Year 10, Issues 4-6

***************************************************************** *^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^ *The Cup 10.4-10.6 - April/May/June 2005 *The electronic publication of the David Cup, McIlroy and various *other birding competitions. * Editor-in-Chief: Jay McGowan * House Interviewer: Mark Chao * Highlighter: Bob McGuire * Food Critic: Steve Fast * Bird Taste-Tester: Martin McGowan ****************************************************************** So... it's summer. July, in fact. April and May are long gone. June has passed in a swift yet curiously unexciting blur, and July promises to do the same. The hot, birdless days pass--quite fast, perhaps, but without rarities, practically without year birds. So until the shorebirds start moving through, here is something to relieve the summer doldrums: The Cup 10.4-10.6! ---------------------------- <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> April, May, June 2005 David Cup Totals 161, 230, 231 Tim Lenz 161, 226, 229 Bob McGuire 158, 224, 227 Jay McGowan 157, 223, 223 Mike Harvey 148, 219, 224 Steve Fast 150, 219, 222 Mike Andersen 147, 211, 217 Dave Nutter ---, ---, 215 Scott Haber 149, 202, 210 Kevin McGowan 138, 198, 208 Mark Chao 126, 192, --- Ken Rosenberg 120, 187, 197 Bard Prentiss 122, 183, 186 Anne Marie Johnson 61, 172, 172 Matt Medler 116, 170, 187 Perri McGowan 78, 168, 190 Dan Lebbin ---, 143, --- Anne James Rosenberg ---, 110, --- Rachel & Olivia Rosenberg 65, 89, 91 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan --, 77, -- Jesse Ellis 39, 55, 58 Martin (the Cat) McGowan 28, 40, 46 Frank "Pusser D. Cat" Fast Mark Chao's 200th bird: Short-billed Dowitcher Scott Haber's 200th bird: Philadelphia Vireo April, May, June 2005 McIlroy Award Totals 115, 176, 178 Tim Lenz ---, 167, --- Ken Rosenberg 100, 148, 150 Mark Chao 90, 139, 141 Jay McGowan 78, 114, 114 Kevin McGowan 87, ---, --- Jeff Gerbracht April, May, June 2005 2005 Evans Trophy Totals 123, 171, 174 Jay McGowan 113, 160, 161 Kevin McGowan 100, 144, 153 Steve Fast 90, 137, 144 Perri McGowan 97, 133, 140 Bard Prentiss April, May, June 2005 2005 Yard Totals --, --,100 John Fitzpatrick, Ellis Hollow 60, 95, -- Nancy Dickinson 53, 88, 93 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden 47, 72, -- Pixie Senesac 40, 64, 68 Anne Marie Johnson, Caroline 45, --, -- Jeff Gerbracht April, May, June 2005 2005 Lansing Competition Totals 96, 154, 165 Mark Chao 69, 137, 140 Jay McGowan 69, 115, 115 Kevin McGowan --------------------------------------------- $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ BASIN COMPOSITE DEPOSIT Here is the total list for the end of June (245 species): Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, Canada Goose, CACKLING GOOSE, Brant, G. W-F GOOSE, ROSS'S GOOSE, Snow Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Am. Black Duck, Gadwall, N. Pintail, Am. Wigeon, EURASIAN WIGEON, N. Shoveler, B-w Teal, G-w Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, L-t Duck, Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, W-w Scoter, C. Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, C. Merganser, R-b Merganser, Ruddy Duck, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, C. Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, EARED GREBE, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, D-c Cormorant, Am. Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, B-c Night-Heron, GLOSSY IBIS, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, N. Harrier, S-s Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, N. Goshawk, R-s Hawk, B-w Hawk, R-t Hawk, R-l Hawk, Golden Eagle, Am. Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, GYRFALCON, C. Moorhen, Am. Coot, Virginia Rail, Sora, SANDHILL CRANE, B-b Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Dunlin, Pectoral Sandpiper, W-r Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, S-b Dowitcher, Am. Woodcock, Wilson's Snipe, LITTLE GULL, Bonaparte's Gull, R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Lesser B-b Gull, Great B-b Gull, Caspian Tern, C. Tern, Forster's Tern, Black Tern, Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeon, Y-b Cuckoo, B-b Cuckoo, L-e Owl, S-e Owl, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, N. S-w Owl, E. Screech-Owl, C. Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, R-t Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, R-h Woodpecker, R-b Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, E. Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Y-b Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, E. Kingbird, N. Shrike, R-e Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, WHITE-EYED VIREO, Y-t Vireo, B-h Vireo, Blue Jay, C. Raven, Am. Crow, Fish Crow, Horned Lark, Purple Martin, N. R-w Swallow, Bank Swallow, Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Tufted Titmouse, B-c Chickadee, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Winter Wren, SEDGE WREN, Marsh Wren, G-c Kinglet, R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E. Bluebird, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD, Am. Robin, Wood Thrush, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, G-c Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, N. Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Am. Pipit, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Cedar Waxwing, N. Parula, O-c Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, B-w Warbler, G-w Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Yellow Warbler, C-s Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Cape May Warbler, B-t Blue Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Y-r Warbler, B-t Green Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, B-b Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, W-e Warbler, B-&-w Warbler, Am. Redstart, Ovenbird, N. Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Mourning Warbler, C. Yellowthroat, Wilson's Warbler, Canada Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, N. Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, E. Towhee, Am. Tree Sparrow, Field Sparrow, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, Chipping Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, E. Meadowlark, Bobolink, B-h Cowbird, R-w Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, C. Grackle, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch, House Finch, C. Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Am. Goldfinch, House Sparrow. ALSO SEEN BUT NOT COUNTABLE: Trumpeter Swan, Northern Bobwhite. LEADER'S MISS LIST TIM LENZ'S MISSES: Eurasian Wigeon, Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, Least Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Northern Goshawk, Ruddy Turnstone, Stilt Sandpiper, Long-eared Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, White-eyed Vireo, Bohemian Waxwing, Orange- crowned Warbler, Evening Grosbeak. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ --------------------------------------------- !-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-! APRIL, MAY, & JUNE 2005 BASIN HIGHLIGHTS by Bob McGuire !-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-! This year's unusual weather played a significant role in bird migration. Although there was a reasonable variety of migrants, and all of the anticipated species were ticked at least once, the anticipated fallout in local hotspots such as the Hawthorns, Mundy, and Beam Hill did not materialize. April was slightly warmer than usual, but we saw significantly more rain. That certainly affected the birds and the birders as well. Tim Lenz, speaking early in the month, deadpanned: "Mike Harvey and I birded in the wind, rain, and fog today . . ." May was much colder than normal (-5 degrees) with considerably less rain. Leaf-out lagged, which seemed to slow the insect hatch and hold the migrants far south of here. Jay's comment of early May was typical: "It wasn't exactly dripping with warblers in Dryden this cold morning. . . ." By the time it had warmed back up in June, it seemed that everyone was in a hurry to get north and so passed us by in the night and was gone. The first of April saw the simultaneous departure of ice from the Montezuma Main Pool (though not Dryden lake) and the return appearance of two Sandhill Cranes at Carncross Road. They eventually brought forth two glowing orange colts that were observed throughout the spring, often feeding close to the road. They were joined for a few days later in the month by a single Glossy Ibis. A large flock of Snow Geese, estimated at up to 70% Blue, was present at Sherwood Road, just east of the basin line, from early April until the 21st. Fred Bertram reported at least one blue Ross's in the group. Meanwhile, Tim found a small flock of Wild Turkeys in the treetops of Jetty Woods, and Scott Haber reported a single individual in a tree across from the ABC Cafe in Collegetown! Turkeys are now Ithaca birds. If Jeff Gerbracht had been concentrating on work instead of gazing out at the Lab pond, we all might have missed the American Bittern that flew in on the 14th and then hung around, lurking at the far edge, for at least a week. A few bitterns were later found in the MNWR, but this one provided the most satisfying looks by far. The Mucklands south of the Potato Building produced two of the spring's surprises. (No Snowy Owls this year.) On April 16th, Mike Anderson and party flushed a Winter Wren from one of the ditches, far from any hedgerow. And on the 30th, Dave Nutter and Bob McGuire happened upon an flock of 30 Lapland Longspurs, many in full breeding plumage, apparently staging for the flight north. On the 17th, Mark Chao reported a Virginia Rail calling from the seasonal wetland east of the Lab. Two birds were subsequently seen by a number of birders and then photographed during a brief copulation. Mike Harvey, Tim Lenz, Mike Andersen, and Colby Neuman had a terrific find on the 23rd, when he spotted a