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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)
blogspot:  http://sandrabaker-hintonartist.blogspot.com/

By the end of last week I had been in the gallery for nine days straight, and a welcome outside warm-up allowed for open doors and an increased awareness of the neighborhood goings-on.  A loud raucous commotion came from across the street as the top of the bare tree behind the 29 South restaurant was filled with a flock of Crows.  I really like crows, and I am told, that our Sea Crows are a bit smaller than regular inland crows.

They are also very family oriented and retain their family relationships in their flocking together.  Their feathers glisten like black satin in the sunlight.
 
On the other corner I had observed the squirrels using the newly constructed picket fence as a major perching point for hanging out.  I walked over to see if that would still be the case as this one squirrel had snagged a nut from the ground and was heading upward.
 
Sure enough, the pinnacle of a fence picket was her spot to dine on.  This side is a very tall fence hiding the dumpsters next door from their view.  It looks like this lady with her fairly rotund look may be in the "family way".
 
On the front, shorter side, this youngster was also using the points as its perch.  This one though, was using one of Shelly's preferred stances of sitting on one perch but leaning that tail back against a more firm backing for balance.  It is truly amazing how quickly they can get into a nut or seed with their teeth and toungue culling the edible from the inedible faster then you can say "scat".
 
Another flock of birds join the fray, this time it is Starlings which have decided to join in with the crows.
 
Now the tree was even fuller with both species.  The Starlings appear black from a distance...
 
...but on closer inspection they are more speckled with lots of iridescent greens and other colors mixed together.
 
The crows spilled over to the trees above the squirrel hangout on the other side of the street.
 
In a few minutes, after about three passes by a helicopter the whole flock decided our neighborhood was just too noisy and they all left in one swoop.
 
Soon I was drawn outside again by what sounded like distress cries of a bird.  Distress yes, but it was the Hawk sending out the cries to momma as to what the heck was going on.  He was being bullied by this bad ol' Mockingbird.  One has to wonder if the harrassment was in his own tongue knowing how Mockingbirds can imitate sounds.
 

The Mockingbird kept flying all around and doing his fussing from first one branch then another.
 
I can just here him saying "MY tree, MY tree", while the young Hawk is still yelling for Momma.
 
Finally the "youngster" gave up and left the tree, flying to the Pecan tree behind the gallery.  I do say something has happened to the Oak and Pecan crop this year.  I suspect that they were hit by a late cold spell last winter after blooming because the Pecan and Acorn crop are slim at my house and here.  I picked up bags of them last year from behind the gallery, for Shelly, but not this year.
 
On Tuesday evening my fishing buddy, Fran, invited me out to play.  She had just returned from New Mexico and needed a water fix, a view of the river, a sip of wine, catching up, enjoying a watery sunset, and friendship.  With no hubby to go home to that night, I happily agreed to accompany her.  On the way to Brett's Waterway Cafe, the perfect place to fulfill those needs, I stopped by to catch a few late afternoon shots of the Pelicans, which hang out waiting on a hand-out from Charlie's Fish Market.  I was not disappointed as both young and old were all catching the low warm light as they preened on the dock.
 
 
Suddenly, as if on cue, they all began the hurried march up the boardwalk closing in on the fish market.
 
That enormous pouch was being readied for the anticipated daily feeding frenzy.
 
A bit of jockeying for position as the "pecking order" is established.
 
Old Three Toes, the Great White Egret, is quietly hanging around in the background in anticipation also.
 
It was a false alarm as the Pelicans settle back down and I pack it in to go sit on my own perch with Fran and enjoy the calm of the evening and the end of a long day.
 
The warmth of the wooden walls, the wrap around windows, the glistening stemware enhancing the sunset colors were just what the doctor ordered as we are enticed into staying for dinner with them.  I have never gotten anything but great tasting food here so it is a happy way to end the day.  I hope the Pelicans have been as lucky scoring a great dinner over at Charlie's Fish Market.
 
In the winter time especially, I notice lots of young White Ibis becoming almost like yard chickens as they roam the neighborhood using that long Gonzo-like beak to probe the moist earth for tasty tidbits.  Their brownish spotted color tells me they are youngsters who have yet to get their white coat.
 
There were three in this group but not quite close enough together to get a group shot.  I wondered if they were all siblings.  There is always a lot to see within the two blocks between my gallery and the Marina.  Sometimes it will be Egrets or Otters, sometimes Manatees, and sometimes even a Sea Turtle will stick it's head up in the marina's waters not far from my front door. 
 
I am concerned about the Pelicans with the cold weather.  They are vulnerable to getting too cold.  You may not be able to get through to the B.E.A.K.S., (Bird Emergency Aid & Kare Sanctuary), folks as they probably have not been able to take all the calls so I hope that means they have all the volunteers they can handle.  But check anyway, if you might be able to help.  904 251-2473
 
For now it is a bit chilly again, with temps only in the mid 50's in the daytime today and near freezing tonight.  Still a bit chilly for my taste but with twenties in San Antoinio today I guess it is OK.  At least we are experiencing bright sunshine.

(Please take a moment to consider:
These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature, and life on the Island. 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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