Year 1, Issue 11
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* The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy
* Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells
* Splicing Editor: Jeff Wells
It was a family thing.
On the morning of October 27, Jeff and I got a call from Steve Kelling.
He'd come across a Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow at Allan Treman Park. We
immediately passed the message along to everyone we could reach by phone,
then hurried down to the park hoping to glimpse this rare (to the Basin)
sparrow. Being the first to arrive, we soon fell into our Allan Treman
routine: side by side a few feet apart, sweep through the grass--and nail
down every "chip," "seep," and feather that flushes up from the grass. We'd
made one sweep when along came the McGowan boys, Bard Prentiss, Bill Evans
and Karl David. Like a well disciplined service regiment, we lined up and
descended up the field.
There were disappointments: "There it is! Nope, Swamp Sparrow." "Stop,
there's movement just to the right of the goldenrod--never mind, Song
Sparrow." Then, near the water's edge, the bird fluttered up ahead of us
and onto an old stump. "Got it!" "Wow!" "Yes!" Some had looks at the
sparrow; others had fabulous looks. Still others--Jay McGowan and myself
(Allison), we both lacking the lanky limbs necessary to succumb the towering
phragmites and therefore lagging a tad behind--had no look at all. Despite
the fervor and excellent direction from the others, the secretive little
bird had moused deep into a tuft of grass while we Jay and I were still
trying to glass it. Then, without warning, it wheeled unexpectedly away,
back into the ominous sea of vegetation.
But true Cupper nature prevailed. "Allison and Jay, stay by the shore and
the rest of us will flush the bird up to you." Without a second thought,
the others valiantly returned to face again the vicious bite of monstrous
duff. This second pass flushed the bird almost to our feet! Life bird
#299 for Jay, and a mighty pretty sight for me. And for Ken Rosenberg,
who'd showed up with wife Anne and toddler Rachel sometime during mid-pass.
In a matter of seconds, all three new arrivals were "oohing" and "ahhing" at
the sight of this beautiful, buffy-faced bird. (Actually, Rachel was
saying, "Ga-da-me-dla!" which translated means "Oooh!")
By the time the sparrow wheeled back into the grass again, Laura Stenzler
was on the scene, with spouse and friend in tow. Cuppers were ready, a
harmony of voices excitedly guiding her to another life bird. And this is
how it went that morning, until everyone who'd come to see the Nelson's
Sharp-tailed Sparrow had succeeded.
That field was a beast: thick, dried plant stems snapping faces and tripping
us here and there into the spidery depths; burdocks tangling shoelaces,
clothing, hair; teeny little seeds planting themselves irrepressively in
mouths and eyes. Yet there was never a complaint (okay, none spoken
anyway), not the slightest hesitation about traipsing back into the rugged
field to relocate the sparrow. If someone missed the bird that time around,
back we went, no questions asked. And all the while there was laughter,
discussion, and the warm commeraderie that comes from an adventure shared.
The spirit displayed that morning was a perfect reminder of why we signed up
for the David Cup.
So go on, read The Cup 1.10. It's a family thing.
@ @ @ @ @ @
NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
@ @ @ @ @ @
CUPPER SUPPER: Speaking of "family thing," plans are underway for the 1st
Annual Pot-Luck Cupper Supper. And when we say "pot-luck," we're not just
talking about the food! You've no doubt been looking forward to the David
Cup awards ceremony with great anticipation. Well, this will take place at
the Cupper Supper, but the David Cup and McIlroy trophies won't be the only
prestigious awards being bestowed. How about "Best Dressed Cupper," "Most
Memorable CayugaBirds-L Typo," and "Most Likely to Succeed Next Year"? Some
categories will require your vote--we'll be emailing ballots to you next
month; others--ha! ha!--will not. Right now the Cupper Supper's slotted to
take place at the Wells' humble abode; but since we really hope ALL Cuppers
and their families will sign up, the location may change. As for the date,
taking into consideration that the Wells will be jamming with the Ithaca
Ageless Jazz Band in sunny Aruba from January 2-12, and the Kelling clan
will be in Florida around that same time, and that others will be
globetrotting at the end of January, it looks like January 17th or 18th will
work best. Let us know if you (and your family or significant other) can
make it so we can move further ahead with plans. By the way, we're told
that Dear Tick just might make a guest appearance, but only if the food is
DEAR GOD: Just what the world needs, another big budget Hollywood movie
flop. Apparently, the film has to do with some criminal whose sentence
includes having to work in the dead-letter office for the post office,
replying to letters written to, among other beings, God. How cliche. Now,
if they'd made it "Dear Tick," they'd be packing movie theatres everywhere.
No hard feelings, though, reports Dear Tick. "Dear God, Dear Tick--we're
really one in the same."
VOTED OUT: Ever since word leaked that Cup editor Allison Wells is a
freelance writer, she's been harassed by Cuppers and Cupper-should be's to
write up a little something about the David Cup for Ithaca Times. Finally,
she obliged, and there was talk of the article running in late October. But
then, SWOOSH! The piece was ruthlessly swept aside for a far less important
topic, the 1996 elections. Who knows when it'll appear now! If they'll
bump it for something as trivial as the political future of the United
States, it may well never see the light of day.
FAMILY TIME: You really can have family time and bird, too! In late
October, Jeff and Allison Wells went to Buffalo on business and stayed in
Niagara, on the Canadian side, for a little gull-watching. They stayed at a
place called Michael's Inn--because it overlooked a gorge swarming with
larids! It was clean and cheery, and, "We awoke the next morning, went out
on our balcony and found two Little Gulls a first winter and a second
winter, and also a Black-legged Kittiwake," says Jeff. "Best of all, we
were shielded from the cold drizzle, and even had a view of the falls! If
we hadn't been so excited about our finds, we could have ordered hot-toddies
from room service!" For you family Cuppers, keep in mind that the inn,
which was a mere $65 American (including tax) per night, had a WARM indoor
pool (w/ slide), jacuzzi, and a kiddie pool.
