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 (

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Coral and a Bee; NoV saga continues

As Coral, the resident female hummer in Baiting Hollow, feeds from a feeder, a bee approaches (from the left) at high speed. When Coral sees that the bee is on the other side of the feeder, she resumes feeding - until the bee comes back round. Hummers do not like bees and wasps, whose sting would probably be fatal. The entire clip lasts only a couple of seconds but is played back in 8X slo mo.

Continuing the volley of emails in the NoV saga, I received the following reply to my last email (see my previous post)  from Richard Downs, the Code Investigator.

Mr. Adams, noted, I see that the parcel cited in the NOV mistakingly refers to that of lot 3,  it was indeed a clerical error. However to continue as I saw it on August 5, 2013 there where a majority of people congregating on lot 4.1 because we had a discussion about it that day, whereas I advised you then, that the vacant piece is or would be the subject of the zoning infraction; I know that because I told you that if the activity was exclusively contained to your residential lot it may be considered a customary and incidental use. Now because you alleged the signs, parking etc. not to be situated on the vacant parcel does not discredit the land use infraction observed on the vacant piece, one customary incidental land use leading into another plot or parcel without was the main question. I am available to meet with you at your connivence at the site next week to further discuss the matter and perhaps we can all get on the same page per say, as these emails back and forth are somewhat time consuming and possibly confusing the issue even more. I will also discuss the matter a litter further with the Town Attorney next week. I'd prefer a personal approach.  

PS. I will be out of the office Tomorrow. 


Rich Downs
Town Investigator
Town of Riverhead

Basically he says, in chess parlance, that yes his king is captured, but he wants to continue to play (after a time out and consult with his advisors) with his remaining pieces. I am pondering a possible reply, because it seems to me he's got into a swamp and wants to lure me in too. I'm thinking of writing along the following lines:

Mr Downs - The problems with the personal approach are (1) it requires good will on both sides (2) each side can reach different interpretations of what was discussed and decided, unless the meeting is minuted, and both sides agree to the written minutes. A good example of this is our meeting on (or near) my property on aug 5 2013, when you "investigated" a complaint made by a neighbor about activity at my property presumably observed by that neighbor. Aug 5 was the day the Newsday article  appeared, which triggered a temporary spike in traffic on Terry Farm Road. (Another example was the related august 19 meeting between me, Judge Peter Mayer, Supervisor Walter and the deputy town attorney).

Our recollections of that meeting differ substantially. In essence, I recall that we met on the ROW as you approached, but did not reach, my cottages. You said there had been a complaint and you came to find out what was going on. I said I maintained a hummingbird sanctuary on my property to which I sometimes invited guests, and that the appearance of a Newsday article that day had triggered a big increase in traffic. You suggested I close for a few days so that things could be sorted out, to which I readily agreed (in fact I had already done this via this blog). You did not mention the distinction between permitted uses on the 2 separate parcels of land, and most importantly you did not enter or even see the "short lot" 4.1. Indeed, it seems extremely unlikely that you would have had time between the complaint itself and your arrival at my property to consult the tax maps, and fully understand the subtle distinction between developed and undeveloped parcels with respect to hummingbird sanctuaries. Please note that I promptly summarized my understanding of our meeting within 24 hours of that meeting, in a blog post of aug 6 (see my reply to Irene Schell's comment).

On the other hand, your recollection is that we discussed the legal distinction between the uses permitted on the 2 parcels, and referred to a possible infraction on parcel 4.1. You also claim you say people "congregating" on parcel 4.1, despite the fact that parcel is not visible from any of the locations you visited (other than perhaps a few tree-tops). I strongly suspect that your understanding of the distinction of "uses" permitted on developed and undeveloped residential parcels only emerged over the next 5 months, as you consulted with other Town officials, and perhaps with others (including plaintiffs and neighbors). My own grasp of this somewhat arcane point only began when the Town Supervisor visited my property 2 days later. Indeed, the language of your most recent email tends to support my interpretation of how you became confused about the substance of our aug 5 meeting, and about the location of the activities you observed then. I think you were reconstructing in your mind what happened n the light of your slowly emerging understanding of the matter, as evidenced by the extraordinarily long delay between aug 5 and the issuance of the (clerically erroneous) NoV.

There are a number of other issues on which we disagree. However, let me instead return to your suggestion that we meet on my property to discuss the matter personally. I'm happy to meet with you in the presence of neutral third parties, on neutral grounds, and with the understanding that any agreement reached should be in writing and signed by both parties. I respectfully insist that you, and other Town officials,  not visit my property without a search warrant or other proper authorization. I would regard any unauthorized attempt by you or other Town officials to visit as trespass, even if you come as a "hummingbirder" or part of a group of hummingbirders. 

Finally, it's my understanding that under the Town Code I am allowed to invite visitors to my residential property (lot 3) , to view hummingbirds or otherwise. Whether I'm allowed to permit some of those visitors onto the adjacent vacant property lot 4.1 seems to be less clear, though it seems very likely that at least family and close friends could so venture. 

- Paul Adams

Any comments?


  1. Well, well, well do we have back peddling in full force?

  2. I think.Mr Downs is confused not only about the situation, but about his spelling.

    1. I spotted that error as well. I think when you are not honorable there is much confusion indeed.

  3. Great idea about meeting in a neutral spot with a neutral third party. It sounds like the town may have been caught with their pants down. Let's not help them pull them back up!

  4. Gosh, a little spell check would be in order!!

  5. If it were me, I'd not continue with the emailing. I understand wanting a record of it - but he's laid out his stance and frankly will adjust it to suit his level of frustration. Perhaps a meeting in person with greater clarity of property lines, areas of congregation, and discussion on customary allowable use of each parcel would clarify things. As you are not currently taking visitors, like his first email response said - his inspection at this meeting may suffice to retract this violation. Follow-up the discussion with an email. Suggest even audio record the meeting.

  6. Joe - I sent my reply - basically the above draft - before I saw your comment. I agree that at this point further emailing might be counterproductive, and the idea of videotaping any meeting is an excellent one. I feel that initially any meeting should be offsite, to go over the relevant maps, codes etc, discuss possible modifications to the sanctuary and decide if a further limited site visit would be necessary or useful. However, probably all this should be done in conjunction with an out of court settlement of the ongoing private lawsuit.