Year 1, Issue 8


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* The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy


*         Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells

*         Editorial Assistants: Sarah Childs, Justin Childs

*         Boom Operator: Jeff Wells

*         Makeup Artist: Sarah Childs

*         Scene Design: Justin Childs



We, Allison and Jeff, were leisurely motoring the highways back to Ithaca

after attending Jeff's brother Andrew's wedding on the Maine coast.  As one

might expect, we chatted happily about the newly married little lovebirds

and how nice it was to see family again and our dearest Maine.  As we pulled

onto the Mass Turnpike, though, I (Allison) realized that our topics had

taken a stomach-churning turn, that we'd left behind our light-hearted

banter and moved on to matters of drastic importance, matters of honor and

deep-seated personal goals, matters that would impact our future in big, big

ways.  The upcoming presidential elections?  Ozone depletion?  No, the World

Series of Birding!  I kid you not!  Three months after--or, if you're on the

Sapsucker team, nine months before--the Big Day, we're weighing the costs

and benefits of the team skipping Great Swamp, retallying species likely to

be found at Brigantine, debating where in the Garden State to put nest boxes

in order to ensure a tickable Sapsucker screech-owl.  Yes, somewhere along

the way, Jeff had tossed out the tanager, and I'd swallowed it, bill, feet,

and feathers.


Don't let this happen to you!  Read The Cup 1.8!  With the 1997 World Series

"just around the corner," you're at risk: should a Sapsucker see you looking

idle, you too could find yourself tossed about in the unforgiving sea of Big

Day conversation.  Quicksand, it is: once you're in there's no getting back

out.  You could lose you're job.  You could be distracted from major ticks

for the David Cup/McIlroy races!  Save yourself!  Look busy, look really,

really busy.  Read this issue of The Cup...while you still have a chance.


                      @   @    @    @    @     @

                        NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

                          @   @    @    @     @     @



WELCOME (BACK) TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: A wholesome American Welcome Back to

Matt Medler, former Cornell student Cupper and one of The Cup's major gossip

informants.  Sadly, Medler, who left the Basin last spring (for of all

places, Sweden!) was forced to work soon after his foremost reason for

traipsing overseas--to go birding--was found out by his employer.  The real

shocker to Medler, though, was when he realized--egadz!--he was the only

Cupper over there!  It took him mere months to high-tail it back into Cup

territory where he belongs.  He brought with him this report on his truancy

experience: "When I arrived home recently, I was happy to find the May copy

of The Cup on my parents' computer.  I was dismayed, though, by the vicious

lies which I read in that rag of a newsletter, claiming that I had gone to

Sweden to birdwatch.  I'll have the editors (whoever they might be) know

that my sole purpose in traveling to Sweden was to work on two legitimate

research projects, and that I focused all of my energies on the Great Reed

Warbler and the birds that we ringed up in Lapland.  At no time was I

distracted by other birds in the surrounding area...OK, maybe I did spend a

little time birding.  Alright! I spent quite a bit of time admiring the

Swedish avifauna, but only after completing all work duties.  I'll be

spending about a week in Ithaca to do some field and lab work with Dennis

Hasselquist, the 'sucker' who sent me to Sweden this summer."  Need we

say more?


BIRDERS WELCOME:  That's not exactly what the banner hanging

on the side of the Union Springs Express Mart says (currently, it reads,

"Anglers Welcome," and it bears a giant Pabst Blue Ribbon image to prove

it).  We birders are still awaiting our day of reckoning, but by saving our

receipts when we buy stuff on our way to and from Montezuma (remember

the "Scrawl of Fame" in the last issue?), we're that much closer to that

glorious dawn!  Who knows?  Maybe when the politicians and business

owners realize what a junk food-friendly flock birders really are, they'll

expand Montezuma to encompass all of the Cayuga Lake Basin.  Better yet,

we just might get our own banner!


ROAD "HOG":  Allison and Jeff were pulling out of Stewart Park

recently when they noticed the license plate on the vehicle in front of


that read, "Hog 1".  Naturally, they assumed this was a reference to their

faithful Hog's Hole (a McIlroy stronghold).  Then they saw the face:  the

weather-beaten skin, the scruffy hair and stubble, the bloodshot,

demon-crazed eyes.  Karl David! they thought, and nearly honked the horn.

At the last second they remembered, no, Karl drives a white sporty number,

not a reckless Dodge 4 x 4.  The long and the short of it:  if you see this

vehicle, don't toot.  There are in fact other crazed, sleep-depraved wildmen

in the world other than Karl, and they may not be nearly as nice as he is.

And remember to use your turn signal.


INDECENT EXPOSURE?: We've been tipped off again: Chris Hymes isn't the only

David Cup scientist making ground-breaking discoveries in bird behavior.

Cupper Kurt Fox posted this research recoup on Cayugabirds-L on August 20:

"All in all, I saw 13 species of shorebirds...Other decent birds seen were

immature Black-crowned Night-herons, Common Nighthawk, Osprey...and Great

Egrets."  Although it is certainly remarkable that Kurt was able to

distinguish "decent" birds, we can't help wonder why he didn't make note of

the "indecent" birds as well.  What made them indecent, anyway?  Vulgar

vocalizations/gestures?  Unpaid bills?  Or maybe when Kurt peered through

his scope he saw two Buff-breasts?


TAKE REFUGE: Floats carrying giant paper mache' shorebirds!  A fifty-piece

marching band playing the calls of herons, egrets, and bitterns!  Rob Scott

pecking away at a gigantic Tootsie Roll "tree" in his Sapsucker costume!

Well, not at THIS year's National Refuge Week at Montezuma, but the schedule

they've lined up for the big celebration is impressive nonetheless.  Now to

be serious for a moment:  go to as many of these events as possible!  Bring

your friends, your family, your bird club!  We birders need to follow the

lead of hunters, anglers, and other nature-oriented entities that

wield considerable political power by unifying ourselves and proving that

our voices--indeed, our ideals--should be taken seriously.  Stand up and be

counted!  Be present at one or more of these events:

     Saturday, October 5

        --9:00am, Guided Bird Tour led by John Van Niel, Professor of


         Resource Conservation at Finger Lakes Community College

        --1:00pm, National Audubon Society's dedication of

         Montezuma NWR as an Important Bird Area.  Speakers

         include John Fitzpatrick (Director of Lab of O);

         Frank Dunstan (Acting Commissioner, NYS Dept. of Environmental.

         Conservation), representatives from MNWR and sportsmen's

         groups; local politicians and members of the media.

        --4:00pm, Shorebird Enthusiasts Get-together at May's Point Pool


     Sunday, October 6

        --9:00am, Guided Bird Tour led by Mary Dreiling (Onondaga

          Audubon Society)

        --10:00am-3:00pm, Wildlife Observations, volunteers from

         Audubon chapters and bird clubs at refuge birding hotspots to

         show visitors wildlife and answer questions.  Cuppers Tom Nix and

         Karl David are helping out. If you'd like to volunteer too,

call Jeff!

    Tuesday, October 8

          --7:30pm, Ghosts and Ghoulies: Creatures of the Night

            (Visitors Center, given by Steve Kress of National Audubon


     Saturday, October 12

          --10:00-12:00pm, Beginning Birders Workshop (Visitors Center),

           given by Cupper Ken Rosenberg (Lab of O)

    Sunday, October 13

          --8:30pm, Guided Bird Tour, lead by Sue Adair (Onondaga Audubon)


SPIES T: "I've relocated the Buff-breasted Sandpiper."  The finder was Tom

Nix.  He was one of many birders at Montezuma that evening in August,

including more than a few Cuppers.  Tom was the only one wearing his David

Cup T.  Any questions?


