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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)



It is best for the hatchlings to emerge from a nest on their own to be at their maximum strength for the long journey out to sea.  If they stay in the nest 3 more days after their sibblings have gone then they have used up part of the precious food supply they have absorbed from their egg yolk sac that provides the precious energy it takes to swim the great distances it takes to get to safety in the Sargasso Sea.

However, it is still very exciting to "get to rescue" this many little ones which would have, for one reason or another, been unable to climb out on their own.  Sometimes it is a crab which blocked there exit route by digging the sand away the hatchling depended on to reach the next level; sometimes a root has grown into the nest in the 60 days they lay in incubation and caught a flipper on the way up; maybe they get stuck underneath an egg pileup, or even stuck up against the side of the nest underneath a shell sticking out; whatever, it doesn't take much to interrupt this climb to freedom.  This batch at one of the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch excavations were really pretty and clean and ready to rock and roll.  Perhaps they were late hatchers as sometimes the bottom babies are and will be strong.  The coloring on the edges of the carapaces is interesting with the rust color on  about half of them.  Possibly they take after their dad.  A female mates during only one period of time but she may mate with several males making it possible to have more than one dad in a clutch.



They are off to lead their solitary lifes which we hope will be a very long one.  It will be 25 years or more before the girls will even be old enough to reproduce.


I took a short side trip on the way back from the "Knee Doctor's" office where I received my second of a series of three injections in my knees of some type of substance which I believe is made from rooster comb.  My knees are feeling good right now except for digging turtle nests where I have learned to lay down rather than put my weight on them.  So far the neighbors have not reported me to the police for the early morning "crowing" they hear as I head out to do Turtle Patrol at daybreak.  This lovely island is part of the drive I get to enjoy as I go to Jacksonville and it is called Little Talbot Island.



It is a very beautiful and a wildly natural place with wide expanses of sand dunes and beaches undistrubed by development, another of the gems in our wonderful Florida State Park System.



The object of my trip was to check out the birds which I could see from the passing highway on my way to and fro.  This island is just across the river from Hueguenot Park where the large Shore Bird nesting area is located.


I had hoped that I would be able to see more of them over on Talbot.  Too much time had passed and the youngsters were already adult in size just retaining their juvenile coloring.  This is a Laughing Gull chick who doesn't look much like its parents yet.


Most of the species we had seen over on the other island was there, except the Black Skimmers, which had gotten flooded out on Little Talbot when Beryl had come barreling through, and had moved to Hueguenot to try again.


 Heading back toward the parking lot, I take time to observe the patterns left on the unspoiled beach by the shells, water and wind.


Numerous types of beach plants work to hold the beaches together during storms and make pretty shadows on the sand.



Beyond the dunes on the south end you get a glimpse of Hugeunot Park and beyond that across the river is Mayport, the big naval base.



Different tracks in the sand of at least 3 different critters in this one photo.  The larger one is a Ghost Crab with possibly a baby crossing its tracks and either a bird or a beach mouse in the lower left corner.  I would love to thing it is a beach mouse which is almost extinct here.



Our Green Turtle nest hatched and we had one healthy speciman left in the nest to release.  This was Brandon's nest.  He found it, just didn't know it was a green at the time.



He had my favorite beach patterns to crawl across on his way to the water.  I had walked him part way down because the tide was out and he needed to conserve his energy for swimming.  They have very long front flippers, smoother and darker (almost black when wet) carapaces, with a lovely white decorative line edging the whole turtle when viewed from the top.  This is the baby of the juvenile Green Turtle Trot painting I did.



He was very determined with a taste for the water in the wet sand urging him on across the glassy surface.


Almost there.



The beautiful patterns inthe head which they retain is visible as he is almost into deep water.  They are slightly bigger than the Loggerheads even though the Loggerheads are a bit larger when they are grown.  Next wash of water and he was gone.



The fishermen have been catching a lot of sharks especially these in the Hammerhead family.  I believe this is actually a Bonnethead.  Notice the color of the eye which I tried to capture.  These only grow about 5 feet or so and have the shortest gestation period of any shark.  They usually live in shallow waters and are often eaten by other sharks.



The Osprey nest has been vacant ever since Beryl sometimes serving as a perch for vultures.  It now has two plants which have sprouted and are growing in it.  Not sure what will become of it next year or to the one beside it on top of the utility pole.  Hopefully the power company will clean that one off so the good nest will be there for our Osprey couple to reestablish.



Our baby at home has the life of Riley.  Here he has his belly full, a clean freshly washed face, his bladder empty and is dead to the world with the sleep of innocence that only babies can have.  Although it is lots of trouble with formula's and feeding schedules at this stage a squirrel is very easy, just mostly sleep, eliminate,  and eat.



This beautiful sunrise which had already started to fade once I got to it and it almost cost me a great adventure on the beach.


My photo buddy Lea had accompanied me on Turtle Patrol that morning and as photo bugs we had to pause and shoot everything of interest on our way.  Sunrise clouds being one of those things.


Noticing some odd tracks on the sand I followed them to a nest which had already been hatched, excavated and reburied only to find it had been dug up by some critter.  I photographed the tracks, which were larger then any of our usual critter.  This was a full sized egg shard next to the track for size comparison.  It had long pointed claws.  I felt maybe a coyote, which our Ranger Marie later confirmed.


When we rounded the point to the ocean beach we could see something on the beach in the distance.  Two people were standing watching.  I thought it was a turtle, and I was right.  A very late layer both in time of day and date on the calendar, August 20.  We literally raced as fast as we could to get there before she was gone.  We jumped out both jockeying for position.


She was very large about 3 feet long from tip to front edge of her carapace.  Her coloring was beautiful with its gold.  You can see her coaqia still extended out her rear section fresh from laying her eggs.



She steadily proceeded her journey, without hurrying, probably tired from her long laying experience, which had begun a couple of hours earlier.  She was magnificent and we were so lucky to see her.  So many times I have reached the beach and could tell by the tracks that I had just missed seeing one.



Into the waves all that was visible was the swirl left on top of the water as she propelled herself further and further out.  We believe she was the last to lay a nest on the island.  It will be late October before her eggs hatch.  As days get shorter and cooler it will take the eggs longer to hatch.



The couple who were there had watched and filmed the whole thing.  David Montgomery.  If you follow this link you can see David's photos and video of the laying.  With their advice we were able to pinpoint the nest much closer than we usually can do because they knew exactly where the eggs were.  
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.492350687459799.123793.100000546165096&type=1
Stay tuned as we play catch up for a recap of this summer's great Turtle Season!!!
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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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