Little Gull in a flock of Bonaparte's off Long Point SP. One month later a possible immature Ross's/Little Gull was observed in the distance at the MNWR Main Pool. The ID was much discussed, with the final verdict being Little Gull. Given the paucity of fallout hot-spots this year, the Lab of O really stood out. It seemed that you could get everything you wanted (except'n Alice), if you only birded Montezuma and the Lab. (At the same time, Steve Fast was out to prove that you could get them all WITHOUT ever visiting the Lab - and succeeded.) From the trails around the pond there were great looks at Bay-breasted, Cape May, Tennessee, Orange-crowned, and Wilson's Warblers, Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes, Orchard Orioles, Lincoln's Sparrows, both Cuckoos, and fly- over Golden Eagles. Ann Marie's post of May 11th said it all: "Sapsucker Woods - WOW". White Pelicans were seen from mid-May into the summer, on and around the Main Pool, with a pair settling on one of the remaining muskrat lodges. Possible breeders? Towards the end of May, Tim and party turned up a Red-headed Woodpecker on Howland Island, and Bob might have heard a White-eyed Vireo in the same vicinity. A single Sedge Wren was heard, seen, and photographed towards the end of June in the tall grass next to the parking area at Marten's Tract. Unfortunately, the edge of the field was subsequently mowed, and the bird has not been re-found. As the month of June melted into July, the first reports of fall migrants (shorebirds at MNWR) began to come in. --------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------- ICE CREAM DINING GUIDE FOR BIRDERS ------------------------------------- by Matt Sarver Introduction by Matt Medler [Editor's Note: This article was first published in June 2000, but with current hot weather and shorebirds coming soon it seems eminently relevant now.] A fall birding trip to Montezuma can include some tough decisions. Black-bellied Plover or American Golden-Plover? Short-billed or Long- billed Dowitcher? Red-necked Phalarope or Red Phalarope? Pete's Treats or Cream at the Top? After a long day of scoping shorebirds at Mays Point, you deserve some ice cream on the ride home to Ithaca. The question is, do you stop for a cone or shake at Pete's Treats in Union Springs, or do you hold out and keep heading south to Cream at the Top in the Town of Venice (just north of the Village of King Ferry on Rt. 34B)? In order to settle this raging debate, a group of rugged young birders from the Birdwatching Club at Cornell recently set out on a field trip to both spots and conducted some extensive research. Under the expert leadership of Matt Sarver, who has years of experience in the ice cream business, we tested shakes, cones, chili dogs, blizzards, and anything else we could eat, all in the name of science. I present to you Matt "What fat content is that ice cream?" Sarver, to share our findings. Ice cream is serious business; so let's get right to it. Recommending one of these two fine establishments over the other proved to be more difficult than I had expected. There are several major factors to consider. Think about it. What's important to you when you stop at an ice cream joint? Oddly, the first thing that jumps right out at me is the ice cream: it had better be good, real good in fact. You may laugh, but there are lots of people out there who don't have a clue what good ice cream is. They're missing out. The second big factor is selection. Everyone's got vanilla and chocolate soft serve, but how many flavors of hard ice cream, shakes, sundaes, and other "specialty" items are available? As Matt Young said of Pete's, "They've got Fruity Pebbles [blizzards] but they don't have Heath bar? What kind of [insert expletive of your choice] place has Fruity Pebbles, and not Heath bar?" Ah, Mr. Young. You've invoked the corollary to the variety issue. If the selection is small, it needs to be quality. If it's big, it needs to be anchored by quality. I don't care if a store has fourteen flavors of bubble-gum-cheesecake-rainbow-delight, as long as they're using quality raspberry shake base. Get the picture? Lots of flamboyant kiddy flavors don't necessarily cut it. Along with selection comes what I like to call the grill factor. Back in the day, we used to run an establishment that was literally smokin'. Philly steaks, chicken sandwiches, burgers, fries, cheese sticks you get the picture. We even had a separate building with THE best BBQ chicken and ribs on the planet. I do not exaggerate. Folks used to drive the hour or so from Pittsburgh just to buy dozens of tubs of our cole slaw. I'm not just blowing my own horn, either. A good grill is essential. Sometimes, you stop for some ice cream, but you're good and hungry too. No 14" high, 20 oz. monster cone is going to cut it. On the other hand, if the location of an ice cream joint (ICJ) is not the greatest (e.g. Cream at the Top) it may not pay to have an extensive grill. It's unfortunate, but it's the