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 (

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

He's Here! arrival around 5.30 pm today april 29: bad vid

A male hummingbird just showed up at my feeders. Late this afternoon the wind turned to the northeast from northwest, and I said to myself one might decide to stop,  rather than fight the wind. At first I saw him perched very close to the feeder closest to the back cabin "Hummingbird Cottage" where I was sitting getting ready to leave,  since it had turned cold and cloudy. Then he fed briefly at that feeder, and then switched to a feeder a little bit further  away (see video) closer to the front cabin "Seagull Lodge". When I saw him perched silhouetted against the Sound it was quite unmistakably a hummingbird, almost certainly an adult male. I shot some poor video (2X slo-mo) which I post below. Now I will step outside despite the cold and try to get better video. Whoo-hoo!

Update: I could not stay long outside because it was too cold, so this out-of-focus video I shot from inside the cabin will have to do. At least it confirms it's an adult male.

Monday, April 27, 2015

still no hummer in Baiting Hollow but several settling in elsewhere

here's a very recent photo of a male hummingbird at a feeder in Massapequa. Courtesy of Bill and James Koller

I spent 2 hours by the woodstove, Zelenka in the background (the music, not a girlfriend) in Baiting Hollow, watching 3 feeders - but no takers! Still very wintry out there. Columbine growing but nowhere near flowering yet. So here's another clip from summer last year, with a hummer feeding at Salvia "Waverley".

Saturday, April 25, 2015

recovering slowly; why do we have no hummers yet?

Another clip from last year, feeding at Salvia greggii (autumn sage).

Here's a reply I just wrote to a question from Mike, which might be of general interest. Note these are purely informed guesses.

"Mike, first bear in mind that Lanny Chambers' migration map (at you are seeing only the leading edge of the advancing wave - and the earliest hummers we see on LI (eg the april 11 sighting in Islip Terrace) are probably on their way further north. Getting technical, the advancing wave probably has a Gaussian (bell) shape, and because the east coast is densely populated, it can easily detect the low-probability leading edge. But the main peak probably occurs a couple of weeks later - i.e. TODAY! 
Second, the males arrive a week or 2 earlier than the females, and they will only settle in really good spots, which means lot of trees and above all lots of lichen on the trees. Availability of feeders and nectars is almost irrelevant. Where they come in is in picking up the southward migration, where the numbers are possibly double the northward one. But that will only start mid july, peaking perhaps late august/early sept.
Third, you are probably getting more visits than you realize: you cannot permanently watch both front and rear beds, and probably you don't even spend an hour per day watching. In Baiting Hollow even though I consistently have a resident male, I might only see him a couple of times a day, and very briefly, in june and early july. That's why I only open during august: most people would just get frustrated waiting in june. I'm lucky because I spend essentially the whole day, for many days at a stretch, working in the garden, or resting there, so get to catch these brief visits. In fact the adult male spends most of his time inspecting the entire 3.5 acres here, and is mostly inconspicuously perched somewhere. With a bit of luck I learn where some of these perches are, which increases my viewing opportunities - though he does change his favorite perches.
Fourth, there is indeed a lower density of hummers on the island as compared to the mainland, at least partly because there are fewer woods and more people and houses. The best area on the island seems to be Manorville and surrounds - lots of preserved land. 
All of this means that getting regular hummer visits is hard work here - but all the more satisfying when it works out. And consistency over many years with flowers and feeders also helps.
I predict that if you spend a good deal of time outside you will see one before midmay.
- Paul

Thursday, April 23, 2015

No hummer yet; another old clip

We went out to Baiting Hollow again this morning. A couple of the feeders had blown down (it gets extremely windy up there), and the others had swayed empty. Refilled and replaced them all (I  use only minifeeders which I only fill 1/3 to 1/2).
It was cold (50F) and blustery so I lit the woodstove and reclined in the back cabin while Claire went shopping (lunch and dinner). I closely observed 3 of the feeders over a 2 hour period but saw no visitors. Conclusion: no hummer has yet adopted the sanctuary as home so far this year.
This isn't surprising - my regular first arrival date is may 1, and I've never seen a hummer before april 27.  So - patience! - as for almost all of you waiting for their first hummer of the year.

Today I feel very slightly better, and I have gained 4 pounds - but still 15 pounds to go.
Meanwhile here's another clip from last summer: hummer feeding at Salvia guaranitica.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

some clips from last year

I''ll drag myself out to the Sanctuary tomorrow. Meanwhile here are some clips from last year that I don't think I already posted.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Report from Baiting Hollow.

Columbine flowering in Baiting Hollow may 22 2014. I remember seeing hummers visiting this clump when we first returned last year.

