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

I had hoped to have this to you before Christmas but it just wasn't to be.  Bruce is working a job which means the two weeks before Christmas I have manned the gallery for 10 days in a row and I was just too tired to get it done, plus I knew he would not feel like getting it out.  But anyway hope that it is time to look forward to a great New Year.

The tree trimmers where working on the trees on our street back in September, because the electrical wires need to be kept as free as possible from having limbs falling on them during storms and high winds, which we do have on occasion.  I commented to the guys when they were working on our property, to let me know if they had to take down any squirrel nests.

I went on about my day and did not think much more about it.  A few days later when I preparing to leave for the gallery I heard a knock on the door.  I opened and the fellow reminded me, of my request.  He informed me they were getting ready to take a nest down and it was far enough down the street that I should drive down.  The nest and limb it was on were directly across the telephone line.  There was no choice for the nest except to come down with the branch they were getting ready to cut.  The fellow said he thought there was just one in the nest and that they had seen no activity from the mother since early the day before.  He carefully gathered the big ball of branches and leaves in his arms and they lowered the cherry picker to the ground and he handed me the big bundle.  These three we all snuggled up together in the middle of the ball.

Such sweet little girls who basically just slept all day except for eating.  You would think I would remember what all I needed to know having done this 3 times before but each time I have to start from the beginning in researching the amount to feed and how often. But at least I now know where to go to find out these things.  I had a new source also, a fellow I had bought mange medicine from.  Everything you read says do not feed them cows milk.  However the mange medicine worked, and also giving it to Lacy had enabled her to become a momma this year for the first time.  In the past she would be in such bad shape with an infestation with the botfly larva, that she had been unable to successfully carry babies.  The fellow is an RN so had a medical background to boot and agreed that it might work giving it to her to kill the tiny larva as it was hatched.  So I trusted him when he said it is fine to give them cows milk, however, you must boil the cows milk/heavy cream mixture.  By boiling the milk it destroyed the enzymes in the milk which were the real culprit--not the milk.  I will have to say they did just great on the formula with which I managed to create.  To the milk/cream mixture I added some raw coconut oil, a super food for squirrels, and some vitamin E Oil (not from a capsule).  Hard not to become attached to the cute little babies.

The first milestone was the opening of their eyes which also gave us an idea of their age as they usually open their eyes at around 30 days of age.  First one eye than another until there were 6 little ones seeing their world for the first time.  This was the first eye to open.  I wonder what that would be like to see for the first time?

I was still doing turtle patrol, enjoying the sunrises as days shortened, and also was preparing for a trip to see the Golden Girls up in N. East Tennessee.  What to do with the new little squrrel girls while I was gone?  There were no alternatives except to mix formula and let Bruce do it.  They were no trouble to feed because they loved their bottle, which was actually a syringe.  A syringe is easier to control the amount of milk they are receiving and less chance of their getting too much milk and strangling on it.

This beauty had just emerged from the empty chrysalis hanging on the branch.  The two white/gray looking strips hanging down beside the butterfly are tape strips which where were holding another one in place which I accidentally knocked loose from his mooring spot during a relocation effort when I moved their stick out of the too crowded terrarium. However, the carefully placed tape allowed it to emerge just fine. You can see by looking at this empty chrysalis how fragile it is.  Only attached by a tiny spot on the bottom with a thread around the middle, sling like, suspending the upper part.

The red Pentas became my launching site for all my newbies, in this case three Monarchs and a male Black Swallowtail for that day's tally.

Here we are all bright eyed and it won't be long until they will be bushy tailed also.  The first thing she tries as soon as her eyes were open was to climb out of the cardboard box.  Now I needed a pet carrier for them which my friend Michelle loaned me.

In the park a very young little Bambi crossed the road and stopped to check out the big monster that had scared it into the woods.  Then it was time to head out to Tennessee.

It was a great week but tiring.  I tried to make sure they they were able to go wherever they wanted to do.  One of the greatest hardships on them is their loss of driving privileges.  I can't even imagine not being able to go at will to run your own errands.  We went grocery shopping, to a community fish fry, to church, many trips to the dollar store, to their favorite hamburger place, to Lowes to buy winter flowers for mom's flower beds, and so the week flew by for them but went a bit slower for me as I was homesick for the island.

And so after a full week away, I come home to three little ones who were much more active, and the term bright eyed and bushy tailed was much more relevant than when I left.  Bruce had taken good care of them.  They were not quite sure who I was at first, but I soon became their mommy once I assumed the role of provider of their daily nourishment once again.

It was quite the challenge to feed them when each one wanted to be first.  I found a nipple from the top of a bottle made for animal babies made it much more satisfying for the babies and easier for them to take if I slipped the syringe into it.  It was softer on their mouths and made it more natural for them to nurse from.  Sometimes they just decide to help themselves before I can get it ready.  I really needed a squirrel pacifier as they never seemed to get enough of the nursing which they would naturally get from nursing the mother.  I do believe they had not eaten in two days when I first got them as they appeared very dehydrated.  I did take them back to the tree from whence they were taken the first day, and hung them in it inside a hanging basket, for a while, but the mother never came back to get them.  They quickly filled out and were very healthy.  This was Dotsy because of the spot you see above her eye.  We don't know why but she had a small bald bump there which, when hair grew in, was lighter in color.  She also had a similar thing on her tail which was a line around the middle of her tail and it grew a steak of blacker hair.  

