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 (

Monday, May 30, 2016

Fine Fred; Terns' Turn; Montreal Gardens

Too wet to film today, but the rain is perfect for my new plantings.  Here's a vid from a few days ago of Fred on his "favorite" perch (which seems to be becoming less favorite; note the cherry flowers have not yet opened), followed one by a tern feeding frenzy on Long Island Sound.


Some of my more attentive readers might have noticed that in the right-hand column of this blog, way at the bottom, I list some of the gardens that I most admire, with links. I've just added to this one on the caribbean island of St Vincent. I've visited this island (indeed I nearly drowned there in a volcanic whirlpool) but prior to the development of this spectacular garden, the epitome of tropical lushness and vegetable poetry. Montreal Gardens is the work of a visionary artist/horticulturalist Timothy Vaughan, who splendidly, though a little hurriedly, narrates the video to which I link. At the moment one cannot reach St Vincent by a direct flight from the US (my son Jamie and I reached it by hopscotching, partly by sailboat, the Grenadines (Carriacou, then Union, Mayreau, Canouan, Becquia). As soon as the new much-delayed Argyle Airport opens I'll go there, though I fear the proximity of the airport might ruin the gardens. Here's the fabulous video. Paradise!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fort McNair and Cherry blossom

Here are some videos I had promised, showing (1) the pink flowers of the Fort McNair horsechesnut (Aesculus x carnea) and (2),(3) and (4) the white flowers of the wild black cherry, the predominant tree at the sanctuary. Lastly (5), the flowers of Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia). Of course only the first is a good hummingbird flower.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fred snacks at Cherry Queen

Fred snacks at Cherry Queen, a cultivar of Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii. As most of you know better than I, a one-day extreme cold snap this winter brought temperatures to zero, and has killed many of my salvias (though quite a few salvia "black and blue" have survived). So I'm busy replanting them. This Cherry Queen was only planted this morning but already Fred has discovered it, as you can see in the above video. Note that he doesn't bother with the columbine blooms.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Brookgreen and Caypso Gardens

It's too wet and gray to film today, so here's a very recent photo, taken by Bridgette Kistinger, at one of my favorite gardens, Brookgreen, near Myrtle Beach, S.C. It shows a male hummingbird feeding Salvia guaranitica. It's followed by 2 photos from my trip with Claire to Brookgreen in 2012. And then I show 3 clips shot just before we left Calypso (another favorite garden of mine, literally). These features various frangipani blooms (red, pink and yellow, a.k.a plumeria, which were coming into full flower as we left.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Today's videos; red horsechestnut

The first vid shows Fred taking off from his favorite perch. 2X slo-mo

The second shows Fred, in a rear view, perching on a branch hanging over the back deck.

This afternoon I was sitting in the lower garden, taking a break from planting a batch of Salvia involucrata "Bethellii" which I obtained from the Colorful Garden (a local wholesaler whose great flowers are widely available in retail stores throughout Long Island, including their Jamesport retail store). Some of you may remember that around this time last year I was featuring here on the blog the very pretty red horsechestnut Aesculus x pavia known as "Fort McNair". Well I was admiring this small tree, which is now in flower again, when who should roll up and sample the flowers but ..... Fred! It was quite sight to see Fred flaunting his red gorget as he buzzed between the spectacular pink flowers. The tree is actually a hybrid of Red Buckeye (which is also a good hummingbird tree, of which I have 2 at the sanctuary) and regular horse-chestnut A. hippocastanum. Of course I did not have the camera with me, but I will show some images of the tree tomorrow.
Last, a couple of bonus vids. The first shows treetops on the far rim of the western valley, with a striking cloud formation (2X fast motion). The second shows one of my lilacs, and then the oak tree at whose foot the lilac. I've cut some of the fragrant blooms for the 2 cabins.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

starring Fred

Although it's a cold gray day I managed to get some videos of Fred. The first 2 show him on one of his favorite perching spots - the same as last year.  In the first   he is silhouetted against the gray, not very horizontal, LI Sound. In the second, both he and I moved position. You can see him occasionally opening his bill- he's probably vocalising but the "squeak" he makes is too high-pitched for me to hear. The tree is a wild black cherry, and you can see the flower buds, which which will soon open to a dull white color, to be followed later by the tart but tasty black fruit. Unfortunately this perch is in a tree that's quite a way down the slope of the western valley, so although he's at an ideal height relative to my viewpoint, I cannot get very close without going downhill, and so viewing him from below. 