SPIES T: There were no sightings of David Cup T-shirts in October. It can
only be assumed that this means they've been lovingly tucked away in boxes
of sweet-scented balsam for the winter, as opposed to, say, forced to serve
as undershirts. They're not T-shirts, after all. They're David Cup
BIRD CUP BLUES: It's been confirmed! Bluesman Dave Mellinger got the scoop
on the upcoming B.B. King show. Okay, so it's not local. And true, you
don't have much time to act, but for what it's worth...: Landmark Theatre,
Syracuse, November 18. We'll be looking for your reports for next month's
issue of The Cup!
:> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :>
What's Jeff going to do with all the money he's making by subbing for
Trendmaster Steve Kelling? Buy something really, really nice for Allison,
right Jeff? Right? RIGHT?
BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
Steve Kelling--scratch that!--Jeff Wells
October was a waterfowl month, especially at our old standby Montezuma. The
highlight there had to be the on-again off-again Greater White-fronted Goose
that showed up intermittently at May's Point Pool, to the delight of a few
Cuppers. Shorebirds also continued throughout the month at May's Point,
with lots of Dunlin towards the latter half and opportunities to study a
handful of Long-billed Dowitchers and one or two Western Sandpipers.
Sparrows made up the largest proportion of the migrant songbirds in October.
White-crowned and Fox Sparrows made appearances in a number of locations
during a rather brief time period and could not be considered particularly
abundant or widespread. The sparrow pinnacle, however, came on 27 October
when Steve Kelling discovered both a cooperative Nelson's Sharp-tailed
Sparrow and, later, a Clay-colored Sparrow at Allan Treman Marine Park
(otherwise known as Hog Hole). Birders were alerted and a dozen or more
people made it down for stunning views of this beautiful species. For many
it was a new basin bird and for some a life bird. A little later in the
month Bill Evans was fortunate enough to discover a calling Dickcissel near
his apartment in Lansing but the bird did not settle in and could not be
(Jeff Wells is the New York State Important Bird Areas Coordinator for the
National Audubon Society. He currently has a cold, so if you call him on the
phone, be assured it is the prince himself you're talking to, not a frog
100 100 100 100 100 100 100
100 100 100 100 100 100 100
(Sign on door of 100 Club:)
"SORRY. WE ARE NOT ACCEPTING NEW MEMBERS DURING THE MONTH OF OCTOBER.
PLEASE TRY AGAIN IN NOVEMBER."
200 200 200 200 200 200
2 0 0
200 200 200 200
(Sign on door of 200 Club:)
"SORRY. WE ARE NOT ACCEPTING NEW MEMBERS DURING THE MONTH OF OCTOBER.
PLEASE TRY AGAIN IN NOVEMBER."
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Don't give up! True, our leader this month is truly Kickin' Tail, and yes,
he may well blow Brinkley's 254 clear out of Cayuga Lake. But remember,
you're not competing against him or anybody else, you're "competing" against
yourself. In other words, do you really want the year to pass you by
without you having seen Brant or Snow Bunting? And we're not talking "tick"
here, we're talking about the beauty of birds, plain and simple. Go on, get
out there, it's not too late!
1996 DAVID CUP OCTOBER TOTALS 1996 DC SEPTEMBER TOTALS
250 Steve Kelling 247 Karl David
248 Karl David 245 Steve Kelling
246 Allison Wells 244 Allison Wells
241 Jeff Wells 239 Tom Nix
239 Tom Nix 239 Jeff Wells
238 Ken Rosenberg 232 Kevin McGowan
237 Kevin McGowan 232 Bard Prentiss
237 Bard Prentiss 231 Ken Rosenberg
233 Scott Mardis 228 Ralph Paonessa
232 Ralph Paonessa 215 Meena Haribal
219 Jay McGowan 215 Scott Mardis
218 Bill Evans 212 Chris Hymes
216 Meena Haribal 212 Jay McGowan
212 Chris Hymes 209 Bill Evans
203 Casey Sutton 202 Casey Sutton
196 Anne James 186 Anne James
185 John Bower 184 John Bower
177 Martha Fischer 177 Martha Fischer
175 Kurt Fox 175 Michael Runge
175 Michael Runge 173 Larry Springsteen
173 Larry Springsteen 172 Kurt Fox
170 Rob Scott 156 Rob Scott
153 Diane Tessaglia 153 Diane Tessaglia
144 Matt Medler 141 Matt Medler
128 Dan Scheiman 125 Jim Lowe
125 Jim Lowe 115 Dan Scheiman
118 Tom Lathrop 112 Tom Lathrop
82 Sarah Childs 82 Sarah Childs
67 Cathy Heidenreich 54 Cathy Heidenreich
50 Justin Childs 50 Justin Childs
EDITORS' NOTE: If this were a respectable publication, the
Trumpeter Swan problem would be resolved by now. But this is
1996 McILROY AWARD OCTOBER TOTALS 1996 SEPTEMBER TOTALS
196 Allison Wells 192 Allison Wells
181 Jeff Wells 179 Jeff Wells
180 Kevin McGowan 176 Kevin McGowan
173 Ken Rosenberg 170 Ken Rosenberg
166 Bill Evans 160 John Bower
163 John Bower 153 Karl David
163 Scott Mardis 153 Larry Springsteen
157 Karl David 151 Jay McGowan
154 Jay McGowan 149 Scott Mardis
153 Larry Springsteen 146 Bill Evans
144 Tom Nix 144 Tom Nix
143 Martha Fischer 143 Martha Fischer
134 Rob Scott 133 Casey Sutton
133 Casey Sutton 131 Chris Hymes
131 Chris Hymes 131 Rob Scott
114 Michael Runge 114 Michael Runge
113 Jim Lowe 113 Jim Lowe
73 Matt Medler 73 Matt Medler
55 Diane Tessaglia 55 Diane Tessaglia
50 Sarah Childs 50 Sarah Childs
35 Justin Childs 35 Justin Childs
LEADER'S LIST LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
C. Loon, P-b Grebe, H. Grebe, R-n Grebe, D-c Cormorant, A.
Bittern, L. Bittern, G. B. Heron, G. Egret, G. Heron, B-c.
