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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)

Just beach "goings-on"!  ...and Painting Update   ..and a Funny Sign,
(ummm, maybe not so funny).  Are we Having Fun Yet?  
Hope you had a fun Independence Day!

Sad situations, such a this gull with his leg hopelessly stuck in drink cup lid, arise on the beach, and I know some people think we should make an effort to rescue these birds, but we just can't do that with our small staff.  

It would fly, although not very high, when approached.  If it were an endangered species or a bird of prey we would possibly make an effort to rescue it, but there is no shortage of Laughing Gulls.  It is the policy of the state park to let nature take its course unless it is an unusual situation.  Plastic garbage left on the beach carelessly, might be considered "not of Nature", but we can't save them all.  We also reluctantly remember that the death of one creature means food for another.

I just loved the calm feeling this silhouette of the bird out for his breakfast gave to me.

My missing ducks finally showed back up this year.  Every year I see a pair of these ducks near the pier and on the river.  This was my first sighting of them this year.  I never see them with ducklings.

All of the Sea Turtles have laid high climbing up escarpments or heading back into the dunes.  That is a good thing because if there is a storm these nests will most likely survive.  

This one was high, and right at the edge of the first set of dunes.

The tracks on this one looks very much like a Green Turtle but the gait is slightly alternating therefore it must be a Loggerhead.  It does not have a tail drag mark which Green Turtles always have (unless maybe it gets nipped off by a shark).  The front flippers must be long on this gal or possibly something wrong with the back flippers so that you are seeing mostly the front flipper marks.  Usually with a Loggerhead the back flipper mark erases the front ones.

One of the things that happens to those balloons which are released for every event possible, from sending prayers up to heaven, to honor someone who died, was hurt, or whatever.  What goes up must come down and they especially like to come down over the water.  These strings can become wrapped around a birds legs or swallowed by a Sea Turtle or Dolphin.  The balloon itself can be swallowed by a Sea Turtle who thinks it is a Jelly and can cause serious if not fatal injury.  So think twice before you decide to release a helium filled balloon to float up, up, and away.

I was very excited to see a pair of these Swallow-tailed Kites flying over the airport enjoying the thermals there.  I had heard reports that they had been spotted over Yulee 'way', but I had only seen them around the Daytona area.  They are larger than gulls, some reaching over two feet in length, and with a wingspan that can be up to 4 and 1/2 feet wide.  They are not listed nationally as endangered or threatened, but some individual states such as South Carolina and Georgia do list them as endangered or threatened.  Their decline in numbers is a loss of habitat due to development, of course.  They nest in trees near water and eat anything from insects, small mammals, to small birds and eggs.  They drink by skimming their bill in water and collecting it that way.

We are into the summertime weather patterns, with afternoon showers and mornings which are drier.  This morning I can see one spot where the rain seems to have just suddenly fallen from the sky leaving a light hole in its absence.  Only early on did I ever have a problem with rain.

Our plover families scurry away from me as I take care to stay clear of them also.

On the river, the morning becomes a very pale pastel world punctuated only by the dark band of sand and a sprinkling of birds and buoys.

"Uh-Oh, Bro, I seem to have my foot stuck in this thing".

"That's better, wonder whats in the hole?"  I can see this fellows curiosity is going to get him into trouble.

Nest # 5 was another high one, up in the dunes.  It has some very funny looking tracks.  The curvy line down the middle and the curvy nature of the line that runs beside the middle looks for all the world like a Hawksbill track.  I wish that were so because there were only 4 recorded Hawksbill nests last year in all of Florida.  

It was so much like a Hawksbill that we had some experts on the state level look at it.  If it had not been for the incoming track I photographed which did not have the center curvy line it might have been labeled a Hawksbill.  Without that mark on the incoming, the decision was it was a small Loggerhead with a tired coaquia as she left after laying so many eggs.

The colors are pretty much in place and ready to finish sealing the colors with hot wax.  Then the scary part, dipping it in black ink.

Another blue morning as clouds build up almost every day now for parts of the day.

Evidence of some fisherman thoughtlessness and ignorance.  A ray of some sort, looked like it might have been a Butterfly Ray, had been tossed up on the beach to die after being caught on someone's line.  Considered a pest by fisherman who don't like them on their hook because there is the danger of getting stung by the stinger of a Sting Ray, they hate them and kill them unnecessarily.  At least the gull and the crabs are having a free meal.  This is also true of the sharks many fishermen catch.  I find them almost daily, dead for the same reason, they are considered undesirable.

With nest 5 the numbers continue to rise.

Now what would cause someone to put such an expensive sign on their lot.  Talk about undersell; this is it.  I guess he is waiting for the sand to build up enough to have an oceanfront lot that is buildable.  I understand there is a whole street out in the water that was lost with a hurricane years ago.

We still have not reached any conclusions as to whether this is Alpha or Little Girl on the nest.  Their rooftop garden prevents us from seeing as much as in previous years.  A female has a speckled necklace around her neck and the male does not.

Shades of Gray and Blue once again dominate the landscape.

This nest, a find of mine, was barely in the park.  The people staying nearby had left their beach chairs almost beside the spot where the turtle nested. and inside the park boundary.  Luckily she did not get entangled in the chairs.  They were heavy, nice chairs and I would have had new lawn furniture if I had not been riding my ATV.  Chairs are not supposed to be left on the beach at night, often causing the turtles a problem.  I did drag them further up into the dunes but guess that is a no-no also.

More dazzling water as the sun does its thing.

The Sea Oat heads are just starting to open up with a pale spring green now.  The intense blue of the sky highlights the clouds which I always think of as looking like herds of sheep in a field.

A Little Snowy Egret prances by the break in the jetty, in the shadow of the pier overhead.  You can get a glimpse of its golden slippers.

A boat sails out of the Cumberland Sound on pretty calm water, unlike the days before when the Shrimp Boat had tossed and turned on a surface still busy with the remnants of a storm.

And then a big surprise on the river.  I was talking to a man and his son, who were out on a day-long adventure by hiking the whole beach from Main Beach to the Fort.  As I talked to them, I saw something dark scampering across the sand ahead around the curve in the river.  When I moved closer to check it out I saw that it was a young otter.

When he saw me he decided to keep a low profile or was he just being coy?

After playing in the pool he moved to the edge of the river and for a minute I thought he would dive on in there, but after gazing out a minute, he decided the other tidal pool ahead might be more fun.  A very unexpected thing to see although I knew we had them here on the island.

It was time to say goodbye to Bella as she does her tripod, -on alert for squirrels, stance.  She was a good girl and is welcome back anytime.  A fun week with nesting taking a turn for the better, getting to see a bird I had not seen here before, and getting to see my first otter in the wild.  
The end of the next week would not be so fun filled as my sister and I travel to Northeast Tennessee to, along with my brothers, evaluate the condition of my Mom and Aunt Helen, whose memories have taken a slide downhill, especially Helen, who is diabetic.  Can they be trusted to live alone and not end up having Helen take a fatal dose of insulin because they don't remember whether she had taken it or not?  It is really a life or death situation, and something needs to be resolved, keeping in mind that "their" biggest concern is that they be together and left alone to live independently.  These are decisions many of us live with as we baby boomers become the parent to our parents.  Always when we think about these decisions, we remember our own mortality, as we are only 20 years or so behind them.

(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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