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Amelia SanJon Gallery
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


My new assistant, Turtle Volunteer Ramona Peters, is learning the ropes on the proper way to pick up a spiny Horseshoe Crab.  They will not bite you, but sometimes can pinch your fingers between the two parts of their shells when you get your fingers in the wrong place.  They move the rear part a lot when you pick them up, getting caught is a lot about getting your finger in a door.


We certainly had our work cut out for us with more nesting continuing up into June than we have had before.  With the busy nesting activities it meant a whole bunch of stranded Crabs to rescue.  it was our daily workout program, bend. lift, hold out like lifting a weight, walk to the water in soft sand which adds to the effort to walk.  That and walking the West end of the beach about a quarter to a half mile helps with the exercise program also.  


Usually when we pick up the female Horseshoe Crabs it takes two hands to hold onto them because they are so large.  This was a female, you can tell by her front pinchers which are just like all the rest, but the smallest one I had ever seen.  Guess they get started earlier and earlier.  Must be that fast food hormones.  Is there a MacDonalds down there somewhere?


These turtle tracks are a false crawl, which means she thought about laying really hard, but then decided she wasn't ready after all or something just wasn't right.


This pair of Least Terns was hanging out on our beach quite a bit, a lot of mornings, but no nesting on our beach.  They look like they are getting ready to play some sort of game with the line drawn in the sand.  I happen to know that is not part of their mating ritual, although they did look pretty chummy.  Now if he brings a nice shiny minnow and offers it to her, and she takes it, then watch out, the fireworks are about to start.


A young Merganser was back this year, actually probably a new one, because otherwise it would be all grown up this year.  Someone last year asked me what kind of bird looks like a duck but has a bill like a regular bird.


By the middle of June, the days will once again start getting shorter so that by the end of the summer I will once again get to catch some real sunrises.  I could go in earlier but getting up at 6 is about the best I can do with the rest of my schedule.


Fresh Sea Turtle tracks are a beautiful sight early in the morning.  Glad that these did not turn around with a change of heart.


Our Wilson's Plovers are still actively raising their kids.  Mom and Dad try to keep an eye on them.


If this mountain looks familiar it is a good part of the view I grew up with when my mom and dad was raising us kids and we were looking at it every day from 4th grade on until I graduated.  Now the neighbors, who moved in later, have trees that pretty much block our view.  Now I have to go up the hill to be able to see the familiar shape of Chimney Top Mountain that once was ours to see.


A walk up the hill on the other side of mom's house gives a nice sunset happening further up the mountain range.


It was going to be a good week to get to see my brother Mike and his wife Denise, from Washington State, but it was a hard week.  With Mike and Denise both in the medical fields it is helpful to have them evaluate the situation.  Mom and Helen are happy living alone and the way we manage to keep it possible is with the help of the neighbors, which we affectionately call "The Boys" although they are not boys although young men--everyone is young to me these days.  In the South you can be a boy until you are an old man.  Downside is the guys next door, who really are the ones who look after them, have sold their house.  Billy the actual caretaker, will still be coming by two times a day to see about them, give them their meds, and is now is even putting something on to cook mornings so they don't just live on sandwiches.  When they return in the evening they make sure they eat a balanced meal.  If Billy doesn't actually sit down with them and see that they eat my mom will just get up and ignore the food, as we found out when we were up there, and fix herself a Liver loaf sandwich.  They are a Godsend as they say.  It is hard to picture that my mom who used to browse every cookbook she could find for new recipes is happy to eat a bowl of cereal and then sandwiches the rest of the day.  Where I grew up has no amenities for Seniors, no meals on wheels not senior center where you can go to socialize.


On the last leg of the trip home we were so late getting back that we spent the night with my son, Eric.  He had taken the day off, I thought to be with us, but turns out he was expecting his cousins from Tennessee down for a fun day at the pool.  Us mom's will take whatever we can get, however it comes our way.


A quick cruise around the lake, Lake Conway, his house is on was fun to see how the other half lives.


The oldest Granddog, Mocka looked like she might take flight.  Dogs really like the wind in their faces.


The youngest, Butchie Jones (my daughter-in-law is a true Tennessee fan), really liked it too.  A long haired Dachie, he is a real sweetie...but my sister had promised me a massage, the house guests had arrived, and I needed to get home quickly after being gone for a whole week.  Turtle Nests were popping at the beach and I could not bear to miss another minute.


A perfectly beautiful nest today was a great welcome home.


A beautiful set of Loggerhead tracks in the sand.  This part is made by their back flippers which covers up most of the front flipper tracks as they move forward.  She appears to be draggng some small something in her middle track.  it could be a barnacle on her plastron or it could be a dragging Coacia but would expect it to be a wider drag mark if that were the case.



Now this was an odd one and one we hated to have turn around without laying a nest.  it was a Green Turtle.  Her funny track with the pecular track indicated that she had something wrong with one of her flippers.  It was such a destinctive track that they recognized it when she laid further down the beach but outside the park.  We did get one Green Turtle nest and that is exciting to at least have that.  There are 8 all total on the island, a record for the island.  This one has  an expected drag mark down the middle as Green Turtles have a longer tail than Loggerheads, and usually will leave a drag mark that shows a pattern similar to a dash dot, dash dot pattern formed with the pause between her crawl pattern with each stroke of her flippers.


