Summer Slips Into Fall, Amelia Island

Enjoy the change of seasons and upcoming festivals, concerts, and Amelia Island’s coastal nature. It’s a great time to be outdoors — biking, hiking, and golfing.

Coastal Nature, Fall Events

It’s a nice transition as summer folds and fall arrives in the Amelia Island area. After Labor Day Weekend passes (traditionally the “unofficial” end of summer), September’s summer-like weather on this northeast Florida barrier island remains inviting for visiting the beach. Folks enjoy warm temps trending a tad bit cooler, the air is slightly less humid than the dog days of summer, and the seashore relatively empty with the winding down of summertime.

Cicadas still sound their song of summer and kids have departed the beaches (except weekends), back to school. Their departure back to the classroom leaves behind serene stretches of empty beachfront on Amelia Island to be enjoyed by those visiting after the height of the summer tourism season. Late summer into early fall on this barrier island is ideal for spending some alone time with your partner, if fewer beachgoers sounds appealing.

With mild ocean temps averaging 81 to 83 degrees in September, it’s still easy to get in the water and air temperature averages a high of 86. However, be aware that no lifeguards are on duty after Labor Day.

Wonderful October weather follows, usually one of the stellar months of the year to be outside on Amelia Island, with very pleasant average monthly high of 79 degrees (and ocean water temps in the range of 72 to 76).

During the late days of summer dragonflies dart in the sand dunes. Migrating butterflies have begun to appear, adding splashes of orange to the coastal landscape, seen in island gardens and Egans Greenway. Purple passion vine and American Beautyberry’s brilliant purple berries stand out against the greenery in natural areas like Egans Greenway and Fort Clinch State Park. The sea oats that decorate the dunes have peaked in beauty, but are still doing their slow dance, stalks bent over with heavy summer growth of seedhead clusters swaying in coastal breezes.

Pale pink plumes and blooms are being spotted on Amelia Island, as well as the colorful painted buntings (read more below).

Sea Turtle Nest Digs of September

Visitors of the night, female sea turtles arrive on the beach, dig nests and deposit their eggs along 13 miles of Amelia Island’s shoreline from May into August each nesting season. The nests marked in July and August will be excavated in September and October by volunteers of the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch. They inventory the nest contents and record egg data, educate onlookers watching the excavation, and sometimes rescue tiny hatchlings who didn’t make it out of the nest. The babies are then set free to the sea (and sent off with a sea of smiles, too). The Amelia Island Turtle Trot 5K run/walk is an annual Labor Day Weekend event, a fundraiser for sea turtle conservation efforts.

Colorful painted buntings arrive in August and can be spotted until mid-October, a real treat for island birders. North America’s most colorful song bird, the handsome male bunting (with bright blue head, red breast, and green plumage) is a wild bird that looks more like one you’d see in a pet shop. Locals who wish to put out a backyard birdfeeder and visiting bird enthusiasts keen to spot painted buntings around the island’s natural areas, can watch a video and read tips for birding areas — where best to go with binoculars.

AMELIA ISLAND EVENTS HAPPENING SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER

The last two free street concerts, “Sounds on Centre,” feature the Beech St. Blues on Friday evening September 7, 2012 and Gabriel Arnold, Mowtown on October 5, 2012 on historic Centre Street from 6 -8 pm. Summer ends on a musical note with blues music at the beach in Fernandina.The second annual Amelia Island Blues Festival is happening at Main Beach Park in Fernandina in September.

Amelia Island’s festival schedule continues to grow. Fall 2012 is the debut of the Amelia Island Wine Festival at the riverfront in downtown historic Fernandina Beach. The festival features over 100 award-winning “locally grown and crafted” Florida wines, live music, and gourmet food (from Amelia Island restaurants — Ritz-Carlton’s Salt, Espana, BarZin Cafe and Ciao’s).

If you admire retro cars, Amelia Cruizer’s 16th 8 Flags Car Show is a trip down memory lane, a day when Fernandina’s historic Centre Street is lined with gleaming chrome and rides you may remember from days gone by. This free annual car show is happening October 20, 2012 from 8 am to 4 pm. Got a classic car? Register to participate, the event is fundraiser for a few charities.

Many welcome the seasonal changes of Amelia Island at the Florida-Georgia border. Late autumn’s cooler weather in November is a time when sweaters are fetched from their resting place in the closet. But before it cools off (and often gets more windy at the beach), September and October’s lovely, mild weather is ideal for outdoor activities – beachcombing, biking, nature hikes, boating activities and golf.

The summer of 2012, after years of drought, has seen the return of summertime thunder storms, drenching the coastal landscape and nurturing the marsh grasses into vivid shades of green. There’s been a bumper crop of toads and mosquitoes, too – in the aftermath of above normal rainfall (including two tropical storms, Beryl and Debby, early in the season).

Before long the sea oat seed clusters will be dropping and the stalks will become tattered looking, especially if another tropical storm blows in. Here’s hoping the remainder of the storm season is gentle.

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