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.

@ @ @ @ @ @


@ @ @ @ @ @

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?



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

awaiting transformation.)

100 100 100 100 100 100 100

100 100

100 CLUB

100 100 100 100 100 100 100

100 100

(Sign on door of 100 Club:)



200 200 200 200 200 200

2 0 0

200 200 200 200

(Sign on door of 200 Club:)



<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< 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!


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

The Cup.


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


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,

and October:

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)




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

to use.

THE CUP: Devoted Cup readers, check this out at: . 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

at it.)





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.)



< <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

< <

< <

< < < <

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

Basin records.

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.




Casey Sutton

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

list yet?

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

December 31?

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

Dear Stork-short:

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

Dear Water-logged:

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

""""""""" 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."

--Caissa Willmer

"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."

--Karl David

"I feel compelled to subscribe to The Cup. Your

blatant sales pitches have finally gotten to me."

--Andy Boehm

"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


--Matt Medler

"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."

--Casey Sutton

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?!?"

--Cathy Heidenreich

"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."

--Michael Runge

"[My list change is] short and bittersweet (one new bird

only, but a lifer)!"

--Karl David

"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."

--Casey Sutton

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."

--Meena Haribal

"Oh, visit to MNWR, one addition to my list...Am


--Kurt Fox

"October was a little better for me. My personal goal of 240

seems in reach."

--Bard Prentiss

"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."

--Bob Meade

"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."

--Tom Lathrop

"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

White-fronted Goose."

--Kevin McGowan

"Since Wednesday, I've had a Robin invasion in my yard and

surrounding meadow in Freeville."

--Margaret Barker

"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)"

--Bonnie Glickman

"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


--John Greenly

"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."

--Meena Haribal

"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?"

--Sarah Childs

[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."

--Steve Kelling

"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."

--Bard Prentiss

"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

Tufted Duck."

--Kevin McGowan

"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!"

--Karl David

"Hi, it's me. I'm still waiting for that spoon. PLEEEASE call me

when you get back. I still have this soup."

--Casey Sutton

Message #3 on Wells' answering machine October 23

May Your Cup Runneth Over,

Allison and Jeff