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: in august, when we are open, we guarantee that you will see a hummer, if you are a little bit patient and not actually blind. On some days there are many around.
Open times (AUGUST ONLY!) are posted on a rolling, often short-term basis, based on a combination of factors. Please do not attempt to visit at other times, except by arrangement.
PLEASE DO NOT VISIT WITHOUT A SIGNED WAIVER. We are always closed 12.30-3. You visit AT YOUR OWN RISK, there are steep narrrow 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 THIS SIGNED LIABILITY WAIVER. Waivers are provided only by request and ONLY via the waiver link, not at the sanctuary itself. Please wear sneakers or other proper shoes, not flipflops or light sandals, and WALK DOWN THE WOODLAND PATH STARTING AT THE YELLOW MINIBRIDGE if you are a good walker. If you have difficulty walking, please contact me by email. Private groups (eg photographers, birders, gardeners) can request their own dedicated session.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
As I was filming the chicks in the nest, to my great surprise one of the chicks lifted his rear up and pooped - like a projectile - it hit me and I stopped filming. I should not have been surprised because I had read about this behavior, which keeps the nest clean. But the accuracy with which she lifts clear of the nest rim is impressive. The first video is in regular time, and the second in 4 times slo-mo.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
And here is yesterday's feeding video - at the end she flies straight at me and buzzes with her wings, telling me to GO AWAY! - which I did.
And here's yesterday's photo of the BR bite, taken while I was sitting near Gumbo's nest. The bite itself took place 2 weeks ago, and is almost completely healed, with a small central scab that is flaking off. Sorry for the these clinical images, but they might be of interest (and encourage optimism) for Brown Recluse victims.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Calypso beach this morning - only 200 feet from Gumbo's nest. The black stuff is seaweed, which I will soon harvest for the garden.
This morning I saw that the 2 chicks had grown even more, and now fill the nest. However, it was too windy to photograph: the nest was swaying in and out of view, and focus was impossible. This morning the chicks were head to tail, but this afternoon one had moved round, so they were now beak-by-beak. There was a brief squall with thunder this afternoon as the cold front tail passed through, and quite a bit of very welcome rain. Then the wind subsided, and I was able to film the babies. They are almost black, and the beaks, though still very stubby, are a bit longer. Once again I was able to film Mama feeding them, and then attacking me. It's becoming quite a routine, and I will attempt to get the attack on video. However, I will probably upload the new feeding video tomorrow, since uploading to Youtube hogs our limited bandwidth. Because of the rain, I think the nest was a little bit squashed, but nothing like the pre-Valentine squishing.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Here's today's babyfeeding video: arrival on the nest, the first chick popping up his beak and peeping, feeding both chicks (which are now even bigger and more ravenous), and, at the end, an attack (I cannot move the camera fast enough to capture her trajectory, but you can here the "buzzing" of the wings very close to the camera). Notice the iridescent green back - just like the ruby throat. Indeed all the behavior I'm seeing here is the same as what I 've seen in Baiting Hollow, when my neighbor had a hummingbird nest in her larch tree (which he cut down that winter to build a 2-story garage).
Here's a compilation of sequences from the movie in my last post. The first sequences are in 4 times slo-mo and the last sequence, which shows her launching the attack, is in 10 times slo-mo.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
This is a follow-up to the videos I posted yesterday. After filming the first feeding session, I moved my chair even closer and filmed a second session. However, Gumbo seemed to be a bit nervous during the feeding, and suddenly decided to attack me! If you listen very carefully to the soundtrack at the end of the clip, just after she leaves the nest you will here a buzzing sound as she came very close. I took the hint and beat a retreat. She's spending a lot of time away from the nest, and she's also become quite aggressive and wary when we try to approach. This makes sense: she's already invested a lot of time and effort into raising her chicks, but they are still very vulnerable. The nest is at the very end of a low-hanging branch of a quite tall (maybe 30 feet) gumbo limbo tree (also known here as a gum elemi tree, and as "tourist tree" (because of the red peeling bark). The nest is about 5 feet above the ground. There are quite a few (all non-venomous) snakes around, but they would be unlikely to climb all the way up the trunk and down the limb to reach the babies.
Notice that as soon as she arrives at the nest, the chicks poke up their bills pleading for food, but she's quite cautious and waits to feed them. I'll try to compile and present some slo-mo sequences from this movie.
