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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)

Painting has been a top priority with no commissions but a show to prepare for in Daytona at the Art League of Daytona Art Center.  This is not one which will be in the show as it is for another cause but it is finished.  I have sold 5 of the pieces I had thought I would have ready for the show and I also have taken about 6 pieces over to the Cafe' at the Ritz Carlton to hang as their decor, although they ARE for sale.

All the sculpture pieces in The Cafe' are also from the gallery.  Unfortunately all my big stunning pieces of Acrylic Sculpture by Jack Nelson are in the Cafe' with the promise of a new piece, a big piece, a dolphin.  Price lists are available on request if anyone is interested in taking one home.

When Lea Gallardo is in town she is happy to include me in her photography adventures when our schedules will allow.  She had already checked out Hugeunot Park before we had gone to the Alligator Farm and deemed it "not ready".  But a couple of weekends ago that it "was ready" for our visit.  Our timing was also working against the clock with the rain that was to come later that morning from Debbie.  It was an overcast day but you take what you get sometimes.  A couple of Ospreys were the welcoming committee each claiming their own No Parking sign.

The birds were thick over the dunes where they nest.  These are very different because they are nesting on the sand all over the dunes on this very special place.  Hugeunot Park is located less than 15 miles from my house and is a wonderful birding and nesting area for our shorebirds.  Unfortunately with its shallow waters and wide hard driveble beaches it is also a favorite play spot for a large number of Jacksonvillians to do windsurfing, hanging out, and fishing.  It is also a prime spot since with shallow waters the tide comes in rather quickly making it easy to walk away and forget your car which is not apt to be high and dry when you return.  A redneck car wash, although usually trucks are the main victums.

But on that Sunday we were there just as the gates opened at 8 am beating the human crowd, allowing us to enjoy the crowd of nesting and already hatched Shore birds in peace and quiet.  Those with chicks were mostly the Royal Terns.  The air and the dunes was filled with them, the Laughing Gulls, Black Skimmers, and a couple of other species of Tern.

I was warned that I might be attacked, but I think of it more as a bluff.  The birds will fly at you looking like the are going to crash right into your head only to pull up at the last minute.  At least they are not like the Least Terns which pull up but also leave you a nice messy gift on the top of your head.  I do speak from experience that they are pretty accurate in their aim.  These fellows were not dive bombers, just divers.

We found it interesting in the diversity of color of the chicks which seemed to be of the same species.  Could have to do with their sex or who knows what.  The dark solid gray ones that blend more in to the dark colors of the folliage are the Laughing Gull chicks, the rest in the group seem to be the Royals.  

You can really see the difference in the chick in the front and the one in the center of the photo as to difference in coloring.  There are some other specics of Terns nesting and it is possible that some of the chicks were theirs since they are not adverse to hanging out together.  I did not see any of those adults in with the mix though.

If you look at the tuft of black feathers on the heads of the adult Royals you can see why they might be called Royals.  It does resemble a crown.  The little fuzzy chicks reminded me of the little chickens I raised as a child.

It was a busy, busy place with adults coming and going on a regular basis.  Occasionally we would see a chick that we watched with concern as they did not seem to be faring as well as the others.

This Laughing Gull with its chick was hanging out away from the crowd.

I would liked to have listened in on the conservation these two were having as they tended the herd of kiddies all around them.  It seemed to be a communial thing, the caring of the chicks.

I know, I know, just how many photos of little fuzzy birds do you need to see, but I have not had the chance to photograph these fellows this close and at this stage before, and they are sooooo cute.

This group reminded me of the day care center across from the gallery and the walks the caregivers take with the little ones.  These seemed to be readying to take the trip to the water's edge, but our arrival sent them backing away.  Many perish when the tide is out, the beach is very wide, and they go to the water but they just do not have the energy to make it all the way there and back.  In the front row on the left side you will see one such chick,which has recently died, laying on its back.

The Black Skimmers had lost their nesting site during Beryl when Bird Island was completely washed over.  They have tried to regroup over at Hugeunot Park but it remains to be seen whether it will work or not.  The Herring Gulls which are much larger than most of the other Shore Birds will wait until a parent is lured away from the nest and then fly quickly in and grab an egg.  I would love to see those chicks.  Lets hope they succeed this time around.

This one seems to be sitting on eggs.

The ground had a solid covering of bird tracks with so much activity.

