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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)

Last week continued with two nests, #7 and 8 being found over the weekend by one of the park rangers.  Meanwhile I was doing turtle patrol for Ranger Marie who was on vacation I was on the beach more days than usual.  It seemed that turtle nests were popping up all over the place.
This one was a hard call as to if or where there were eggs because she had possibly laid right in the wrack line of the river, up against an escarpment. 
 
Clouds still teased a bit, but mostly just flirted with us and moved away.  Still no rain.  I had out of town house guests heading my way for a week to take one of the workshops which Mikolean and I were offering.
 
"X marks the spot", or in this case the Ghost Crab hole gives us a good indication of the location of the egg chamber of this ocean front nest.
 
Interesting tracks as momma turtle came in on the right side got to work laying her eggs and beat a hasty (as turtles go) retreat back to the water. 
 
The first thing a turtle does when she reaches the beach is to lay her chin down on the sand.  We are not sure what they are doing, if they are smelling to see how the sand is or if it is her hometown smell or if it is just the sudden weight of that big head out of the water, but this gal left a chin drag in several places as she struggled up the slight incline with that massive Loggerhead chin.
 
Staking a nest takes a good bit of time, with all the paperwork involved, staking, GPS'ing, and stringing the nest.  After we determine where we think the nest chamber is located, we place 3 stakes in the sand to form a triangle.  We place a GPS device in the spot to get our coordinates.  This is recorded in our log book along with other information such as a physical description of where the nest is located.  The nest is also recorded in the GPS gizmo.  A stake is placed in the dunes as a back-up and its location is noted and measured.  Last thing is to put a string around the nest stakes and to write on the stake the dates found and anticipated hatching.
 
When I stopped to check on a Horseshoe Crab stuck in a dry tidal pool area, I noticed these interesting patterns left by some crawly Crustation trying to find the water.
 
This tidy little lover's knot shape was formed by two, yes two, Horseshoe Crabs caught in the now dry tidal pool also.
 
I have learned to recognize the signs of a second (usually male) crab buried alongside the other half of the mating couple.  Lover boy had gotten  himself in quite a quagmire with only a tiny sliver of his shell visible.
 
I had to use a digging tool I found on the beach to get enough of the hard sand moved to allow me to carefully pry him loose.  Once released where does he head?  Well, of course he heads right back into his former prison.
 
As I walked the Crabs to the water's edge I noticed some pretty sand patterns formed in the runoff area of the pool.  The female was pretty tired and might not have had the energy to make it back to the water, but the male was pretty energetic still.  They both disappeared into the depths.
 
The Sea Oats are just starting to form their pretty seed heads.  They are now their Spring green color.
 
I noticed a photographer setting up his camera equipment with tripod just west of the pier.  I stopped to see what had caught his interest.  I grabbed my quick shot with my hand held camera out of the buggy door not wanting to interfere or scare away his subject.  Not too bad for shooting from the hip.
 
This one was Sunday evening as I gave my North Georgia guests a quick tour of the beach.  Being mountain girls the beach was a special treat for them.  This was out of my car window.  I only had a brief moment to get the shot before I lost it forever.  That is why setting up the tripod just doesn't figure into my way of photography very often.
 
One of the gals had never seen or heard of a Gopher Tortoise.  They were excited and they thought I had great control of the animals in the park to have them appear on cue like that.  When I said we often see deer in this area, one appears as if on cue then a few yards further on a Gopher Tortoise, so docile, she let me reach down and pick her up to get her across the road she was planning on crossing.
 
A little drama as we exited the rear of the park and I was pointing out our Osprey nest.
 
Here came Papa with what appears to be a crab cake on the whole shell.  I believe it was a Blue Crab in his talon.
 
He settles in as Little Girl seems to be giving instructions on how to set the table.
 
Looks like the Crab may have been resisting a bit.  Little Girl is certainly giving it a stern stare.
 
This shot was taken from the bridge Monday morning as I crossed over to the back gate of the park.  Unfortunately the nest box is so high that it is hard to get a shot of the chicks from underneath.  There are three this year and when one backs up to the side you need to beware below!  The white road underneath attests to good bathroom habits by the chicks.  No messing up the house while mom is gone. 
 
Monday, about mid-ride around the beach, I witnessed a bit of a turf war on the big light beacon, in the water's edge on the river.  A crow was busy trying to convince the Osprey which sits there a lot that he wanted the Osprey's spot.
 
The Osprey was clearly disturbed, but not to the point of giving up any ground.
 
Several times the crow tried to persuade the larger bird to leave.
 
The osprey continued to resist the crow and probably just listed him as an annoyance to his otherwise good day.  The crow finally settled back on the railings but was still pretty vocal about his claims that it was "his" tower.  Who knows who the interloper was that day but I do know that the Osprey is usually in this spot and considers it his own personal fish-spotting tower.
 
It was a fun week with more upcoming beach adventures, as I let my friends try their hand at being volunteer Turtle Patrol ladies with me the next two days getting to do lovely tasks like drive stakes in the ground with a sledge hammer.  Fun, fun, fun.

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