BYE-BYE BIRDERS?: Temporary Cuppers Sarah Childs and her cousin Justin

(remember? Niece and nephew to Allison and Jeff Wells?) have gravely

disappointed their auntie and uncle by letting school interfere with their

David Cup responsibilities.  Yes, they skulked back to Maine just as the

shorebirds were returning to Montezuma ("Just for that, there'll be no

Buff-breasted Sandpiper for you," Uncle Jeff was overheard saying).  But

look for their updated totals in the November edition of The Cup, as the

words "family time" get heavy rotation during Thanksgiving.  As for other

fled Cuppers: Matt Medler tried to escape the madness of the David Cup

birding scene and look where it got him.  Chris Hymes, following Medler's

ludicrous example, likewise attempted to use an employment situation (he's

hawkwatching downstate until November and getting paid for it!)   Upon

hearing the news and rumors of his withdrawal from the David Cup, he was

immediately harassed by Cuppers far and wide and is now cooing this tune: "I

guess you are right, [when I'm in town] I may still keep my eye out for the

occasional Swallow-tailed Kite, or perhaps Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flying

around the airport area near Route 13.  Maybe also that one White-tailed

Sea-Eagle passing over Beam Hill this migration.  I will still be in the

competition, but no more chasing birds or searching for new ones!"  Now,

Larry Springsteen's had his priorities in the right place all along.  He

didn't even try to leave, even though he's finished his Ph.D.

(congratulations, Larry!) and is moving to Connecticut (that's state, not

Hill).  He offers these pseudo parting words: "I will always be a Cup

participant! Even if 'the powers that be' don't give me a special

dispensation making certain areas of CT within the McIlroy boundaries, I am

still determined to break 200. Of course, if  I don't, I'll just have to

lose a lot of sleep and then try again next year."  You see, the David Cup

is like the Hotel California: you can checklist any time you like, but you

can never leave.


BIRD CUP BLUES: Blues?  Haven't you heard?  The shorebirds are back at

Montezuma!   There's no such things as "the blues" anymore! 


:>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>

"I'm back in the highlights again..."  Okay, so Steve Winwood really sings

"high life" not "highlights."  Anyway, "high life" works, too, now that the

shorebirds are back.  That's something to sing about!


                               BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS


                                  Steve Kelling


 One of the best shorebird months in recent memory was had during August in

the Cayuga Lake Basin.  Beginning mid-month, when the draw down of Mays

Point Pool occurred, shorebirds flocked to that location.  Over 20 species

were observed, with numbers approaching 1000 individuals!  Of particular

interest were the observation of several BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, an

uncommon migrant through the region.  Late August brought the beginning of

the fall migration for other birds also.  CASPIAN TERNS were numerous around

Stewart Park, where a MERLIN continues to hang around.  The nocturnal

migration of passerines was slow, with no real major movements, just a

steady trickle.  VEERIES in particular were heard.


(Steve Kelling is the field notes editor for the Kingbird, Region 3.  He

teaches Cornell undergraduates the mysteries of physics and often sits on

the the Montezuma corral.)


100      100      100      100      100      100      100     

100       100

                                    100 CLUB

100      100       100      100       100       100       100     

100     100


Apparently, our directions to the "nearest" Rochester Wegman's helped.  Tom

Lathrop is here, he made it to the 100 Club!  Hey, Jim!  Kurt!  Diane!  Yo,

Rob--c'mon, everybody, wake up!  Well, Tom, instead of dragging Matt Medler

in with you, maybe you should have brought along something useful.

Fireworks, maybe.   But now that you're here you may as well tell us...


How does it feel to be in the 100 Club: "..."  Tom?  Tom!?  Never mind, he's

still trying to catch his breath.


Bird 100: Greater Yellowlegs


And Matt?  How about you?: "Aoidn lksdfjll alnd jskein dkdj fdkoie Sweden!"


Bird 100: Nashville Warbler


200           200          200          200           200           200

                                    2     0    0

     200             200                            200           200


Expect the cops to crash the place pretty darned soon.  Things are way out

of hand here! Two new 200 Clubbers in one month?  The place has GOT to be

beyond legal capacity.  And what with another minor sneaking in, we could

lose our liquor license!  (Casey's already sampled the wine, and the McGowan

kid's been over at the bar prattling on about hops and bitters since he got

here last month!)  If this keeps up, we just might have to start a whole new

club, the 249er's Club!  Hmm.  Something to think about...


Casey Sutton: Taught the entire Winston Court neighborhood how to beat their

chests like a booming Ruffed Grouse.  Then shot them all with a squirt gun.


Bird 200: Baird's Sandpiper


Meena Haribal: Jumped the Stewart Park swan pen, hopped on the back of one

of the Mute Swans, and sang "Fly Me to the Moon".


Bird 200: "It was, no, make that, wait a minute..."


 <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


You've probably noticed in past issues of The Cup that the Pilgrims'

Progress tied tallies were resolved safely and politely (e.g., "Haribal"

comes before "Sutton").  Well, we at The Cup like to shake things up now and

again.  For that reason and that reason only (there's no ego involved here,

no shameless abuse of editorial power, nothing of the sort), we're going to,

shall we say, turn things around?




    237  Allison Wells                   231  Karl David

    237  Karl David                      230  Allison Wells        

    237  Steve Kelling                   227  Tom Nix

    234  Tom Nix                         224  Steve Kelling

    232  Jeff Wells                      224  Jeff Wells

    230  Bard Prentiss                   221  Bard Prentiss

    227  Kevin McGowan                   220  Kevin McGowan

    223  Ken Rosenberg                   215  Scott Mardis

    219  Ralph Paonessa                  214  Ken Rosenberg

    215  Scott Mardis                    212  Chris Hymes

    212  Chris Hymes                     212  Ralph Paonessa

    208  Jay McGowan                     201  Jay McGowan

    205  Meena Haribal                   191  Meena Haribal

    202  Casey Sutton                    191  Casey Sutton   

    196  Bill Evans                      185  Bill Evans

    182  Anne James                      182  Anne James

    176  John Bower                      176  John Bower

    173  Larry Springsteen               173  Larry Springsteen

    168  Martha Fischer                  168  Martha Fischer

    164  Kurt Fox                        154  Michael Runge

    164  Michael Runge                   153  Diane Tessaglia

    156  Rob Scott                       152  Kurt Fox

    153  Diane Tessaglia                 152  Rob Scott

    134  Matt Medler                     124  Jim Lowe

    125  Jim Lowe                        105  Dan Scheiman

    105  Tom Lathrop                      93  Tom Lathrop

    105  Dan Scheiman                     77  Sarah Childs

     82  Sarah Childs                     34  Justin Childs

     50  Justin Childs

     35  Cathy Heidenreich


EDITORS' NOTE: Some totals still include Trumpeter Swan; others still do not

(Karl's, Steve's, Allison's, Jeff's).  Knowing that a timely decision about

the swans would give the illusion of efficiency and attention to details,

the David Cup committee unanimously decided (by default) to put off

addressing the matter.  Better luck next issue.




    187   Allison Wells                       185  Allison Wells

    177   Jeff Wells                          172  Jeff Wells

    171   Kevin McGowan                       171  Kevin McGowan

    162   Ken Rosenberg                       159  Ken Rosenberg

    155   John Bower                          155  John Bower

    153   Larry Springsteen                   153  Larry Springsteen

    149   Scott Mardis                        149  Scott Mardis

    149   Karl David                          148  Jay McGowan

    148   Jay McGowan                         144  Karl David

    142   Tom Nix                             142  Tom Nix

    133   Casey Sutton                        133  Casey Sutton

    132   Martha Fischer                      132  Martha Fischer

    131   Chris Hymes                         131  Chris Hymes

    131   Rob Scott                           128  Rob Scott

    129   Bill Evans                          111  Jim Lowe

    113   Jim Lowe                            111  Michael Runge

    113   Michael Runge                       105  Bill Evans

     55   Diane Tessaglia                      55  Diane Tessaglia

     50   Sarah Childs                         42  Sarah Childs

     35   Justin Childs                        27  Justin Childs




Who'd have guessed that a math professor, a writer, and a physics

connoisseur would have anything in common?  Here's more than a few

things (229):


C. Loon, P-b Grebe, H. Grebe, R-n Grebe, D-c Cormorant,

L. Bittern, G. B. Heron, G. Egret, G. Heron, B-c. Night-Heron, Tundra

Swan,  M. Swan, S. 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, 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, 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, Marbled Godwit, R.

Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped

Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin,

Stilt Sandpiper, B-b Sandpiper, S-b Dowitcher, C. Snipe, A. Woodcock,

W. Phalarope, Little Gull, B.Gull, R-b Gull, H. Gull, Iceland 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, S-e Owl, N. S-w Owl,

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, E. Wood-Pewee, 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, 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, Field Sparrow, V. Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, G. Sparrow, Henslow's

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, P. Siskin, A. Goldfinch,

E. Grosbeak, House Sparrow


FOR ALLISON'S LIST ADD:  Surf Scoter, Laughing Gull, Glaucous Gull,

Forster's Tern, Barred Owl, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied

Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo


FOR KARL'S LIST ADD: A. Bittern, Y-c Night-Heron, Merlin, A. Avocet, L. B-b

Gull, Forster's Tern, Pine Grosbeak, Hoary Redpoll


FOR STEVE'S LIST ADD: Ross' Goose, Surf Scoter, Glaucous Gull, L. B-b Gull,

Barred Owl, Whip-poor-will, Philadelphia Vireo, Hoary Redpoll,


Total: 237 species + Trumpeter Swan





Add to the Leader's Lists (above) the following species and you'll have the

entire list of birds seen in January, February, March, April, May, June,

July, and August:


Whimbrel, Red-necked Phalarope, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-headed Blackbird


Total: 251 species (+ Trumpeter Swan)



                              !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !



What better way to bid farewell to summer than by being featured in an

interview exclusively for The Cup?  KICKIN' TAIL brings well-deserved honor

and recognition to the Cupper(s) who has (have) glassed, scoped, scanned,

driven, climbed, dug, tar-and-feathered and otherwise made his/her (their)

way to the top of the David Cup list.


Okay, both Wells and David are Kickin' Tail this month.  Whoop-ti.  Big

surprise.  Snore, snore.  But Steve Kelling?  He placed a pitiful fourth

last month.  What'd he do, ride Karl's and/or Allison's coat tails?  He did

try to grab onto Allison's but she wasn't wearing a coat.  And Karl, well,

he wasn't wearing anything at all. So Kelling pulled out all the stoppers by

carefully scrutinizing his (Kelling's) list.  To his great joy (and everyone

else's sorrow)  he found that he'd miscounted--for the last few months!

Brown-headed Cowbird--how could he overlook such an omnipresent force?

Eastern Phoebe--did he think that was his Uncle Albert calling to Aunt

"Phoebe" all summer out by the barn?  Although many suspect fowl play, the

fact remains, Kelling's Kickin' Tail this month, and the editors have had to

do some fancy maneuvering to accommodate the gushers of three Old Faithfuls.

To show your appreciation, over the next month, make a point to NOT tie with

anyone who looks like they may be Kickin' Tail, okay?  And send chocolate.


THE CUP: Steve, let's start with you, since you're the closest of the three

to being a Kickin' Tail rookie.  Tell us, how'd you do it?


KELLING: By going out birdwatching.


THE CUP: Oh, really!  I guess that's where you part company with the other

two leaders.  I understand they sat on their duffers recounting their lists,

that that's how they made fame this month.  Allison, is this true?


WELLS: Yes, it's true, but it didn't do any good.  I couldn't squeeze in

even one more bird.  And, I was sorry to learn, I hadn't miscounted (in my

favor), either.


THE CUP: Karl, was this your strategy as well?


DAVID: I put on the brakes so Steve and Allison could

catch me, because who wants to have to read the same stuff two

months in a row?


THE CUP: Not even your beloved Elaine!


DAVID: In fact, I'm hoping adoption of the Nix drafting

strategy (see The Cup 1.7) will put off another interview with

me until The Cup 1.12.


THE CUP: So does this mean you're all still employed?


KELLING: Yes.  But only because I forgot 5 species (BH Cowbird, C Grackle, E

Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrow, and RN Pheasant) and I miscounted by one.


THE CUP: Good thing. Otherwise, to catch up you'd have had to put in too

many early mornings and would have gotten yourself fired like Karl did,

right, Karl?


DAVID:  I teach at 8:10 in the morning, a time when

almost no one under the age of 35 is truly awake. Thus I'm not

surprised that I've never had reason to suspect that any student has

ever noticed that a cardboard cut-out of me has been delivering

calculus lectures at that hour for the last four years. The closest

any of them ever come on their course evaluations is "seems to have

stock responses to questions."  This frees me up to spend the morning

at Montezuma. Unfortunately, I haven't yet figured out how to make

this tactic work for meetings, but when I do, look out.


THE CUP: How about you, Allison.  Standing in the unemployment line?


WELLS: My boss is very reasonable about my squeezing in a little

birding during my work time.  For example, as a writer, I have to go to the

post office (on Warren Road, the closest PO) several days during

the week to mail manuscripts, buy stamps, and so forth.  My boss knows

that Myers Point is practically right there.  She knows that cruising out

for a quicky survey or swinging down by Stewart Park to

follow up reports of a Merlin are excellent for freeing the mind so that

I'll be more productive when I get back to my computer.  My boss knows, too,

that a little extra birding time now and again will made up, sometimes at

agonizing hours.  I am, you see, my boss, so I know that my boss is well

aware of all this.


THE CUP: I see.  And since this "refresher time" resulted in a few more


this year, which one was your favorite?


WELLS: The Buff-breasted Sandpiper was certainly gorgeous, and I love golden

plovers--they have this sort of naive look about them, sort of like I do



THE CUP: No comment.  And you boys?


KELLING: Buff-breasted Sandpiper.  Karl and Bill's find at MNWR is, to me at

least, the most mysterious, exotic and beautiful of all North American



DAVID:  Buff-breasted Sandpiper, because just about

everybody else got to see it, too.


THE CUP: Oh, spare us the propaganda!


DAVID:  I must admit, there's a little bit of bitterness associated with

this bird as well: When Bill Evans and I found it, it became my third year

bird for the day, and I thought my lead was good for several more weeks,

at least while I watched everybody else scramble to catch up.  We see how

well that worked.


THE CUP: Certainly it was hard sharing the glory with not one but

two other Cuppers.  Do you have any drastic measure planned to ensure

this won't happen again?


KELLING: No, I like the tie.


THE CUP: How very sweet (WIMP!).  Karl, how about you, any plans?


DAVID: Yes.  I'll spend another umpteen hours calling in vain for Barred


and miss Olive-sided Flycatcher for the year for the first time ever.  That

will tuck me comfortably in just behind the leaders [see Nix drafting

strategy from Coach's Corner, The Cup 1.7] until the final sprint.


WELLS: I'll stick with my usual plan and that is to follow the advice of my

Coaches.  The "family time" thing works well in my family, too, since my

spouse, you all know, is in the David Cup as well.  He still thinks he's

going to win, by the way.


THE CUP: Since you've already shared with us in previous Kickin' Tail

interviews with The Cup what your favorite color is, can you tell us instead

what you're favorite flavor of ice cream is?


DAVID:  Just plain vanilla, thank you.  Though I'm thinking of giving

carrot cake, which I tried once and hated, another try. Maybe it'll improve

my night vision enough that I can finally get that danged white whale, I

mean Barred Owl.


WELLS: It used to be mint chocolate chip until I read in the last issue of

The Cup all the trouble that flavor caused [see News, Cues, and Blues, The

Cup 1.7].  Now I've switched to chocolate peanut butter.  Calories aside, it


harmless enough.


KELLING: I don't have a favorite.  It is a mood swing type of thing.


