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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell

The dredging had brought the benefit of finding more fossils, most likely brought up from the bottom of the river with the sand.  Some people may not understand what I am referring to as "fossils"  since they think of them as being mammoth or dinosaur bones of huge proportions .  Although I have found some good sized pieces of bone most of what you find including sharks teeth are small but none the less interesting, especially once you learn to identify what they are.

This happens to be the front head (face) of a Sea Robin Fish.  This is the underneath of what would be the upper mouth area.

This is the top view looking down.  It appears to me that the texture of the dry skin is left on the top side.

Almost fossil like are these paintings I have been doing of shells in the surf.  This and a second one are on display in the Ritz Carlton in their Cafe' right now, but they are still for sale, and I can lay my hands on them in a heartbeat.

More big flocks of birds which I believe are Black Skimmers by the looks of the head shape.

The long view of the flock and they almost become part of the clouds with another Amelia Island Sunrise.

The sunrise color is almost repeated in this Angel's Trumpet which has really put on a show this Fall, sometimes with as many as 50 blooms at one time.  Those Angels could really put out some serious noise with that many horns blowing.

A closer look at the skimmers doing their thing, fishing with that long lower jaw skimming the water for fish.  Kind of like flounder gigging except skimming what is on the surface.

My catch on a recent fishing trip was when Lisa King came to visit for a weekend to attend a fishing clinic offered at Fort Clinch.  There were four friends of mine who are took advantage of this clinic.  It was a catch and release clinic and although I caught one a fish in it I had to turn them loose.  This is a Black Drum or some call it a Puppy Drum because they really are a juvenile Drum and will loose these stripes as they grow larger.  With the stripes they look a lot like a Sheephead minus the human like choppers and the chin beard.  This one did not get the chance to grow into a 50 pounder, as we ate it for dinner and it was absolutely delicious.  They have to be 14 inches long before you can take them and this one was well over that limit.

The tide was pretty high and we were a little early in the season to catch a keeper when it came to the Redfish.  We did catch several but they were only 14-15 1/2 inches long.  We did a lot of the "catch and release" kind of fishing but not from choice.  We are lucky here to have the restrictions on them raised allowing us to keep 2 a day, rather than the 1 most other Florida locations are allowed.

We fished until it was almost too dark to pack up our gear.  It had drizzled rain most of the day and the bugs were swarming but we sprayed a lot and kept fishing.  Fishermen and women are eternal optimists in that we are aways sure the next cast will be the one that nets the big one, and that the next cast is the last cast of the day.

It almost looked as if the stand of pine trees were on fire.

Great clouds of Tree Swallows were in the park flying an lighting in unison, flying together and landing together..

The most dramatic part of this sunrise was before the sun actually cleared the horizon.

Then the sun made it up and lit up the surf's splash in the process.

Dead Man's fingers were looking like a flower on the beach if it hadn't been such a drab color.

Amy had helped me 3 of the 4 days I worked on digging up the Green Turtle nest.  Finally on the 4th day I gave up and refilled the pit we had made.  It doesn't mean that there was no eggs it just meant we couldn't find them.  Whatever the case, it left us with only one more nest and the nights were getting much cooler, extending the time it takes for an egg to hatch .

Lots of treasures to find, as Amy found these, she has a knack for finding great Sand Dollars.  Being generous soul that she is, when I admired them she gave them both to me.

Feathers are often on the beach and I always wonder what kind of bird lost it and why.

The second of the fossil paintings.  I think I am about finished for a while with this series.  They are fun to do though.

The mood was changing as another Nor'easter was heading our way.  The weeks in the end of October and November saw almost one a week.  When they were coupled with Fall higher tides, and either new Moon or Full Moon tides, it could mean trouble for the last nests.

This Green Sea Turtle was found in the river side of the park in a net of some sort.  I was hoping to get to deliver it to the Georgia Sea Turtle center at Jekyll Island and get to participate in the behind the scenes goings on. However it was not to be because once we inspected it's underside it had the Papalomia Virus which causes tumors to grow and can be fatal.  It had several but looked like it would be treatable.  If they have this virus they have to be taken to Volusia County to a Sea Turtle rescue center within the state of Florida.

