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, December 26, 2014

Listen to Male Woodstar hummingbird buzzing

I recently bought myself a Christmas present - an external directional microphone which mounts on top of my Canon Vixia G30 videocamera. Yesterday I tried it out for the first time, hoping to pick up the characteristic buzzing sound that the male hummer makes as he visits flowers.  It works! He's not buzzing all the time - I think only when he's either accelerating or hovering in certain ways., andyou have to listen very carefully, using a proper speaker or headset (there's also some background noise)As in my previous movie, he's visiting firecracker - not the same very large clump as before, but a smallerclump that's just outside the back door of our house "Seastar", where I'm staying at the moment.
There are actually 3 houses at Calypso: Seastar, Woodstar and Morningstar - see We move around between the houses depending on whether family or friends are staying with us, but on first arrival here we tend to start in Seastar. All a bit complicated and impractical, but there's logic behind it.
Bear in mind that the bird was about 12 feet away from the microphone, and the buzzing is quite subtle at that distance; I will try to get a much better, closer recording.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Christmas! Hummingbirds are back!

Well, actually it would be better to say that I'm back amongst the hummingbirds, here at our winter home Calypso on the Bahamian out-island Eleuthera. Yesterday I settled down near a very large clump of firecracker (Russellia equisetiformis) where I knew that a male Bahama Woodstar hummingbird (Calliphlox evelyni) often (every 15 minutes or so) visits. Here is one of the videos I took.

The video is 2X slo mo, as usual. You can see his brilliant magenta gorget from time to time as he turns towards the camera. These hummingbirds are endemic to the Bahamas but are very similar in general appearance and behavior to the rubythroat, the color of the gorget being the most strking difference. Firecracker is an excellent hummingbird plant which I sometimes have in Baiting Hollow too - but of course it's tropical and must be brought indoors for the winter.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hyssop mission

Continuing with my stash of videos from the summer, here's another with a backdrop of Long Island Sound. This time the hummingbird is focussing on mexican hyssop, Agastache cana, which has a wonderfully mint-flavored leaf. He's ignoring the white flowered version of Salvia greggii, though this has nectar too.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Alice Dupont with hummer

Here on the front deck Mandevilla "Alice Dupont" climbs up a trellis. If you look carefully in the center you'll see a hummingbird feeding at a partly hidden feeder. These gorgeous flowers are nectarless, though once I saw an inexperienced hummer get his head stuck in one (they explore everything) and had to shake him loose.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Movie from this summer: hummingbird with Long Island Sound

As many visitors know, one of the great joys of summer at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary is to sit on the front deck overlooking Long Island Sound spread out before one, with hummingbirds buzzing through the various Salvias - here the very popular Rosebud Sage, Salvia involucrata "Bethellii".
I'm happy to announce that I fly down to our winter place on the Bahamian Island of Eleuthera this sunday: flight from JFK to Nassau then a quick hop over to Eleuthera. I'll be reporting on hummingbirds down there, and gardening, as soon as I get the internet there working again (but don't hold your breath). Also, lot's more movies from this summer to upload, to help you through the long winter.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Early in the season, and very late.

I'm catching up on videos I've not yet posted on this blog. First here's a short clip from november 4, which shows the hummer that came very late in the season. The bird is feeding at pineapple sage (in the right part of the screen). It's amazing how different everything looks just over a month later: not only no hummingbirds, but no flowers or even leaves!

Next, here's a movie from much earlier in the season (june 4). It shows Coral, the adult female hummer who often visited. This was well before any juvenile hummers showed up, around mid july. She's visiting coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) the best honeysuckle for hummingbirds. 4X slo-mo, and with an added music soundtrack.

As you can see neither of these videos is much good - that's why I did not already post them at the appropriate time. But I decided to post on the blog all the videos that I had previously, rather laboriously, posted to Youtube, before I start using my cache of unposted videos (many from late sept and early october, when hummers were still quite active).

Here's one showing Fred, the resident male hummer (4X slo mo, june 12). He takes off from a twig. Again, not much good. 

 But here's a better one, again with Fred on a twig, but close up (but only a brief hint of the red color of the gorget, which looks black from this angle).

Finally, and apparently out of sequence (but I seem to have uploaded it on july 18) is one from much earlier, when we were still at Calypso, our winter place in the Bahamas. This shows the lakeside walk, with desert rose on limestone plinths to the left, some coconit palms and a bismarck palm (on the right) waving in the trade wind.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Catching Up with old videos

As we ease into winter,  and my University responsabilities tail off, I'm starting to dream of both Calypso, our place in the Bahamas, and also summer at the Baiting Hollow Sanctuary. Over the next few weeks, before we actually arrive back at Calypso (there have been delays and there might be more), I'll be posting various videos from earlier in 2014. I'm going to start by posting here some videos that I had already uploaded to Youtube, but had not included in the blog. First I made a list of all  the vids I posted since may 20, just before we returned from Eleuthera to Long Island. The earliest vids were filmed using an inferior camera (750 p only, and some dust on the lens). So I'll start with some Calypso garden scenes (no hummers) I filmed just before returning to the US.

The first video (above) shows a scene in the back garden, towards one of the lawns. There are various palms, the red leaves are ti plants (colorful tropicals,  Cordyline fruticosa), and on the right you see the large banana-like leaves of Heliconias.

Here (above) you see the superb trunk of a royal palm (Roystonea regia), with the red flowers of hibiscus waving in the background.

Again more palms (foxtail palm, Wodyetia bifurcata, on the left, and a sabal palmetto on the right, with the pink flowers of Pandora vine in the foreground.

Finally, here's me frolicking in the ocean near Calypso.
I hope you feel a bit warmer after viewing these movies!