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

It's time to order the Save the Turtle Tee Shirts!!  This year I have found a good local printer who can really give me some good quality and true to color Silk Screen Prints.  Since Blowfish Art is local I can oversee what is being done and make sure it is what I want quality and color wise.  I was disappointed in what was done last year but since it was done in another state I did not see it until it arrived and it was too late then to do anything about it.

I also want to remind everyone that I can do reproduction (prints) of any of my paintings, including any of the past Turtle Trot paintings, paintings done as commissions, also including any photographs I have done.  Below is my newest painting, which sold almost as quickly as I signed my name to it.  The print of the painting looks good and I have already sold one of those. Keep in mind that you can order prints in a variety of sizes.  We also can do the matting and framing for any of the prints you would like.  We are trying to offset the dismal summer of low sales to keep the gallery running.

Just call the gallery or my cell and let me know if you want a T-Shirt or a print so they can be done before Christmas.  Problem with a painting as detailed as this is that it takes a long time to paint.  I started it a year ago and did not work on it constantly, putting it away and then pulling it back out to work on when I had the extra time, then when I finally decided the direction it would take, and I was through with all of my commissions, I went to work on it in earnest.  It became a painting of the butterflies I have in my backyard and the plants they need.  Not all the plants do I actually have but the plants I wish I had.

The Park has too many deer.  We need more Bobcats to keep the Deer population in check, but for a few years our Bobcat population has been down.  We think feral cats have brought in distemper which has caused our Bobcat population to dwindle.  Any trappers out there would probably be welcome if they had an extra Bobcat in their truck.  I didn't actually say that did I?

We seldom see any Bobcats in the park.  We hope they rebound soon.  A healthy mix of wildlife is much better for the whole park.  But nothing is more majestically beautiful than the deer, especially when they have the cutest babies in the world.  We all loved the movie Bambi and that is what we all think about when we see one of those cute little speckled fellows.

Now this fellow, not so sweet and cuddly, and during Turtle Season not one of my favorite critters on the beach, but they also have their place in the broad scheme of what we call the balance of life in nature.  This one seems to have a problem eye.  It seems to not have sight in one.  I saw one of the Plovers getting pretty aggressive with one when it was too near its chicks, so that could very well be what happened.  When your eyes are stuck up in the air like this guy it can be an easy target for a beak.

As beautiful as the Doe and her Bambi offspring, the young and older bucks are equally beautiful looking very majestic with the way they stand and walk always holding that head up high and seem to be all muscle when you see them climb an embankment.

Here is our very funny Little Snowy Egret.  He has been hanging out in the part of the beach East of the Fort most mornings, and I have really enjoyed his antics.  Of course reality tells me I don't know for sure it is the same one but I like to think it is.

Bird foot prints make an interesting pattern in the sand.

The Deer are getting to be pretty blase' when humans are around.  Amy is out there most every morning taking their pictures and they are getting pretty used to people with a camera hanging around their necks.  This one laid down with me standing nearby obviously quite comfortable with my presence.  The big dark spot on it's back leg is some kind of big flying insect buzzing the deer and caught in the photo in midair.

I believe that the Plover chicks have had a very good season.  The larger they get the better chance they have of survival.  I don't think that any of the parents were able to raise all the little ones they hatched out to reach fledging size though.

Human little ones are also cared for by parents on the beach.  This cute little girl was being transported in a fun way by her dad and evoked smiles of all they passed.  Nothing like a dad and his little girl.

The high tides always present me with some beautiful patterns in the bottoms of the tidal pools on the river beach.  These tidal pools, formed by storms by washing the sand away, often are filled back in in a few weeks, but some last most of the summer.

When filled with water they make great reflecting pools when the air is still.

As the water recedes, it keeps leaving unique patterns that are constantly changing with each tide.  This one gives one of those repeat patterns so close and squiggly that it begins to make you almost dizzy when you look at it for a few minutes.

The patterns of ever changing Ghost Crab tracks, telling the story of their activities from the night's forging efforts, mix with the repeat leaf patterns the Goats Foot Vine creates as it inches forward in its straight march to wherever it happens to wind up.  Sometimes the vine has an occasional interruption in the monotony of the leaf repeats, with a beautiful white Morning Glory type blossom. 

A tragedy and a rescue combined.  I didn't get a photo of the one which was saved, but these were two babies and the other a much larger large Ray of the same species.  Not sure which kind of Ray as there are a lot of them.  Too many fishermen don't like to catch the Stingrays and so all Rays are lumped in the same gene pool, as far as the fishermen are concerned, and they are left on the beach upside down, often with their stingers cut off, to die in the hot sun.  In this case the large one had remained alive and was moving it's mouth as the returning tide covered was giving it another chance at life.  I carefully turned it over in the water and after a few seconds it swam away.  The little ones were not so lucky as both were dead.  Rays are very gentle creatures except when you step on one and then they will defend themselves with that barb on their tail and it can be extremely painful.  The secret is to shuffle your feet in the sand when walking in the water so that you don't step down on top of one.  They are also very graceful underwater as their body is a wings like shape that lets them seem to fly through the water.

