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, June 5, 2014

"Fred" Guarding A Hummingbird Feeder; An Introduction to the Lawsuit;

Here's a new clip showing the resident male, whom I'm calling "Fred" because he's clearly the aggressor around the place, guarding one of the feeders on his territory. He's constantly looking round for intruders and/or potential mates. Although the view is full frontal, and in pretty sharp focus, the gorget shows up as almost entirely black, with only a hint of red at moments, especially near the end where he swiftly flies down to the feeder hanging beneath him. I don't know whether this is because of a lack of direct sunlight (near overhead and heavily filtered by leaves) or because he actually has to actively "display" his gorget in some fashion (but I think not).

I believe that the links to the lawsuit work now, so I''ll provide a gentle introduction. Most of you should turn off at this point, or just enjoy the movie, because things get quickly complicated, technical and ridiculous. If there are any lawyers reading, I would be grateful for any feedback, especially any corrections of my meager understanding.

The first page is the "Summons". It sets out the names of the Plaintiffs (those who are instituting the lawsuit), those of the Defendants (those who are the target of their complaints), and, at the bottom, the Plaintiffs' lawyer, Anthony B. Tohill, who I will henceforth refer to as "Tohill", for brevity, and certainly not from disrespect. Indeed as I've studied the suit more closely, I've come to appreciate the skill with which this legal bomb, which I have to defuse,  is constructed. I believe subsequent "papers" need only give the first plaintiffs' and defendants' names (i.e. Terry v. Adams)

The Summons also gives the Index Number, a sort of tracking number, and designates Suffolk County Supreme Court as the place of trial, because the properties are located in Suffolk, and in particular in Riverhead, the locus of the Supreme Court. Suffolk County is therefore the "venue" for the action.

By the way, and this is typical of legal affairs, the name "Supreme Court" is misleading.  It's actually one of the lowest courts. It's likely I'll lose, because though the lawsuit is clearly weak, and possibly frivolous, and designed to harass me,  my legal skill are vestigial, and in addition I might not get a fair trial.  The only detailed and overt complainant about the sanctuary is Suffolk Supreme Court Judge Peter Mayer , a colleague (one of 23; about the number of my colleagues in my Stony Brook University department) of whatever Judge (or, in the case of the Supreme Court, "Justice") decides my fate. Justice Mayer is my closest neighbor and the one most impacted by the sanctuary.  So then I would appeal, first to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (again, possibly more Mayer-colleagues) and then finally perhaps to the Court of Appeals, in Albany. Obviously I already have 2 handicaps, representing myself, and the difficulty of getting a fair trial. What makes me go on is the absurdity and unfairness of the lawsuit, not any desire for punishment.

Theoretically I could have asked for a change of Venue, eg to Nassau or even NYC or Westchester, based on the deep involvement of Justice Mayer. But this might have made things difficult for Reggie. I believe I've now lost the opportunity, because more than 21 days have elapsed since we filed our Answer, even though a Judge/Justice has not yet been assigned to the case - in this game, one stumble and your finished.

No-one likes long posts so I'll' continue tomorrrow (hopefully with new video). In the meantime there's lots to do in the well-soaked garden!


  1. His vigilance is amazing and it must take so much energy ... I am going to speak to a friend of mine who works for the Nature Conservancy here in East Hampton about legal advice ... what a strange twist of fate that Justice Mayer your nemesis ...

  2. Yes, fighting this lawsuit takes an enormous amount of time and energy and is VERY stressful, as apparently it was meant to be.......or do you mean that the male hummingbird's vigilance is amazing? I believe that the males only have about half the lifespan of the females (not quite for us human males!)

  3. Yes I was making this connection ...