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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)

Our nesting boom started really booming two Fridays ago.  I found a nest on Friday's Turtle Patrol on the ocean side.  

Since that was my last day for the week I left without much thought of the weekend.  In the gallery that Saturday one of my patrons told me that she had seen a new nest that day in the park.  I thought since our less experienced youngest rangers was on Patrol I would check it out the next day to make sure he found it.

We were doing a family cookout at my sister's place just down from the park boundary so we used checking the nest was a good excuse to slip out and take Sis's Granddaughter out for a walk on the beach.  She just loves picking up shells.  Once we got to the tracks they had been rained on since being laid and I thought them odd but...

the minute I saw the nest itself I knew.  We have a Green Sea Turtle nest.  They are rare for our beach and from what I know the only Green Turtle nest on the island so far.  We have had a Green Turtle the past 3 years but year before last it was laid so late (they tend to be late layers) it was frozen our by winter before it could hatch.  You may remember what I kept calling our eternal nest.  Last year another late one which was totally washed out by an October Nor'easter.  This year she has laid early and high so maybe we will get to see some Green hatchlings.

Looking at the whole picture you can see that the nest is pretty high up and in a great location on the ocean front.

After I found another nest on Monday by Tuesday morning Rhonda, a former ranger now working as our girl Tuesday Turtle Patrol, was waiting on me when I got to the gallery.  She did not know how to get me on the phone that morning early when she found a Leatherback Turtle nest.  WOW!!! It can't get any better unless we have a Hawksbill and a Ridley (which we thought we had but it got washed away by Beryl).  I put my sandals down to show the width of the tracks which by noon time with wind and strong light were not as visible.  She had marked it with a very large area just to be sure, but we believe the nest is in the near middle of this area from all the signs she left with spray.  Their tracks are over 7 feet wide.

Now this season is really getting exciting.

In the hard sand below the tide line you can see the massive track she left a bit better.  This is one track not two as it might appear to you.

Each day that whole week we found more nests.  Most were on the oceanside.  The beach was still very shelly from the Beryl mess.  This nest except for the fact that the nest looked more like a Loggerhead could be a Green Turtle.  It is a fairly large nest but still did not think it as massive as a green usually is so officially I labeled it a Loggerhead.

However in the shelly beach the tracks looked an awful lot like the tracks of a Green turtle.  We will have to wait and see on this one.

With all the beach upheaval there have been lots of beach treasures, and I find beauty in some of the less perfect of the shells.  With all the nests and having to get to work I had very little time to explore.

More Horseshoe crabs but not the large numbers we had seen earlier in the season.  This one had an unusually long tail.  So often they get broken.  The tail is their rudder in life and without this important piece of equipment they don't have a very good chance of survival for very long.

This Dead Man's Finger's seaweed was a precurser for what was to come all this past week.

More nests.  I put an X where I think the eggs are in this nest.  The reason I think so is the two crab holes dung right into the nest.  Often a clear indication of the eggs location since the Ghost Crabs do like fresh turtle eggs.

This turtle had a bit of a different pattern to her tracks, although clearly a Loggerhead she seemed to have a longer reach on one side with her front flippers but not on the other side.  Usually you don't even see the front flipper marks..

My sister, Susan has been a big help as she walks up most mornings and meets me helping me by driving in the stakes while I write up the reports.  I give her a wake up call when I hit the park and then let her know if there are nests as I make my way down.  Nice to have a sister around.  We have not lived in the same town since she was 12 years old.

Over the weekend of Father's Day I was invited by my Son, Eric to join he and his family in Palm Coast.  Tanner who was turning 16 on Monday was in a LaCrosse Tournament.  He is #28 and the goalie.  I had never seen LaCrosse played before and had very little knowledge of it except that it is an old Native American game.  Tanner loves it.  It was not the greatest of tournaments with a greatly mismatched seating resulting in their lossing every game.  It was an interesting and physical game with the flailing of those big sticks as they try to gain possession or to dislodge the ball from the opponents stick.  The stick itself is very similar to a catcher's mitt combined with a scoop net.  The tricky hand work that it took to scoop up or catch the ball in the net and then re-position it into the pocket for holding on to or in preparation for throwing was quite amazing.  I did not see the girls who had a tournament going at the same time doing all that fancy twirling of the stick.

Our nest on the river had been washed our by the storm but it looks like she is back to lay again.  She went as high as possible without climbing this escarpment.  Usually we have about as many on the river as on the ocean but not this year. Marie found this one.

Pretty patterns were in the washes near this nest and I paused a minute to take some photos while the low light was making them much more dramatic than they would be if I waited until I returned.  

Sometimes I fear that this same subject will bore you, but I fear more that I will get so used to them that I won't see them anymore myself.  This Sargassum Sea Weed which is washed in from many miles offshore and was only the beginning to show up.  