The gumbo-limbo tree has soft resinous wood that was traditionally used for carving the horses on old-fashioned fairground carrousels.
My Brown Recluse bite continues to heal nicely. Soon I will be able to swim again in the ocean in front of Calypso. Are Brown Recluses very dangerous or not? See here and here. Bottom line: the bite can be nasty, but almost never lethal.
Kevin, our gardener, is digging a large hole in the ground in which we will plant a Royal Palm seedling ( actually a nine-foot sapling) which was delivered (along with 3 others) on the mail-boat from Nassau (the capital of the Bahamas). Planting here is not a trivial exercise, because it involves hacking deep into the coral rock, using pick axes and digging bars. One of them is already installed in its own hole, which took 3 of us a week to dig! This is what it will look like in 15 years, if I'm lucky enough to see it:
The 2 figures are Claire's niece and her boyfriend, who were visiting in january.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Today Gumbo's 2 babies are even bigger, and filling two thirds of the nest. The above video shows a view down into the nest. The babies are dark brown, still only have a few wispy feathers, and keep their stubby beaks well hidden - except when Mom arrives, and they start clamoring for food. They seem to keep their heads tucked away while Gumbo is away foraging for insects, and they are breathing quite rapidly.
In the above video, Gumbo arrives from the left, hovers briefly near the nest, flies a short distance to the right (out of view) then decides it's safe and lands on the rim of the nest. Immediately the 2 chicks pop up their short beaks, begging for food. But at first Gumbo looks carefully around, before starting to feed them. It's amazing how deeply she inserts her long bill into their gullet. The whole process is rather alarming, but apparently it works, and is much more precise than it looks - the chicks are thriving. It looks as though their eyes have not opened yet. After the feeding Gumbo sits on the babies, though now, because of their increased size, it takes a while for her to get comfortable. I have another even more detailed video, but because uploading monopolizes bandwidth, I'll upload it tomorrow.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Gumbo's babies are now packed side-by-side in the bottom half of the nest. She's still feeding and sitting on them. However, I took no pictures of the nest, so instead I'm showing some garden scenes. Except for the above one (with red oleander and yellow elder), all were taken at the "Rockery", which is a small but steep limestone hill in the back garden (i.e. behind Calypso Pond). Because we have had good rain even though it's the dry season, there are masses of flowers everywhere in our 10 acre garden, of which the Rockery is a small part.
Yellow oleander, pink and red bougainvillea.
In addition here you see red peregrine.
Here one is looking down from halfway up the hill. The rockery is protected from salt winds by massive casuarina stands.
Here you see Aechmea blanchetiana (an orange-leaved bromeliad), as well as cape honeysuckle and yellow hibiscus.
Finally, from the top, there's a fine distant view of Diamond Cay. Today there was a north wind and waves are breaking over the island. The coconut palms are at Halcyon Bay (see blog post for jan 7), our favorite beach on the Island, a ten minute beach walk from Calypso beach.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Yesterday was a busy, and wet, day, but this morning is beautiful and I saw that Gumbo is still feeding her babies, which have almost quadrupled in size over 3 days (see above and below). She's spending more time away from the nest, as the chicks' need for food increases, but is still sitting on them after her now more vigorous feeding. The chicks now occupy about the bottom third of the nest, and are clearly visible from above as little brown coarsely feathered blobs. However, their heads seemed to be tucked out of view. Here's a photo taken from above.
I'll shoot video this afternoon. In the mean time here's a picture of the improved state of my Brown Recluse bite. It's well on the mend, has considerably shrunk from the initial size (see black dots), and is much less painful. The central pimples erupted earlier in the week and have been weeping pus. The only treatment has been bathing the hand in warm salty water for 20 minutes. I keep it bandaged most of the rest of the time. I hope that it continues to improve (it's now 8 days since the presumed bite), and that my experience shows that more aggressive treatment (e.g. antibiotics, surgery) is not always needed.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Here's a close-up of the nest taken yesterday, one day after hatching. I think the babies are already almost double in size. No pictures today (we had friends from Prince Edward Island arriving). But here below is a slo-mo version of the baby feeding movie I posted yesterday. After initial credits, filmed from Calypso's beach in normal time, there's a clip in tenfold slo-mo showing Gumbo arriving on the nest edge. The next clip, at 4 fold slo-mo, shows her feeding her chicks. The last clip shows her continuing to feed, and departing, at normal speed.