nature of the business. A soft-serve machine alone will run you into the double-digit G's. Finally, the service factor is big. In fact, some might say huge. Good, quick service, knowledgeable staff, and reasonably attractive servers are a must. (Call me sexist, but I guarantee you that the DOT highway workers down the road will consider only two things when choosing an ICJ at which to blow their lunch money wads. I am referring, of course, to the quality of the meat in their burger, and the quality of the well, you know. It also helps to have employees who know what they're doing. When I get a chocolate malt with no malt powder added (as I did at Cream at the Top just before this article went to press) I'm not a happy camper. Good. That's settled then. So how did Pete's and Cream stack up? Let's look at the ice cream. Both places were quality here, but as the name would suggest, Cream had a definite edge. Ice Cream Ratings: Vanilla: Pete's 7.0 Cream 9.0 Chocolate: Pete's 7.5 Cream 7.8 Mix %: Pete's 10% Cream 13% Mr. Medler and others may have thought it silly that I specifically asked for the fat percent of the ice cream mix used by each ICJ. You see, however, that the % mix and the dairy from which the mix comes are two of the key factors in determining the way the ice cream will taste. Higher fat mix makes creamier, richer ice cream. But the story doesn't end there. How much ice cream an ICJ sells and how often they clean their machine are just as important. In order to taste top notch, the soft-serve has to be fresh out of a clean machine. Generally, this accounts for why chocolate is usually not quite as good as vanilla at many establishments. Chocolate is used only for cones, while vanilla is used in all sorts of items: it gets used up faster, and is fresher. If you have observant taste buds (not just elastic waistband pants) you can often notice a slight sour flavor in the chocolate ice cream. Good chocolate is hard to come by unless you arrive just after the machine has been cleaned. The ratings above are my own personal, perhaps somewhat subjective figures, but believe me, they're pretty accurate (p<.05, n=2). Yeah right. I said selection was important. Matt Young knew selection was important. Here are the numbers in the major categories for you to judge. Both places measured up pretty evenly in this department. The Numbers Game Hard Ice Cream: Pete's 25 Cream 33 Blizzards: Pete's 8 Cream 7 Sundaes: Pete's 9 Cream 8 Shakes: Pete's Not posted Cream 6 Cream boasted an additional 7 hard ice cream flavors, including Purity, Perry's and Cornell. Pete's serves only Purity and Perry's. So if you're a die-hard fan of the only local dairy with a stupid trans-lunar cow on their logo, you might like Cream for that reason. As far as soft drinks (otherwise known to those of us from places other than this silly state as "Pop"), both ICJs were supplied by Pepsi. Pete's had more specialty items, but Cream still advertised a few, including "Creamsicle Cooler," and "Boston Shake," floats, "Turtle," and brownie sundaes. Okay. Enough messing around. Here's the big difference between Pete's and Cream. You guessed it: the grill factor. If the grill factor was actually a number, not just a figment of my demented imagination, Cream would receive about a 0.7. They sell chili dogs. Pete's on the other hand, might muster, oh, say a 48. They also sell chili dogs. Bear with me here. Pete's also sells about 47.3 other items hot off the grill or out of the friers. If you're hungry, the choice is obvious. If you mostly like ice cream, the grill factor is a diminished consideration. Since chili dogs were the only common denominator, it only made sense to test them. Matt Medler was our leading dawg- discriminator, but I don't listen to him anyway, so here's what I thought. While the chili was about equivalent at both places (fairly lousy and fresh out of the can) the wieners (it's not often you get to use that word) were slightly better at Pete's. So Pete's gets the nod all-around for hot food. Now comes the tricky part. Service at both places was good. There's often a long line at Pete's in the evening, but they're open an hour later (10, rather than 9). It's unlikely that your time spent standing in line would exceed that extra hour. Again, the quality of the servers (male and female) at Pete's is a little better (from a construction worker's point of view). I know what you're thinking - how many construction workers inspect the assets of male servers? But there would be a flaw in your logic. Not all construction workers are men, and not all birders are construction workers. (See, now you know why you failed the SATs). Then there are the intangibles. These are things that you can sense, but can't quite put your finger on. Kind of like the assets of the servers. Atmosphere is big here. Atmosphere means about as much to the ice cream business as the environment does to George W. Bush. Seating is adequate at both Pete's and Cream, and neither discriminates on the basis of political affiliations. Banana splits are more costly at Cream, but blizzards cost less per ounce at Pete's. Due to its remote location, you can see more birds at Cream, but if you run out of gas or fruit, you're stuck. So what does a birder do when faced with this momentous decision? If you're looking for a meal, Pete's is the place. But for pure, creamy, richer ice cream, go straight to the Top. Happy eating. --------------------------------------------- !