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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)
 
Missing: One very beautiful, long legged, young spouse and mother-to-be.  Our own Charlotte, the webmistress, has disappeared leaving a very lonely mate who becomes very very agitated when the web is approached.  The suspected conspirator in the unsolved disappearance of Charlotte is a attributed to a Thread Waisted Wasp which probably abducted her for its own underground nest according to our insect criminologist Lisa King. 
This is the last known sighting of Ms. Charlotte.  You can see for yourself what a beautiful lady she had become.  Today I have an empty web with even the Mr. having disappeared.  We certainly did enjoy their company for the brief time they visited with us.  Time to clear out spider webs I guess.
 
Last week we had unusually high new moon tides, accompanied by the approaching Fall season; the water rose into areas not usual during the summer.  We also had some serious nest over-washing on two of our lower nests and some minor water in our next due to hatch, nest, #9.  The patterns formed in one of those seldom reached tidal pools looked like a miniature lava flow as the water sculpted the sands.
 
With rains coming and going the clouds have made sunrises and afternoon thunderheads especially pretty.  The Sub tenders have been busy but I have yet to spot a submarine coming into port.  I am thinking that these Sub tenders are possibly delivering supplies and personnel out to the sub rather than having it come into port.
 
Having just finished my painting, Sargassum Sunrise, I was especially attentive when sargassum seaweed began to wash ashore early in the week.  When fresh it is a pretty yellow green with berries or seeds which look like tiny pearls adorning its branches.  I see things I might have added to my painting but it is now framed under glass, no second guessing allowed.
 
A plant I think is pretty but that I want no part of, is this Dollar Weed.  I try to be sure that I don't get any sprouts when receiving plants from friends who sometimes share theirs with me.  Dollar Weed is very a very prolific weed and once its gets a foothold in your lawn it is a big problem.  It thrives especially well in watered lawns which should leave me protected since I do not water grass.  It either survives or it doesn't.  I am not a grass freak.
 
More excitement on Wednesday when I discover the hatching of my Green Turtle nest and the same morning a Green Momma had laid another nest which will not be due to hatch until mid October.  This one's tracks were not quite as clearly marked with the characteristic tail drag but probably the same gal.
 
There was no mistaking that bomb crater nest.  The sand spray around the nest was huge.  I have watched them do this sand throwing and know how far flung it can get.  She had certainly lived up to expectations in that area.
 
Saturday night was our usual Second Saturday Artrageous Art Walk and I had been determined to get some of the work I had started early last spring finished, framed, and on display for that.  This is the second one called Seaside Day Dreams and is filled with shell like spirals throughout the painting, pools of blue water and sand colors representing the tidal pools of the beach are included in the design. 
 
I am told the next one, The Rose Garden, is a departure for me but not really.  I am a bit of a flower and plant nut, always adding new species to an already too crowded yard with too much shade for many of the things I try.  In days gone by I used to do a lot of flower paintings so instead of a departure this is actually a revisiting of an old friend.  This one has lots of texture in the surface of the paint with a thick layer of gel medium in the first part of the design.  I also framed and hung the bright red piece I have shown you before called Crossing the Line, and of course the Sargassum Sunrise.  Another new large piece was also hung.  It had been in the National Watercolor Show last year but I had not shown it here.  I still have to properly frame it as it is still in its "show" frame with a very simple mat and frame.  I hope to dress it up a bit soon.
 
More river activity which I usually associate with the submarines.  The big Orange Sub tender.  The color in the early morning sunlight on the front of the tug was so intense I just had to include it in my collection of brightly colored paintings.  These are very good colors to use for impact if I were doing a painting, the blues and greens contrasted by the very hot colors of the red orange of the boat along with the warm sun-washed yellow would get you some pizzazz used in a painting.
 
One lady Horseshoe Crab was making a slow retreat back into the receding tide after a predawn egg laying session.  I helped her because she was losing the race with the tide and might not survive the wait until it came back to her.  She also had an injury which seemed to have been caused by something collapsing her shell front so that she had a concave portion just at the high point of her frontal area.  There had been footprints going over the track she was leaving and I hoped that someone had not been unthinkingly cruel and stepped on her as she made her way toward the water.  It would most certainly have been intentional.
 
Friday we had worked late getting the gallery rehung for the weekend opening and were too exhausted to think about dinner preparation so a relaxing oyster basket on the outdoor deck of Sandy Bottoms, our only local eatery which allows a true ocean front dining experience on the island.  The shadows were long as the sun cast its last warm rays of the day.  Its a time when families gather up the kids and head back to the showers for dinner prep, although to me it is the best time to be on the beach.  The sky turned a pretty pink before we left.
 
Pictures of me "getting down and dirty" were in my email by mid afternoon on Art Walk day.  A couple of friends sent me photos of Saturday morning's excavation of my first ever Green Turtle nest.  This one was taken by Roger Moore local photographer and friend.  The nest had been so deep that I had finally laid on my tummy to reach the bottom.   One dead baby was retrieved and laid over to the side when I finally felt one wiggly little live one.  It was my first time to experience holding a Green Turtle hatchling in my hands.  The nest had 85 emerged eggs so a very good and successful nest.  I had expected there would be dead ones and was relieved to only have the one.  A Ghost Crab had been busy down in there but I was powerless to intervene.  
 