I was released from the hospital friday evening, and will complete the 7-day course of antibiotics orally. Claire and I went out to the Sanctuary in Baiting Hollow this morning, in absolutely stunning weather. All looks well out there. I hung up several feeders, Claire cut a bunch of daffodils to bring home - I had not seen the daffodils in many years. There was very little sign of life in the flower beds, though the wild columbines (Aquilegia canadensis) are emerging from the ground. Wild columbine is an important source of nectar for arriving hummers. I see that the winter must have been very severe - no sign of life from the stubs of my large Salvia greggii plant that has survived many winters in the past. But I was too tired to investigate much.
I sat for 5 minutes viewing the opulent Sound, with Connecticut happily shrouded from view. Looks like the red maples are beginning to flower, which will be good for the hummers.
But I am exhausted by my illness - I've never felt so pathetically weak in my whole life, and I did not take any photographs. I almost look like an Auschwitz survivor, having lost 14 pounds from an already skinny frame. Hopefully each day will bring a slight improvement, and I'm enjoying seeing the flowers of the early Long Island spring, especially the magnolias.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Back on Long Island - sick! Hummingbirds are here on Long Island! The future.

A nice video from last summer in Baiting Hollow.

My last 3 posts were already composed from my sickbed at Calypso, where I came down with the flu and also a mysterious GI illness involving some abdominal pain, diarrhea and most notably a complete loss of appetite.  On tuesday april 14 we flew back to NY (a month earlier than planned), and early wednesday morning went to the Stony Brook University hospital, where they diagnosed me (based on blood work, Chest X ray and abdominal CT scan) with 3 problems: low sodium, pneumonia and diverticulitis. The latter is a fairly common disorders where pockets form in the colon wall which then become infected. They put me on an IV saline drip with 2 broad-spectrum aniibiotics. Of course I've not yet been out to Baiting Hollow but Claire will go today or tomorrow to set up feeders and inspect the property - the so-called "sanctuary".

When I used to be on Long Island in the early spring, before starting to spend the entire winter/ early spring in the Bahamas, the consistent first date on which I would see a hummer (always an adult male) was may 1. That's when I would put up my feeders. But there's no doubt that generally, due to global warming, all over the eastern US, hummer arrival dates have shifted earlier, by at least 2 weeks. Indeed, I received a report that april 11 a male hummingbird was seen in Islip Terrace, investigating a piece of red fabric pinned outside an apartment door. So although Lanny Chambers migration map (at  shows a first report this year for Long Island dated april 14, they were already on the island on april 11.  Indeed, in the not too distant future I suspect we will see them here by the end of march!

Speaking of the future, I've been pondering the future of the Sanctuary. Quite apart from the hassle of the ongoing lawsuit (see below),  setting up the garden in Baiting Hollow each year, and organizing the smooth flow of visitors involves quite a lot of work and time commitment, and my overall health is not improving, I'm seriously thinking of shutting up shop and selling this gorgeous property, freeing up substantial financial resources so Claire and I can enhance our lifestyle with more travel, good dining etc. ......... on the other hand being privileged to sit every summer evening on the deck in Baiting Hollow bug-free and watching the hummers flit amongst the flowers as the sun sets against the vast expanse of Long Island Sound from Old Field Point to Orient Point is unique and .... priceless.

On the topic of the lawsuit, maybe the 2 neighbors have a point that even an orderly regulated flow of a relatively small number of visitors to my place during august, over the long and narrow (though now well-paved Terry Farm Road), places an intolerable burden on my 2 neighbors. I would not have thought so but reasonable people can disagree on this sort of question. But if I ever get advice from anyone I respect (other than my 2 neighbors and their fancy lawyer) I would listen intently and incorporate that advice into my thinking.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Today hummers reached New Hampshire

Hummers have alreadt reached New Hampshire! see
These are rare, hardy pioneers - most of the males will be arriving on Long Island over the next 2 weeks, to establish territories. Females will arrive a week or 2 later. Exciting times!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

hummingbird in northern NJ

Humminbirds reached northern NJ on april 9 (see and may already be on Long Island. If you spot one in the next week or so please email me at paul.adams&

Monday, April 6, 2015

New Videos

The first vid shows a Woodstar feeding at firecracker, the second a bananaquit feeding at the flower of White Bird of Paradise, and the third a Male Woodstar also feeding at firecracker. Filmed at Calypso, Eleuthera, april 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Birding Eleuthera; hummers nearing Long Island

Sorry for the long radio silence - we have 8 family members here, which is monopolizing my attention. One of them is my son Jamie who is an avid and skilled birder. Have a look at his blog which is documenting lots of cool birds he's seeing here at Calypso and other places on Eleuthera.
I'll try to get back to filming very soon!
In the mean time check out the hummingbird migration map - - which shows that rubythroats are already in southern Delmarva. Get your feeders ready - they'll be here in a few days!