Having made our way down most of the dune nesting area we crossed over more to the beach area toward the water.  A number of mostly younger Brown Pelicans were hanging out there and mixed in were the other species of Terns.  This is also the stop over for Red Knotts which fly huge long distances from nesting to winter habitat and must refuel somewhere and this is one of the spots.

This area is a courting area...

...a communtiy hang our area.  This is three different species of birds in one photo, the Laughing Gull, the Royal Terns and the more rare Gull Billed Tern (I think).  These smaller birds look a lot like our Least Terns except for the black legs, black on their wings, and are a bit larger than our smallest of the lot the Least Terns.  

The Pelicans with the dark heads are still teenagers while the white heads are adults.  Lots of color variations in birds with changes in maturity and seasons.  It becomes difficult sometimes to identify various species to the untrained eye like mine.

It is also a bathing area with a Laughing Gull couple and...

...a Royal Tern couple splashing in the surf.

This Pelican certainly doesn't seem very areodynamically posed for his take off with that big wind catching mouth open.  Maybe he is going to try his hand at windsurfing and that big open mouth is his sail.

It is also a meal gathering area as we have a nice brunch of sushi being prepared for consuming.  Part of preparation is getting it located where no one else is going to want to joing you for your repast.

A pretty Ruddy Turnstone is chosing a more delicate meal as it picks through the salad bar for some tidbits.  The Sun actually peeped out for a few minutes, giving me a chance to take advantage of the pretty reflections in the skim of water actomg ;ole a reflecting pool.

A Momma Laughing Gull has brought her chick to help it learn the ropes on foraging for himself, a little home schooling which has been going on forever in the animal world.  A lot is instinctive but with birds they seem to have to be taught a lot more than squirrels thats for sure.  

Wadding in the shallows is a pastime we all enjoy including these young Pelicans.  The invasion of sea weed has slowed down.  This type of Seaweed, however, just dries up to nothing once it is on the beach a few days, but the touristism officials are spending $15,000 to clean it up so that the tourists won't be offended.  It actually serves to help keep the sand in place as well, and dries up quickly.  It will blow away if it isn't covered with sand.  But when you are working with other peoples money it is easy to spend.

A Pelican parade seemed to be in progress.  Lea with better camera gear than I, was hoping they would all fly inmass so she could get some good "birds in flight" shots.

This kind of Gull we have met before, the Fast Food Gull, who likes to steal your food right out of your hand but also likes to steal bird eggs out of the nests.  They are pretty though, with beautiful eyes.

This is a Sandwich Tern.  The reason for the name has to do with the yellow tip on his bill which looks like he just dipped it into a jar of mustard, possibly in the process of making a sandwich.  I know it is a stretch but that is why it is called a Sandwich Tern, wonder why not Mustard Nose?? or Mustard Jarhead??

A last stroll by the nesting area as this parent carefully watches over its little one.

This couple of Laughing Gulls seem to be gather nesting materials.  I wonder how they have all done with the massive amounts of rain we had starting only a few hours later.  If the yet to be feathered chicks get wet they can die from exposure, especially since our temperatures were still cool then.

As we exit the park we see one of our Ospreys with a nice Flounder in his talons.  A gull is doing its best to claim part of the meal but was not successful.  I think it was totally out of its league.  After days of torrential rain showers, one after another, the skies are once again blue.  The temperatures in the air had been wonderfully cool and perfect.  A gift after the other extreme.  It is has now gotten very hot this week but not quite as high as our more northern neighbors have had.  We are cooler than my mom in East Tennessee.

After the rain had started by Monday Morning it was really a wet one for Turtle Patrol.  I was soaked to the skin before I even got out of the parking lot at he park.  I was glad not to find a nest.  Tuesday Rhonda was not so lucky, poor girl had to mark two nests in the pouring rain and very strong winds bringing our total up to 22 nests in the park.  By late Tuesday evening the rains had stopped for us and Wednesday as the center of the storm moved off shore, much, much earlier than predicted, the weather turned beautiful and has remained that way since.  A good chance to dry out.  

I'll have to say the weather people did a terrible job on their predictions with this weather event.  Thankfully it was not a hurricane, because no one would have been prepared.  There are still areas just now flooding like Lake City and the St. Marys area because of all the water just now reaching them from the streams feeding into their rivers.  Some very bad situations.

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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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