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 2, 2016

Garter Snake, Fowler's Toad, and Pink Ladyslippers

This morning I filmed a garter snake sunning himself, then a toad I think is a Fowler's, and, very close to the toad, blooming pink lady-slippers.
I also see, much less commonly, 2 other kinds of snake at the sanctuary, the milk snake and the fabulous rough green snake (bright green, very rare on Long Island). I believe the black blotches on the back of the toad secrete the poison bufotoxin.
The pink lady-slipper is a ground orchid. Unfortunately the deer sometimes eat the flowers. Occasionally they form seed-heads, When this happens I carefully spread the seed - which emerges from the ripe capsule like smoke, on suitable open ground (in the woods, not the garden. In this way I've been able to create quite a nice population, starting from just a few plants.
Ain't Nature wonderful? In my early years here I would sometimes see a weasel, but no more. Toads, weasels, snakes, sounds awful, but actually rather marvelous.


  1. I have never seen so many Lady's Slippers in one place before. thank you for sharing this beautiful picture.
    So happy that they are still here on LI. I remember them from when I was a child, playing in the woods.

  2. These lady-slippers have quite a history. I used to live in Old Field (near Stony Brook) and on the other side of the street (Holly Lane) there were woods where a large house was to be built. There was a small clump of lady-slippers in a spot which was soon to be excavated, so I transferred them across the road to my property, where I knew they would do well because they would go in very similar woods.
    Quite a few years later our house burnt down, which led to the purchase of the Baiting Hollow property. Since I thought it likely that the new owners would build a mansion on the site to which I had moved the orchids, which had flourished, I decided to move them to another new, again very similar site (dry sandy oak woods) site at the new place. They did even better here, and have spread quite a bit, even beyond the original clump shown here. As I explain in the post, they set seed which I then carefully "sow" (actually little puffs of smoke-like powder) onto likely nearby sites.
    These orchids have very particular pollination and cultural requirements. They are definitely NOT garden plants, but they are very pretty.

  3. simply amazing that you were able to transplant them. I do know they are fussy. they like their own little spots.

    but you have figured out what they need and love to thrive on. wonderful!