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 (

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Open today BUT YOU MUST BRING WAIVER and be a GOOD WALKER!; Abutilon

Because of the evolving situation with the Town and neighbors, I'm going to need some good legal advice. In the past, because of similar issues, and at considerable expense, I retained the services of the best local law firm and received much useful advice. However, in order to minimize further expense, it would be wonderful if one of my nice visitors might know of (or even be) a lawyer willing to help the sanctuary survive on a reduced or even pro bono basis. Please email me if you have suggestions!

We are open today thursday aug 22 both am (9.30-12.30) and pm BUT ONLY TO THOSE THAT ARE GOOD WALKERS AND CAN SAFELY FOLLOW THE WOODLAND PATH OVER THE YELLOW MINIBRIDGE, AND WHO BRING PROPERLY COMPLETED WAIVERS. Please use great care on all paths, steps etc, wear good walking shoes, and remember this is a wild Nature Sanctuary not the Mall!

Hummers are often unusually active in rain, and we offer shelter in the front cabin/porch. So far the morning (9.55) activity is quite good.

The recent photo is by Rick Mei and shows a hummer feeding at flowering maple (Abutilon).

Here is a quick summary of one of the legal issues that has arisen. As many long-term visitors know, in the past I have asked that everyone walk to the main viewing area via the Woodland Walk over the yellow minibridge, with the exception that those who have problems walking well were directed to the driveway, which is a dirt right of way (ROW) leading to our cottages, decks and the main viewing areas. Recently the Town suggested, reasonably,  that we require liability waivers from all visitors, and I have complied. Because receiving the waivers only after people walked the somewhat hilly and narrow Woodland Path seemed unwise (and ineffective), I switched, on a temporary basis, to directing everyone to the main ROW, and received their waivers at the Admission Table close to the main viewing area. However, at a meeting called by the Town Supervisor, a  neighbor objected to this arrangement, arguing that if a visitor trips and falls on the short part of the ROW that crosses his land (a possibility that has been worsened by his placement there of thick loose gravel), they might sue him. At the meeting I agreed to resume the older arrangement whereby most visitors were directed to the Woodland Walk. However, I rejected the suggestion that neighbors can regulate the type of visitation to my property over the existing long-standing and deeded and surveyed ROW. It's impossible for me to distinguish between those visitors who come principally to see me, or the hummingbirds, the view or the garden. For example, there are many longstanding groups of birders (including numerous Audubon chapters), photographers (including well established camera clubs) and gardeners (garden clubs all over Long island) who visit at my explicit invitation, usually at private pre-arranged times. As you know I'm not advertising, charging or even accepting donations, and all who visit come in response to invitations issued via the web; only those who access this blog can visit.
After some research, I also beleive that visitors to my property who have an accident on the sections of the ROW that cross neighboring land ("servient" landowners) would have no legal right to sue those neighbors, since they are visiting me not them. But they would have the right to sue me (a right they renounce by signing the required waiver) for not maintaining those sections of the ROW in reasonably safe condition. So actually the legal situation seems to be the exact opposite of that maintained by my neighbor. In any case, I clearly must assert my right to receive invited visitors at my property via the long-established, deeded and mapped ROW, since otherwise my property becomes valueless.
I recognize that some of the issues are complex and I'm anxious to minimize our impact on neighbors, especially the 3 that reside here. I believe that with good communication, intentions and legal advice the sanctuary can continue to flourish and bring pleasure to hummingbird-lovers.

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