We were all very disappointed that our Ospreys did not have a successful nesting for a third year.  They ended up just using the platform as a place to eat and hang out after a while.  Their loosing streak started with a year when they lost their chicks in a bad storm, then the next year-last year Alpha, the Dad, flew into the power lines and broke his wing, and can never fly free again.  Left were two chicks and the mother, Little Girl, which tried to do the job of both parents by feeding and guarding the chicks.  One chick disappeared near fledging time, then the other fell out of the nest, as it was trying to learn to fly, and broke its wing, and will also never be able to be released into the wild.  So a lot of disappointment this year when once again we were destined to not have a successful nesting.  We don't know why, but we never saw any chicks and eventually we realized there were none to see.

This was the furtherest West on the river that we had a Plover nest and was the reason I could not ride my beach buggy past the Fort in the Park, at least until the nesting season was over, but still must check it.  I tried to keep from hurting my knee any more than was possible, as I was taking the gel shots in it at the time.  That is the last thing that can do to give you relief once the cortisone stops working.  The walking would make it sore the next day, but I made it through the bird nesting season.  I actually have an appointment set for getting knee replacement again for the middle of January of 2015.

In the beginning it looked like they did lay their eggs and maybe even had small chicks as you can see the dad bringing food and it looks like momma might be feeding little chicks or else she is just rearranging the nest.

Although a bit blurry I thought the wings showed motion in a very interesting way.

The deer were visible most every morning.  These hung out West of the Fort near the Plover nest in the earlier photo.  I liked the contrast in the sunlight on the beach grasses and the dark of the Maritime Forest behind them.

The Plover chicks grew as the season progressed from little fluff balls to gawky long legged teenagers.  One fellow, who is determined to try to keep the turtle people from riding on the beach with their vehicles, published Photographs of my tire tracks and tried to say I had almost run over a plover chick which was hidden in some wrack nearby.  Of course if that were the case, then this chick should be flattened by the tire tracks which I had made from another day or earlier in the same day.  Just because the chick was close to my tracks one morning, does not mean the chick was there the same time I made the tracks.  That's just silly.

A Willet is fishing for breakfast in the tidal pool on the riverside.  There were always schools of minnows swimming from one end to another.  Sister Susan and I even caught some bait minnows there one morning for our fishing expedition after Turtle Patrol.

The juvenile Mergansers were hanging out together.  I didn't realize until I saw this photo that there were three of them because I did not remember there being three, but only two. It is not a usual thing for this species to hang around here in the summer so maybe number three went on with its migration.

I was aggravated to see this Publix balloon floating in the tidal pool one morning.  I even wrote a note on their Facebook Page telling them I was disappointed in them, seeing a balloon with their name on it, which could become a potential death cause for Sea Turtles and birds.  Birds can and do often get the ribbon wrapped around their legs and have their lives cut short because they can no longer compete for food.  Turtles swallow the balloons and it will kill them as it prevents their swallowing food, and they starve, or else it can cut off their air supply.  I just don't understand why people keep releasing balloons when they are so lethal for the birds, turtles, and other aquatic creatures.  Publix responded to my comment saying they were sorry, but the balloon had obviously been given to a child, as if that made it OK.  That makes it even more irresponsible, because a child will naturally let it go.  Give them a balloon without helium, please.

The Little Snowy Egret was doing what appeared to be a Happy Dance and not only did I take some good still photos I took video of it as it jumped and bounced around the same tidal pool catching minnows.  I knew that the Reddish Egret does this wing spreading but had not seen the Little Snowy going through this ritual before.

The spreading of the wings puts shade on the surface of the water and the minnow thinks it is somewhere to hide underneath, making them easier to catch. Just goes to prove how smart birds are.

The Fourth of July came and went with the surreal feeling that summer was moving way too fast.  We walked over to the beach beside the Ritz Carlton rather than fight the traffic of downtown fireworks.  It had rained earlier and a lot of people left the area, which is usually jam packed with cars.  I love sparklers but wonder if this adult realized just how hot those sparklers get...I have heard they get to be about 1400 degrees.  I can see a small child like this reaching around with that other hand and causing some real physical damage to himself.  Police stopped people from entering via Peter's Point Park because of over crowding, which also accounted for the lesser number.