One was smaller and I called her Bitsy because of that but what she lacked in stature she made up for in spunk.  She was the one who was hardest to calm down to a nap.  I often took her out of the cage so she wouldn't keep everybody else awake, and she would settle down and sleep in my painting apron bib.  She seemed to love the human contact more, and made it known that was what would settle her down.  But then when they were released outside she was the one who was quickest to try out everything and the first to find the big trees.

Nibbling on and wrestling with your fingers were a favorite play time thing, and a substitute for that activity with their mom.  They do not bite as people always ask.  They may do a scrapping action with their teeth and do bite but playfully and not hurtful.

The days on the beach were interesting as we had a series of Nor'easters which stirred up the surf and made things change on the beach with the high and rough tides that accompanied it.  I just realized this could pass for a sea creature or even a dragon.

Storm clouds hovered about many mornings, but I did not get caught by any bad weather as the late part of the season wound down.  Two of the already low number nests were excavated while I was in East Tennessee with only 2 left to end the season.  One I did not attend as it was not my morning to get up and I just slept thought it.

A Nor'easter is more wind than anything.  You can see the sea foam blowing all the way up to the edge of the dunes and the new high tide line.  The seed heads of the Sea oats were being blown about helping them to shed their new crop of soon to be plants and distribute them around the dunes.

Amy, Beach Junki, has found an easier way to check out the park each day by riding her bicycle around the park, thus allowing her to cover more ground and see some really interesting things.  She has gotten so familiar with the deer, that she was able to get some great video footage of them.  She even got a video of one momma deer who stood and allowed her to video the baby nursing, which I thought was pretty amazing.  She has gotten some great still photos, at least I think so, of her bike silhouetted against the sunrise and some other beautiful morning shots.  She has a definite creative photographer's eye.

After one of the Nor'easter mornings we found this new piece of driftwood on the ocean beach.

It was covered with Barnacles meaning it must have had to have been mostly submerged in the water.  It has a rope tied to it but buried underneath it in the sand so firmly there was no way to get it loose.

Moon Jellies had been washed ashore to die in the sun.

With the overcast sky it almost looks as if I am using old black and white film.

A Willet enjoys dining on morsels in the sand as its dark shape gives a nice contrast to the lighter colors surrounding it.

The beach had taken it toll though with the rough waters eroding giant runoff patterns in the sand eating out large bits of the middle of the beach.

The starkness of the beach has a very different feel than the bright sunshiny days of summer with colors becoming more Fall like.

The Osprey sitting on the top of the old Fort, looks a bit bedraggled after days of wind and waves.  As they say he looks like he was rode hard and put up wet.

The fort stands silently through time against the storms, but these days it is often saved by the renourishment of the beach sand that is often pulled away from its protective beach by the Nor'easters.

Our girls, Bitsy, Dotsy and Cindi are full of it.  At night after we get home from the gallery we put their pet carrier, which became their security blanket for sleeping and hiding inside, in the center of the quilt covered sofa, open the door, and let them play until their bedtime. They were very playful as they explored their ever expanding world.  Their playfulness was apparent in this photo as Bitsy gets her tail bit by one of the others who thinks it a great play toy.

One morning on my way to pick up sister Susan for patrol the sunrise was just too good to wait.  The area toward the park was showing part of the color as I noticed the big wash recently cut through the middle of the beach by the wild surf as I tried to find a spot I can get through to get a good photo spot.

Although it was too deep to wade across and stay halfway dry, I settled for watching it from the West side of the tidal pool.  The color continued to spread as it found a break underneath the layer of clouds. I could tell that the higher clouds might even be next.

It was turning into an amazing sunrise.

Changing the lens to pull the distant horizon in closer to just see what is happening from this range too.

Now the new tidal pool becomes an even more impressive sight as it becomes a reflecting pool of the sky giving me a double dose of the view.

Even the time it took to get to the park, pick up my backpack, beach buggy, and then reach river beach, the sky had not totally lost the beauty of the morning.

Our girls were learning to eat solid food as they shred more than eat the food at this stage, but all part of the growing up.  Tails are getting more fluffy and they sit up like the big girls now holding food in their paws...although a squirrel does not have a thumb like a raccoon does, they do have a stub where a thumb would be which functions almost like a thumb.

Mornings were a very sweet time as their happiness at having their cage door opened, is only second to greeting the lady who is going to feed them. The Squirrel Girl Trio continued to entertain and delight us as the days grew shorter and nearer to the time when it would be turning into much colder temperatures and the squirrels would need to be acclimated to the out of doors before that time.  

Much to do for them and for me as I get things ready to have my second knee replacement with a new surgery date of February 3, a little over a month from now.

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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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