THE CUP: What do you predict your total will be at the end of next month,

and what will you give other Cuppers if you're wrong?


KELLING: 245, and a small piece of hard candy.


THE CUP: Perhaps Lifesavers would be appropriate.  Karl, how about you?


DAVID: At the end of September?  246.  If that's high, I'm out of the

competition and who cares what I'm willing to give everyone.  If it's low,

I'll probably be leader again and I'll give everyone my backside to take

potshots at.


WELLS: 246, because that's what Karl chose and I don't want to give the

impression that I'm backing down.  Regardless of whether I'm too high, too

low, or right on, I'll give every other Cupper what I've been giving them

all along:  the chance to place higher than me!


THE CUP: Thank you all.  You have made this issue The Cup worth reading.

And if you believe that, there's a Roseate Spoonbill down at the swan pen at

Stewart Park even as we speak...



????????????????????????    PIONEER PRIZE    ??????????????????????????????



The editors of The Cup, through statistically significant birding polls and

by gathering clues left in the mud at various birding hotspots, 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 ghostwriting.


We, the editors of The Cup, hereby bestow August's Pioneer Prize to Tom


Yes, yes, we know it was Karl David and Bill Evans who first found the

Buff-breasted Sandpipers and Wilson's Phalaropes at Montezuma, but keep in

mind that Karl had August--and the rest of the summer--off (he is, need you

be reminded, a college professor--a seasonal job) and Bill needs absolutely

no sleep these days, what with night migration coming into its own again.

That Bill and Karl find goodies is not only expected, it's demanded of them.

Tom, on the other hand, poor Tom.  He has a killer nine-to-fiver and must

squeeze in his finds in his "spare time".  Moreover, the joy he brought to

countless downtrodden birders that moment at Montezuma in the encroaching

darkness when he sweetly announced, "I've relocated the Buff-breasted

Sandpiper," well, you just had to be there.  Most importantly, he's been

wearing his David Cup T-shirt.  Tom, to you a prestigious, teal BLUE David

Cup Pencil!


: >: >  : >    : >     : >       : >           : >               : >

                               CASEY'S CALL

: >: >  : >    : >     : >       : >           : >               : >



                            PHOTO NOT AVAILABLE


Maybe he went overboard in his savoring of his last month of freedom, ah,

summer vacation and forgot about his responsibilities here at The Cup.

Maybe during his summer break he lost his knack to produce scholarly yet

witty pieces of literature.  Maybe he became a slouch and figured no one

would notice.  Maybe he just plain doesn't care anymore... 


(Casey Sutton, who initiated and, well, used to write this column [on his

own] is now a seventh grader at DeWitt Middle School.  One more slip-up like

this, punk, and your so-called column will come bin to bin with oblivion.)



                               SCRAWL OF FAME



Kurt Fox's recent discovery of "decent" (and therefore by default,

"indecent") birds was not only brilliant, it was timely.  Case in point:

Jeff and I were at Montezuma the other night, admiring the audacity of two

Hudsonian Godwits parading around their obnoxious bills, when a Peregrine

Falcon swung by for some take-out at May's Pool.  There was a scattering of

peeps (most, we assumed, had either already joined the Peregrine for lunch

or else had fled for less intimidating feeding grounds--La Guardia Airport,

perhaps.)   Okay, we know the Peregrine needs to eat (it puts in a harder

day's work then, say, Ken Rosenberg), but when we (Jeff and I and a nice

lady also there at the corral) saw the B52 honing in on the paper airplane

piloted by the Semipalmated Sandpiper, we couldn't help but root for the



The Semi went down in a matter of seconds--there was a spray of water on the

far side of the pool, then a desperate flutter of little wings.  "Get up!

Hurry up!  Get out of there!" we three yelled to the peep, eschewing the

propriety expected of birders, Cuppers in particular.  The Peregrine wheeled

around--we could see the slick and deadly bullet sliding into the

chamber--but a nanosecond before pulling the trigger, the falcon veered off,

leaving us quite certain that it had sensed our distress and opted to place

his order later, when there was no one around to take offense at his meal

preparations .  Of course we felt sorry for the hungry bird, so we gestured

a thanks--a "decent" bird if we've ever met one--and cheered the sandpiper.



BAM!--it was too late.  A Great Blue Heron--yes, a Great Blue Heron!--put

the hammer down on the poor little peep before any of us could cry,

"Cannibal!"  Worse, as the Semi struggled, perhaps slightly wounded and

certainly tired from it's tete-a-tete with the Peregrine, the heron tweezed

it into its bill then flung it repeatedly this way and that.  The peep

fluttered and squirmed as the heron tried in vein to swallow its cousin

whole.  The heron, need I point out, was behaving "indecently," to say the



In the end, the sandpiper lost the battle and the war, and the heron was

forced to leave its bounty for some lucky gull.  But where, I can't help but

wonder, does all this leave Jeff and me (and that nice lady there with us at

the corral)?  Seeing that heron jabbing and tossing the pathetic peep was

more than a little disturbing.  Yet we watched.  We watched through our

binoculars, moaning and groaning over the grotesque scene.  And when we

couldn't see the details well enough--Is the heron actually stabbing the

sandpiper, or just picking it up in its mandibles?--we turned our scopes

upon the sorry plight.


The "decent" Peregrine Falcon.  The "indecent" Great Blue Heron.  Which bird

were we?  Maybe we're better off not knowing.


(Allison Wells is a writer and editor.  She doesn't mind scrounging up fill

for "Scrawl of Fame" when Kevin McGowan says he'll write something for the

column and then forgets.  But she'd prefer not to.)


(In other words, we have not been inundated with submissions, folks.  This

is your chance to show your intelligence, wit, vanity, and to prove that you

have nothing better to do.  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        <

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

                    <           < 

                     <         <

                       < < < <


With night migration upon us, who has crept out of the woodwork?  Bill

Evans, of course.  Bill, you see, is a connoisseur of things that go

"brewzzn" in the night.  What does this have to do with you?  What does

anything Bill says here have to do with you?  Read on.  You may be surprised

(some of you more than others...)


COACH EVANS: Birders of all sorts pass through the Cayuga Lake Basin.  We

observe birds through the window of our tiny little minds but have at our

access an aggregate of observations from the past--"Five Nation" Native

American lore, Kingbird records, and if we dig, unpublished modern avian

records and local here say. This, of course, leads to two primary principles

involved in big year competition:  1) Tiny minds working together can accrue

more species. 2) Past avian occurrence patterns can be mined for big year

rewards.  These principles have been amply discussed by the other coaches. I

echo them because they are still important factors down the road to December



An example of principle #1: Ned Brinkley's solo 245 total in the Cayuga Lake

Basin in 1991 (he all but took the year off from his Ph.D.) compared with

Ned's and Adam Byrne's 254, Karl David's 245, and my 241 in the legendary

1992 big year. Ned may well have spent more time in the field in 1991, but

the group effort in 1992 propelled all us to new big year highs.  Tom Nix's

bicycle "drafting" is a great analogy (The Cup 1.7).


An example of principle #2: Studying birdlore from 50+ years ago seems

unlikely to be productive for current big year competitions due to the

inevitable changes through time (but who today checks the middle of Cayuga

Lake for flocks of Red Phalaropes, anyway?).  However, Steve Kelling heard

of Dick Fischer's (retired Cornell Prof. Emeritus of Envir. Cons.) sightings

during the 1950's and 1960's of Bohemian Waxwings in the Mt. Pleasant area.

Steve knew that 1996 was a Bohemian invasion year by listening to hotline

reports across the Northeast, and by following up on Fischer's clue he

scored for us all!  There may be other old secrets to birding the C. Basin

that have become lost to modern knowledge--like an old field north of Seneca

Falls where the hissy screech of the Barn Owl can be heard on a quiet summer

night.  When Greg Butcher (now Executive Director of the American Birding

Association) was still director of Bird Population Studies at the Lab of

Ornithology, he told me that he felt there was secret knowledge of bird

distribution in the C. Basin that one had to sort of be initiated into.

