BASICS


BASICS: Long Island gets hummingbirds throughout the summer, but not many. The Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary may be the best place on the island to see them.
However we are ONLY open in august and ONLY by appointment, at specific "slot" times which will be posted at this blog.

You need a printed, dated SIGNED WAIVER, which will be sent to you to confirm your appointment, along with directions and instructions. We are always closed 12.30-3. You visit AT YOUR OWN RISK - there are steep narrow uneven paths and dilapidated chairs and structures, and parking is limited: carpool if possible. Be careful not to trespass on neighbors, as indicated by ropes and signs. Hand-held cameras only please, except by previous arrangement. There is no admission charge BUT YOU MUST BRING a signed dated liability waiver form. Dated waiver forms are provided only by request, in conjunction with your appointment. Private groups (eg photographers, birders, gardeners) can request their own dedicated session.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Feeding at bee balm, with a fast shutter; Coralita flying backwards

Here's a video showing a hummingbird (probably Coralita) feeding at bee balm Monarda didyma using a 1/2000 shutter speed, which allows the wing motion to be seen. 2X slo-mo


And here's a 2.5 second clip from this sequence played back at 16X slo mo.


Next, a video showing feeding at a video (1/2000 shutter, 2X slo mo). This one has a pure silver throat and is likely a juvenile female, possibly Coralita. At the end she flies backwards away from the feeder.


and here's a clip of the end part, at 16X slo mo.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Frederico's drop of blood



Last evening, as the light faded, I had to decrease the shutter speed, and filmed this guy. The pattern of the throat is rather different from that on Fredino. In particular there's a dark spot near the bottom left edge. Towards the end of the clip he turns full face to the camera and you can see this dark spot gleaming red - what I call the "drop of blood", a single male throat feather breaking through. So it appears we have at least 2 juvenile males, in addition to Fred (whose still vigorously patrolling and attacking) and Coral (who's almost certainly focussing on her nest(s) and chicks). In fact there's already quite a bit of activity, with a lot of chasing.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fredino in slo-mo with fast shutter speed.

Most of you will have seen that my slo-mo movies of hummers feeding and flying have shown blurred wings. I finally got round to using manual settings not just for focus but also for shutter speed. I should have done this long ago, because it seems to do the trick - the video I shot this afternoon is good, despite the gray weather. I'm using the maximum shutter speed the Vixia G20 camcorder allows - 1/2000 sec, or a half millisecond.This should be enough to almost freeze the wings throughout most of the motion, and indeed it seems to. I combine this with 2X overcranking and 2X further slowing via Youtube, resulting in a 4X slo mo. Amazingly, despite the low light today, the camera works well at this very fast shutter speed, though of course the aperture has to be expanded (at full 20X zoom plus the 2X digital teleconverter = 40 X zoom) all the way to F2.6.

Enough technicalities, here are some results, showing Fredino feeding at rosebud salvia (one of the very best hummingbird plants at the sanctuary, if not the best). I call this guy Fredino (son of Fred) because it appears to be a young male hummer, with a dark patch at the base of the throat (though not the classic juvenile male "drop of blood" single gorget feather. In any case it's a distinctive marking quite different from either Fred or Coral.


Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

A very good native (or near-native - only cultivars seem to be available) perennial and fairly deer-resistant hummingbird-friendly plant is Monarda didyma, or Bee Balm. Here's a clip of one of our young hummers feeding at this plant. I also have quite a bit of Monarda fistulosa ("wild bergamot") but this gets almost no attention - though it's much easier to grow in my dry and sandy soil.






Friday, July 18, 2014

Lucifers and Hyperions All Gone! Attacks! New Waiver required

I've posted recently about the glorious blooming at the sanctuary of the 'Lucifer' crocosmias and the "Hyperion" daylilies, and shown you videos of hummingbirds visiting the former. They were in full and magnificent flower on wednesday evening, when we got a little sun after 3 days of gray wet weather. But by thursday morning they were all gone! Close inspection revealed that every single flower and bud had been cleanly nipped off, leaving the flower stalks, the rest of the plants, and all the other plantings intact. An even closer look revealed deer prints in the beds, especially close to the "wild", bluff side. The loss was particularly total in the upper garden, and slightly less in the lower garden, where I have fewer crocosmia and daylilies, in part because I expect more deer damage there, since I guard it less fiercely. While there are always lots of deer (I saw a pretty faun yesterday morning, in my new "east garden" area, where I treat a few new plantings with repellent), it's very rare that I get them in the upper garden, because of the decks and cottages there, and the steep drop-offs on the bluff side (though they did nibble some nicotiana leaves there a few weeks back).

Here's a video from a few days ago which shows some of the blooms, as well as a hummingbird feeding (in the middle of the image, about 1/8 way down from the top) and then, after zooming out for a broader view, suddenly attacked by another hummer (8X slo mo: in reality it all happens in less than a second).