Night-Heron, Tundra Swan, M. Swan, Greater White-fronted
Goose, S. Goose, Ross' Goose, Brant, C. Goose, W. Duck,
G-w Teal, A. Black Duck, Mallard, N. Pintail, B-w Teal,
N. Shoveler, Gadwall, E. Wigeon, A. Wigeon, Canvasback,
Redhead, R-n Duck, G. Scaup, L. Scaup, Oldsquaw, Surf Scoter,
W-w Scoter, C. Goldeneye, Bufflehead, H. Merganser,
C. Merganser, R-b Merganser, Ruddy Duck, T. Vulture, Osprey,
B. Eagle, N. Harrier, S-s Hawk, C. Hawk, N. Goshawk, R-s Hawk,
B-w Hawk, R-t Hawk, R-l Hawk, G. Eagle, A. Kestrel, Merlin,
Peregrine Falcon, R-n Pheasant, R. Grouse, W. Turkey, V. Rail,
Sora, C. Moorhen, A. Coot, B-b Plover, L. G. Plover, S. Plover,
Killdeer, G. Yellowlegs, L. Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted
Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, Marbled
Godwit, R. Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper,
Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper,
Baird's Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, Stilt
Sandpiper, B-b Sandpiper, S-b Dowitcher, L-b Dowitcher, C.
Snipe, A. Woodcock, W. Phalarope, Laughing Gull, Little
Gull, B.Gull, R-b Gull, H. Gull, Iceland Gull, L. B-b. Gull,
Glaucous Gull, G. B-b Gull, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Black
Tern, R. Dove, M. Dove, B-b Cuckoo, Y-b Cuckoo, E. Screech-
Owl, G. H. Owl, Barred Owl, L-e Owl, S-e Owl, N. S-w Owl,
Whip-poor-will, C. Nighthawk, C. Swift, R-t Hummingbird, B.
Kingfisher, Red-headed Woodpecker, R-b Woodpecker, Y-b
Sapsucker, D. Woodpecker, H. Woodpecker, N. Flicker, P.
Woodpecker, O-s. Flycatcher, E. Wood-Pewee, Y-b. Flycatcher,
Acadian Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher,
Least Flycatcher, E. Phoebe, G. C. Flycatcher, E. Kingbird,
H. Lark, P. Martin, T. Swallow, N. R-w Swallow,
Bank Swallow, C. Swallow, Barn Swallow, B. Jay, A. Crow, F.
Crow, C. Raven, B-c Chickadee, T. Titmouse, R-b Nuthatch, W-
b Nuthatch, B. Creeper, C. Wren, H. Wren, W. Wren, M. Wren,
G-c Kinglet, R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E. Bluebird,
Veery, G-c Thrush, S. Thrush, H. Thrush, W. Thrush, A.
Robin, G. Catbird, N. Mockingbird, B. Thrasher, A. Pipit,
Bohemian Waxwing, C. Waxwing, N. Shrike, E. Starling, S.
Vireo, Y-t Vireo, W. Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, R-e Vireo, B-
w Warbler, G-w Warbler, T. Warbler, N. Warbler, N. Parula,
Yellow Warbler, C-s Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, C. M.
Warbler, B-t Blue Warbler, Y-r Warbler, B-t Green Warbler,
Blackburnian Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm
Warbler, B-b Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, B-
a-w Warbler, A. Redstart, Prothonotary Warbler, Worm-eating
Warbler, Ovenbird, N. Waterthrush, L. Waterthrush, Mourning
Warbler, C. Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, Wilson's Warbler,
Canada Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Sc. Tanager, N.
Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, I. Bunting, E. Towhee, A. T.
Sparrow, C. Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Field Sparrow, V.
Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, G. Sparrow, Henslow's Sparrow,
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow,
Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow,
D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, Bobolink, R-w
Blackbird, E. Meadowlark,R. Blackbird, C. Grackle, B-h
Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, N. Oriole, P. Finch, H. Finch, R.
Crossbill, C. Redpoll, H. Redpoll, P. Siskin, A. Goldfinch,
E. Grosbeak, House Sparrow
Total: 250 species (+ Trumpeter Swan)
Add to Steve's Leader's List (above) the following species
and you'll have the entire list of birds seen in January,
February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September,
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, American Avocet, Whimbrel, Red-
necked Phalarope, Parasitic Jaeger, Forster's Tern, White-
eyed Vireo, Orange-crowned Warbler, Connecticut Warbler,
Dickcissel, Yellow-headed Blackbird
Total: 261 species (+ Trumpeter Swan)
! KICKIN' TAIL! !
What better way to inspire your kids to go birding with you than by being
featured in an interview exclusively for The Cup? KICKIN' TAIL brings
well-deserved honor and recognition to the Cupper who has glassed,
scoped, scanned, driven, climbed, dug, instructed and otherwise made
his/her way to the top of the David Cup list.