This little Green was very anxious to get on with the rest of its life.  The Green Turtles grow to be about a 100 pounds heavier than a Loggerhead.
 
There was some caked on egg yolk on his carapace and its hind flippers were still in the egg shell but except for a slight limp in the right flipper area it seemed to be quite healthy and ready to rock and roll.  If it had been cleaner you would have seen its beautiful coloring, all black except for the patterns in its face and the while line around its entire body and flippers.  The offending flipper had probably just been confined like having your arm go to sleep when you lay on it and seemed to be working better by the time of the release.  The sea was very calm creating an easy transition from beach to water, no washbacks for this little guy.
 
A very elaborate sand castle had been created on the beach and remained for several days.  I was asked to substitute for a sick ranger on Sunday.  Along with Monday that made 4 days in a row for me to be on the beach with the Sea Turtles.
 
My sister had paid an unexpected overnight visit and as a special birthday gift accompanied me on Turtle Patrol Sunday morning.  We found that two nests had hatched during the night.  Both groups had direction problems due to lights.  I couldn't figure out quite what had happened because rain had dimmed the tracks.  She also got to meet a very calm Gopher Tortoise up close.  He was not at all skittish with the meeting and even took a bite of grass when offered.  When Susan asked what kind of turtle that was I knew I had failed her as a sister and needed to spend more time with her out in nature. 
 
Although my sister has been in the area for 10 years longer than me she has spent most of her time in subdivisions and condos in Jacksonville and evidently has not been that exposed to the nature side of this beach world.  Now, she can tell you where the best music and restaurants are, but did not know what Fiddler Crabs were.  I realized that this girl needs some exposure to our wildlife.  I decided we should go on an alligator hunt, first in the park at Willow Pond and then on to Egan's Creek Greenway. but the closest thing we could find was a pond turtle, a water snake, a Great Blue Herron...
 
a beautiful writing spider of some sort, some beautiful butterflies who did not want their picture taken...
 
and some gorgeous pink Marsh Mallows blooming alongside the alligator pond, -but no gators.
 
Monday morning rolled around once again and with a day off from the gallery I was ready to spend a relaxing morning doing Turtle Patrol.  I found an unusual piece of beach treasure in the form of this sponge coral.  It literally was a sponge.  I have found pieces of real sponge before but they were not in this shape.  I took it home and added it to some of my other collection of corals to hang and dry completely before taking it into the house.  Some corals can smell very fishy in there pre-dried stage although this one did not seem to.
 
I did find out what had happened to my sea turtles and from whence the light problem came which had pulled them off course.  It seems some people on the island making a movie had decided to do night filming on the beach.  Not a good move, and illegal besides, as they found themselves up to their ankles in "MY" baby sea turtles and with town police and turtle people descending on them they learned the hard way about how we feel about our sea turtles.  I have invited them to the excavation Wednesday morning of those two nests so that they might get educated on the importance of protecting our Sea Turtles.
 
It had rained a lot and the air was heavy with moisture.  The water droplets were on the beach plants which have sprung up voluntarily out of the beach renourshment sands this year.  Unfortunately I became aware of just what these plants are yesterday when I began to see the seeds they were forming.  They are the plants which leave the "Sand Spurs" which look very much like the cockle burrs of the mountains only capable of much more damage with longer spikes.  They are so sharp and tough they become stuck in the tires of the beach buggy and the reason I always wear shoes when I venture out into areas where they may be growing.  But this morning they looked like they were wearing capes of diamonds as the sun hit the many rain and dew drops still hanging heavy on every piece of foliage.
 
Just as I am leaving the park to head home for breakfast a sight takes my breath away.  This small deer with exactly the perfect light is standing very still watching me approach in the car.  As bad as I hate it I realize my best chance to get the shot is though my windshield.  I fear if I try to open the car door it will disappear into the undergrowth.  The shafts of light coming though the moisture laden air only adds to the magic of the moment.  Why try to tell you about this pretty sight when I can just show you.  This is why a camera is such an appendage these days. 
I am hoping for this to be a calmer week but with the two hatched nests on Sunday, Wednesday morning will be two more nest excavations.  The nest laying has almost stopped on the island although we are still holding out hope that we can reach the 200 mark island wide.  Right now it stands at 187 but time is fast running out.  Last year I had the last nest to hatch on the island.  At the end of August the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch stops their regular morning patrols, however, in the Park we stay at it until the last net hatches.  As it stands right now we are half way through with the hatching.  #10 has been severely washed over several times but on Wednesday morning had managed to hatch using a crab hole as part of the exit strategy.
(Please take a moment to consider:
These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature. Thousands of hours have been poured into them and it has even become necessary to enlist the services of a paid email service to send out the large numbers who now receive them. So, with the current economic situation if you are able to make a small donation to help ensure the continuation of the stories it would be greatly appreciated.)

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