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 28, 2018

Hummingbird Cottage

There are 2 small cottages or "cabins" at the sanctuary. The one nearest the Long Island Sound already had a name when I arrived in 1991 - "Seagull Lodge" - and the other one I dubbed  "Hummingbird Cottage". But it lacked  a name plaque until now.  I hope you like the one I  chose - it's  hand-painted by  Roberta Roverelli  (DipintoAdArte) in Livorno, Italy. It's ceramic, and I will probably store it inside for the winter.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Interesting Livestreams

I'm continuing to livestream Fred and friends. When the stream is live you can see it here, when it's not this link will take you to my channel "Fred Smith", where you can see archived versions of previous livestreams, many of them annotated to show the times of various incidents. For example yesterday I streamed for nine hours 15 minutes, and the entire livestream is available at

Underneath the video is a caption, with the time 33:00 - clicking this will take you to the 33 minute mark, and you will then see an interesting sequence of events, starting with Fred on his usual perch, then attacking Bob the Wren who has been trying to commandeer it, and ending with Fred on a much closer perch. Please note that it takes Youtube time to process these long videos and for the first day or 2  you will see low resolution version. These eventually convert to 1080p HD versions, though because of my limited upload bandwidth this will often not be achieved.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Climbing Roses

June is always slow for hummingbirds, who are on nest duty. But the wild cherry trees are cascading with rambling roses.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

More about Fredcam

Every time the Fredcam livestreams, it creates a new URL, and when I stop livestreaming, that entire video (up to 12 hours duration!) is archived, and can be viewed at any time. For example in yesterday's post "Fredcam!" you saw the URL (and corresponding embedded thumbnail) "bhhs 2" which during the livestreaming itself showed the actual livestream. If you had viewed the entire livestream (2 hours and 42 minutes) you would only have seen Fred 3 times: for the first minute, then from 4.15-7.09 and again 23.17-23.40. You would also have seen a robin perching twice. At 36.57 I zoomed out to show a more general view (with Old Field Point in the distance) and by the end of the livestream it was totally dark, with only 2 steady lights at Shoreham, and a brief flash every 10 seconds from the Old Field Point Lighthouse (alternating green and red) plus some flashing aircraft. This livestream is now archived as 'bhhs 2" at that same URL.
The URL at the top of this post:

is the permanent URL for the livestream from my channel (I use the pseudonym "Fred Smith"). Thus clicking this link allows you toview the current livestream fromthe sanctuary in real time (or after a delay of about 1 second). This livestream link can always be seen in the right-hand blog column (which isn't visible on your phone unless you switch to the "web version" of the blog). As I write the current livestream is "bbhs4" but I'm now going to stop this and restart the feed as "bhhs5". You will find that the above link does indeed take you to the current livestream,  and not to the now archived "bhhs4". If instead you go to my Youtube channel

you will shortly be able to view the now archived livestream video (which begins with Fred perching but then has a long dry spell), as well as previous archived livestreams (such as bhhs 1,2and 3) and all my other public videos.

But what we all want isn't these various URLs but the embedded version of the livestream, so you can just click on the thumbnail to view the current livestream. For example you can click on this thumbnail:

and see an old video of Fred and his gorgeous ruby gorget at the sanctuary in 2014. But I cannot yet supply you with a thumbnail which will take you directly to the current livestream -but I'm working on it! For the time being you have to click on

Unfortunately if I'm NOT livestreaming, this URL will simply take you to my YouTube channel.

Lastly, an even more technical detail. To connect my Vixia G30 to my computer (actually a MacAir I no longer use much) I'm using the Elgato Camlink. I set the Vixia so it provides a "clean" hdmi output, without all the annotations I see on the viewfinder or lcd screen of the camera itself. I'm using a 15 foot hdmi cable to the outdoor camera which means I can only just reach the Camlink device which is plugged into an USB socket on the (indoor) MacAir. I'm going to try and find a longer hdmi cable, so I can livestream from different outdoor locations. Of course the ideal would be to use wifi or bluetooth to send the camera output wirelessly to the Camlink or to the computer itself, but though I can control and view the Vixia via bluetooth, I don't think I can use it as a webcam this way.

Friday, June 15, 2018


We were in Maine for a week and on my return saw that Fred has very slightly shifted his perch - to another twig very close to the one he was previously using. Perhaps he was annoyed by my droning (which I've now stopped) but the new perch is also at the top of the dead pine tree, and within a few feet of the old perch. I've decided to try live streaming this perch - you should be able to  see the stream at Of course he's often not on his perch so watching the livestream can be tedious. But if you look at

 you will see an earlier archived livestream where Fred arrives at 18.12. Towards the end of this video I add the 1.5 teleconverter to the Canon camcorder, for a total zoom of 30. Note the camera is 100 feet way from the perch!
Please let me know if this live-streaming "Fredcam" is working for you!

Update: at 7.31 Fred briefly visited his old perch.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Getting Closer to Fred

Yesterday I piloted the drone quite close to Fred, and you can see his ruby-throat as he takes off from his favorite perch. My repeated drone visits don't seem to bother him too much because he keeps coming back. The 2-second movie is in 8x slo-mo, and since the camera films at 30 fps,  fast movement (and Fred is accelerating fast at take-off) tends to break up when replayed very slowly. Unfortunately on the Spark the camera settings are hard-wired.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Hummer meets Drone

Some of my readers know, from previous posts, that I operate a small drone (a DJI Spark) - essentially a flying camera. It's great fun, very small, maneuverable (with practice) and remarkably resilient. The reason I got it was because Fred, my resident male hummingbird, is easily seen when he's on his favorite perch, at the tippy top of a dead pine tree. I think he likes this spot because he gets a splendid view of the western valley, and can easily spot intruders approaching his territory. But although he's often there, in full view, he's very tiny, because the closest I can get is about 100 feet away - and my best view,  from the back deck, is even further. In fact he's just a speck, though clearly a hummingbird. Even with my strongest zoom (30X), one cannot film him well - here's an example, using my Canon Vixia with a supplemental 1.5 teleconverter lens (which vignettes the image at low zoom):

My plan was to fly a camera much closer to Fred on his tree-top throne. This didn't quite work out last year, because I got the drone rather late in the season, when Fred was spending less time on this perch, and it also took me a long time to learn to maneuver the drone well (I'm still rather clumsy). But this year Fred is back on his perch, and I'm making progress. My main worry was that Fred would attack the drone and get hurt, but he doesn't - it does bother him when it gets too close, and he just flies off, but he often flies off for other reasons too. Here's an example.

The drone is initially looking at the top of the dead pine tree and behind the pine you see the back cabin "Hummingbird Cottage" on whose deck I sit and operate the drone.  In the first half of the video I swing the drone around the tree top until it's almost looking from my vantage point on the deck, then back again. One can clearly see the 2 topmost tips of the pine, and on one tip there's a short horizontal twig which provides this perfect perch. However in the first half of the video Fred is away. I then start to move the drone closer, and suddenly Fred arrives and settles down, clearly unfazed by the drone at this distance. But then I start to move the drone even closer and Fred takes off again. Even when the drone is quite close the wide-field camera on the drone doesn't really allow as a good a view as the telephoto Vixia at a much greater distance. I will have to get closer!

I'll end up with a drone video of the beach below the sanctuary (shot last year shortly after Hurricane Jose,which effaced the horrible vehicle ruts).