We had a lot of unusual false crawls.  This one plays ring around the roses with our sign post.  She seemed to get her flipper caught and was only able to disentangle herself by going all the way around the pole.  A further indication that reinforces the fact that a turtle can't crawl backwards.  They only know how to go forward.  We are fighting a battle now with people who think it is OK to leave their tents, beach chairs, and toys on the beach right where Sea Turtles are coming into lay.  When a sea turtle crawls into this kind of mess she cannot get out of it because of this inability to move in reverse.


More really pretty Loggerhead tracks perfectly excuted without any thing visible wrong with this turtle.


Back at the hacienda the Black Swallowtails had found my puny Dill plant and were happily eating away.  I put them in the sunshine and they didn't really seem to like the hot sunshine.  All three went into this defensive stance, trying to look bigger.  They can also put these feather like appendeges out of their head area and release a spray that has an odd smell to ward off predators.  I have had them do that to me when I needed to move them.


They have a pretty pattern and I thought this was a pretty photo of them.


More of our Creepy crawly friends is our Banana Spiders (Golden Orb Spider) have been plentiful after almost disappearing for a couple of years.  We are happy to have them back even though our house looks a lot like we are getting ready for Halloween.  They are facinating to watch and study.  The female if big and beautiful with her colors on her rear end which looks like the colors in an over ripe banana, hence their name.  The rich colors in their long legs is also nice.  The male is a tiny little guy who treats her gingerly, espcially since the consequencs of not making her happy, can result in your being eaten.  The webs are quite large and tough as a silk thread are the threads she uses in her construction.


Moving these guys inside to insure their safety you can see how beautiful and also how even though they look alike, there are slight differences that make each a unique pattern.  This is true also of Monarchs whose patterns are all slightly different from each other. 


More interesting turtle tracks up into the dune grasses which always makes it difficult to call...is it or isn't it a nest?  You try not to mess with the tracks until you make the call.  You put your Sherlock Holmes hat on and try to follow the clues.  Did she spray sand onto the plants around where she would have nested, and are the plants in the tracks still rooted in the sand or were they pulled up.  When you see a sand sugar like surface on the plants and you can pull on plants and they are dug up, then you have a nest.   I had one like this which I was not sure if I read it right in the last story, but it was a nest.  I had two others which I did not call a nest but so far I haven't seen any tracks on the beach which led to a nest not marked.


I Like it when I see the birds at the Alligator Farm in the nesting rookery there, out in the wild up here on our own island.  This one has some of its mating plummage still visible.


The Black Swallowtails are starting the change process as the pupa stage.  Soon the chrysalis will form.  These have a very delicate system worked out.  It attaches the tail area then seems to toss its head part around until it gets a string all the way around the back side of the upper third of the body.  It then is hanging by a thread looking like it is being held by the safety harness of a lineman at work up a pole.



Another great looking Sea Turtle nest.  It is a long one with a body pit dug before she decided on her final place.  The crab hole in the middle of the screen helps us to make a more educated estimate of the location of the nest chamber.  


These tracks told me a very sad story.  The very romantic heart was from someone who really didn't have one. You can see the turtle's pretty normal gait the you see it suddenly change as it appears some thoughless sub-human person decides it would be fun to ride the back of a turtle.  The poor turtle made her way on forward a ways before laborously turning around with her load, and trying to head back to make her escape from such stupid harrassment.


They wer so proud of their thoughtless prank that they made lines at the bottom to form a heart.  It's a good thing for them that I didn't catch them doing that or they might not still be walking free.  You can see the foodprints where they had to put their weight down on one foot to keep their balance in several places and also where they seemed to dismount, and the turtle was able to regain her natural gait.  Needless to say the turtle did not get to lay any eggs that night. If they don't get to lay sometimes they drop their eggs into the water.


Some mornings are really nice when you catch a Monarch just coming out of the Chrysalis like the one on the right of the photo.


This is what the Black Swallowtail Chrysalis looks like.  you can see the thread that suspends the middle part more clearly in this photo.


Our next to the last of our Plover Families, were enjoying the Northwest breeze that was blowing and cooling off the hot summer air.  They just sat for a good while as if posing facing into the wind.


Next door to my house there was another family situation with a pair of Red Bellied Woodpeckers with a nest in this old dead tree trunk.  The parent had  just fed the youngsters.  Every family seems to be really doing well this year.


In an effort to try to beat off the summer doldrums and now an approaching hurricane, it is questionable if I will be able to survive as a business.  In an effort to turn things around I wanted to get an early start on ordering this years Save The Turte T-Shirts.  I told Bruce today that maybe they should also be called the Save the Turtle Lady T-Shirts.  I will possibly be adding a sleeping shirt to the mix.  Once again Blowfish Artworks, a local printing company, will be doing the shirts.  They have a great video of the process they use to make the shirt.  Go watch David Brown show you his new technology for silk screened shirts at Blowfish Art take a look.  I do not want to upstage the Turtle Trot Race in anyway, but if you are not running in the race, especially those of you not local then we would appreciate your support for our gallery.  


(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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