The first nests laid had started
to hatch. Since I am so enthusastic and like to share the Sea
Turtle work with those not exposed to it I posted the first two Island excavations on
several sites on Facebook. Yeah, I know one site has 6000 people on it.
many people turned out for it that I promised the Amelia Island Sea
Turtle Watch that I would never, ever, do that again. They just
have the ability to handle a crowd this huge. Someone counted
over 500 people in attendance, but it's nice to know that many
people are interested.
we were a month behind in laying we were also a month
later in the beginning of hatching. But there is a lot to
keep life interesting on
the beach besides Sea Turtles. I continued to watch the birds no
longer able to spot the chicks all grown up, the beautiful deer, some
Horseshoe Crabs continued to nest, and with later daylight it meant
almost sunrises I could enjoy. This was one of those sweet and
calm pastel mornings.
first nest was a bit of a puzzle. It was taking longer than we
expected but it was also hard to tell what was happening with many of
this summer because of so many afternoon showers. If it rains a
lot a crust of wet sand forms over the nest and you will not see the
telltale depression usually seen just before hatching time. This
was to be
my one and only Sea Turtle hatchling to get to see at Fort Clinch this
summer. This was also the only readable evidence of a
hatching from this nest. It was sheer luck that I found this
one. I ride the beach, but stay just below the last tide
line when I
do, because that is where we are trained to check for the turtles
tracks of a nesting turtle. Anything below this line is washed
away by the tide.
I walk up to the nest to check each one each day which I
patrol because there are lots of small critters like a certain beetle,
as well as new plants that live in the
sand just above the high tide line and beyond, which can be harmed by
It was because I do park low, that I did not accdently run
over this little fellow. Although it looks as if he is practicing
for a Limbo contest, he had been heading out to the water when he had
tipped over backwards as he had tried to climb over this piece of
wrack which was laying over a slight depression in the sand. His
cries of "I've fallen and I can't get up" were heard.
I righted him it was once again he was energetic and strong like most
hatchlings are when they hatch on their own, and are not delayed in the
bottom of the nest. His little flppers flew as he hurried
forward toward completing this part of his journey. Over the softer upper beach sand and debris left by the high tide mark he went.
to the hard pack part of the beach, too light to leave tracks,
unlike his human counterpart who left the marks of being there before
obstacles for this little fellow as he has to transverse even more
footprints. Looks like he almost does another flip flop. I
am escorting and protecting, but not interferring, letting him fight
his own battles. It is believed this helps them establish their
reliance on their own instincts and their internal GPS
eyes almost closed because of sand still stuck on his head and eyes from his
climb out of the nest, he is determined to get to the water as fast as
Smooth going for a while.
The sand is looking wetter so not very much further.
yes, almost there to where he really will fly so much
easier through the water, where those flipper were designed to work
never saw any other evidence from his nest except this one hatchling,
as it looked like he had climbed out through a crab hole. But the
nest did hatch and was
completely empty of hatchlings when we excavated it. And so the
nest after nest, where all the hatchlings all got out, no stragglers
left in the nest cavity. We finished our season with only 11
nests total. All were very productive except the last 2 nests.
For some reason nest number 10 had half the eggs which did
not have an embryo in it, and nest 11 which had no hatched eggs, and
appeared to be infertile because nothing developed in them. My
theory is that since a turtle only mates before she lays her first nest
that by the time she gets to the end of her laying season she may have
more eggs not fertilized. It
was the second slowest turtle season since I have been doing it
starting with 2003. But no foxes raiding the nest and that was
good. I did see Brer Foxes' tracks on the sand a few times but he
evidently had forgotten about the turtle eggs.
beautiful patterns in the sand, so many day after day, that sometimes I
would be so used to them I would not even slow down to really look at them, Am I starting to take for granted the beauty that is
around me everyday? I hope not.
thing that is not a part of my everyday beach life is this big
structure out in the water. You have seen it before, although it
was sitting out in the water in front of the marina then. It
is the treasure hunter's boat/diver's platform. A pretty ingenious
device as it is motored out to where they want to dive and the poles
are lowered to the bottom elevating the platform up above the rocking
and rolling surface of the ocean. Much
easier to work off a flat stable surface.
from the ocean's bottom some beautiful Sea Stars made their way into
my gallery via Jack Nelson up in Minnesota, who sends them down to our
seaside world. We wish he had crawled in the box and had come
with them. Jack, here it is the Monday after Thanksgiving and I am
in my short sleeve shirt and capris and you are slip sliding on ice, or so I am told, by those visiting from there.
like a mating process is getting ready to take place on my nest marking
sticks by two Stick Bugs. They surely do look like sticks when
their bodies are all that you see. This was the largest one I had
seen. This is a 2 x 2" stick so you can see that the larger one is
easily over 3 inches long.
in the world?? I finally figured out that I was seeing--part of
an alligator's tail. I would say that one of the Gators, which sometimes roam
into the salt water areas, lost more than a piece of his tail, as a
matter of fact, looks like he lost everything, but a piece of his tail. This
was located just to the West of the pier in a definite salt water area.