Since Steve Kelling is Kickin' Tail in a such a big way this month, we
decided to take full advantage of his vast knowledge. For you all, of
course, not for us. We certainly wouldn't want to give the impression that
we're trying to milk him in order to improve our own David Cup scores.
Cuppers, this one's for you!
THE CUP: Well, well, we meet again, and this time it's just you and The Cup,
one on one. Of course, we wish that weren't the case, we wish you were
sharing these fifteen minutes with at least one of us. Still, we extend a
heartfelt congratulations! 250 for October! Really, that's fantastic. To
get that kind of total, you obviously spent some time in the field. What
were your most productive spots?
KELLING: The south end of Cayuga Lake was very good to me. That's where I
got Brant, Clay-colored Sparrow, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Montezuma
was also good, yielding Sora and Greater White-fronted Goose.
THE CUP: How did you decide where to bird when? What sort of weather, for
example, gets you up to Myers Point these days?
KELLING: I follow the cold fronts. It is my feeling that a south wind the
day before the front gets things moving on the lake. I and others have
found that things like Oldsquaw and scoters move around on south winds
directly in front of the front. Furthermore, between cold fronts,
passerines seem to trickle into specific locations (like Hog Hole, Mundy,
etc.) And right before the front is the best time to get them. For
example, Bill and Karl went through Hog Hole the day before I did but did
not have anything significant. Then when the front comes you get big
waterfowl flights. But the fronts also seem to flush out the passerines. I
sort of think of it as the slow filling of a queue and then the rapid flush
of it. But this is all conjecture, Bill and others know and understand how
weather affects bird movements much better than I do.
THE CUP: Your October total certainly proves you know a little something
about it. Since you had a fair number of rarities we have to ask, were any
of them life birds? Or new Basin birds for you?
KELLING: None were lifers, but Clay-colored and Nelson's were new Basin
birds for me.
THE CUP: Back in the spring, your three-year-old son Sammy was largely
responsible for your high total. What role did he play this month?
KELLING: None. I don't know what to say, since I have to drop him off
before I go down to Stewart Park these days.
THE CUP: Does Sammy have a favorite bird?
KELLING: I think that Sam's favorite right now is Great Egret, simply
because I think he really saw one well through my scope (he reached his
hand out to try to touch it while looking through the scope!)
THE CUP: What about your older son, Taylor?
KELLING: Taylor on the other hand likes to pick things out and ask what
they are. Last month he found a Hudsonian Godwit at Mays Point and got
pretty excited about. So I guess godwit is his favorite. What was real
fun was watching Taylor (in particular) and Sam interact with Jay McGowan.
Taylor was impressed with how much Jay (a peer) new. And if you haven't
been out with Jay he knows A LOT.
THE CUP: Yes, his papa has taught him well.
KELLING: Jay has 220 species of birds that HE identified this year on his
David Cup list. And Taylor and I were with Jay when he got his 300th
species for his life list (Red-throated Loon). Not bad for a 10 year old!
THE CUP: Certainly not! And did you know he's a magnificent bird artist?
His drawing of a Russet -tufted Treerunner is one of a kind! Apparently he
gets this from his dad as well.
KELLING: Jay certainly gave Taylor the incentive to continue looking for
birds. Taylor's life list now is at 7 (only counting things he has
identified---Harlequin Duck, Northern Shrike and Merlin are on his list).
THE CUP: Wow! Harlequin Duck! More than a few of our readers are drooling
over that one, no doubt. It's really great that so many Cuppers spend time
teaching their kids about birds.
KELLING: Taylor, Sam and I spend a lot of time learning the big birds. We
have been having a lot of fun with waterfowl.
THE CUP: You've started an on-line Basin bird record keeping website. Can
you tell our readers about it?
KELLING: It is an on-line checklist that allows people to fill out reports
of their observations. Rob Scott has helped a lot with this, and is really
the unsung hero. Once you submit a checklist you get a concatenated copy of
the results, and I get a copy of the checklist sent to me. These are then
automatically entered into a database that I maintain on the birds of the
Cayuga Lake Basin. By getting many people to fill out checklists, there
will not only be a record of rare birds, but also a record of bird
movements through the Basin.
THE CUP: Really, this sounds like a great tool.
KELLING: I have a couple of examples of this on the web site. A complete
and up- to-date database of the birds of the Cayuga Lake Basin could provide
an important conservation tool, one that Rob and I hope to allow everybody
THE CUP: Devoted Cup readers, check this out at:
http://www.englib.cornell.edu/aep110/stk . And be sure to enter your
records. Now, Steve, where will you be spending most of November?
KELLING: Montezuma, and the lake. With deer hunting going on it's harder to
check the woods without disrupting the hunters.
THE CUP: You're so close already, do you think the 254 record will be blown
out of the water?
KELLING: No. Presently I am at 252 and there's nothing more that I should
expect to see. It's only rarities such as Cattle Egret, Red Phalarope,
Snowy Owl White-winged Crossbill that I could possibly get.
THE CUP: Hey, it worked for Ned Brinkley.
KELLING: Actually, eastern RBA's [rare bird alerts] are showing up a lot of
Cinnamon Teal and Eared Grebes. Furthermore, there is a Boreal Owl
invasion, too. These are things that are worth checking for.
THE CUP: Did you hear that, everybody?
KELLING: But adding it all up and thinking about it, I will be lucky to
hit 254, and I really doubt I'll get any higher.
THE CUP: What do you predict the date of the last new species seen will be?
And what will the species be?
KELLING: December 31st. It will be that duck that Ralph is always chasing.
What was it? A Blue-bellied Barking Duck?
THE CUP: And we know just the person who could draw it...
?????????????????? PIONEER PRIZE ????????????????????????????????
