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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Amelia Island Artists Workshop
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
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)


I enjoy watching the Willets as, unlike the Sanderlings who constantly race to avoid the water, they don't mind getting their feet wet when they fish.  I'm sure part of that has to do with their long, more stilt-like legs keeping dry what needs to be dry.  Their beak is built for gouging deep in the sand bringing up shellfish which have burrowed beneath the surface leaving pock marks in the sand as they engage in their constant search for food. 
 
It is also perfectly adapted to prying open those tightly closed shells to get the treasured morsels inside.  I enjoyed a nice meal of steamed mussels this week, but no skill is required as those shellfish had totally surrendered to their fate.
 
It was a Labor Day weekend with my friend, fellow turtle lover, and fishing partner, Lisa, back for a weekend visit.  She now has a job back in Gainesville as a preschool Day Care teacher.  Not having children of her own, her animals, other critters of various species, and her kiddies at school fill that role.  Once Chris, one of the Rangers, introduced her to fishing she became obsessed with the sport.  Her trip down here was to pick up a new pet, a big black monster of a lizard called a Euromastic Lizard, with a face and black rotund body only a mother could love.  It was to be taken to her classroom to help educate the children about nature and all its variety of critters.
 
It was exciting for her to find one of "her" nests had hatched during the night.  We had even checked it the night before and had seen no signs of hatching but by morning they were gone. 
 
Not so many Goat's Foot vine flowers this year but this one was beautiful like a gal in a soft summer dress spread over the sand.
 
Lisa loves the island and tried not to cry as we took a leisurely last morning Turtle Patrol ride around the park, even taking our fishing rods for a few last casts.  We fed the gulls, looked for fossils, and stayed as long as her schedule would allow before she headed back to North Georgia to face some monumental problems.  (Her husband had received an MS diagnosis the day before coming down here.  We are now waiting to see the "stage" and treatment.)  We figured this was a better use for our bait shrimp then feeding the crabs because the fish sure weren't interested in them.
 
One of the younger Gopher Tortoises was on the river beach West of the Fort.  Lisa decided to check to see whether it was a girl or a boy.  The verdict?  "It's a boy" as evidenced by his concave plastron.  They have very odd feet very much like an elephant.
 
Since it was a holiday and Bruce was working the gallery we had time to spend watching the river activity, the big orange tug, and the very serious gun boat escort as our star of the day waits in the wings.
 
The flotilla was brought up with the Coast Guard and the Sub Tenders bringing up the rear.  Looks like they may need an engine tune up by the smoke trail they were leaving.
 
And now center stage is the big, black, sea bottom vessel; one of our submarines goes zipping by at a fast pace.  The East side of the Fort is a very good place to watch this parade and the families of the crew often come from Kingsland to witness their return from near this spot.
 
Often the crew is out on the back deck but today there is only a few casually hanging out on top of one of the most powerful instruments of national defense on earth.  Thankfully they are ours.
 
The Sub Tenders, the West Wing and Black Powder bring up the rear.  With this finale our morning was over and Fruit Loop the lizard, the name chosen by Lisa's students, and Lisa head north. 
 
This past week has been busy with nest excavations, a visit by Lisa, my daughter-in law, and other surprise events which would demand too much space to put in one story.  Relaxing for a minute and feeding squirrels from my back patio I catch one of Florida's native sons, a Green Anole, playing peek a boo with me on my pond plants.
 
As the days shorten the morning sunrises become more special.
 
The off shore hurricane from weeks past is just now starting to deposit some of its debris on our beach in the form of more sea shells...and tons of sunglasses.  The sunglasses are in such quantity that I easily assume it is part of garbage dumped overboard by cruise ships taking the quicker and illegal way of getting rid of their garbage.  I found 15 pair in a short span of 25 feet in one morning.
 
This large, and beautiful barnacle, though an undesired invasive species, was also part of the deposits.  They have been brought into the Atlantic from the Pacific on the bottom of ships.  I will say it has been a while since I have found a live one so maybe that is a good thing.
 
Near the gallery I am also catching some of the sunsets as my day ends, which tells you that my work day is too long.
 
Rizza, my son's wife, and Pat, her mother enjoyed our island very much and loved the great surprise sunset nature slipped in after we had decided it wasn't going to happen.
 
Rizza accompanied me to the beach on Sunday for a nest excavation where found a perfect Sand Dollar but it was not one to take home, but to return to the water.
 
Turning it over we could see that it was still very much alive as the hairy like covering was moving in the light.  A toss back into the deeper water and it should go on to live many more days.  Unfortunately the once plentiful Sand Dollars are rare, at least partly because too many people have taken the live ones as souvenirs without regard to the fact that they were living sea creatures.
 
Operating with a handicap, this Gull has adapted quite well to life in the wild.  Probably losing its foot to a monofilament line tightly wrapped around the leg, cutting off circulation, or getting it snapped off by a fish bite as it dangled in the water.  It was walking on the stub with only a slight limp.
 
A rare sight on our beach is an America Oyster Catcher, distinguished by that massive beak built for cracking into tough hard shells, -and looking like it has a carrot sticking out of its head.
 
I has been lower tides this past week allowing me to enough treasure hunting the shore line and an opportunity to observe the beautiful runoff patterns I like so much.  This one was especially striking with the jetty rocks beside it giving some extra drama.  This was only the beginning of an exciting and busy week laying ahead of me.  Stay tuned....
 
(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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