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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)


The first day of May says that Turtle Season will begin.  As luck would have it I was the first one on Turtle Patrol duty.  There were no turtles but a huge number of Horseshoe Crab nests.


Those that are in charge forgot to tell me we were no longer going to ride the beach West of the fort so in my ignorance of the situation I innocently rode the usual route of years past.  It was a lucky thing for a lot of Horseshoe Crabs that I did that.  I saw this couple stranded next to the rock jetty area and went to rescue them.


Once down there I realized it was far more complex a situation than just rescuing a couple of crabs.  This particular outcropping curves around making a cove like area behind the area.  I found that in the mass nesting many of the crabs had become trapped in the cracks and crevices of the rocks, looking like eggs in an egg carton.  There are at least 3 in this one photo.  Some were tightly wedged as I began to free them one at a time the numbers began to escalate.



It was the first day on the ATV with the new knee and I didn't want to stress the limits of what I was doing exercise wise so made the decision to set them in the right direction and let them make their own way instead of me trying to take all of them to the water's edge.



I am now a fully experienced Horseshoe Crab herder.  There must have been 25 or more of the trapped crabs, mostly the smaller males but some females also.  You can see how the shape of the rock jetty caused the near catastrophy.



It was good to be back on the beach especially back riding an ATV after so long with my beach buggy.  I have always felt the ATV to be the most environmentally friendly way to do the beach ride.  Lots of the small shore birds were racing ahead of me.  Each time I would approach them they would fly ahead and land at a new location.  I couldn't convince them to just let me pass.  This is the reason that we are not going to ride on this beach any longer because there is a big nesting area for the Wilson's Plovers and their tiny chicks are on the beach racing around from the first day like little almost invisible road runners. 


Dead Man's Fingers as well as a lot of other beach critters had been left from all the recent Nor'easters.  There was Yellow Whip Coral, Sponges, and tons of shells.  The ATV does not give me the option of collecting many of the treasures the sea has left.


The beach had not changed that much but the tides had run very high in the past few days, even going into the dunes.  Spring tides are always higher, coupled with full or new moons, plus a wind in the right direction and it becomes unusually high.  Hopefully this will communicate a need to the turtles to lay high this year and help them from losing their eggs to summer stormy seas.



The Brown Pelicans were not really giving me a frowny face greeting but just syncronizing the flight to best suit the windy conditions.



Now they are in perfect harmony.



With love in the air for the Horseshoe Crabs these primitive creatures are so perfectly attuned to the moon and what it does to the tides this time of the year, that they time their mass beach nesting activities to coincide with that tide, depending on the high tide to push the sand over the nests they have just filled with their fertilized eggs.  When the tide is highest its opposite effect is that the tide will also be lower on the low tide end than usual to allow for ample beach for nesting.



The amorous male was not to deterred by being stuck in the sand as he stuck by his woman clinging to her even as she headed back to the water.  Maybe he was just too lazy to make the walk on his own and found this an easy hitchhike back.



Female Horseshoe Crabs are much larger than the males.  I put my foot in the photo so you can get an idea of the size of the gals in this species.



Meanwhile the little male struggled to get his footing.



The second day of Turtle Patrol was a test in endurance with 35-45 mile an hour wind and rain.  Just in time for Shrimp Festival.  I had to stop twice to remove branches from my pathway as I was first one into the park.  A true test for my desire to ride the ATV with no protection from the wind or rain.  A hat held on by my head set and a hood snugged down on my rain coat and I am set.  



The ATV is very great fun to ride but more on days when the weather has more to offer.  The only place I dared to get the camera out of its plastic garbage bag was underneath the pier.



The festivities were less than great for the set up by the artists for the beginning of Shrimp Festival.  This was only the beginning of a two day set in of rain.  At least there was no thunder and lightening and the temperature was mild.



Hardy rain gear ready people prepared for the biggest weekend in our year.  The food booths were in place and hardy festival goers were making their way to the waterfront for all the various festivities and food booths there.



Nothing keeps Festival goers away.  However the next day was a dreary one but the promise of better weather was held out for the last day of the festival.



In the gallery we tried to brighten up our customers day with a roof over their head and jewelry making demos by Bill and Carolyn Dyer.  Carolyn is one of my exhibiting jewelry artists and her husband makes the glass beads for her to use in her jewelry designs.



Although the sun did not come out on Saturday it did slack its rainfall to a bearable rate for attendees.  This less than enthusiasitic workers for a parking lot business reflected the mood of the day.



A break in the rain gave me a chance to go down to the waterfront and get some photos for my next painting.  The Pelicans were posing with great colors showing up in an unexpected way for such a dreary day.




I never realized that there was so much color in a pelican.  I had never noticed the olive green color at the base of their bill and the orange on their bill.  Lots of blue is showing in their beaks also.



By enhancing the photo just a bit in the computer the colors that are there really pop.  Just what my customer wants in their Pelican painting.



These are a trio I selected for the painting as well as...



this fellow, only I reversed him and did away with his feet and legs making him a sitting Pelican.



Then the posing was over, as the moment they had been waiting for had arrived.  The lady from the fish market came bearing food for the Pelicans.  A feeding frenzy broke out at they all scrambled to get a choice spot at the food orgy.  Which mouth will grab the airborne treat.



These youngsters seem to be wondering just what happened with their less experienced food grabbing techniques leaving them less than satisfied.  I might add notice the blue in their bills and feet from an artist eye.



The seafood store is a long time resident at the Marina and it would certainly be a loss if it ever changed.



I wandered around the food booths to check out what treat I would like for myself.



There is a great many boats in the harbor for the festival.  I head down for a closer look and also found one of my friends in the third boat, the blue one, that I needed to stop by for a visit.  He has just sold the boat and was in town to do some repairs.  I climb on board and we swap war stories...his about his new hip and mine the new knee.  By the time I got off a downpour had started.



By tomorrow this boat would be in a very different light as the sun shines on a perfect Shrimp Festival, but tonight was not to see that break in weather.  The crowd waited for the landing of the pirates and the fireworks but I was just too tired and decided if I were to make it through the next day, 12 hours was all I could handle, and my bed was calling.


(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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