My second year here was very different. I could not wait to find a new “simple” point and fire away camera, and that I did. My very first Nikon. After using Canon for over 20 years I bought a Nikon CoolPix P100. I have since upgraded to a Nikon CoolPix P520. Love both cameras. I laid up in my bed with that camera stuck to my hand for the next year and a half snapping pictures out of my little 2×3 window, my only view of the outside world for so long.
Robert R. “Bob” Sargent is not a name many of you will know, but I sure did. I called him Mr. Humming Bird. Many of you will have heard me refer to him that way. Do you have that one person you talk to and you feel like you are friends, but you have not met face to face?
“Bob” as he wanted to be called was the master in banding humming birds in the South. Banding is something that is done each year in the early spring when humming birds are coming to our backyards from different hot climates like, Brazil or Argentina. Then again in the fall when the hummming birds fly back to those same places. I don’t pretend to know about humming birds, I just love to watch them. As of this writing, October 1, 2014, I still have two out of four.
Mr. Humming Bird or “Bob” explained to me last year about coming down to watch and help in “banding” was that you parked at the end of an old airstrip, then walk to the other end. Well of course I went into the reason I just could not make that walk. Bob said, “Russ if you can get here I promise you will see us banding birds, you will be driven to the other end.”
He went on to assure me that I would have “special” attention to whatever I needed. “Come on down” he said.
According to the web site www.hummingbirdcenteral.com “Hummingbirds spend the winter in Central America or Mexico, and migrate north to their breeding grounds in the southern U.S. as early as February, and to areas further north later in the spring. During migration, a hummingbird’s heart beats up to 1,260 times a minute, and its wings flap 15 to 80 times a second. To support this high energy level, a hummingbird will typically gain 25-40% of their body weight before they start migration in order to make the long trek over land, and water. Research indicates a hummingbird can travel as much as 23 miles in one day. By August and September, hummingbirds are moving south, refueling their bodies in the early morning, traveling midday, and foraging again in the late afternoon to maintain their body weight.”
And according to the www.hummingbird-guide.com Hummingbird migration routes vary from species to species. The most famous migration is the Ruby-throated (one we have around here in Alabama a lot) because this remarkable bird travels from Central America and Mexico, crosses the Gulf of Mexico none-stop and continues as far north as eastern Canada. It should be noted that this route would be dangerous in the Fall because of a significant chance of missing the Yucatan Peninsula. For this reason southbound Ruby-throated hummingbirds follow the Gulf Coast through Louisiana and Texas. A Ruby-throated hummingbird flies across the Gulf of Mexico none-stop using the wind to their advantage, increasing their speed and shortening the time it takes to cross over the water. Hummingbird banders have shown that this journey across the Gulf generally takes about 20 hours. So just think about it. This tiny bird flies non-stop for 20 hours across the water. – See more at: http://www.hummingbird-guide.com/hummingbird-migration.
I spoke with Bob several times over the last four years and each call was just like we left off the last one. Out of the thousands of calls and people he talked to he always remembered our conversations. He always made me feel special. He was always very interested in talking and hearing about my hummers.
My great friend Mrs. Donna Sizemore Taheri and I had a trip to Bob’s place in Fort Morgan, near Mobile, planned last year and had to back out at the last minute. I was waiting on my new fall issue of NetLines, to tell us when the fall banding season would take place in Fort Morgan this year.
Much to my shock the front cover headline told it all:
Farewell, Chief Hummer, Parting is such Sweet Sorrow.
The man I called Mr. Humming Bird, Bob Sargent, has passed away, August 8, 1937 – September 7, 2014.
I will never forget our first phone call. I of course gave him my background as a photographer and now down with MS. Then I explained what I had been doing from early spring to October my second year in this house. I laid in my bed and made close to 3000 photos of 4 different humming birds. Yes you saw that right, three thousand. And countless hours of video. My hard drive can prove it. He was amazed! So was I at just how amazed he was! So he said “you just have to send some of your photos.” I did. He called to tell me just how much he enjoyed them. Just like he had not already seen a million other much better photos of humming birds that year.
Last year I had the little black and gray hummer come up. Bob said it was a Black-Chinned. It only stayed for 3 days. I knew I should have four humming birds but when this hummer showed up that camera started smoking. As soon as I could I called Bob and sent him a photo thru e mail. He called me and much to my surprise he said the hummer should not be anywhere close to this area. It was not seen east of Texas. He loved it, as did I.
I was really looking forward to speaking with him again after the October banding season ended. Sadly there will not be another issue of Netlines or any more “banding parties” at Fort Morgan, Alabama.
NOTE: Click on smaller photos to enlarge.