 Here's a video showing the devastation (to be compared with the "crocs and hypes" video I posted recently, july 12). Only 1 daylily flower left and no crocosmia flowers.



Many of you signed liability waivers for your visit to the sanctuary, others will have received waivers, and still others requested them. However, unfortunately you will need a NEW waiver form for visits this year. The new form will be basically the same as last year, but with a few crucial changes. For example the new form (which has to be approved by more lawyer and is not yet finalized) will be dated by me, to correspond to the appointed time for your visit. As I've explained in recent posts, and in the sections "Visiting Slots" and "Visiting" to the right of this post, visiting this august will be by appointment only. I will post available "slots" for these appointments, and you should choose, and request, a slot that suits you. Please do not request multiple slot times: choose only the available one that best suits you. No slot times have been posted yet, so please be patient.

Here are more videos of hummers visiting the now-vanished "Lucifer" blossoms.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coralita or Fredino? Mating Dance; visiting arrangements

Activity is starting to pick up at the sanctuary, and there are more than one female/juvenile hummers around. But I don't know whether this additional hummer is a daughter (Coralita?) or a son (Fredino?).

In any case here's one of them feeding at Cuphea "David Verity". Notice the dab of pollen at the base of the bill: what it's really all about!


Here's a recent "mating dance" (though it's not a very sophisticated one, and might be an act of aggression instead). You can only see half of the other pendulum movement, the other half is obscured by the vegetation.


And here's something different: a bee clumsily (and upside down) emerging from a trumpet creeper flower, then trying again. The trumpet creepers are now mostly in full bloom.



Lastly, let me reprint the account I gave in my previous post about this year's visiting arrangements: basically by appointment, at times chosen from specific available "slots". No slots have been posted yet, but some will be soon. Please bear in mind that there will be many opportunities throughout august, though individual available slots will only be posted at rather short notice.

"Alert readers will notice that I've made several changes in the blog (the header is slightly different, and I've added 2 new "gadgets" to the right of this post). This is because I'm having to make some changes to our visiting procedures, based on advice from my lawyer Lynn Ingrao. She feels it's important this summer to keep the number of visitors under strict control. While in the past, with the exception of the immediate aftermath of the notorious Newsday article (see link to right) visitation has been almost always very moderate, with no parking outside my rather small lot, and only a few visitors at a time (indeed, often none), the extra publicity triggered by the lawsuit could lead to increased visitation, out of curiosity rather than, as in the past, a genuine love of hummingbirds.
Basically the new system will involve visiting by appointment only, at least until I'm sure that things are back to normal. This does not mean that you should immediately ask for an appointment! Instead, you have to wait until I determine that we will be open on particular days, albeit only to those who have an appointment.
The procedure is as follows:

(1) I post that we will be open at certain specific "slot" dates/times. These will appear under "visiting slots", immediately to the right of the current post.

(2) You decide that you (and family/friends in the same car) want to visit at one of these slot times, which you specify in an email to me.

(3) I  confirm your appointment by email, and I send you a dated waiver form, plus visiting directions/instructions

(4) You, and all those accompanying you, sign the waiver forms, and come during the appointed period (either am 9.30-12.30 or pm 3-5.30)

(5) If you have to cancel, doing so 24 hours ahead will earn you the right to ask for a substitute posted slot. If you simply do not show up, you cannot visit again this year.

(6) You can re-visit, but you must reapply for an available slot, and a majority of your party must not have visited this year.

I've already had people applying for specific dates, despite the fact that I've not yet posted any slot times! Premature requests like this will be ignored - I simply cannot keep track of random requests, and I cannot be sure yet that we will be open an particular dates/times in august. When the quota for a particular slot time has been reached, i will remove the slot posting: be sure not to apply unless you currently see the slot time as available. Currently no slots have been posted, and no slot requests will be processed.

Basically, you will be asking permission to come at times that are convenient for me.

I wish I could simply allow people to show up at posted times, as in the past, but the new procedure will allow me to control visitation."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Lucifer and Hyperion; Coral in Crocs; Getting ready to open

The crocosmia "Lucifer" and the "Hyperion" daylilies are in magnificent bloom at the moment. While hummers never visit daylilies, they do quite like the brilliant red tall flowers of "Lucifer", as I do too - and the pure yellow of the Hyperions goes well with the glow of the Lucifers. Here's a clip of Coral visiting these crocosmia blossoms (we brits call these "montbretia"). It's not a close up, but you can spot Coral pretty close to dead center.