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! KICKIN' TAIL! ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE CUP: Welcome to Kickin' Tail, Tim! And congratulations on your David Cup lead at the end of May and June! It's hard to fathom, given your remarkable Basin birding career so far, but I think that this this is the first time that you've had sole possession of the Cup lead at month's end. How does it feel to be on top? TIM: Actually, I sprinted to an early Cup lead in January but then Bob McGuire was able to stay ahead of me from February onward...until now. So, being in the lead again feels great, but I don't want to get too comfortable yet. The race is only half over. THE CUP: You are in a pretty strong position, with most of the front- runners' Cup lists already having taken shape. What's it going to take to hold the lead to the end? TIM: I'll just have to be out in the field as much as possible. Whoever can find the birds at the right place at the right time will probably win. A Cup victory might also involve some stringing and sabotage. Bob McGuire's frequent trips to Howland Island have been worrying me a bit, especially since he has been finding things like White-eyed Vireo and Sedge Wren. A good strategy for me might be to crush the fuel line in his pickup truck or drill his tires right before a big birding weekend in early September. Would that be against Cup rules? THE CUP: This is a much better answer than the usual cliches about "taking it one bird at a time," or "staying focused" or "remembering what got me here." But if you took down Bob's truck, then he'd probably just bike around Howland Island and find a lot of birds anyway. Or he'd weld a new fuel line out of his sandwich wrapper. What about the other contenders, Tim? TIM: As long as Jay gets a nice workload at Cornell this fall, and Mike Harvey doesn't get a car, then I should be in good shape for the finish in December. Steve Fast might make a push in the fall, but I'll take care of him when the time comes. I see no reason to worry anymore about Mike "150+" Andersen. THE CUP: What are some of your Basin-birding highlights so far in 2005? TIM: February and early March were spectacular this year: Gyrfalcon, Mountain Bluebird, Golden Eagles. All of those were life birds or new Basin birds for me. The one day that Long Point State Park was productive this year, April 23, was probably the best half-hour of birding all year. THE CUP: 2005 Basin first records for Little Gull and Black Tern, plus your first Common Tern of the year, and dozens of Bonaparte's Gulls. . . You went there specifically to look for Little Gull, didn't you? TIM: Yes, but I'm no psychic. From March to April I always think about Little Gull when I visit Long Point. But when we pulled into the parking lot, the weather was just perfect and I had a feeling that it would be the day. Mike Andersen and I went out to the lighthouse at the tip while Mike Harvey and Colby stayed at the gazebo, looking north. Harvey yelled "LITTLE GULL" and Mike and I dashed back to the gazebo to look at it through his scope. It was magical. In the last couple of months, I also got to see many easier birds that had previously eluded me in the Basin because of my early summer departures or consistent refusals to leave the town of Ithaca: Orchard Oriole, Black-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher. The Sedge Wren at Marten's Tract was my last North American wren species. THE CUP: You also did a Basin Big Day with Mike A, Mike H, and Colby Neuman, and broke the all-time record. What were the highlights of that day? TIM: The Black-billed Cuckoo that gurgled over our heads at 4 in the morning on Lake Rd. was a definite highlight. Since I was driving most of the time, I relied on Mike Harvey's "sixth sense", Mike Andersen's well-trained ears, and Colby's eyes to find new birds for the day. I tend not to look for birds while I'm behind the wheel, because that would be dangerous. Actually, the day turned out amazingly well given that most all of the migrants had cleared out earlier in the week. I don't think I'll ever forget the scene at the end of day, after the rain began to pour down. We all ordered gigantic slices of pizza at our new favorite place in Seneca Falls. Struggling not to confuse these pizzas for pillows, we waited until Andersen finished tallying our list: "172 species", he said. Too tired for high fives or celebratory dances, we just kept eating pizza. I don't remember much of the conversation after that. THE CUP: You suggest