The editors of The Cup, through statistically significant birding polls and
eavesdropping on Cuppers who talk in their sleep, have determined that
recognition is in order for the Cupper who has braved wind, rain, ice, and
snow in a quest for new David Cup birds for us all to enjoy. Equally
weighty in this award category is prompt notification to other Cuppers of
said sightings, be it via e-mail, phone line, dramatic hand signals, or word
If you read the intro to this month's issue of The Cup, you needn't wonder
who's getting the fabulous pencil this month. If Karl David is the Father
of the Madness, then Steve Kelling was Granddaddy of our Sanity thanks to
his pioneering through Allan Treman Park on October 27.
We, the editors of The Cup, hereby bestow October Pioneer Prize to Steve
Kelling. Steve, to you a prestigious, teal green David Cup Pencil! Be sure
to show this to your kids, we need all the pioneers we can get!
: >: > : > : > : > : > : > : >
: >: > : > : > : > : > : > : >
Were you one of the lucky Cuppers who felt a "sharp" pang of joy from seeing
the Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow at Allan Treman in October? One Cupper
got Parasitic Jaeger, but most ticks this month were not parasitic. Most
Cuppers however, were "affronted" by the Greater White-fronted Goose at
Montezuma. The Greater White-fronted Goose is 27-30 inches, in between the
sizes of the large and small races of the Canada Goose. One of the
that distinguishes the Greater White-fronted Goose from other geese is it's
pale pink bill. Other features are the white belly and undertail coverts.
Another way to tell this bird from other geese is the white patch on the
front of its face. The overall color is dusky brown. Its voice is a
distinctive bark, "kla-ha or kla-hah-luk," something like the sound my
sisters make when they want candy. The geese set up housekeeping on the
marshy tundra, and then when their kids go off to college they move to the
marshes and bays, where they winter. They lay six cream-filled eggs, excuse
me, I was thinking of my sisters crying for candy again. The nest is a
down-lined grassy hollow. They breed in Alaska, far northern Canada, and
Greenland. They winter from coastal British Columbia to California and
along the golf coast. They occasionally winter along the east coast. This
bird was a treat because it is the rarest goose in the eastern United
States. Better get out there an' find another one b'fore it's too late!
(Casey Sutton, who initiated and writes this column on his own, is a seventh
grader at DeWitt Middle School. He also originated his own ten-cent
football pool. So far, his mother and eight-year-old sister are winning
SCRAWL OF FAME
PHOTO NOT AVAILABLE
In other words, there were no submissions this month. Hint, hint...
(If you have an opinion about the art, science, and/or esthetics of birding
or birding-related topics, write it up for the Scrawl of Fame.)
< COACH'S CORNER <
< < < <
Since we forgot to invite anyone ahead of time if they'd like to be our
coach for The Cup 1.10, and since no one had the guts to say, "I'd like
another fifteen minutes of fame, please. Can I be coach?" Jeff Wells was
forced to pick up the slack. But you won't be sorry. Though you should be
COACH WELLS: As we come into the home stretch of this marathon of birding
we can see how the different strategies have faired.
There's the early sprinter who surges ahead but is
spent by the middle of the race, the slow starter who picks
up speed throughout, ending with a strong surge at the
finish, and the experienced racer who has kept up a measured
stride throughout. As we cruise into November and December
the key birds have become fewer for the leaders.
Cayuga's waters are where most eyes are glued, looking for a
Red-throated Loon among the thousands of Common Loons
passing south over the lake during the morning flights. The
traditional loon watching site is at Taughanock State Park
but the flights can be observed from Hog Hole, Stewart Park,
and Myer's Point as well. In flight watch for a smaller,
slimmer bird with a more snakelike neck and head as compared
to the thicker, bulkier neck and head of Common Loon. For
easier identification purposes, scan the lake regularly and
more than likely you'll find a Red-throated Loon or two
among the Commons that stop off to rest and feed. Red-
throated's have already been noted off of Myer's Point and
Stewart Park this season and they can sometimes stay through
December. This is also peak time for migration of seaducks
like Oldsquaw and scoters. Black and Surf Scoters were
harder to find earlier in the year (particularly Black
Scoter) and small flocks of these species pass through
regularly during November and early December. Often these
birds will be seen flying south down the center of the lake
during the typical morning flight but scanning the lake
throughout the day, especially during inclement weather, can
yield surprising finds. Although many Cuppers found Brant
in the spring, there are often larger numbers of this
species that pass through during November. Again watch from
your favorite spot during the morning flight period (sunrise
to 9 or 10 o'clock).
With all these waterfowl moving, this is also the time to be
on the lookout for the rarer species like Harlequin Duck,
Barrow's Goldeneye, Common Eider and King Eider. Shorebirds
are largely gone by this time but this might be the time
when that one Purple Sandpiper will show up on the
lighthouse jetty at Stewart Park or on the rocks at Long
Point. As Steve Kelling pointed out in a recent Cayuga
Birds posting, past records of Red Phalarope have tended to
be during this time period as well. As far as non-waterfowl
rarities are concerned, watch for Snowy Owls along the
lakeshore (some have already been seen along Lake Ontario).
Or how about a wandering Varied Thrush, Townsend's Solitaire
or Mountain Bluebird feeding on berries in one of those
cedar breaks found along the east side of the lake? All
three species occur with some regularity in the east,
starting in early winter. Bring your camera, of course, to
document these since two of the three species would be new
For those of us not in the lead, this is clean-up time.