Keep digging!


Of course, one needs to carefully sift through the reality of past records.

I was having beers recently with former Federation of New York Bird Clubs

President Charlie Smith and embellishing to him my disgruntledness

concerning the inaccuracy of a recent report in Audubon's "Field Notes" (the

quarterly continent-wide summary of bird observations) stating Worm-eating

Warblers were on the increase in our area. The report was based on the few

recent sightings in the C. Basin, but the fact is, no one ever checked those

sites for Worm-eaters before and we don't have a clue what's going on with

this species in our region.  Charlie's response was something on the order

of "for all practical purposes, many Kingbird reports must be regarded as



One also must evaluate the credibility of the others involved in the

competition.  An intrinsic factor in big year competition is that one can't

compete successfully without chasing the good sightings of others.  This is

where the team work involved can push the competition to really high season

tallies.  Though if you are fooled into chasing every reported rarity, you

can waste valuable time and loose your morale.  As the drama of the big year

unfolds, the mill of credibility is constantly at work crushing infirm

sightings.  Keep an eye out for the tell-tale string of rarities reported by

an overzealous birder.  For example, one individual's reports in the early

1990's of Brewer's Blackbird, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and Sedge Wren,

though they may in fact have been valid, became generally regarded as

symptomatic rebound sightings because of the way they closely followed other

well-documented reports of these species.  On the other hand, though Raven

is now a regularly reported species (and indeed nests) in the C. Basin,

previous Kingbird editors were dubious of raven reports identified by voice

in the mid-1980's, sighting the likely confusion with juvenile Am. Crow

vocalizations. The rash of "anecdotal" raven reports

in the mid-1980's may, in fact, have been the vanguard of reality!


It is generally advisable to spend as much time as possible birding with

others, rather than alone.  Not only must one evaluate the credibility of

others, but one must maintain one's own standing. Even the best of birders

can fall victim.  Andy Farnsworth reported 262 in the 1992 competition, and

though it may have been a valid season total, it was largely not accepted by

the birding pack that year.  Andy was relatively new on the scene and

typically birded alone.  It was inevitable that many of his sightings were

not seen by the others and the credibility of his reported total suffered

the political consequences.


I heard a story about a competition for the all-time Colorado list record.

The group of leaders had been involved with the competition for many years,

and apparently the race had become rather bitter.  One man called in a false

report to the hotline to lead one of the other competitors astray (an 80+

year old man).  The old guy went on the long trek to find the nonexistent

rarity and nearly died from heat exhaustion. We in the David Cup, at least

at present, have not reached such devious levels of competition.  Indeed, we

are in the infancy of big year competition in the C. Basin and we are still

relatively innocent, kind, and sharing.  So far there has been little reason

to be otherwise.  Up until this month just about anyone still had a chance

to win, but now, each passing day of September whittles away at that

possibility.  In fact, by the time this issue of The Cup comes to press, the

sprint toward the finish line will be well underway.  As we head into fall

there will be fewer and fewer new species to find in order to make up

ground.  It is at this stage of the competition that the inner game can be

so important, and, there are other ways to pick up ground in the competition

than by seeing new year birds.


For example, as the competition heats up, rare sightings made by just one

individual can come under increasing scrutiny.  Even sightings from earlier

in the season can come under attack.  Cracks of doubt exist in many

sightings.  When such doubts are brought to consciousness, the pressure can

cause the crack to expand like an infected wound.  Jaeger-like pursuit of

such sightings can test their strength and may force the weakened birder to

ultimately disgorge the sighting all together, enabling the others to pick

up ground in the competition.  Pack politics is especially productive in

such a hunt.  We witnessed Steve Kelling's Kentucky Warbler disgorgal early

in the season. Jeff and Allison Wells recently fended off Kevin McGowan's

stoop upon their Whip-poor-will report (regarding whether it was in the C.

Basin or not) and Ken Rosenberg swiftly eluded my playful dive on his

Whimbrel (concerning whether he eliminated the possibility of several Asian

curlew species).


In general, as the scores in the competition start to settle, the


jockeying and inner game will increase.  For Curtis Marantz, a visiting

researcher at the Lab last spring, his inner game was to blatantly pronounce

that if he were involved he would win without a question!  From the ranks of

birders involved with the competition, we will hear various "amount of time

spent in the field" arguments.  Birders with families start to play the

"time with the family" card, Sapsuckers incessantly stress the time they

missed in spring migration. Purists point of that it's the quality that

counts and finding a cool bird on your own is better than chasing one down.

But the reality of the competition is that the higher number wins. The trick

is to navigate through the morass of whining, set your sites on the birder

ahead of you, and kick their ass down the stretch!


Each big year is like a fine wine with a flavor all its own, composed of

each birder's sequence of species sightings, the shared great birds, and the

various dramas of the competition.  December 31st will soon be upon us.

Imagine finding yourself one or two birds behind your nemesis.  As you head

out the door to Lettie Cook Forest to search for Pine Grosbeak, Black-backed

Woodpecker and Boreal Chickadee in bitter windchills, your rival gloats over

an omelette and hot chocolate at Andy's Third Street Cafe.  You may regret

not making that extra trip to Montezuma or Allan Treman State Park in



Now, for anyone that needs Gray-cheeked Thrush, let me know.  I will be

leading a trip to Mount Pleasant to hear their night flight calls sometime

in the last week of September.


(Bill Evans is a Research Associate at the Lab of O.   He can be see in the

early morning--not too early--paying homage to the lighthouse jetty god.)



           mmmmmmmmmmmmmm    McILROY MUSINGS   mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm




                              Ode to Allison*




                                John Keats


                My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains

                  My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,

                Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains

                  One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:

                'Tis not through envy of they happy lot,

                  But being too happy in thine happiness,--

                     That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,

                          In some melodious plot

                  Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,

                     Singest of summer in full-throated ease.


(*An excerpt.  NOTE: This poem is known to lesser audiences as

"Ode to A Nightingale."  John Keats, a would-be Cupper, resides permanently

in England.)



                            BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH             



                                 Ned Brinkley


Since its maiden voyage back in early February, references to, Cup quotes

by, and other subtle slip-ins regarding one Ned Brinkley have been turning

up in the pages of The Cup.  Many Cup readers were not "in the scene" when

Ned WAS the scene and thus have been showering us with e-mail messages to

the likes of  "Ned Brinkley?  You mean the news guy from '60 Minutes'?" and

"Who is this Ned of whom you speak?"  Ned, a play-by-play fan of the David

Cup/McIlroy races and devoted reader of The Cup, has graciously agreed to be

this month's Bird Brain (thereby subliminally establishing that he should be

crowned, "Wayward Son of the Madness).


Now, you'll all no doubt recall that Ned has a way with words [see Coach's

Corner, The Cup 1.2], so we thought that rather than cut, splice, and rewire

the  way we usually do in this column, we'd let Ned speak for himself.


WE SAID: How long in fact have you been a birder, Ned?  How did you first

get interested?  Can you remember the moment you knew there was no turning

back, that you were hooked?


HE SAID: My first birding experience was unforgettable: I was kidnapped, or

so it felt at first, by older (60-70 year-old) women who were both birders

and botanists, at five in the morning and taken into the Dismal Swamp in

southeastern Virginia on an early May morning, right around my sixth

birthday.  We went in at Jericho Ditch, now one of the stellar points of

entry into what is now the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge --

but what was then just lumber company property.  That would have been May

1971, and the trip leader was David Hughes, one of the only other males on

the trip.  I

have been a disciple of that swamp ever since, its smells, its juniper


its amphibian choruses, its raucous gangs of Barred Owls, its migrant flocks

in spring.  The sense of home that I have there is overwhelming, and I have

never missed a spring there.  Anyhow, on that particular field trip, I

remember the incredible frustration of not being able to see all the birds

called out that I had studied in my small-format Golden Guide and in the

musty old copy of the Peterson guide: Black-and-white Warbler, Prairie

Warbler, Swainson's Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler (this one seemed

especially incredible to me), Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  These were only

inches away at times, but I didn't yet know how to look.  I was always (and

continue to be) easily frustrated with learning what appear to be simple

skills, and I recall vowing to myself then and there that I would learn


birds as I got older (and more able to control where I went) and would also

work to help other people to learn to see them.  By fits and starts, I've

made good to myself on that vow born of frustration.


