.  Our reason for not doing this is that we do not like to disturb what the mother has left.  It is just a difference in philosophies of different groups all working toward the same end.
Another manmade set of wings only this time the human part of the equation is left to enjoy the wind and waves up close and personal.
Full moon this week has been enjoyed by many as even we made a point of catching this one.  The lower clouds and haze kept us from seeing its actual rise on the horizon.
Below these Georgia fans were in the process of taking down their tents for the night.  Unfortunately they only took off the canopies leaving the frames and all their stuff for me to fuss and fume over.  So hang on, "I'm gittin' ready to mount my soapbox".
Here we are in the highest point of turtle nesting and hatching season and this mess is left on the beach overnight as a trap in which incoming sea turtles can get entangled.  SEA TURTLES CANNOT BACK UP!!!!  THEY CAN ONLY GO FORWARD!!!  If it looks like I am yelling then its because I am. When they encounter something like this mess of beach chairs pilled up they can only try to keep going forward, they can try to turn around but if they are too far into it when they realize its there then they will be in a mess.  Please do not leave this stuff on the beach at night.  There are so far 176 nests and we still have August to go.  Hopefully we will reach 200 nests island wide.  Even one mother turtle hurt or unable to lay her eggs because of this human ignorance is one too many.
Unfortunately the county is the one to make and enforce the rules on this sort of thing.  It is recommended by the Sea Turtle agencies but the county or city have to be responsible enough to enact and enforce the laws.  The city is doing a good job but the county is not.  At least there were beautiful clouds behind me along with the full moon in front to calm me down after I saw all this.  A great big thanks to the City of Fernandina Beach for their relentless effort this year to get properly installed "Turtle Lights" in all the places which were causing me much distress for the past 7 years.  This year with all my nests clustered in the badly lighted area of the beach I was very apprehensive.  Thankfully, thus far I have not had any problems with light disorientation.  Thank you, thank you Fernandina City Government & Code Enforcement for your efforts. 
One of my excavated nests just so you can see what an almost perfectly round nest chamber she digs using only feel and her hind flippers.  I would challenge any of you to do as well using both hands and wearing a blindfold.
The pile of eggs from the nest.  One nest has had a crab in it from the beginning messing with the eggs. That was probably the reason for the more than usual number of unhatched eggs.  The crab had even dragged one empty egg shell out a couple of days after it was laid.  I saw the crab in its hole but it would only run back down the hole when I got close.  After excavating the nest we found the broken eggs had probably contaminated several of the other eggs resulting in their not developing and also it had bitten into several of them.
On Monday we had nest #16 laid right in front of another nest probably laid by this same turtle earlier.  They will lay usually around 3 to 6 nests a year.
The face of another mother-to-be, (not Shelly), which hangs out on my back patio.  Out of guilt I try to feed her a little extra.  The guilt goes back to 3 weeks before Shelly came into our lives.  I was cleaning up the back patio when I noticed lots of dead leaves and dead pieces of the vine in my previously healthy Sky Vine which covers up the less than attractive laundry room wall.  I proceeded to clean it all out and burn it in my outdoor fireplace.  I realized later that I had torn out this squirrel's carefully built nest.  This year she has once again been building a nest in the same vine with my promise that I will not disturb it this year.  Should be interesting having baby squirrels right next to my back door.  I just wish it was my own Shelly but life is not always what you want.
Days are getting shorter and sunrises nearer to the time I enter the beach for patrol.
It is Lisa's last week with me.  It has, unlike last year, been a non eventful week.  Due to scheduling beyond our control we have not been able to do turtle patrol that much together.  She did show me this new very large Gopher Tortoise burrow near the fort area on Wednesday. 
We went fishing together on Wednesday night and although I caught the biggest with this large Stingray, but she caught the most and the edible.  With 24 keepers, including a nice trout, we had enough to go home and fry up for a very late great dinner.  Nothing like the taste of fresh caught fish to make the taste buds tingle.  I do make a mean hush puppy too.  Fried fish, hushpuppies, along with the Crème Brule Ben and Jerry's ice cream have ruined my weight loss goals for the week.
As always the teacher Lisa was showing me the part of Mr. Stingray which told her he was a "he".  She had carefully cut the hook barb off so we could slip the hook out of his mouth without injuring him and scooted him back to the water.  He was very beautiful and quick as he tried to defend himself from the giants he perceived were out to do him harm by quickly slinging that barbed tail back and forth.  He safely swam off to live another day.  I thought I had really caught a biiiiggg fish by the way he fought on his way in.  They feel very soft to the touch.
Our last Plover babies are almost grown up.  They are out with mom each morning on the West River Beach as they are learning under her watchful eye how to survive.
A week of beautiful moons, lots of new life and a finished painting.  Pretty productive.  I even paid a visit to Miss Shelly's home yard last night to see if she was still OK and the hawk had not carried her away.  She was very shy and it took her a while to trust coming down to have a treat.  She was in her "I've got babies" protective mode and it looks like she is indeed a new mom.  She seemed fine but just as last time has different priorities.  Last time she never let me see the exact spot where the nest and babies were nor did she ever let me see the kids after they were out and about.  Life does indeed go on.
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