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

Sometimes our seasons overlap.  Fall is part of winter and winter has bouts of being Spring.

Friends from Kentucky, Mike and Debra, came for a short visit to escape what is real winter in Kentucky.  A walk on Egans Creek gave a nice revisit of our Fall Colors which don't ever seem to come until Christmas and then it is in dribbles.  Some things turn on cue others just seem to be in a state of indecision will I or won't I, is it or isn't it...but on the Greenway was some pretty colors of Fall even though by most calendars, Fall was long gone.

When Mike comes to visit fishing is always in our future.  This day was a very breezy one on Fort Clinch's fishing pier, and the clouds changed so quickly that you would think you were watching one of those time lapse videos condensed into a few minutes what occurred over hours or days.  The sail boat seemed to attempt to copy the whites of the clouds as the wind sent it on its way.

This is what is called by many a herring sky with clouds that resemble the scale patterns on a fish but that was short lived as the upper level winds began to stir it up into a whole different pattern.

The Pelican was grabbing a solid place to rest with less wave action.

Also on our agenda was a trip to The Alligator Farm because of all the critters that Mike and Debra love most, excluding their Basset Hounds, are Alligators.  They were patient enough to even endure having to listen to me give a Power Point Presentation which was conveniently on our way.

We were a bit early for the nesting to begin so it really was a trip to see the Alligators, which is unusual for me since I usually only go for the birds.  There were some birds and I got to watch this Little Green Heron practice his fishing skills as he crept quietly and slowly to the edge of the water where the fish were waiting.

An underwater view of their largest Alligator Maxima.  He and his better half hang out in separate quarters from other alligators and they have produced some offspring.

A visit to see the resident birds which are decked out in such beautiful colors that I have to just marvel at the beauty and perfection I see.

But personality and color is combined in the various Parrots and even a Cockatoo who had a loud mouth to boot.  This is a color hard to duplicate on a Palette and get all the shades and subtleties that a photograph can give you.

Debra was wanting very much to watch the Alligator show in the pen with some of the really big Gators.  She actually wanted to go in and feed but they don't aways let you do that.  Problem was this Cockatoo was jealous of the attention the gal was getting who was gathering a crowd nearby.  He would raise a ruckus every time she was talking making it hard to hear what she was saying.  I took it upon myself to go over and hang out with him so he would not be neglected.  As long as I talked to him he was quiet but as soon as I walked away he would start his banter all over again.

I spent most evenings during the Fall picking up pecans from behind the gallery and another tree on down the street.  By the time the pecan season was over I had a pretty large bag of nuts gathered up to satisfy Lacy's taste for pecans.  One day she came in with her heart set on pecans rejecting the offered Peanuts, even though they were the Jumbo good quality peanuts.  I even offered her a piece of shelled pecan to which she turned her nose up at also.  I knew what she wanted, so I took her to the laundry room and showed her where I had stashed the bag of pecans.  She spent the rest of the evening (until dark when all good squirrels are in bed) running back and forth to get nuts one at a time and taking them outside to stash.  I should have a big forest of pecans trees growing by this time next year.

I took this shot from the car window as I was traveling to my son's house from the airport in Orlando and just realized this week what a nice photo it was.  It seems like there are always exciting clouds when I am in the Orlando area.  It is very seldom that shooting out the car window do I luck up like this one.

Since we were too early for the nesting which is taking place right now at The Alligator Farm, I am going back to last Spring and sharing the photos I took on that trip, but never got time to share.  This is a really lovely shot of the Albino Gator who doesn't usually bask in the sunshine because he is kept in a covered pen to keep it from getting sunburned.  But this time the sun was in a spot where he could get a taste of basking in the warm sunshine.  The turtles, usually a favorite food of less well fed Gators joined him in in their favorite basking position with hind legs stretched out in the warmth taking advantage of every ray it could grab before the sun moved above the roof.

The regular ole run of the mill gators hang out underneath the boardwalk catching feeding from the tourists from the vending machines which sell food for that purpose.

Overhead a Roseate Spoonbill flies in with outstretched wings.  So pretty in flight they look like a pastel cloud.

Awww, a perfect two or is it a three point landing?

Another favorite of mine getting ready for nesting season is the Little Blue Heron.  There are not that many of these in the nesting area so I always like to find them.  Even though the Roseate's have pink chicks, these have solid white chicks, and they do not change their color until they are grown.  Being white helps them blend in with the many other which chicks which are mostly white.  Only their gray beak gives them away.  When they do change it is a splotchy change not a gradual change and they are pretty funny looking with big blue spots mixed at random on their whole bodies.

The Little Snowy Egret is gathering up nesting materials to add to the nest.

It is amazing how fluffy and pretty this ordinary little bird can be at mating time.  Whatever it takes he says.  

Some of the Great Whites, who seem to get the jump on the most of the others, had already started hatching their families.

The ever attentive parents are always feeding, caring, creating shade when the sun shines too hot on the chicks, and tending to all their needs.
As the chicks grow the feeding becomes much more frantic as the chicks outnumber the parents and become almost as large can create some real danger for the mom's eyes a they fight to be the one to get the food.  The feeding parent always feeds, at that time, with their eyes closed.

"I'm watching you so don't try anything"...a snowy Mom sits on her eggs but is not sleeping on the job.