But those women also gave me a gift (most have long since passed on, but I

birded with some of them well into my twenties), and that was the

encouragement to develop an unabashedly aesthetic relationship with the

out-of-doors generally, and in particular with its inhabitants like

birds and

plants.  Make no mistake, these "ladies" as they were called back then (many

were unmarried or widowed) were no creampuffs: they went through bogs on

their hands and knees with magnifying lenses and wrote papers

identifying new

species of moss for the state of Virginia.  The one consolation of that

morning in 1971 was seeing one of the last Dwarf Trillium in bloom for the

season, an endangered species that is common in a few secret spots in the

Swamp.  That I could see.  And their reverence for it -- not because it was

rare, but because it had "spirit" -- was really infectious.  I wish every

school-age child could have such gentle, and such intellectually powerful,

mentors at an early age.  The tone of these forays was always hyberbolic:

every picnic was "the most wonderful," every sunrise "the most disarming"

they had ever seen.  Life became richer and more wonderful as it continued.

The victuals they ate for lunch in the forest were all new to me: liverwurst

sandwiches, cucumber slices, turkey pate.  Their conversations never


me, but somehow they managed to discuss just how they had kicked

such-and-such corporate polluter's ass in court -- but with such delicacy.

They exploited their society's consistent underestimation of their worth and

acumen (as mere "little old ladies in tennis shoes") to their advantage.  If

the male establishment never took their threats seriously, BOOOM, here was

the new Endangered Species Act and other legislation.  And they had 'em by

the rubber parts, overnight!  (But in more delicate language to be sure.

Nevertheless, the look in their eyes during such exchanges always hinted

at a

particular kind of glee in the victory: "gotcha, bastard!")   They worked

tirelessly to build the National Audubon Society, and I think in fact those

fancy Broadway offices and those fat salaries at NAS were brokered on the

stooped backs of these early crusaders.  Whenever I feel angry or impatient

or frustrated, I always have the memory of these women to recenter me, to

make me laugh at myself and see the big picture.  So birding has never been

merely about birds for me -- birding was the only conceivable way that I

as a

small child could be admitted without hesitation or condescension into the

company of adults who saw the world more as I did: frogs, snakes, birds, and

flowers were simply incredible -- an ancient, shamanistic relation to a

planet felt to be, well, magical.  Most children are born with this sense,

but it is taken away from them instead of developed.


WE SAID: What do you do for a living, and what on earth does this have to do

with birds and birding?


HE SAID: Right now I teach Germanic languages, cultural studies, comparative

literature and film in a Department of German.  It's okay but mostly it's a

grind like any other job that keeps you out of the field.  However, being at

a University is good because you can do Interlibrary Loan to get bird

articles.  I expect to be fired in 2000, when I'm up for tenure.  But that's

part of the plan.  My colleagues are colossal weenies.


WE SAID: What brought you to Ithaca, and how long did you bird in the Basin?


HE SAID: To be honest, I think it was all the nifty stuff I got from the Lab

of O. as a kid.  I wrote the Lab in pencil when I was about 10 and got all

this cool stuff in the mail, including a very supportive, personal letter

and a 45-rpm record with a long version of the only tape-recording of

Ivory-billed Woodpecker.  I still listen to that, during big thunderstorms.

Back then,

birding was small; some of the birds were more abundant then, but you always

felt, I suppose, like one of the second-century Christians when you met

another birder -- it was always such a thrill, no matter how bizarre the

person was (and back then, birders as a whole seemed to me to be a lot more

eccentric than the birders of the 1980s and 1990s).  Everyone simply knew

everyone else who birded within a 250-mile radius or so, or at least had


the name in print.  Anyhow, I came to grad school there in Comparative

Literature because I got a five-year fellowship from the Mellon foundation

and because I thought cold long winters (and the boreal avifauna) would be

great.  After seven winters up there, I think I like the climate of Virginia

better, but oh how I miss the birding community in Ithaca.  Nothing like it

exists anywhere else, as far as I can tell -- not in California, not in Cape

May, exactly.  I hear English birders have jazz nights and pub nights, so

maybe it's a little like southern England.


WE SAID: Do you think birding kept you from getting your graduate degree

earlier than you would have otherwise, and if so, isn't this a good thing?


HE SAID: I had to struggle with this a lot.  I had sworn off hardcore

birding up there during coursework.  And I might have succeeded in staying

on the wagon had it not been for one roguish, long-haired student who

stumbled into my "Nature and the North American Narrative" seminar in

January of 1990.  That being Adam Michael Byrne.  I often have students

relate the most embarrassing event of their lives on the first day, to break

the ice a bit, and I always tell them something about myself.  Byrne and I

both used birding stories (the same ones -- about being kidded by fellow

students, "looking for Buff-breasted Mattress-Thrashers" sort of jokes, but

others more venomous as well).  And so it began.  Byrne says: "Come on, you

gotta get Dickcissel on your Basin list for the year, and I'm going with

Dorothy McIlroy and Dick Evans to chase one at Taughannock Falls State Park

after class."  Thus began the precipitous decline of my sanity and the

resurrection of competitive birding in my twenties.  (Mind you, I was still

driving down to Virginia for every new state bird, 8-12 hours one way...)  A

Basin list?  It seemed absurd.  It seemed provincial.  It... well,... it had

a nice ring to it, kinda...


WE SAID: You were part of the pre-David Cup "competitions" and general Basin

birding scene.  In what ways has making the competition "official" changed

the scene from your point of view?


HE SAID: All positive changes.  Much more democratic in spreading the word

on the tougher species, much more systematically connected (as long as

you've got the computer!), and much more invigorated overall--even as a

Spectator Sport from down here!  I love the quotes from everyone in The Cup

-- no one seems to give a hoot where they are in the standings (except Karl

of course, but then Karl has the honor of his Cup to defend!), but the

synergy of all these people participating makes my head spin.  Look at how

much more has been learned about warbler distribution in the Basin (and its

borders) in this decade alone.  Good golly -- who knew in 1987, when I moved

up there, that the Basin had such strong populations of Mourning and

Cerulean Warblers,

much less Worm-eating Warblers?  I don't think I ever really discovered much

up there -- usually just took advice on birding from Bill Evans and then

tried it (hawk watches, lake watches, etc.) till I dropped from exhaustion.

Bill's prophetic powers seemed limitless then, and I don't see any reason to

change that evaluation now, after a few more years' experience birding

to the

south.  The lessons may have seemed simple -- "Read everything, know the

habitat selection and migratory window of every species, and follow

these out

to the logical conclusions, and you'll find the bird" -- but the effect was

often mind-blowing: those early days with 8-10 Golden Eagles over Mount

Pleasant always come to mind.  Miracles at Varna, NY.  I'll always be

grateful for that kind of mentoring in particular.


WE SAID: About your much-talked about 254 Basin year total. How did your Big

Year come into being?  How did you talk Adam Byrne into joining the madness

with you?  What was Karl David's shifty-eyed roll in this?