Hopefully your clean-up doesn't include a couple of warbler
species now in Central America and the Caribbean as mine
does but there are still many things left that can boost
your list for a respectable year-end showing. If you've
missed any waterfowl have no fear, you can still find
virtually every regularly occurring species (though Blue-
winged Teal, one of the most southerly wintering duck
species, may be tough to find) at Montezuma and on Cayuga
Lake. Missed Iceland, Glaucous, or Lesser Black-backed Gull
last winter? Start looking through the gulls as they
assemble off Stewart Park and at Myer's Point. One of my
clean-up birds is Common Raven. They'll be here all winter
but will require some poking around in the higher elevation
hinterlands. Maybe while I'm looking I'll find some White-
winged Crossbills or even better, a Boreal Chickadee.
Here's to a strong kick at the finish!
(Jeff Wells is--nahh, just read his byline for the Highlights column.)
mmmmmmmmmmmmmm McILROY MUSINGS mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
The poetry slant of the McIlroy Musings in recent issues has proven wildly
popular. This was pleasing to the editors, since it meant all they had to
do was find a poem that had the right kind of birding reference in it, no
matter how obscure, and drop it in. Voila. Column finished. But now some
smart-aleck has challenged our fair McIlroy leader to come up with a
limerick or two of her own. And what better target than her closest
competitors? With inspiration like that, the rest, she said, was easy.
Ode to Bill Evans
There once was an Evans named Bill
Who thought he'd be King of McIlroy Hill
He ticked jaeger and Barred Owl
But missed so many waterfowl
That poor Bill is climbing the hill still.
Ode to Kevin McGowan
Kevin McGowan's great "Mc" bird is Forster's Tern-a.
He thought, "That Allison, I'll burn 'a."
But Kevin went to Jersey
And Allison showed no mercy.
Now his one claim to fame is that sterna.
Ode to Jeff Wells
Jeff Wells is a man of great kindness
Who had powers of vast McIlroy findness
Till the merry month of May
When his Mclist hit the hay
Since then, he's been a man of behindness.
Ode to Ken Rosenberg
There once was a Cupper named Ken
Who birded from his Lab of O den.
But when the migrants ran dry
His Mclist stopped far shy
Of Allison's. Now poor Ken's a has-been.
BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH
He's our most popular columnist, and now his fans are demanding to know more
about him. "What wit!" they wrote. "What insight!" "He's a Buffalo Bill's
fan!" For all these reasons, they wanted to know more. In fact, nothing
less than making him a Bird Brain would do for these crazed Followers of
Sutton. So a Bird Brain he is...
WE SAID: Do you consider yourself a birder or a birdwatcher? Why?
HE SAID: I consider myself a birder, because when I think of birdwatchers I
think of people sitting around in rockers saying, "Oh, look at that cute
little birdy!" Birders are scoping out the latest rarities and not getting
too excited over chickadees. Not that I don't like chickadees...
WE SAID: How long have you been a birder?
HE SAID: The spring before last was when I really got interested in birds.
WE SAID: How did you first get interested?
HE SAID: I was bored on a spring day and I saw this bird on a feeder behind
my apartment. I was curious about what kind of bird it was so I took my
Audubon field guide and flipped through endless pages until I found two
birds that seemed to fit the description. They were Carolina and
Black-capped Chickadee. I then looked at the range map and saw that the
Black-capped Chickadee covered our area but the Carolina didn't.
WE SAID: What do you have for feeders at your home?
HE SAID: I have a suet feeder, a sunflower seed feeder, a hummingbird
feeder, and a thistle feeder. Right now I don't have my thistle feeder up
because the seed was a moldy mess and after what happened last time, when my
mom had to clean it out, it made a huge smelly mess in the kitchen. So I
just threw it out and we're going to get a new one.
WE SAID: What do you get for birds at your feeders?
HE SAID: I get mainly chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted
Nuthatches, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and House Finches. I get a lot of
House Sparrows, too. Once I got a Red-bellied Woodpecker--actually my mom
saw it first in the morning and said she saw a pretty bird at
my feeder. It came back later and I verified it. Last fall, before Project
FeederWatch, I saw two or three Evening Grosbeaks at my feeder. I've also
had sporadic reports of American Goldfinches. Every now and then I have
Tufted Titmice. Some mornings I wake up and see starlings. Kevin McGowan
will be happy to know that crows have eaten my millet, sprinkled on the
ground. I've also had cardinals at my millet. Once I had a Varied Thrush at
my millet, too--just kidding! I never had any hummingbirds, though one came
to some flowers my sisters planted on the front lawn.
WE SAID: What's your favorite field guide, after having many opportunities
to peruse the Wells' extensive collection?
HE SAID: I guess the National Geographic one and the Audubon guide. And the
Peterson. I like that one, too. I like the National Geographic one because
the colors are striking. The advantage of the Peterson is that the drawings
seem to be a little more accurate. The advantage of the Audubon is that you
can't put every tiny detail into a drawing but the pictures have every
detail. The advantage of the drawings over the Audubon is that sometimes
it's hard to take a real good picture of a bird.
WE SAID: What's your life list? What's your favorite bird on it?
HE SAID: 203, if you include Trumpeter Swan; otherwise, it's 202. My
favorite bird on it is Worm-eating Warbler, I guess because of the
simplicity of their color pattern. It was also nice because I hadn't been
expecting it. Allison and I had gone into Sapsucker Woods hoping to
relocate the Least Bittern that was around there last spring. We didn't
find the bittern but kept walking the trails anyway, and we heard a bird
skulking on the ground near us. All of the sudden up popped a Worm-eating
WE SAID: What bird would you most like to see that isn't on your life
HE SAID: That's a real tough question. Chestnut-scaled Ruby-crowned Tufted
Chimney Ratbird. If anyone sees one, please let me know. By the way, my
favorite color is the melancholy olive on the sides of the Worm-eating
WE SAID: Tell us about your column, Casey's Call. It's been winning raves
and may even get nominated for a Pulitzer Prize this year. How were you
able to persuade the editors to let you have your own column?
