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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)

I think the title of this might ought to be "the Lost Summer" but it really wasn't lost just filed away.  I have decided the best way to recreate it is as it happened because too much is lost in trying the "Reader's Digest" condensed version.  It has been the best Sea Turtle ever, plus the birth of a bunch of new paintings, and the addition of a new life in our household in the form of a little baby boy, Peanut the Squirrel.

With the Turtle Trot race over I have been working on getting things set up for the new Save the Turtle T-shirt and should have the details worked out to send out the ordering information by tomorrow.  I am under a deadline and need to get the order done by October 1.  The painting is also a boost to being able to help with the overhead both business and personal and it is still available if anyone needs to adorn their walls.  I just bought a frame for it yesterday.

The sales in August and September are so slow that the T-Shirts have always helped carry me through until a better sales period.  

With our new foundling stablized with Pediolyte and a nice but expensive milk formula, which we are hoping will last until he is weaned, I was waiting to see how his badly bruised left back leg would do, before I decided what I would do with him.  I still think the leg might have been broken.  He had fallen from very high nest in the top of a large Live Oak tree.  You can see some of the very angry bruise on his upper leg.  The best treatment for a break I read was just to leave it alone and see if it would heal otherwise they recommended euthanizing which was my least favorite option.  

No, this is not an after picture of Peanut on his muscle building formula.  This is actually a third squirrel who has become very tame.  I call her Tootsie.  We don't know why she has alway been so tame unless she may be one of Shelly's kids who used to follow her over when she came for her nut handouts.  Whatever the reason she is sitting outside the door waiting for me to give out some nuts.  She comes to the door and looks in checking to see if we are available for a handout.  She is recognizable as not being Lacy who had a dark stipe up the middle of her nose.  Tootsie has a Fu manchu one.  Easy to see she is not undernourished.

This one of our less than happy nest experiences.  It had been washed over by Beryl which exposed the eggs.  Marie had moved them higher and reburied them, hoping for the best.  We had recovered eggs once before, which had been exposed, and they had been fine, although we did not move them, but this time nothing hatched.  We waited the required time, but having seen no signs of hatching after 70 days we excavated it, finding only unhatched eggs in the nest.  Not all battles are won. 

There have been lots of success stories though.  These were two found deep in a nest covered in sand which had been glued in place by egg yolk, deposited on them in the hatching process.  When they hatch the yolk of the egg is attached to the hatchling's tummy and is then absorbed into their tummy, the ultimate energy drink.  Sometimes it is broken in the scramble of a hundred sets of tiny flippers moving around resulting in a sticky situation.

Other than looking like frosted flakes they were healthy and eager to get in the water.

The water will eventually dissolve the coating and the will be swimming with much less resistence.

Our sweet little Lacy has had a very tough summer.  I had seen this in our other local squirrels.  Shelly had escaped having to deal with "Warbles" (also known as "wolves").  Although we had hoped this for Lacy it was not to be.  This is the early stages and she had two of them on her neck.  It took a long time, more than a month, for them to go away.  We did a lot of sympathizing, Lacy with her bumps and me with my hurting back.  Her's was caused by a Botfly" which lays its eggs underneath the skin of an animal, horses are common host animals.  The larva of this insect grows underneath the skin.  Even though I tried in the early stages when they were not so irritated to treat them, you don't do too much to a squirrel without her approval.  She got much worse looking with giant ugly raw knots on her neck, but now is pretty much back to normal.  

The idea I had in agreeing to take this new squirrel was to place it inside Lacy's old house which was now a nest box for another squirrel who had babies about the same size, hoping the mother would not notice she had another mouth to feed.  After reading up on the possibilities, we realized it was not a very viable option.  If it happens it us usually with a blood relative of the squirrel.  Squirrels have been known to kill other baby squirrels.  As it turns out this squirrel already had three little ones and may not have been able to feed another one.

Feeling like Moses's sister, I put the baby boy in a basket.  I instead of floating it in the river I hung it along side the nest box to see if the mother would take the baby into her own home.  I quickly hurried inside the house to go to my bathroom, 4 feet away, to crank out the window to watch over the process, as Moses's sis had hidden to make sure her baby bro was alright.  

It's a good thing I didn't wait to roll that window out because the same time I began rolling it out a big hawk flew up between me and the basket.  I guess the movement of the window scared him.  Mr. Hawk almost had tender baby squirrel for lunch.  He flew up in the tree looking down at his foiled plan.  That was the deciding point that set the responsibilty for little Peanut back on us to raise.  He was too sweet and helpless to abandon now.

As summer has moved on, the gulls had returned to the point near the pier, with their youngsters in tow, to resume the next stage in teaching their young to hunt and feed themselves.

The beach has had an unusual number of interesting natural sponges appear, I especially like these red ones.  Artists love natural sponges and the pile by my front doors grows weekly.  This beautiful one will not be this pretty once it is dried.

Other storms and high surfs have come, and tides have brought in interesting beach finds like this Sea Urchin.  The mother Sea Turtles learned after the first nests were washed away to lay high thus, protecting the rest of the nests which have so far hatched 100%, except for the Leatherback which was washed over numerous times and has not hatched. They seem to know that the beach has recently had been covered by water.  Always checking and urging our human beach visitors to not remove living critters, especially true when I see them coming with hands full of Sea Stars, which, along with Sand Dollars are often still alive.  I would assist in examining them for signs of life and then in returning them to the water.

The Seaoat heads are full and starting to ripen, meaning time is moving on to another stage of their life, the stage which leads to the reproduction of their species as they drop their seeds to renourish our protective barrier island from the sea.

Most mornings I get to glimpse the deer, which are plentiful in the park, but it's only on the way out, later in the morning, that I can have enough light to get any kind of photograph.  Those are the rare times.

Mother deer watches for somthing...

...and in a few seconds the white spotted fawn follows.  A new family, which has twins, but can seldom be caught close enough together to photograph.

Outside the park not all animals are allowed to live in peace.  As I took a short cut across a friend's lawn to access the beach their neighbor had trapped a Raccoon.  I am not sure why only a few houses from the park they would think that they can eliminate their "Racoon problem" by trapping one fellow, with hundreds a few yards away to replace it.  Seems it would be easier to just make sure you did not leave garbage out to be an attraction.  They are a pest, however by not leaving food or garbage with food smells where they will find it usually solves the problem. 

This was a young Sea Turtle, evidenced by her small tracks.

Having had a Hermit Crab once upon a time, the dry land kind, I think that what had washed in this time was a molting water Hermit Crab, who had just shed his skin, and was waiting for its skin to firm up and hold everything in place once again.  They are very fragile in this situation.  I put him back in the water but was not sure that it wouldn't become gull tidbits soon.  Why you have "soft shell crabs", they have just molted.

Mornings seem to get earlier and earlier but actually it's the days which are shortening.  This leaves me with a better chance of catching some great sunrises.  The season still has lots of time ahead, while I play catch up, hoping to not bore you with too many short stories.  What you can do is stash them away for reading on those cold winter nights when you need a warm sunshiny story to keep you warm.  Good to be feeling pretty good once again.  

I was sent to a pain clinic and had several changes to my treatment with an actual reason for the pain, allowing a nameable maladay to add to my list, to pin the blame onto.  With a bludging disc triggering the muscle spasms I was able to receive some, although probably temporary, effective treatment.  I was given an epidurial which has helped stop the spasms.  I still have some achy times but not the stabbing pain I was experiencing.  

Life is good, even if I had a month and a half of paperwork mounds to dig through once I could sit at the computer again.

(Please take a moment to consider:
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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