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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
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

The backyard birdbath has attracted a lot of birds this summer.  We rinse it out and put fresh water in it daily.

Everyone seems to use it, especially seem to have lots of Blue Jays as well as the Cardinals, Titmouse, and even saw a Brown Thrasher the other day.  The other day a Blue Jay flew down to use it while I was standing right beside it.  I wondered if it was B. J., my first avian foundling.

Someone was on top of the old grill flashing his dew flap, either staking out his territory or flirting with the local gals.  He seems to have just shed his skin with just remnants on his nose.  We love our Green Anoles, Florida's only native Anole, although we have lots of the Cubans here now.

My appointed arrival time no longer gets me into the park in time for sunrises, but I still occasionally have some interesting skies to capture.

I do love to catch the rays when they shine through holes in the clouds.

A closer look, and the pelicans are even onshore hanging out in the gulls' usual spot.  They are just so much larger, they really stand out when they are there.

On my way back to the maintenance area there is this one spot of nice tender grass and this pretty fellow was so enjoying it that he just munched away tolerating my presence, until I finally had to start my engine and leave.  Have to get to work, fellow, I can't just hang out with you all day.

Another of my back patio friends is this Broad Headed Skink.  This is not the largest one but this one has had an encounter which left a bite mark on its back, most likely a fight over a girl with the larger Skink.  I don't think our resident snake would have failed to swallow him whole, because Mr. Blacksnake is very fast and we have seen him grab a lizard in a flash.  The color of that head is an amazing color and is a sign it is interested in mating.  The other day I caught a glimpse of it as it ran out of sight underneath the house.  It then stuck its head back out and we had a staring contest for a while.

My Angel's Trumpet keeps on blooming; this resulted when I pointed the camera vertically up inside the bloom trying to capture the light I see shining on it from above.

I see changes in the beach daily as I ride.  The tide not only takes sand away it also builds the beach back at other times.  In the winter with a lot of Nor'easters it takes sand away eroding the beach making it more steep and sometimes with washes, but now it is bringing in new sand.  The ripply sand is hard packed base sand but the smooth is new fluffier sand just being deposited on the beach visibly filling in this low area from day to day.  

Ken, my familiar fishing friend was on station, he sits on the beach almost every morning.  When he is not there I worry he is sick, except on Friday when I know he is off mowing his church's lawn.  We exchange waves each way as I make my way around to check my turtles.  Sometimes he asks if they have started coming in or if they are hatching and I counter by asking how the fishing is.

But the sea turtle nesting did finally begin.  The water has been very cool and the laying has been very slow and much later than last year.  But on the 15th of May we finally did get our first nest.  She worked so hard and crawled so very far it must have taken her forever.  I could tell by the tracks which went all the way into the low tide that she had not been gone very long and if I had not spent so much time putting Horseshoe Crabs back in the water I might have gotten to see her.  She was undecided when she first came in about finding a spot, and did a loop early on, then crawled to the dune, did another turn around then crawled parallel to the water before finally laying her nest.  

Then she headed back to the water which by now was even further than before as the tide had continued to go out.  When she came in, there had still been some water in the low spot which I could tell she had to crawl through, but on the exit the tide had taken it away.

Phyllis one of our regular campers in the park was waiting to show me the nest when I got to the beach.  She helped me get the stakes driven in to mark the nest and was even wearing my last year's Turtle Trot T-Shirt in honor of the event.

Clearly a nice set of tracks from a pretty big gal. This was the second nest on the island.

The first was just outside the park within sight of the other but certainly not the same turtle as not enough time has passed between laying.  They need about 2 weeks to be ready to lay again.

One of my favorite Springtime and still blooming wildflowers is Spiderwort.  The airport grassy areas looked like a Texas freeway with its Lady Bird Blue Bonnets in bloom, but I knew it would not last.  The mowers could not stand such an unkempt area and mowed them down at the peak of their bloom but they will rise again, and next year they will be back.

More color in the Pelican painting as it continued to take shape.

I thought the patterns in the hard packed sand was interesting against the Horseshoe Crab as he made his way across it trying to get back to the water.  He hardly leaves a track here.

This couple parted ways as "she" returned ahead of "him" since he was delayed by getting stuck in the sand.  Guess he just wouldn't stop for directions.  A rescue was in order.  If I can get them to walk back on their own I let that happen as it saves me having to mount and dismount so many times on the ATV.

After a particularly high tide several live shellfish were left on the beach.  This Whelk was unceremoniously tossed back in the water.

Here we had two.  There was one thing inside the shell which I was not sure if it was its original inhabitant or if it were a Hermit Crab but which ever he had a hitch hiker in this slug like critter.  I think they are called squirts because when you squeeze them they squirt water out...not really sure about that and I tried to look them up.

One of my butterfly gardens with the Mexican Butterfly Weed.  It is not the "native" one recommended but it is affordable, -as it is free from cuttings I gathered from the Museum or was gifted me by friends.  My caterpillars seem to do fine with it.

This big leaved variety of Milkweed, my sister bought for me, has very pretty blooms although I never see the Monarchs use it for laying, however they will eat it if I put it in the holding tank for them.  The blossom is very interesting and unusual.

Another Sea Turtle release with a couple of juvenile Green Turtles marked the start of the annual Wild Amelia Festival.  This was May.  The sign says "May" you swim long and prosper.  The staff at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center always signs a poster wishing their patients a good trip.

This one is Macy, so named because it was so emaciated when found here on Amelia Island.  The photograph on the green board is a before photo of this now healthy sea turtle.  It had lots of barnacles and also had the "Papilloma virus" which can be fatal if left untreated.  This turtle had the virus removed with a laser.  All of the released turtles are tagged with a pit tag, (internally in tissue like dogs and cats are), as well as a metal flipper tag.

Each is separately escorted into the water by an intern at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and by Doctor Terry Norton the Veterinarian who runs the hospital.

The pelicans continue to become more complete as time moves along.  Once it is covered completely with paint I will start with refining it with finishing touches, such making changes in color, to make them better work together.  Though already thinking along these lines, until it can be seen all together, one can't play with the color so much.  Since I am using liquid acrylics I will have more freedom to make color changes than if using straight watercolor.  
It is good to have that first turtle nest under our belt and a painting that is nearing completion.  Lets hope there are many more of both.

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