that you guys sometimes do celebratory dances. What celebratory dances? Are we talking Terrell Owens in the end zone? Shakin' your boo-tays to "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang? Or a rousing hora and chorus of Havah Nagilah? TIM: No, we've never actually done this, but I was thinking something along the lines of Terrell Owens's infamous end zone dances. I am not familiar with the other dances that you mention -- you'll have to show me some time. THE CUP: I just might, if you can help me find a Kentucky, Prothonotary, or Connecticut Warbler somewhere in the Basin. You've spent a lot of time this year birding with some other extremely talented guys, who haven't before been part of the Basin scene. What's it like to bird with Brian Sullivan and Curtis Marantz? TIM: I'm sorry to say that my recent attempts at being the Cup evangelist haven't been too successful. Sullivan tired of the Basin birding scene after looking at too many of the same kinds of ducks on Cayuga Lake this winter. Curtis likes to go birding occasionally, but he doesn't appreciate a good Cup bird when he sees one, unless he hasn't seen it yet in the state. Nevertheless, I will keep the faith. It's always educational to go birding with people who have more skills and experience than I do, even if they could care less whether or not they beat Tringa the Dog in the Cup tally. THE CUP: What do you most want to see between now and the end of the year? TIM: A Ruff at Montezuma. THE CUP: You also have a firm grasp on the McIlroy Award lead, even though you don't live in Ithaca any more. How heated do you think your competition with Ken will be this year? TIM: Ken was very busy this spring, so I imagine I just saw a lot of easy McIlroy birds that he missed and will be able to pick up in the fall. However, I am determined to spend more time on the Jetty this fall, so Ken shouldn't relax too much. No more jaegers for you, Ken! NEXT!!!! THE CUP: I recently took issue with Matt Medler's claim that Stewart Park is "the premier birding spot in the Ithaca area." You sided with Matt. Do you still feel this way? TIM: For landbirds -- no, for waterbirds -- yes. In general, I find it more exciting to look for rare waterbirds than for rare landbirds, so Stewart Park still wins. During certain times of year (for example, winter and summer) walks around Sapsucker Woods can be consistently boring, but there's usually a better chance for something different on each visit to Stewart Park. THE CUP: Where did you find your life Hoary Redpoll? What season was that? TIM: Sapsucker Woods. Winter. Still, I could name a lot more interesting winter birds from Stewart Park (Gannet, Murrelet, Little Gull, etc.). THE CUP: And how could you possibly know about how "consistently boring" Sapsucker Woods is in the summer, given your above-mentioned early-summer departures from the area? But maybe a few cuckoo encounters and/or totally unexpected birds (like last year's Red Crossbill on July 7) will eventually change your mind. TIM: I'm in the Basin this summer, and I've walked around the Lab once or twice at lunch time. Ain't nothin' but redstarts and Yellow Warblers. Nevertheless, I'll keep looking... THE CUP: And I'll be keeping an open mind too -- like with that lopsided Brant by the tennis courts this past week. . . that's quality Stewart Park birding. Tim, after four years of undergraduate study and a year of master's- degree work at Cornell, you now serve as a staff member at the Lab. What is your job? How's it going? TIM: I'm a software engineer for the eBird project (, charged specifically with the task of revamping the data output tools. I'm really looking forward to the beta release of eBird v2.0, in early August -- there will be a lot of new features, and the whole site will have a new look and feel. THE CUP: Why did you choose computer science instead of ornithology? TIM: It's easier to pay off school loans with an engineering degree than it is with a degree in biology. Plus, computer science is such a broad and diverse field that it has practical applications for just about any other scientific pursuit. Naturally, I chose to combine it with ornithology. THE CUP: What percent of your time outside work and sleep would you say that you spend on birding? TIM: 90 percent. I do eat food occasionally. THE CUP: Where did you buy your winter camouflage jacket? And do you find that it really helps you to sneak up on birds? TIM: Matt Medler once referred to that jacket as my "alternate plumage." Sadly, I left it with my dad in Reno last summer. I was politely informed that there were more stylish winter clothing options available, that might fit in better with the Ithaca culture. THE CUP: That's too bad. I've never seen camouflage quite like that - - I thought that it was visually very arresting, even Pollockesque, with its random whitish streaks and spatters. Or was that Glaucous Gull guano? TIM: Thank you. No, it wasn't guano. THE CUP: You used to dive for the varsity at Cornell, right? TIM: Yep. All 4 years... THE CUP: How good were you? I mean, what were your best dives, and what kinds of scores did you get? TIM: My favorite dive was a reverse dive in the straight position off the 3-meter springboard. I could usually put that down for 7.5's or 8's. The fancier dives are tougher to get good scores on, but the scores are weighted by degree of difficulty to make up for it. My 3- meter list was Reverse 2 1/2 tuck, (305C), Inward 2 1/2 Tuck (405C), Front 2 1/2 Pike (105B), Back 2 1/2 Tuck (205C), and Front 1 1/2 with 2 Twists Pike (5134B). THE CUP: Very impressive, even though neither I nor any of our readers have any idea what those weird codes mean. Do you still dive now? TIM: Nope. THE CUP: Here comes the lightning round. . . What's your favorite Basin flycatcher, and why? TIM: Eastern Phoebe -- it's the first one I see every year. THE CUP: What's your favorite owl, and why? TIM: Flammulated -- spookiest bird on the continent. THE CUP: Your favorite gull? TIM: Sabine's Gull. THE CUP: What bird species do you think is most underrated, and why? TIM: Horned Lark -- common as the dirt they thrive on, but they look and sound a lot nicer. A spark of life in otherwise desolate places. THE CUP: Beautiful!!! Your favorite composer? TIM: Last year it was Franz Liszt. This year it's J.S. Bach. THE CUP: Your favorite pianist? TIM: Sviatoslav Richter is the best overall. For Liszt, Gyorgy Cziffra. For Bach, Glenn Gould. THE CUP: Your favorite restaurant dish in the Basin? TIM: Foot Long Texas Hot Dog at Pete's Treats! What else is there?? THE CUP: Your three most exciting Basin bird sightings ever? TIM: Black Guillemot, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Long-billed Murrelet. THE CUP: Your worst misses? TIM: Red Crossbill, Connecticut Warbler, Long-eared Owl. THE CUP: Which would you rather see -- a Northern Goshawk (another Basin bird that has eluded you so far) chasing and catching a Lesser Yellowlegs (your McIlroy nemesis) at Stewart Park, or an Ivory-billed Woodpecker flying away through an Arkansas swamp, as in the recent film clip, in view for one second? TIM: Hmm...probably the latter. I would go into shock if either of these events happened to me. A goshawk going after a yellowlegs? Where am I again? Stewart Park!? Why is that a goshawk and not a Peregrine Falcon? Am I hearing the death call of a Greater or a Lesser Yellowlegs? Confusion settles in, the birds disappear, and all is lost. THE CUP: Until a Pomarine Jaeger flies in, kleptoparasitizes the kill, and saves your birding day. Hey, you've seen stranger things at Stewart Park! Tim, thanks for the interview, and best wishes in your pursuit of the Cup and McIlroy Award for the rest of the year! --------------------------------------------- ----------------- "CUP...QUOTES" ----------------- While biking up to the lab at 10:45 this morning, I had a male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher along Sapsucker Woods Road near telephone pole #12 and the "Area Speed Limit 30" sign (is surpassing 30 even possible on this road?). --Mike Harvey In case I unexpectedly become leader, and this becomes "important", I refuse to undergo a polygraph, as they are scientifically unreliable. The authorities already have my fingerprints. --Dave Nutter ...and 1 DOWITCHER. It was still in basic plumage; I realize this is a hard call ( it had to be one or the other), but I feel that because of the generally lightish spotting on the flanks and along the tail and more clearly defined back feathers, that this was a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER. Four young Cornell experts also viewed this bird at length, got some pictures, consulted Sibley and came to no definite conclusion at that time. --Steve Fast I'm not sure who the 4 young Cornell experts were or why we didn't run into them at Carncross (they probably could have helped us out a bit), but after looking at the dowitcher that Steve Fast found, Tim Lenz, Dan Lebbin, Colby Neuman, Mike Harvey and I agreed that it was a Short- billed Dowitcher. --Ben Winger This is an excellent example of 1. not being able to count (my apologies), and 2. using the wrong field marks to obtain the correct result. --Steve Fast This is just an after thought, I was wondering after Steve Fast's apologetic second e-mail that he could not count, was he wrong? May be he just counted experts! --Meena Haribal A few winters ago, a male N. Harrier spent a lot of time about 20' up in a tree overlooking the Croton Point landfill. Maybe Ken has missed seeing loafing Harriers because he is virtuous enough to get out in the early morning when the birds are catching breakfast, while non-hotshot housewives miss all the action by strolling through the mid-day doldrums. --Lee Boyd American Bittern - I've yet to see one this year. Maybe I don't look up enough. Maybe I don't look down enough. Maybe I don't look closely enough. --Dave Nutter --------------------------------------------------------- May Your Cup Runneth Over, - Jay