HE SAID: To be honest, I can't even remember there ever being a really

Official Decision.  It was really just mutual goading and baiting among

Adam, Karl, Bill, and myself, during a year in which we were all trying to

see as many new Basin birds as we could.  I had really given up on it by the

fall, but

Adam and Karl continued to cajole.  It was the first of October or so, and

I'd been really too busy to do long drives during the early part of the

semester, and I thought I'd been skunked on a lot of stuff.  One last burst

up to Montezuma, though, produced Merlin, Baird's Sandpiper, Red-necked

Phalarope, and something else (forgotten!) -- and that reinvigorated the


all over again.  Karl was the scorekeeper and main gadfly in the entire

event, and Bill and Adam were just as ebullient, just as insane, both with

fiendish grins and maniacal Boris-and-Natasha laughs to keep the sport going

for twelve months.  No chase was too absurd or too ill-timed to be


Looking back on it, I have to say that it was more about the human

relationships than the birds per se -- though seeing a variety of birds was

wonderful.  It was about acumen, stamina, extremity, credibility,

recklessness, but mostly about fellowship.  It wasn't entirely pretextual,

no, but it was a chance to be in constant communion with three excellent

fellow-travelers.  I might regret the compromise of other human

relationships in that year, but I would do the same thing again -- any day.


WE SAID: For those who hadn't subscribed yet when you were the Coach for The

Cup, what was required of you time wise in getting that magnificent 254?


HE SAID: As Coach David said recently, "I'm in deep denial.  Can we change

the subject?"  There weren't many days in the year that I wasn't

afield.  I kept

track but can't find those notes -- it was over 310 days afield for some

length of time I believe.  Mostly that meant just a quick drive to Stewart

Park or to Myers Point or to a little migrant spot.  But I think I went

'round the lake about 40 times or more.  Most trips produced only the

expected species.  Thank Allah I drove a Toyota Corolla then.


WE SAID: What's it like to watch this thing unfold from your post in



HE SAID: Heaven and hell.  I love the melee, the fracas, the melange -- what

word am I looking for?  I love the way you guys support each other and laugh

with each other -- and a real spirit of competition always has this

affection at base.  But currently I have no one to bird with down here,

except when I drive to the coast (three hours away), and birding solo just

isn't the same.  I saw a Connecticut Warbler and a Kentucky Warbler this

morning in the same patch of Jewelweed on Afton Mountain (24 August).  Both

are really good finds, and their migration windows don't overlap much.  Like

many people, I have a real love of Oporornis warblers.  But there was no one

to share them with, and that diminished the moment (ah... even though the

Conn. Warbler was #293 for the year in VA).  I remember moments like that in

the first few years I started leading field trips for the Cayuga Bird Club,

with Sue Seely, Kevin

McGowan, Gladys Birdsall, Linda Clougherty, Barbara LeGendre and Bob Meade,

the Witmans, Warren Currier and Dick Evans (God rest their hearty souls),

Marty Schlabach, the Ords, Nancy Ruffing, J. J. O'Malley, and so many others

-- when the Lawrence's Warbler popped out into the bush with the Cape May,

or the Virginia Rail scolded on the railroad track, the triple rainbow at

Montezuma, endless memories -- and the expressions of true wonder of those

friends magnified the moment beyond anything I could write here.  These are

the things that solder souls together across time and space.  For some

reason, the Finger Lakes area is blessed with an abundance of good karma

like this.  And an overabundance of truly smelly puns.


WE SAID: What's the rarest bird you saw in the Basin (rare for the

Basin, that



HE SAID: Hmmm.  I don't know.  On face value (number of records), I suppose

a Mississippi Kite over Potters Falls off Rte 79 while sunbathing.  But that

is a familiar species from home and is expanding north rapidly, more or less

an expected vagrant.  I found a number of Thayer's Gulls in the Basin, but

they're also expected.  A Harris's Sparrow was just outside the Basin at

Groton, still the only one I've seen.  My favorite solo vagrant was a flock

of King Eiders seen from the Mount Pleasant watch -- or maybe a Red

Phalarope just off O'Malley's Restaurant in Sheldrake; the best communal

moment had to be listening to Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows singing one

rainy night in April at the Cayuga Marsh, with most of the Club.  Biggest

disappointment: I never saw a jaeger or a Sabine's Gull in October.


WE SAID: Where else in the world have you birded?  Where would you like to

go someday?


HE SAID:  I've birded east and central Africa, Antarctica, Argentina,

Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Guatemala, western Europe, Iceland, and lots

in the Gulf Stream off North Carolina.  Next May and June I'll be birding

the Aleutians one by one from a ship, then over to the Commander and Kurile

Islands.  I'd most like to bird Greenland next, during fall migration if

possible.  I like

islands a lot.


WE SAID: Do you come back to Ithaca much now that you're living in Virginia?

If so, might we talk you into becoming a Temporary Cupper?


HE SAID: My Cup possibilities are limited -- hey, that's not what I meant,

wiseguys.  But I may pass through for a Thanksgiving reunion with Dorothy

Crumb and Jean Skelly and crowd up at Buffalo (gull mania time...).  I'd

love to sit around that greasy spoon near Stewart Park, have a coffee and

catch up with everyone.


WE SAID: Thank you, Ned, it's been a pleasure.  But really, you should skip

the greasy spoon.


(Ned Brinkley teaches Germanic literature and other courses at the

University of Virginia.  According to the American Birding Association,

Brinkley is the Big Day record holder for Germany and also for Iceland,

although he is better known for dubbing Karl David "Father of the Madness".)




                                     DEAR TICK



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...




During the Olympics, NBC was criticized for broadcasting taped events

as though they were live. This brings up the oft-recognized problem with

heard-only birds: how do you know you weren't listening to someone

else playing a tape? But here's a new objection. It has to do with

the fact that light travels at, well, the speed of light, whereas

sound crawls along at a pathetic 700+ mph. That means that that

Barred Owl you heard half a mile away may well have just cooked its

very last meal for you all and been instantly killed (by lightning,

for example) before the sound ever reaches you! How about that?


                                      --Plausibly Live in Aurora

Dear Plausibly Live:


Let's assume, since some postings on Cayugabirds-L suggest it to be true,

that there is life on other planets.  Let's say that these life forms find

Cuppers a pitiful lot (not a real stretch, is it?) and because they feel

sorry for

them, are following the David Cup/McIlroy races from their living rooms


away. Following your "logic," you're dead.  How about that?




Lately I've read so many posts about all the great shorebirds

up at Montezuma NWR. Well, I went up to do some bird watching and

there was hardly anything around besides a few ducks and geese. Is

this what people mean by "Montezuma's Revenge"?


                        --Disappointed in Seneca Falls


Dear Disappointed:


My friend, if you had "Montezuma's Revenge," you wouldn't be writing me for

verification.  Perhaps a trip to Mexico would be in order.




I was talking with some other Cuppers recently and it

occurred to us that Wal-Mart and other stores offer special

deals like "Buy two get one free".  I wish the David Cup

committee would agree to a similar offer, maybe a "find two,

tick one free"?

                                        --Wheeling and Dealing in

Stewart Park


Dear Wheeling and Dealing:


Don't you read the papers? Wal-Mart has been banned from Ithaca soil.  The

same could very well happen to the David Cup if you keep pushing this "deal"

thing.  Be careful with your wishes.  They just might come true.




I am typing this for my dog who is a Cupper. She is pretty

ticked off that a fellow "Cupper" stole her shorebird joke (the

one with the "Ruff!" punch line) and then posted it to Cayugabirds-L

without so much as an acknowledgment, much less a thank you. Since

she's the nonviolent type, she was wondering if you could "get" the

joke stealing "Cupper" the next time you see him. Two suggestions

she has are a) biting him, and b) tinkling on his foot.  Thanks, Tick,


                              --Timmy and Lassie in Lansing


P.S. Keep those ticks on the Basin list and out of your fur.


Dear Timmy:


Tell Lassie she's barking up the wrong advice columnist.

I've got enough trouble keeping Sleepy in Ithaca and now some

goon from Aurora under control.  By the way, I don't have a

problem with ticks in my fur.  They do, however, get under my skin.




I lost my year list. Can I still play?