I was surprised that Roseate Spoonbills had chicks already this big.  They will get the more distinct pink color with some age, probably second year.  The bill will grow as they grow.

These smaller chicks are anxious for a meal.  The technique is the same, the parent regurgitates the food and the chicks take it from their mouth.  Theirs seems to be a much gentler feeding than the ones with the sharper beaks.  These chicks, even when they are almost grown still take the food without the frantic fight that seems to ensue when the sharp beaked birds of all the other species eat.

This is the technique they use.  However as they get older and that beak is as long as Mom and Pop's, the beak can be seen going far down to the throat of the parent.

The Cattle Egrets which I think some of the most beautiful color wise are sitting on eggs.  Often during this mating time the area around the eyes is reddish violet blended with orange to add to the color.  This one does not happen to have that color.  Perhaps that coloring is sex specific.

Nothing is as regal as the Great White Egret.  It is easy to see why the Audubon Society chose to use them as their symbol.

Especially when it is mating time, and they grow these lovely long delicate feathers, which once upon a time almost proved to be their demise.  They were hunted almost into extinction for these very feathers until it was outlawed.  Another reason perhaps for the Audubon Society's decision...a success story.

These two love birds where really in the throes of courtship, clacking their massive beaks together, the pink of the lower legs on one which is only during mating time, and the ritual nuzzling and using their long necks to almost embrace the potential mate.

This Little Snowy demonstrates his dance and amazing use of feathers to entice his potential mate to choose him.  The red of the lores is another additional enticement.  He is also very vocal with his throat gargling noise as he reaches to the sky with his head and beak.  After all this show the actual act of mating is pretty uneventful.

It would seem he has won the heart of his beloved.

The Woodstorks like to nest high up atop the crest of the treetops.  This fellow may be scoping out his nest site.

This male Great White exhibits his own graceful dance of love as he lowers that great neck, spreads the feathers like a Peacock, and slowly raises his head until it is pointing to the sky.  It is a great show just to watch the performance.

Although not a very pretty bird, in flight it is a thing of beauty.

This trio seems to be finding their nest a bit too confining, but it won't matter for very much longer, as they will day by day begin to explore their new world a bit at a time, and the nest will only act as a anchor to home and feeding time.

Baby Gators are kept in a holding pond, and knowing how maternal a Gator mom is, I wonder how this world of taking the eggs once laid and hatching in a laboratory situation affects her.  Usually a mother Alligator will stay nearby her nest protecting and waiting to hear the sounds that her babies make inside the egg.  This is the signal for her to start digging into the nest to assist them out.  She will assist them to the water even carrying them in her mouth and will stay with them until they are old enough to leave her care.

One of our regular squirrels got a very unusual nose.  We called her The Schnoz after Jimmy Durante.  Possibly she was bitten by something but eventually the swelling went away and her appearance was more normal.

At one of our sudden drop in temps cold days, preceded by a warm spring like day, I found this sweet little Green Anole left cold stunned on my gallery front porch.  I scooped it up an put it inside a shoe box and brought it home.  I kept him in a critter cage until the weather was once again warmer and released him into the wild of our own back patio.

Friendlier than they usually are, he seemed ready to climb out of the cage, and hang out with me a bit while he scoped out his new territory.

They are so dinosaur looking you can see how their ancestral heritage could have been possible. He quickly acclimated to the new environment.

Butterflies kept laying eggs and although it is advised that you cut back your Butterfly Weed in the Fall there was just never a time that I felt I could do that since there were always eggs on the plants.  So I kept bringing them inside and letting them hatch until one last cold spell in late winter finally put an end to the butterfly factory I had going on in my terrarium.  The last batch of eggs I gathered left me with something like 21 of these fellows.

Often I would walk by and catch one emerging early in the morning as I was preparing to head into work.  Just the sheer numbers of caterpillars put an eventual end to the butterfly raising as they ate all the plants I had left so there was nothing remaining on which a butterflies could lay an egg.

This was the holding area when the weather was too cold to put them outside.  If it was too cold they would just sit all day and I would bring them back inside for the night.  With this many mouths to feed twice a day it was a relief to finally have the butterfly reproduction come to an end.  Feeding butterflies requires a syringe filled with sugar water and the ability to get them to unfurl their probascus to access the sweet nectar offered.  In all it requires patience and time but not impossible.  I kept them contained in the bathroom after losing one of them in the house and never finding it.  It possibly found a ledge high up in one of the skylights, but wherever we never found it.

Hopefully it will be a more productive summer with two good knees there should be nothing else for a while to take up that much time out of my life.  I have a new butterfly painting which I just finished today after starting it in December.  It is important for catching up from all the time I lost convalescing as well as the weeks that followed when I was back at work full time but not fully functioned because of ankle swelling, and just not being back mentally after the surgery.  It just takes its toll on you after having major surgery and a long time of physical therapy to get back fully.  So now I am ready.  The Butterfly painting is my second and a very difficult painting because it has so much going on in it.  I will post a photo in the next story.  I am going to be starting my next year of Sea Turtle Season the first of May a week away.  It expect it will be a better good year ahead for sure.  I am not taking on any projects like the Jones Family Vacation, but am going to concentrate only on getting the gallery in the best shape ever with more of my own products to sell because I don't have to be paid a commission unless the the other bills are paid.

(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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