Alert readers will notice that I've made several changes in the blog (the header is slightly different, and I've added 2 new "gadgets" to the right of this post). This is because I'm having to make some changes to our visiting procedures, based on advice from my lawyer Lynn Ingrao. She feels it's important this summer to keep the number of visitors under strict control. While in the past, with the exception of the immediate aftermath of the notorious Newsday article (see link to right) visitation has been almost always very moderate, with no parking outside my rather small lot, and only a few visitors at a time (indeed, often none), the extra publicity triggered by the lawsuit could lead to increased visitation, out of curiosity rather than, as in the past, a genuine love of hummingbirds.
Basically the new system will involve visiting by appointment only, at least until I'm sure that things are back to normal. This does not mean that you should immediately ask for an appointment! Instead, you have to wait until I determine that we will be open on particular days, albeit only to those who have an appointment.
The procedure is as follows:

(1) I post that we will be open at certain specific "slot" dates/times. These will appear under "visiting slots", immediately to the right of the current post.

(2) You decide that you (and family/friends in the same car) want to visit at one of these slot times, which you specify in an email to me.

(3) I  confirm your appointment by email, and I send you a dated waiver form, plus visiting directions/instructions

(4) You, and all those accompanying you, sign the waiver forms, and come during the appointed period (either am 9.30-12.30 or pm 3-5.30)

(5) If you have to cancel, doing so 24 hours ahead will earn you the right to ask for a substitute posted slot. If you simply do not show up, you cannot visit again this year.

(6) You can re-visit, but you must reapply for an available slot, and a majority of your party must not have visited this year.

I've already had people applying for specific dates, despite the fact that I've not yet posted any slot times! Premature requests like this will be ignored - I simply cannot keep track of random requests, and I cannot be sure yet that we will be open an particular dates/times in august. When the quota for a particular slot time has been reached, i will remove the slot posting: be sure not to apply unless you currently see the slot time as available. Currently no slots have been posted, and no slot requests will be processed.

Basically, you will be asking permission to come at times that are convenient for me.

I wish I could simply allow people to show up at posted times, as in the past, but the new procedure will allow me to control visitation.

Here's another video of crocosmia and hyperions, with Long Island Sound (and at the end a kayaker) in the background (but no hummer).




Friday, July 11, 2014

Fred and Coral Take Turns


All my widely scattered feeders get regular though often infrequent visits by Fred, whose is checking out his territory. He also includes a few flowers on his route. Each visit is very brief - not really for food, but just to see what is "his". Coral lingers more but is more selective and favors feeders near the bluff. Yesterday as I sat near the bluff fairly near a secluded feeder, in a 20 minute period I saw first Fred feed, then Coral, then Coral again. Here are clips from these successive visits (2X slo mo).



Thursday, July 10, 2014

more fireworks, with soundtrack; Coral in extreme slo mo


Usually I "over crank" the camera - runs it at a twice normal frame rate, so that with a normal playback speed the overall effect is 2X slo-mo. This helps see more detail of the very fast hummer movements, as well as extending the duration of some of my very short film clips (often the birds only feed for a few seconds). I have finally discovered that audio recording is disenabled when overcranking, which accounts for the silent sound track in most of my movies (except in those cases I added a musical accompaniment). This is not stated in the (very long) camera handbook, but has been confirmed by a Canon technician. Initially I paid little attention to the sound track, in part because my hearing has still not recovered properly from snorkelling in the Bahamas.
The above fifth of july sequence was taken at normal framerate and clearly has a sound track! This spectacle went on for an hour.

The next Coral sequence shows the other extreme: it was overcranked (no sound track) and then slowed a further 8 times, so the total slo mo is 16 X!  But one still cannot properly see the wing motion. I suspect this is because I'm not using a fast enough shutter speed (I'm using an automatic focus mode). I will experiment further. In principle with 16 X slo mo it should be possible to see the wing movements in detail (they beat at 50 times a second).


Monday, July 7, 2014

Fireworks! Coral in slo mo

The fifth of july fireworks on the beach in front of the front cottage "SeaGull Lodge" here at the sanctuary were as usual, spectacular. Here's just a glimpse, more video to follow.


Meanwhile hummer activity is definitely starting to pick up a bit. While I sat with my lawyer Lynn in the lower garden this morning near the bluff  (very nice lady, with whom I feel both comfortable and impressed) discussing the legal issues, a hummer showed up several times. Here's a slo-mo film of (I think) Coral feeding at one of the feeders we watched (taken yesterday, not during our legal conference!)  Note how she sweeps her wings in a figure eight pattern. Notice also that during her snack several large bubbles float up in the nectar reservoir, showing that she's consuming significant quantities of liquid. Bees often feed at the feeders too, but one never sees bubbles, because the amount they consume is insignificant. Nevertheless whenever I see a bee on a feeder I always give it a good pinch, to scare it away (and sometimes I confess it gets squashed - so far this year no stings. Hummers are very wary when bees are at their feeder.


I'll write more about Lynn's visit tomorrow.