Gopher Tortoise had been patiently squatting and watching this fisherman, until we
pulled up behind him and spoiled his reverie. I think that he
probably had walked down to the water to take a dip, as they sometimes
do, and was just waiting for the fisherman to leave, but our arrival disturbed him instead.
had been some mighty thundershowers in the hours preceding the spotting
of this vulture on top of a pole at the Pier Parking lot. It
usually is where you would see an osprey sitting, eating its catch, rather
than a Black Headed Vulture trying to dry out its wngs after all the
is always fun to try to catch the many Dragonflies in my backyard with my camera.
They are a challenge to get close enough to get a really good
shot of those wonderful eyes.
Monarchs stopped laying eggs just in time, because I was fast running
out of anything to feed them. This was the last batch of them for
the summer. Then it was wait for the Fall migration to start.
deer were very visible, more than I remember. This doe appears to
be pregnant. I know we did have some late little Bambi's spotted
later than I had expected to see deer that young.
fresh spring green of the Sea Oat heads now show the changing of the
season as their seed heads are almost mature and will soon be dropping
on the sand to replenish next year's crop of dune plants.
young Humming Bird was a frequent visitor to our feeder but also to the
dried limb of an old Christmas Tree I have in my flower garden just for
this purpose. They zoom in and then like a spit wad come to
a sudden stop as they land on their chosen perch.
sweet Lacy comes almost every day and successfully had her own babies
this year for the very first time. I have not see the babies but could
tell she was nursing little ones. She stayed away for almost two
weeks after they were born, and was so very hungry and skinny when she
came back, I was concerned.
Nursing squirrel mothers sometimes die from lack of calcium
because they loose so much when nursing. One person on the island
reported on Facebook that she had found young squirrels nursing their
dead mother. So sad for that to happen. But as self
sacraficing as Lacy was for your young ones I can see how it could
happen. I understand it is a common condition in other animal
species also. Our yard is so well furnished with food for them I
don't think that could happen with our girls, between us and the next
door neighbors we keep the squirrels happy.
can be very demanding in the animal work just like they can be with
their human counterparts. Take this youngster in the Royal Tern
It is begging and begging the mom to feed it just one more time.
The wise mother is not yielding to this pitful pressure, but is
turning a deaf ear and ignoring its plea. She knows that the
chick is quite capable of feeding itself, and she is forcing it to get
hungry enough to hunt for itself. Its tough love in the animal
morning I saw Frank, one of the rangers who whose role as a Civil War soldier
for the living history part of the fort tours, seemed to be lost in thought as he starred off toward
Cumberland Island. It gave me a very real experience of being wisked
back in time for a moment.
male Monarchs were the first to emerge but later we would get females,
even though it seems there were more males than females in the emerging
They are very beautiful and inspired the painting I worked
on throughout the summer of the butterfly garden.
is the promised female Black Swallowtail which is really a beauty.
I had a number of these raised successfully. I often went
to the grocery store and bought parsley to feed them. It was
successful until the last batch. There seemed to be something
wrong with the last batch of parsley I bought, as all five of those
chrysalis did not develop right, and did not emerge as successful.
So raising my own parsely is the best answer. I just need
to start it earlier so that it is large enough to supply the needed
parsley. Organic may be an answer also. I could buy that
for my caterpillars if I needed to supplement their food.
was good to see tracks heading straight to the water. We had
several occasions where it looks as if someone on the street below the
park boundary left a porch light on and pulled our little ones in the
wrong direction down the beach rather than toward the water which
should be the brightest thing they would see. Just before our
last nests were to hatch Amy (Beach Junki) and I put fliers in all the mailbox asking
their cooperation in keeping lights off during that time.
usually lay every three years. If that follows to be true this
next year should be a very good if not a great year so keep your fingers
Have a great Christmas and keep me in your thoughts as
I try to get things organized and prepare for another knee replacement
in the middle of January. So much to do both at the gallery and
here at home that sometimes it is overwhelming. Hopefully I can
get another story off before Christmas as there have been some very fun
things to tell. Lots of new things so stay tuned.
working knees should give me greater mobility for the nest Sea Turtle
Season and I should have plenty of time to recoup before then and then
I am going to walk the length of Egans Creek Greenway.