There was a bit of Booging going on at my house on Wednesday night.  My husband is an audiophile from way back, and when he, Mr. Golden ears, gave his stamp of approval to a new CD by one of our local groups "Instant Grove" we decided to have a party, invite Lawrence, head of the group over to "really" hear how his CD sounds on some very good speakers which we own, leftovers from when we had that kind of business in North Georgia.  Musicians often don't really know how good or how bad their recordings really are because of the play back equipment they are used to using is not always the best.  We invited our best buds over to pitch in on the food and walla a party is born.  Sis and my fishing buddy, Fran, and now famous stage actress, who happened to have a night off from playing Truvey in the local Steel Magnolias play, were really getting "down" to the music as I just stretched back and watched.  Ours is a small house you know, can hold only so many wild women dancing at once.

It was a great honor to have Lawrence share this time with us and I think he really enjoyed listening to his own music.  It was also interesting to hear his stories of growing up here in what he called "a paradise" way back when.  He does love it here although his mom handed him a bus ticket when he graduated high school and told him to go North and find work.  It was also interesting to hear his accounts of growning up in a segrated South in the Catholic Church.  He attended the Black Catholic Church and school, but was thankful for the education which was inflicted upon him by some very stern knuckle rapping nuns when he then attended public school and found himself ahead of the other students.  If any of you want to pick up the Instant Groove CD you can pick up one at the gallery for $17.  It would help the band out a lot and they are so good, we want to keep them around.  It was recorded just across the street from the gallery at The Frisky Mermaid and for a live performance it has fantastic sound.  

As to the hints earlier about the Sargassum Sea Weeds invasion here is proof as I took to the beach after taking Wednesday off to visit the knee doc for some more cortizone shots.  In my absence Marie had continued our winning streak by finding three nests that day.  She is such a show off.  The beach looked like it had been carpeted by the same carpet I used to use in my rental properties because it didn't show dirt.  The higher layer which was left from the day before was starting to dry a bit so already darker in hue.  That was all I had to go by when gaging where the last high tide was.  We look for the tracks of the turtles starting at the last high tide line.

The turtles were not happy with it either.  I had 3 false crawls on Thursday.  The Sea Turtles would start in then when they got into all that mess of Sea Weed they would turn around and leave without nesting.  I had them on the river and the ocean front.  This one looked like she had it made but still changed her mind.  There is a definite strong smell to the piles of seaweed so could have been the reason.  She came back another day.

Another similar one but this time she turned around once she hit the deepest of the Sargassum.

Another of Maries nest she had found on Wednesday.  

I found this bird which I thought dead but then realized it was still alive.  There were several others which were dead. I took it, placing it in an old clothes basket I had found on the beach, but alas it died before I could get it help.  I was going to take it to B. E. A. K. S. the local rescue for birds.  I didn't realize at the time that we had a major event happening birds up and down the coastal area.  I found out that they are Shearwaters and are rare to be found in our waters.  They are usually only out at sea and one of he few birds which go from the Southern Hemisphere to the North, nesting in Canada.  What is believed to be happening with these birds is that they have just been blown about by the strong winds we have had rendering them unable to feed since they are diving birds.  Running out of energy they are unable to survive.  A sad situation. The weaker ones both old and the youngest are not making it. The bad side, besides the Seaweed, of the nice cool ocean breezes we have enjoyed the past few of weeks.  Only a few of these birds which were not dead have survived.

On the hopeful side our Ospreys are busy building a new nest in the spot where their original nest of several years ago was located right next to their storm damaged one.  Each day they are out there expanding it.  Hopefully the power company will leave the nest alone since they have had such a sad year losing all their little ones.  We don't know if they will re-nest or not since it is pretty late in the season for that to happen.  We will wait and see.  Maybe we will get to watch Osprey chicks after all.

Friday was two more false crawls on the river.

With rain ladden clouds threatening in the background the sun was peeking through to give a bright glow to the Spring green Seaoats.

But after the two false crawls this lady finally decided she just could not hold those eggs back any longer and finally found a spot in which to nest.  We could tell by the tracks that she had not been gone very long.  She must have spent hours on the beach that night deciding to where to lay.

She has a funny track pattern which I have seen before.  I think she has one back flipper which has been bitten off, not sure but something weird is going on with her.

Once around on the oceanside I find more false crawls but also the same situation, the turtle decided to go ahead had find a spot to lay.  She laid nice and high which is a very good thing with all the high tides we expect this week.

It was a wonderful turtle week on the whole island with already almost as many as last year with still a month and a half left to go.  I got a call at 7 this morning (Sunday) telling me that we had even another nest this morning.  I checked with the rangers since it was my day off and they assured me it had been marked.  Hatching is about ready to start also in another week.  Then things will really be rock and rolling.
Lets all say a prayer that Debbie does not damage any of our nests.  I realize that is why a turtle lays several nests a year, she is hedging her bets, but it still is hard to give up even one.
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