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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)

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Turtles and Turkeys

The week after Labor Day was a busy one with Bruce gone to deliver A/V equipment to one of our Chattanooga customers; Second Saturday, and some overnight company in the form of my lovely daughter-in-law, Rizza.  She loves Fort Clinch so we took a walk on the beach after a turtle nest excavation.  You have not seen many hatchling photos this year because there have just not been many.  Most of them are getting out of the nest the with the first night of hatching.  That is a good thing but disappointing for the photographers and those just wanting to see a live baby turtle.
Rizza's mom was visiting her in Orlando and they decided to take a long put off trip up here.  We did the usual tourist things like the sunset at the river, the beach, and of course the Marsh.
The Marsh is heading toward turning golden as Spartina Grass seeds, formed on the tops, ripen.  All this grass will be replaced next spring with new growth from these seeds.  This view from the South end of the island is one of my favorites.
More pretty early morning Goat's Foot Flowers wave bye, bye to my company.
Time to run home and change for an art event, a demo by our workshop artist Jane Paul Angelhart.  Someone asked me if I was taking her class and I laughed and said "I don't do portraits".  I would rather do turtles and birds which do not complain and say things like "well it's pretty good, but there's something wrong with the mouth".
But Jane's portrait starts to come to life even with this early beginning.
I finished out the day at a "rainbow's end" turtle nest excavation; but no baby turtles.
When I direct people to the beach for nest excavations, I tell them to look for a group that looks like they are having a prayer meeting with someone in the middle of the circle on their knees.  Several of the workshop group showed up along with a mix of island folks and some tourists.  One lady, obviously a tourist, kept insisting that the beach was shiny like it had oil on it and wouldn't believe that it was just the smooth reflections of the sky on the thin layer of water washing in with the incoming tide.  We finally just stopped arguing & left her figure it out herself the next day when she could see in the daylight that we don't have oil on our beach. 
Monday Morning and back to the beach early for turtle patrol.  A man came up to me on the beach and said, "You have a new turtle nest;  I thought they had finished laying", to which I replied "So did I".
Sure enough my dreams of sugarplums dancing in my head at 8 AM in the morning were dashed as "X" marks the spot.  A very exciting discovery as a fresh Green Turtle nest had been laid.  She came in on the right side laid the eggs probably on that side then dug out a pile of sand to cover and disguise it then left crawling over her tracks on the way back to the water.
If you look closely you can tell in the upper part of the photo the wide area of scattered sand she threw around.
The telltale tail drag with its points punctuating each time she made a stroke of her flippers as she pulled herself forward.  This means that turtle season for the park will go well into November with this nest not due until the middle of November.  By then temperatures will be much cooler and the nest will be much slower hatching.  It could even go 70 days.  Lets hope for a warm Fall.
More pretty beach patterns which, instead of looking indented often appear to be raised.  This is an optical illusion partly cause by flipping the photograph upside down from the way I photographed it.
This one looks more like the real image when you first see it but if you once see it as raised it is hard to convince your mind that it is not.  You have to look away and then look at it fresh and then it might read right for you.  How do you see it? Do you see ridges or valleys?
This used to be my favorite entrance to the beach in the mornings but now along with the permission of the parks for people to bring their golf carts to the park when camping, the boardwalk I used to drive across has been narrowed to eliminate driving them on the beach.  Now I must unlock the gate and enter from a park service road.  I knew that the colors would be faded if I waited, so I just drove to the boardwalk and walked through to get this shot.
The morning sun has been very nice and the seas are calm preceding the approaching storm, too far away to bring bad weather, but surf which will be dangerous but enjoyable by the surfers, is due in by the weekend.
But for now the Sanderlings play tag with the gentle incoming waves.  I have never seen one get caught by the deeper wave which follows these very shallow edge washes.
My Willet, who doesn't mind the next level of depth, and the heavier bodied, beaked, and longer legged American Oyster Catcher, were both hanging out looking for breakfast in the same area.  The red eye of the Oyster Catcher matches its equally bright beak.  I was very glad to see the elusive Oyster Catcher still on our beach.
As I headed back I knew that I had an unpleasant task waiting on the river beach.  On the way down I had spotted a large dead turtle but wanted to wait for brighter light before I delved into the unpleasant tast of examining it.  What was a stinky dread for me was a delicious treat waiting for this red headed Turkey Buzzard who patiently waited for me to measure, turn the turtle, check for injuries, any flipper tags, spray paint a big orange "X" on its back, and write up my reports.
The tracks of a raccon made the already wind blown patterns in the sand even more interesting.  You never know what will catch the eye of an artist.  Mostly it just takes not feeling like you are in too much of a hurry to see these fun things.
This lone young Brown Pelican was hanging out on the beach by itself.  I was afraid there was a problem.  I slowly walked toward him but he walked and then finally flew away without a problem.  The pattern of its wing is incredible.  It was an exhausting week but a very rewarding one even if it means I will be eating turkey and doing turtle patrol at the same time.

(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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