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 (

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Helicopter/seaplane noise; Scarlet runner bean; there's nowt so queer as folk

One of the big problems at the sanctuary are the commuter flights between Manhattan and East Hampton. Many pass right over at low altitude. Various groups are working to limit this problem, but it continues to grow (helicopter flights are up 32% this summer compared to last). Many of you are also bothered by this racket. Please all log the worst incidents at the Quiet Skies Coalition's complaint site, There's a real chance that the politicians might finally do something, if we all work together on this. Otherwise the problem will get much worse.

Reminder: you need a confirmed appointment to visit: see to the right of this post for procedure.

The damp gray weather continues, but so does the hummingbird activity, and all those that came remained dry and were treated to some spectacular chases, with hummers flying at great speed a few inches apart from each other through narrow gaps and along twisting flight paths, with the sudden burst of remarkable acceleration (up to 10G!) for which they are famous. However, quite a few people with reservations failed to show; as we say in Yorkshire, "there's nowt so qeer as folk".

This year I planted a seedling of scarlet runner bean, Phaseolus coccinea (common or string bean is P. vulgaris), which is well known as a good hummingbird plant. It's already reached 8 feet on a bamboo pole, and indeed the hummers seem to like it, as shown in the following videos. I'm looking forward to a bonus - the beans themselves! The fellow enjoying these flowers is a young male - at the beginning you can see 2 dark spots on the throat, the diagnostic "drops of blood" that are the beginning red gorget feathers. Over the winter in Central America all the jewel-like ruby throat feathers will emerge. The first video is my usual 2X slo mo, and the second, which blurrily shows the young fellow driven off by the attack of another hummer (possibly the adult male) is at 8X slo mo. The white flower in the background is summersweet, Clethra alnifolia - not a hummer plant but with an intoxicating perfume.

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