In the next 2 videos he's feeding at 2 different feeders. Actually he lingers at both of these feeders, and the clips were shot with a very small time gap, and I wonder whether this is actually Fred (who feeds very quickly). Another clue this might not be Fred: in the second video below he approaches the feeder with some hesitation, clearly not knowing exactly where the outlet is.  In the first video I pan upwards to show where he's perching to guard this feeder. In the second video you can see the red gorget flashing.

First Report from the sanctuary

I arrived back at the sanctuary late thursday afternoon. Thanks to the great help of a friend, there were already a lot of feeders up, and within an hour I saw a hummer briefly visiting a feeder along the woodland trail. Some of the minifeeders near the cottages had to be replenished, which was of course my first priority. The following day these feeders were also being (very briefly) visited, and I could see that, as expected, the resident hummer is a male. At one point I'm pretty sure he chased off another hummer, but it happened very quickly. The visits are too brief to film (shorter than the start-up time on my camera!), so here is a clip of some of the flowers already in bloom, irises and columbines (the latter being a good hummer plant). The coral honeysuckle is just beginning to bloom too - an even better nectar source.

The very brief visits to feeders are very characteristic of this time of year. The male, who I assume is Fred from previous years, is just checking that the feeder is good, and therefore needs guarding. Since his territory is rather large (typically an acre) he spends most of his time patrolling it, perching near each feeder and watching. As I get to know his favorite perching spots, I should be able to get good video.
UPDATE - while breakfasting this saturday morning on the back deck, I saw a female go to feeder 2, only to be immediately driven off by Fred. A few seconds later, Fred returned to the scene, perching near feeder 1 (the one at the northwest corner of the back deck) and briefly turning towards me flashing brilliant red. Of course I did not have the camera with me - I must learn that whenever I'm sitting watching, the camera should be ready.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

recent photo of a male hummer taken in Baiting Hollow

As usual in may, a male hummingbird is visiting the feeders in Baiting Hollow. Here's a recent photo, taken by Keith Bittner (thanks Keith for this and all your other help).

It's a side view against the light, so the red gorget appears dark, but even without that the squat appearance strongly suggests a male - perhaps Fred, the male that adopted the sanctuary as his territory the 2 previous years. I hope to get some better images and even video soon.

Friday, May 6, 2016

First Reports of Hummer Sightings on Long Island; some Calypso clips.

just a quick note to say that I now have 2 separate reports of hummingbirds on Long Island. Of course some have probably been here for a couple of weeks, but these are the first definite sightings I've heard about. More to follow soon.

UPDATE - I've just heard from a third person (in Shoreham) who's hosting a hummer. Indeed, this hummer showed up already 10 days ago - about when I expected the first arrivals.

Of course, a few video clip, from Eleuthera :

                         First, the typical puffy white clouds - my favorite

            Our beach (then my feet) on a choppy day, viewed from the ocean

Frangipani (aka Plumeria)


                   Danny Hauben painting (with pastels) during his visit here in january

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

soon back on Long Island

We will soon be back on Long Island, and I'm eager to see whether hummers have returned to Baiting Hollow - friends have been maintaining feeders there for several weeks but I do not yet have reports of hummer sightings. In the mean time I'm posting a few snaps from last summer - specifically from Danny Hauben's visits. Danny is an artist from the Bronx, who spent a summer residency at Riverhead's East End Arts Center. Here's one of the scenes he did.

And here's the result in progress

                                                          a close-up

another scene