HE SAID: I gave up my Chestnut-scaled Ruby-crowned Tufted Chimney Ratbird to
them, which is why I need it again for my life list.
WE SAID: What do you hope to accomplish with Casey's Call?
HE SAID: I hope that Casey's Call will achieve world-wide status.
WE SAID: How does it feel to be such a celebrity already, at least around
the Cornell Lab of Ornithology?
HE SAID: It feels great. By the way, Jeff, could you get me another
WE SAID: You're at 202 at the end of October. What are you shooting for by
HE SAID: I'm shooting for 210. I was shooting for 200 but since I've
already made it into the prestigious 200 Club, I think I'll just sleep for
the rest of the year to work up energy for the next year.
WE SAID: What's your favorite subject in school?
HE SAID: Since the David Cup isn't a subject in school, my favorite subject
is either math, science or social studies, I'm not sure which.
WE SAID: You will be at the Cupper Supper, won't you?
HE SAID: Yes, and I will come dressed as a Chestnut-scaled Ruby-crowned
Tufted Chimney Ratbird.
WE SAID: Will you be signing autographs?
HE SAID: Yes, for $5,000 each.
WE SAID: Thanks for your valuable time. We hope you don't get grounded for
answering these questions instead of doing your homework.
HE SAID: My time is cheap, and I do not expect to be grounded. If I am, I
won't invite my mother to the Cupper Supper.
Because birders suffer so many unique trials and tribulations, The Cup has
graciously provided Cuppers with a kind, sensitive and intuitive columnist,
Dear Tick, to answer even the most profound questions, like these...
I've been thinking about the rule that 98% of the birds seen
in the competition must be seen by at least three observers. Since
I bird alone a lot, I'm worried I may exceed my quota. Accordingly,
I checked myself into a mental health clinic and convinced
them to have me declared certifiably schizophrenic. We are considering
having our alternate persona (who has seen all the same birds) entered
into the competition. Do you think the committee would look favorably
upon such a request?
--Making our List and Checking It Twice in Aurora
Dear Making Your List:
Let me talk that over with myself for a while. Dear Tock and
Dear Tack might have something to say about it.
I happen to know that one of my fellow Cuppers and his wife are expecting a
baby. Obviously, they've been visited by a stork. Since any stork at this
point would be new to the Basin this year, shouldn't this Cupper be able to
tick off stork on his David Cup list?
--Stork-short in Sapsucker Woods
As I understand it, the stork made its visit at night, while they were
in bed. This would suggest they didn't actually see it themselves and
therefore cannot tick it. Don't let this discourage you from trying to
lure one over to your house, though.
Say, is it true there's a rule in this game like bowling
where they give you so many points (-a handicap- that's it,
a handicap) when you're the underdog?!? I understand
anyone joining the foray after 6 months gets a 33
bird handicap-is it true? How about an official ruling on
this for us poor duffers who got a late start?!?!?
--Behind the Sixty-seven Ball in Lyons
Dear Behind the Sixty-seven:
Bowling is for sissies.
I was wondering if I could add some lifers like two jaegers,
gannet, etc. to my list. My reasons for asking this is, we
saw them on Long Island. I feel we can stretch Cayuga waters
to LI, since Cayuga water flows into Lake Ontario, which in
turn flows into the St. Lawrence. The St. Lawrence finally
meets the Atlantic. Now, cold northern currents which flow
in the Atlantic I am sure must bring some of that back to
Cayuga Lake. So don't you think then that Long Island is
part of the Cayuga Lake watershed area and hence falls into
Cayuga Lake Basin? What do you say, ha?
--Water-logged at Cornell
Not a bad deduction of reason. However, your logic contains
one fatal flaw: you overlooked the effect of the Siberian
Express. The winds of the Siberian Express flow down from
northern Siberian, blowing from the northwest to the
southeast, over the Manchurian Plains, picking up speed as
they gush out over the Sea of Okhotsk, out into the
Kamchatka Peninsula. The Express then sucks up moisture as
it heads out over the Bering Sea, eventually dropping much
of it onto the Aleutian Islands (this of course explains the
occurrence of species like Spoonbill Sandpipers, Garganey,
and Laysan Teal on islands like Attu, for example). The
Express falls under the influence of the jet stream at this
point, dipping south towards the Hawaiian islands, then
north again, barreling inland over the mountains of British
Columbia. After passing some time over the frozen north
country of Canada, the Express sweeps south just west of
Hudson Bay, comes howling in over the Great Lakes, skirting
through southern Ontario, and passes through the Basin before
turning to Maine, up through the Maritimes and finally
heading back to Siberia. Now if this doesn't make it perfectly
clear why your gannets are not tickable for the David Cup, I
don't know what will.
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at email@example.com)
""""""""" CUP QUOTES """"""""
"Reference The Cup [1.9]--I never caught that clue that Will
was a birder, 'Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope.' Thanks
so much for the insight."
"We [Dr. Beloved Elaine and Karl David] loved The Cup, of course.
With all of us appearing so burnt-out in our birding, you still
managed to put together a funny, engaging issue."
"I feel compelled to subscribe to The Cup. Your
blatant sales pitches have finally gotten to me."
"I wanted to send along my totals and tell you what you
people have done to me. I was watching a tennis match today
with one of my friends, and I started discussing one of the
great events in tennis, the Davis Cup. Unfortunately, I
have been hanging around with the wrong crowd for such a
long time that I said to my friend, 'I can't think of a
better way for Stefan Edberg to finish his career than to
play in the David Cup final in front of a home crowd in
Sweden.' My friend replied, 'Uh, Matt, what's the David
"Allison, I opened the drawer to get a spoon and a bug ran out
of it. So now I have this soup but I don't have a spoon because of
that bug. Can I borrow a spoon from you? Thank you."