The police put a bit of a damper on the fireworks too, which have always been permitted, as the people next to us had a big bag they meant to shoot off, but were told by the officer on our beach, that they could not shoot their fireworks, so they took them back to he car.  However they did not enforce it anywhere else as there were fantastic fireworks going off up and down the beach on either side of us.  But the Ritz Carlton put on a great display as usual as did the City of Fernandina Beach and The Omni Plantation.  No one was lacking in Fourth of July entertainment.  I especially like firworks at Fourth of July because of the "Rockets Red Glare" line in the Star Spangled Banner makes me relive the experience he must have had as they waited for signs "that the flag was still there".

This has been an interesting piece of driftwood to be enjoyed on our beach in the Park.  There are several kinds of drilling aquatic creatures which can do this kind of thing from an Oyster Drill, Atlantic Drill, to Sponge Drillis, which can drill holes like this in other shell fish as well as wood.  It could have been drilling the barnacles that were once fastened here.  I have a small piece of wood with these holes in it and I glued a pearl in each hole to make a necklace.  It would take some very large pearls to fill these holes.

One of my beach combing friends who is out there most mornings looking for Sharks Teeth.  He is so very nice that he brings me a cup of them whenever I give him a shout to say "I'm about out of Sharks Teeth".  He will show up on my gallery doorway with a new supply of them, which I give to children who come into the gallery.

Another set of Sea Turtle tracks which have come in during the night.  A disappointing season with my second lowest nest count in the 12 years I have been doing it with only 11 nests all season long.

What we were lacking in Sea Turtle Nests we more than made up for with Horseshoe Crab nesting which seemed to me to be increasing.  They were nesting heavily, laying in areas they had not used that much in the past.  One morning I put more than 30 back in the water which had become stranded like these two (yes, there are two here) or gotten turned upside down.

Some days the clouds are just so beautiful that you just want to be able to show it but I know that a camera cannot get the effect without it being able to shoot all 360 degrees.  Without mountains to block the view the sky is so big here.

In the areas outside the park they "verify" each nest by digging into the nest until they find the top eggs and if they don't find it they don't count it.  They were having a particularly difficult time locating the eggs in this one, but assume they did finally find them as they had it marked next day.  I'm glad we don't have to do that as it is hard work.  Ours were 100 percent by just looking at it and saying, yes that is a nest by the signs left...if it looks like a nest, it is a nest.

More Horseshoe crabs to put back in the water.

I'm not sure why these beautiful Blue Crabs were deliberately killed because I had never seen them done this way before.  To catch and eat is one thing but just to catch and kill for the sake of killing I don't understand.  Blue Crabs are protected with rules for size in taking them to insure that they don't get too depleted.  There were 3 of these fellows within a few feet of each other with at least one of the others too small for keeping, all with a hole punched into their backs to kill them.  I don't know if they were on a  fisherman's line or if possible a Shrimp Boat had pulled them in with their catch, and done this to them.  I am a fisherman and don't mean to say all people fishing are not mindful of not killing what they are not going to eat, but many are.

Another beautiful Paella dish is always such a treat and we are always excited when Debra and Nancy invite us over to dine on this dish which they do so beautifully.  A Spanish dish that was a favorite of Bruce's when he lived in Spain as a teenager.  This one was slightly different, as they usually are, because Debra likes to tweak the recipe with a few new ingredients each time.  Of course that is what it is all about using a whole lot of ingredients that you might have on hand with no exact recipe needed to follow.  I'm sure each family had their own family recipe in Spain.

Another deer morning with one of the Bambi's hanging out with its mom and aunts.  This is a very meadow like area with a wide expanse of grass just East of the Fort.  The sign is telling us not to go through there because of bird nesting. and I believe there was a Night Hawk nesting in there at the time, and they do lay their eggs on the bare ground.  Wonder if the deer are ever a problem to the success of the nests?

Another sweet photo of a baby deer with its spots.

The beach sky was full of these big Dragonflies almost all summer long, which are very hard to get still enough to photograph.  

One of my few sunsets was one of the evenings when I had a park meeting to attend.  This is the area on the Amelia River where the Park adjoins this public use area with a boat launch and picnic pavilion.  A mom had just walked to the water's edge with her children to enjoy it with me.

Bunny continued to grow and looked very healthy with his/her daily diet of carrots.  Since my return from my mom's I have only spotted a rabbit out here only twice, but I continue to leave him carrots in hopes that he will come back and remember me.  I would not have thought that just a week away would allow him to just forget us.  It was probably just time if it was a male to go hunt for a girlfriend or vice versa if it was a female maybe ready to start her own family.
 The summer had flown by so quickly that it seems it had hardly begun, and then we start getting 50's at night, pulling out a blanket to sleep underneath, and opening the windows.  Wish it would slow down just a bit, but I understand that the older you get the faster it seems to go.  I never seem to get caught up, but at least that way life is never boring.

(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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