                                      --Organizationally Impaired in



Dear Impaired:


Of course you can still play.  What difference does a list make?  As I

understand it, the leading three Cup totals are merely "best guesses," based

more on what the beholders felt they deserved, rather than on what they

actually saw.  If you're so disorganized as to have lost your list, chances

are it's

because you're spending most of your time birding.  Go ahead, give it your

best guess.  And don't forget to include those rarities you were entitled to

see but somehow missed.  I'm looking forward to reading your Kickin' Tail

interview next month!


(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup, care of Jeff's e-mail.)


                  """""""""       CUP QUOTES      """"""""


"Hejsan!  I'm back from my stay in Sweden, and I thought I'd say hi to you,

the dynamic David Cup duo.  I sent you a message from Sweden in mid-July,

with my May total (better late than never) and a desperate plea for a paper

copy of the latest Cup..."

                                                 --Matt Medler


"You've done it again with a great Cup!  I can't wait to show it to my

beloved Elaine so she can read all the neat stuff you wrote about me!"


                                                 --Karl David


"I finally figured out that my REAL problem was that there IS NO Wegman's on

St. Paul Boulevard!" [see "100 Club," The Cup 1.7]


                                                 --Tom Lathrop


"I happen to have inside information that Karl David is now the proud owner

of a top-of-the-line spotting scope.  To think of all the great birds

Karl's been finding without a scope, with this new set of glass he should

be truly dangerous!"

                                                 --Ken Rosenberg


"Do you believe I left our scope at the house in CT? I've

probably shot myself in the foot for late summer shorebirding,

haven't I?"

                                                 --Larry Springsteen


"Finally got my copy of 'Birds of the Cayuga Lake Basin' and what luck--our

house falls nicely into the upper north west corner of the map!"


                                                 --Mary Catherine



"Unless I can count birds from Arizona, Costa Rica and Panama I am afraid my

total is the same as it was last month."

                                                 --John Bower


"Scan the orange part of the sky, out over the loosestrife!"


                                                 --Tom Nix

                                                   (at Montezuma NWR,8/24)


"There must be ten's of thousands, maybe a million swallows up there!"


                                                 --Jeff Wells

                                                   (at Montezuma NWR, 8/24)


"You mean that's not smoke, those are all swallows?"

                                                 --Casey Sutton

(at Montezuma NWR, 8/24)


"We'll have to count them by logarithms!"

                                                 --Ralph Paonessa

                                                   (at Montezuma NWR, 8/24)


"I'm glad they're on our side!"

                                                 --Allison Wells

                                                   (at Montezuma NWR, 8/24)


"How do they keep from smashing into each other without an air traffic


                                                 --Scott Mardis

(at Montezuma NWR, 8/24)


"Haven't had much time for birding, but I did get pulled over and

 questioned by some befuddled cops who couldn't tell I wasn't a

 hoodlum but a moth collector.  What else would I be doing at 3 am except

 for owling or nighthawking?"

                                                 --James Barry


"It's too bad that you didn't get my message from Sweden.  I was hoping to

make the Cup Quotes section with a few of my witty comments.  Oh, well.  I

also included my totals for May, which I'm happy to say are higher than some

peoples' July totals.  I was at 132 when I left, with #100 being a Nashville

Warbler (or was it Big Bird?).  I might have to take Dennis, my Swedish

friend, to Montezuma when I'm in town so that we, oops, I mean he, can see

some new birds."

                                                 --Matt Medler


"[My total] includes Trumpeter Swan, but does not include Rainbow-billed

Barking Duck."


                                                 --Ralph Paonessa


"I added not a bird to my Mctotal of 142."

                                                 --Tom Nix


"I was in Idaho/Washington most of August. I did, however,

see a Ring-necked Pheasant sometime in August on Lower Creek Road, but I

can't remember when, and now I can't seem to find my year list. Does this

mean I have to start over again?!"

                                                 --Diane Tessaglia


"Quiet, peaceful, listening to the soft sounds of the quiet gurgling waters.

Oh yes, how romantic... Saturday, I took my wife to our new favorite place,

the Batavia Waste Water Treatment Plant."

                                                 --Kurt Fox


"On a canoe trip along the canal next to Montezuma, we saw one

Common Nighthawk flutter by.  The sighting occurred around

8:00 pm, at the same time that the swallows were gathering for

their evening drinking and bathing fest."

                                                 --Michael Runge


"Nice to meet [Jeff] and Allison and Casey Sutton and to clear up my

misapprehension about the last. I had assumed he was your [the Wells']

son and that in some sort of Southern fashion, you always called him by

his first and middle names--like Willie-Mae or Billy-Joel--but I have been


                                                 --Caissa Willmer


"Hey, let's go to Myer's Point...Do they have chocolate peanut butter at


Purity ice cream place in Lansing?"

                                                 --Sarah Childs


"Alright!  I saw a bird Sarah didn't!"

                                                 --Justin Childs

                                                   (cousin to Sarah)


"After our chance meeting at Montezuma Saturday, I left with a heavy

heart.  My conscience was burdened with the obvious hurt in Jeff's voice

when he spoke about his plan to save our receipts to demonstrate the

financial impact by us birders around Important Bird Areas, and then he

realized I hadn't even read The Cup carefully enough to learn about this

proposal (was that a tear in his eye, or just the reflection of a

Caspian Tern?

I know not).  And so it was that I removed my issue of The Cup 1.7 from

it's pigskin pouch, lighted a candle, and tried to atone for my careless

initial perusal.  Next time I shall be more careful as I read through it

diagraming the sentences.  But wait!  What trickery is this?!  Try though I

might, I can

find no discussion of this avieconomic master plan in yon Cup.  Do my eyes

fail me?  (In which case perhaps I just haven't *seen* Eskimo Curlew but

it's been there all along, and I can rest easier.)  Or have you sent me

on a

Wild White-fronted Goose Chase (and an emotional House-Finch-Flight

Roller Coaster Ride as well)?"

                                                --Ralph Paonessa


"I thoroughly enjoyed your belated Scrawl of Fame article.  I think

you did a wonderful job helping folks become more aware of some of the

consequences of management that goes on at Montezuma and with the Northern

Montezuma project in general.  It's easy to see some of the

costs/benefits to

wildlife in terms of management that goes on, but it often is less clear to

realize that their are consequences to communities as far away as Union

Springs and even Ithaca, Rochester, and Syracuse.  For example, I'll often

fill my gas tank in Ithaca before embarking on a trip to Montezuma.  I don't

think that is simply $$ I'd spend anyway on gas because I do most of my

local commuting on my bicycle.  Its $$ that I can attribute directly to my

birding activities, and it benefits a business here in Ithaca even though

the activity itself occurs at Montezuma."

                                                --Jody Enck


"How true about the Union Springs Store!  I estimate that from 1987-1993, I

stopped there 300 times, spending an average of $5.50 or so.  Sixteen


dollars on drinks, chips, gas, etc!"

                                                --Ned Brinkley


"Talking about good Samaritans, I lost my binoculars case three weeks

ago in Connecticut Hill.  I did go again two days later to look for it but

did not find. So if any birder found it, would you let me know?

If not, I need to buy one. So can anybody direct me how I can get one?

Or is there anyone who has lost their binoculars?"

                                                --Meena Haribal


"It happens I'm up at Wells on this fine Sunday afternoon, ostensibly to

prepare myself for the onslaught of students tomorrow...I will almost

certainly end up at Montezuma in the evening (after all, as you so well

pointed out, I'm already halfway there!)"

                                                --Karl David


"A fine male N.Harrier floated across E. Shore Drive up near Water

Wagon Road this morning as I was driving along. That's the first I've seen

this (gulp--is it really almost?) fall."

                                                --John Greenly


"Roll your windows down so we can hear Sedge Wren."


                                                --Jeff Wells


May Your Cup Runneth Over,


Allison and Jeff