Message on Wells' answering machine October 23
"Happy Halloween- no treats for this kid- she was hoping for
a 100 Club bar but, rats- Montezuma was intent on revenge?!?"
"Kevin McGowan gave the advice early on that to be a
contender, you didn't need to know any tricks, you just
needed to be out in the field. Well, this month I broke the
McGowan rule. I did not spend any time birding in the
Basin. It should come as no surprise, then, that my totals
remain the same as last month."
"[My list change is] short and bittersweet (one new bird
only, but a lifer)!"
"Hello, Allison? I'm REALLY hungry but I can't eat my
soup because of that bug in the drawer. So if you're there
PLEEEEASE pick up! Or call me AS SOON AS YOU GET
BACK because I really don't like the looks of that bug."
Message #2 on Wells' answering machine October 23
"Guess what? I went out every weekend birding, and added just
one bird to the total of this month, but it was also a lifer for me."
"Oh, yeah...one visit to MNWR, one addition to my list...Am
"October was a little better for me. My personal goal of 240
seems in reach."
"After a very quiet two weeks around our feeders, yesterday
was like a "fallout"!. Lots of juncos, some House Finches, two
female Purple Finches, a pair of N. Cardinals, a Downy WP, and
an immature White-crowned Sparrow! This is only the second
White-crowned Sparrow at our feeders in the six years
we've been birders. After the excitement of the sparrow, a
flock of 10 turkey hens walked across the yard and headed
into the woods! First I'd seen this year and first in three
years in the yard! Why is this so exciting? Nothing gives
me quite the rush of seeing and identifying birds - and yet
I spent most of my life ignoring them!"
--Margaret in Mansfield
"Tom Nix arrived at the watch about 7:30AM and was
disappointed that he had missed an early flight of over
1000 loons...The next 15-minute period had no loons flying
South; 48 loons were counted going North, however, and Tom
with his easy good humor remarked that he was lucky to be
able to see some loons regardless of which way they were going."
"I went to MNWR yesterday afternoon. After a brief stop at
Tschache Pool, where I got a nice scope view of a mature Bald
Eagle near the nest, I went to Mays Point Pool. Several of us
scanned the geese, but the White-fronted Goose wasn't there...There
were no Peregrines, Merlins, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, etc."
"On Thursday 9 Oct, I was heading up to Buffalo to give a
talk at a meeting and stopped by Montezuma about 10:00 AM
(how nice that it's right at the Thruway entrance for me). Nothing
too remarkable on the main pool...At May's Point I could find no
"Since Wednesday, I've had a Robin invasion in my yard and
surrounding meadow in Freeville."
"Re Kurt Fox's note of 10/31: 'Also counted from Vitale
Park: 55 Bubbleheads...'--So THAT's where my bad students
are hiding out...!!!! (haha)"
"Aha! this Cayugabirds is a great thing. Our neighbor, who
is a beginning birder and a tireless walker around
Ludlowville and Salmon Creek told me that she saw a large
all-white heron with black legs fishing at the pond in front
of Lansing high school last Saturday, and I logged on this
morning to find Karl David's report of a Great Egret at Myers.
ID confirmed! The really interesting thing is that our neighbor
said she has seen the bird several times along Salmon Creek since
August- she didn't know it was unusual, and didn't mention
it before. So this bird may have been hanging out around
here for several months without my seeing it- how
"Friday, as it was a nice warm day, after work I picked up
my car and started towards Stewart Park but by the time I reached
campus (which had a traffic jam due to an alumni function) the sun
was turning red, so I decided to hit Mundy Wildflower garden."
"Auntie and Uncle, I just finished reading The Cup and I was
extremely infuriated that you called me a FORMER temporary
Cupper. Just because I'm not there doesn't mean I'm not a Cupper.
Good way to get rid of the competition, huh?"
[Temporary (not FORMER) Cupper]
"Willi D'anna phoned me last night. He found an adult
winter plumaged California Gull at the Adam Beck overlook. He also
had 8 other species (several Thayer's). More importantly he indicated that
weather conditions seem appropriate for a potentially good assortment of
birds along the Niagara River. I should say that good weather for gulls
means cold, windy, and maybe even snowy."
"Since this is Black Scoter time, I thought I would post the
recent visitors to Dryden Lake to ease peoples minds that they hadn't
missed much as yet."
"After adding three species to the big list over the weekend
(not bad for November), I think things are going to cool off pretty hard
for the rest of the year for me; there is nothing left that is 'guaranteed'
(or as close as any guarantee can be in birding). Jay, however, still has a
bunch of possibilities left, including Ruffed Grouse which I flushed
in our own yard yesterday! I guess now I've got to spend my energies
filling the gaps for Jay and trying to shore up the McIlroy
if Jeff really wants Barred Owl, we just got in a, shall we say, REALLY
slow moving one at the Collections. I figure I could rig up something
convincing in the dark of night for WAY cheaper than you could UPS a
"The Environmental Studies class at Wells went up to the
north end of the lake today, and I went along. Nothing unexpected at
Montezuma, but along the auto tour route the van driver spotted a
Rough-legged Hawk perched at a considerable distance ... quite a
remarkable spotting tour de force. Sign her up for the David Cup!"
"Hi, it's me. I'm still waiting for that spoon. PLEEEASE call me
when you get back. I still have this soup."
Message #3 on Wells' answering machine October 23
May Your Cup Runneth Over,
Allison and Jeff