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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)

Breaking news!
I just received notice that the Florida Watercolor Society has accepted my painting into their annual show.  Yay!  (I'll get a photo of it posted in the next episode of these stories.) 

It's a terrible photo, but such a cute subject.  Sometimes as a photographer you just can't get the shot you want, and this was one of those moments.  The light was too low and I was too far away, (and I had to crop the image too deep).  The deer are one thing I try to be ready for as I enter the back gate at the park, but this pair surprised me.
Momma deer and little baby Bambi came out of the woods just as I caught sight of them.  They looked at me and dashed on across the road.  To increase the pressure, as they reached the other side of the road and I was attempting to not lose the shot, another little spotted baby trotted across the road.  As my dad always said, "Well, I'll be dag-gone", she has twins.  I couldn't get that shot, but I am always waiting for another chance.
July 1st was the start of a lot of things.  For this Sea Gull it was a generous breakfast of 'sashimi' on the beach.
It was one of those golden mornings.
A nice turtle nest from the day before.  Interesting in that the Loggerhead had started to make her nest in the spot in the lower left side of the photo.  She went to the trouble of digging out her body pit and then changed her mind and wandered farther up.
I get my chance to mark a new nest also.
July 1 was also First Friday, "Sounds on Centre", and with moving toward Independence Day everyone was in a festive and patriotic mood.  The band was good, the town was full.  Everyone was either dressing for the Parrot Head Mania theme, or in red, white, and blue.  Dogs and parrots, both real and fake were on the streets.  The beautiful Macaw was especially friendly as his owner handed him over and it promptly climbed onto my arm and then on to my shoulder.
A huge crowd turned out and we kept the gallery open, taking turns going down to listen to the music.  From now on we will just go join in the festivities because not one soul ventured into the gallery.  It was just about the music.  Over the weekend one lady said to Bruce as she browsed the shop, "I've been in several other shops in town and there's just nothing happening; are the people who run them wealthy enough just do it for fun and as a hobby?"  Sometimes it seems about as gainful as a hobby.  I had a friend also who was a bit miffed that the shops didn't stay open late so she could shop after the workshop.  I explained that most of us are just "mom and pop shops", and we have to have some time off, even if it means shorter hours.  It would be nice if we made enough to hire help, but as with the current economy, "it is what it is".
It is time to get the Turtle Trot painting done.  I am already behind schedule.  Deciding on just what to do is part of the delay because it was difficult trying to know just what I wanted to do that would be new and different from years past.  After I finally got the idea set in my mind, the research began.  I started looking for photographs which would allow me to draw the most accurate drawing of the angle of the head and the body that I wanted.
The scary part, wetting that paper, brush and paints for the first time.  It has progressed pretty fast thus far.  More of what I have done will be in the next story.
July 1 also signaled the beginning of a month of early morning rides with my favorite beach buddy, Lisa.  My call confirmed that she was indeed on her way down, as scheduled.  This week's lesson is all about Crabs and what an assortment we have.  This tiny fiddler crab was near the pier, not his habitat.  Did you know that Fiddler Crabs have a face on their back?  Well, now you do!  He rode all the way back with us since he was out of place on the ocean side, having been left there by a someone fishing with them for bait.  We decided to find a better more mucky environment for the little guy.  I forgot to ask if it was a girl or a boy. Lisa would know.
We stopped to marvel at how pretty this big dune is getting with its wind sculpted edge looking like one of those photos of the Sahara.  These are the largest dunes in Florida.
The back access gate was not working that morning so I decided to drive the long way out through the park's main gate and shot several pictures of the early sun shining through the canopy road.  As Les, our 80+ Volunteer, says, "It is a massage for the brain" just to do this drive.
Then came the big day, the Fourth of July, Independence Day.  Bruce kept the gallery open, I stayed home and prepared a Low Country Boil with a few friends and my sister, who I've been glad to have spending extra time with me these days.  This is the usually quiet beach near our house;  a small picnic park adjacent to the Ritz.  For the past two years I have kept the gallery open the night of the Fourth and watched the fireworks downtown.  However, the ability to walk over, enjoy the holiday, and walk home after the fireworks, was more enticing then keeping the gallery open while others partied.  Everyone needs some down time.
And that's what we did.  We had a semblance of a normal holiday with dinner and then enjoying fireworks with friends.  Using my knee as a tripod while I leaned back in a chase lounge on the beach gave me a bit more steady hand then usual.  The beautiful explosions look very much like Sea Urchins.
The lower of these was especially crab-like.  We were in the perfect spot lying right underneath them.
The next Turtle Patrol schedule had me 'on' Wednesday and Thursday.  It worked out just right, as I had big things to do and see on Thursday night and Friday morning.  More on that later.  Our Black Duck pair were hanging out at the pier that morning but I still don't see any ducklings.
Nest 23 was found on Thursday and they seem to keep piling in week after week.  We are already ahead of last year's total for the year, in the park and on our way to breaking our records for the past 10 years.
I am usually rushing to get to work but it is hard not to take some play time with Lisa along to entice me to explore.  She pointed out a very clear tidal pool next to the pier which I had not noticed, but which she said had Hermit Crabs in it.  I really had looked for them but not in this particular place.  Pretty patterns surrounded its edge.
Tiny Hermit Crabs were crawling around in it, and if you stood still you would start to see them moving around in their various styles of houses acquired upon the vacancy by some previous resident.  They change shells according to their size requirements, making many moves in their lifetime.  I used to have one of the land type of Hermit Crabs and he would change houses frequently.
They don't seem to care if it is broken as long as it meets the size requirements.  This one had a second room, maybe a mother-in-law's apartment, on the side or maybe this is just a duplex.  I love the little pink crabs which I often see hitching accommodations on other critters shells, especially on the Horseshoe Crab surfaces.
Although you are only seeing Lisa as my "hand model" this time, I promise next story you will see her face.  We really liked this little guy because it had picked a very Florida "pink" shell house.
There are so many different species of Atlantic Crabs; Hermit, Rock, Spider, Horseshoe, Ghost, and Blue Crabs which I see often, but this is not one I can find in the ID books.  Lisa picks up these dead crabs when they are intact to dry out for her students to see.
Not as usual to see is the Spider Crab, and although dead, an intact speciman.  This crab likes to feed on Jellys, which not many creatures except Sea Turtles like to eat.  Even Sea Gulls, the garbage collectors of the beach do not like Jellys.
This one is always a pretty one to find intact, and still with its coloring in burgandys and pink.
It was also a Sea Star morning.  One never knows why some days the beach is briming with sea creatures washed in and other days barren.  Maybe a big storm off shore brought in all these many species.  Notice the bottom tenacle of this Sea Star and you will see where he is regrowing a limb that it had lost somehow.  We found another which was still alive but the crabs had already taken one half of one of the tenacles.  Knowing that it can regenerate them we put it back in the water.
To see if they are alive, check the underside and if these little hair like appendages are moving then put it in the water.  They can live a long time out of the water and can make it from tide to tide sometimes, but gulls and crabs do like to eat them.
Not something we want to find sitting in the ocean, here is a young Gopher Tortoise, probably put in the ocean by some well meaning tourist who thinks if it is on the beach it must be a Sea Turtle.  Claws do not make efficient swimming flippers...
With the flat plastron (lower shell) it is probably a young female.  We took it back and washed the salt water off her and turned her back into the wild.
A big splash of color appeared as this regular visitor to our port makes its way in as we leave the beach.  I love to find this one in port and take photographs of its reflections.  I believe its destination will be to deliver goods back to Burmuda which gets most of its supplies out of our port.  Much to see and learn this week but just wait until you see the next one.

(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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