BASICS: "Hummingbirds.....where is the person, I ask, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and turn his mind with reverence..." (J. J. Audubon).
This is a blog about my summer life at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary, at my winter garden, Calypso, in the Bahamas, and aspects of life in general.
This private sanctuary is now permanently closed to the general public, as a result of a lawsuit brought by a neighbor. Only my friends and personal guests may visit (

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Owl and the Pussy-cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
    In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
    Wrapped up in a five pound note.

- Edward Lear

Yesterday, as I watched the sunset here in Baiting Hollow, a Great Horned Owl landed on the top of a pine a short distance down on the bluff; he was silhouetted against the pink fading light, a very large bird, though his weight did not seem to bend the topmost branch. He seemed to watch and listen to me for a minute. But then quite unexpectedly, and almost equally rarely, a cat came round the corner of the front cabin, and soon the owl took off. Of course I was reminded of Lear's famous poem. I know there is a Great Horned Owl in the woods behind me, but I've never seen one on the bluff before.

I saw a male hummingbird perching on a branch near the rear cabin almost immediately on my arrival here last sunday. I see him occasionally several times a day as he does the rounds of his feeders, never lingering unnecessarily. I've only seen a female once - she lingered at a feeder but then sped back, presumably to her nest. I'll post pictures soon. In the mean time, here's a snap of one of the beautiful places we visited in North Carolina on our way back north, Hope Plantation near Edenton.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Back on Long Island

We got back to Long Island this afternoon - to the winter we thought we left behind 5 months ago! Until yesterday we have had temperatures in the eighties during the 9-day drive up the east coast, dropping to 60 this morning in Delaware, but now in the mid-forties. I want to go back!

Our beach in Eleuthera - I'm in the water taking the picture a few days before we left.

Yesterday we visited Southampton Place, near Edenton, N.C., and the day before that Tryon Palace garden (New Bern) and Hope Plantation (Windsor), both also in North Carolina.  After driving up the Delmarva peninsula with the intention of taking the Lewes-Cape May ferry (ultimate goal Leaming's Run hummingbird garden), we arrived at the terminal only to learn that all crossings were cancelled because of "high winds" (actually, only 17 mph at Cape May, according to So we re-routed north towards the dreaded I-95, and were able to visit another plantation on the way, the Dickinson House (near Dover, Delaware). At least the traffic was light all the way to Stony Brook (but Christian Ave was the worst surface we encountered in 9 days of back roads and country lanes, including the road to Calypso on Eleuthera). I'll be posting pictures soon. Tomorrow I will check out and report on the situation in Baiting Hollow. In the meantime here are a few more images from our recent northern progress.

A manatee at Homosassa Springs, Florida west coast.

On our balcony overlooking the Homosassa River.

Micanopy, Fl (near Gainesville)

The remote Cross Creek home of Marjorie Kennan Rawlings (author of "The Yearling"); her front porch writing desk (near Miconopy).

Headed to lunch at Crane House, Jekyll Island.

The Crane Courtyard Cafe; our table was just to the right of the fountain, under the cloister and next to a wonderfully fragrant confederate jasmine vine.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Here are some more photos from the journey north. The one above shows me in the garden at "El Retiro", the former name of what is now Pinewood Estate, part of Bok Tower Gardens. Bok was a publisher and Buck, who built "El Retiro" was a vice president at Bethlehem Steel, back when american steel was big. And below I'm admiring a tree fern at Bok Tower.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nearly Home!

We left Eleuthera may 16. The photo shows our plane and the northern part of the island.

We  moved slowly through Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, and are nearly back on Long Island. One of our most interesting stops was at Bok Tower Gardens, in Lake Wales (south-central Florida, east of Tampa). You can see the tower above - 205 feet high atop 300 foot Iron Mountain, the highest spot in Florida (particularly striking because the approaches are so low and flat). Here are a few images from the garden, the first showing Claire under a live oak branch (my favorite tree and person in the world).



Friday, May 10, 2013

Leaving Eleuthera

Here's the front porch at our southern home, Calypso, overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

And here's why we go there:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Soon on the way back

We will shortly be wending our way back to Long Island from our winter refuge in the Bahamas, on Eleuthera. But already volunteers are hard at work at the hummingbird sanctuary maintaining feeders and starting to tame the overgrown gardens. In the next few days I will be posting some recent photos of the gardens at Calypso, our Eleuthera home. Then I will start posting updates about the Hummingbird Sanctuary in Baiting Hollow, which will be opening Aug 1.
The above photo shows a patch of heliconias, with a ti plant (reddish leaves) on the left, and a coconut pal behind. The photo below shows a small part of the Rockery, with Aechmea blanchetiana (orange leaves), blue plumbago, a buccanneer palm, pink bougainvillea and oleander, and a ruellia blossom.