This was the storm that was heading in on our beach.  I had gotten permission to do a quick excavation of Nest 23, our last nest, since it was seriously overdue and the high water would most assuredly cover the nest in heavy high surf, as the tide approached high tide level was to happen at about 10 am.  We had already lost one that way with about 90 drowned babies when we excavated the nest.  

When you see the horizon look like this-choppy rather than a solid straight line, you know there is some rough water out there.  One gal told me her husband called it the march of elephants.

When I dug into the nest the eggs were just starting to hatch with tiny noses poking through some of the eggs and a few already broken through with front flippers out but still half way inside the eggs shell.  I didn't know what to do, but the water had already washed over the nest, and in the end I could not cover them back up to drown.  I got all the eggs out and into a bucket.  They hatched out over a period of several days.  The wind continued to churn the water for days on end.

But finally the sun came out and although the water stayed rough for days afterward the worst of it was past and the wind let up a bit.

It is odd to look out this far and still see a big breaker like this.  I think there must be a sand bar in this location.  A wonder that surfers haven't found this spot.

The birds were as happy as I was to see the sun breaking through and the wind calming down.   They seems to be singing for joy as I sat looking at the traffic light with the ocean just beyond it.

The bucket continued to fill with hatching babies.  I was able to release about 17 the first day the water calmed down enough.  The rest were released in the days following as they completed their hatching and had umbilical cords dry enough for them to be ready for releasing.  I am not sure the final count.  The water was still too rough for them to have an easy trip through the breakers.  That, plus the cooler temperatures, made for less energetic turtles since they are reptiles who need the warmth to function well.  All of this is reason enough to dread what will happen when a turtle lays after the middle of August.

This was most of the first group of releasees.  I sat them down, but it took a lot of encouragement, which is not the usual thing to happen, to get them to head into the water as the air temperatures were so chilly that they said they would rather be back in their warm bucket and take a nap.  The water was actually warmer than the air.  Several people had to rescue them later in the day and further down the beach, when they were washed back onshore because they were unable to get beyond the breakers.  We had stayed with them for over an hour trying to make sure they were all out.

Its hard to let your babies go out into such a wild and woolly world, especially when you know this will be the very last ones on the island for another 6 months or so.

It was even harder to let go my mother and aunt as they were heading home the next day.  I took the day they before they left to just hang out and take them to eat out at the beach and try to just enjoy being here.  The next day my sister would fly with them back home to Tennessee.

It was time now for them to go.  They were very happy to be leaving but I would continue to worry about them just the same.  It was difficult for them once they got home.  They were still working on the house remodeling project, and so much of their "stuff" had been moved about. Change is not good for those with some dementia issues already.  Mom's eye sight has continued to deteriorate.  They are still having trouble finding things but now seem to have settled in a bit more and seem more in control of things now when I talk to them.  Mom has had one trip to the hospital with kidney stones Week before last.  The Fall was certainly full of difficult decisions, some of which would have been made easier without it all happening at once.  You can only do what seems the best at the time, and hindsight is not always good, because you can't undo what you have already done;  second guessing or Monday morning quarterbacking as it is called does no good.  You can only deal with what is, not what might have been.

To say the issues at home for them were miraculously solved would not be true.  I wanted the family to be the caretakers, but with most of us being away from where they so desperately wanted to be--their home, we had to settle for other solutions.  Right now we are depending on Billy and Donnie who live next door and love mom and Helen very much.  Billy is also diabetic so he understands the problems facing Helen, and can help her deal with that, but he is only there for a short period in the morning and a while at night.  He cannot always monitor her eating even though he does try.  It is only through our insisting that he even accepts pay for what he is doing because he and Donnie both love Mom and Helen very much.  It is still a temporary fix for a long term situation.  Do we spend their small stash of savings on making their house more livable, so they qualify for Tenn Care or do we use it up paying for care until it is used up and then they will qualify for Tenn Care.  Big questions with no easy answers as everyone thinks their ideas are the best.  Time will see more change as we continue to try to get everyone on the same page, as far as getting them the care they need.  Sometimes family members can be at their worst when it is most crucial that they be at their best.  

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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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