Year 4, Issue 3
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*The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition.
*Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells
*Basin Bird Highlights, Leader's List, Composite Deposit:
* "Thoreau" Geo Kloppel
* Pilgrim's Progress: "Stoinking" Matt Medler
* Evans Cup: "Bird Hard" Bard Prentiss
* Stat's All: Karl "Father of the Madness" David
* Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer
* Mobile Phone Supervisor: Jeff Wells
Oh, that crazy World Series of Birding, that mind-boggling
24-hour tick-athon in the Garden State of New Jersey. Sure, it rakes
in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the birds. Fifty-odd (you ain't
kiddin') teams compete, some from as far away as Britain (re: "Brits on
Bikes," ha!) There's the camaraderie, the media exposure, yadda, yadda,
yadda. Whoopee. La-ti-da.
oesn't it make it you want to tear up your David Cup checklist and
Well, then drive thru and smell the golden arches! The World Series
may make some pretty lofty headlines, but when you boil it all down,
whatcha got is fast food! 223 species in one day? Heck, McDonald's can
make an entire "mean" in 1.48 minutes. Wouldn't you rather have a
romantic, candlelight dinner? THAT's the David Cup. Okay, maybe it's more
like an old-fashioned, home-cooked meal. And yeah, maybe the potatoes get
a tad overbaked. But think of the love and care that goes into making that
meal-just for you!
Now, pull up a chair, the table is set, enjoy the feast of another
issue of The Cup. Just remember to put on your bib; there's bound to be a
little drivel, er dribble.
@ @ @ @ @ @
NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
@ @ @ @ @ @
WELCOME TO THE CUP CLAN: What do all of the new Kloppel names in
the Pilgrim's Progress mean? It means Jon Kloppel, frere to Geo, is biding for
the Family Time Prize. That's right, he's brought daughter Rachel and son
Aaron into the funny farm. Of course, until he's recruits the family pets,
the McGowans may take home the coveted award yet again. Wait a minute,
"Ramona" Kloppel. David "Kitty" Cup. Watch out, McGowans!
Wait, here comes another family strolling for the Family Time Prize:
It's the Mingles! How did Terry and Brian convince young un' Jeremy to
join the big birding hurrah? They told him he could dress like a rapper, if
he wanted o long as he didn't dye his hair blue. Can't risk anyone one
mistaking him for a Blue Bunting.
STRAIGHT FLUSH?: Congratulations to Ken Rosenberg, who may have the only
Basin record for a "flushed WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW." Cup spies
reported Ken's Cayugabirds news-flash post to us, and we've been wondering
ever since what such a bird would look like. A bit red in the face,
contrasting with the black and white crown? In other words, a little like
Ken when he reads this note.
WATCH WARBLERS: Don't forget to put your warbler sightings to
use for science and conservation! Get them into the Warbler Watch
database at http://birdsource.cornell.edu. Enjoy the maps while
you're there-a great return on your investment of a little time.
SAPPING AROUND NEW JERSEY: Despite our attempt to sound
like curmudgeons in the intro, we're pleased to congratulate the
Cornell Lab/Swarovski Sapsuckers in their WSB showing. The
team - made up entirely of Cuppers -- identified 220 bird species,
shattering their previous high set a few years ago of 204. They brought
home, for the second year in a row, the prestigious Stearns Trophy for
out-of-state-team victory and placed second overall, their highest
placing ever, behind a New Jersey team who made it to 223. With
pledges weighing in at $543.85 per species, that's an awesome
$119,647.00. To read more about the team's highlights, visit the
Lab's web site at http://birds.cornell.edu. Be sure to check out the
link that'll show you an image of the magnificent Stearns Trophy,
featuring the Lab's own highly paid models! And it's also not too late
to pledge. (607) 254-2473 if you'd like to show your support. If
you've already pledged, thanks! Here's to WSB 2000!
BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: There was some new
band, alt rock we think, that had the name "bird" in the their title.
We tore the blurb out of Entertainment Weekly (the most impressive
news mag available these days, after The Cup), but e lost it.
Be assured, we had something clever planned, some witty tie-in.
Although we lost the blurb, at least we've accomplished our
original purpose in the first place: filling up this space.
:> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :>
BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
Now that the woods are well leafed-out and the warblers have all returned,
it's an effort to think back to distant March. Recalling that month's most
exciting birds ought to be pleasant exercise, though.
On March 1, Matt Young spotted two BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in a large flock of
Cedar Waxwings on the TC3 "game preserve." They were not found again, but
Cuppers pressed ahead, and the subsequent most winning birds of March were
observed by many. The first of these were the ROSS' GEESE. Sightings of the
diminutive Chen among feeding Snow Geese began on March 11 in the greater
Montezuma area, and continued through the month. On the 20th, Kevin and Jay
McGowan found a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE along Cornell Lane south of
Dryden. Two WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were seen on the 26th north of Aurora.
Also seen during the month were OLDSQUAW and RUDDY DUCK. February's
first-winter GLAUCOUS GULL, ICELAND GULLS and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS
continued to be seen well into March.
My vote for March's happiest surprise goes to the pair of RED CROSSBILLS
found atop Summer Hill on the 24th by Chris T. Hymes. Chris' optimism was
not quenched by the apparent absence of winter finches in our region, and
for that he has his reward! In the week or so following his discovery a
handful of birders managed to find the birds. When you consider how large
the Summerhill State Forest is, that seems an impressive feat, but Matt
Sarver's experience, which we all shared vicariously, may help to explain
it: he found the crossbills deliberately visiting Salt Road to pick up grit
right before his shoes! Putting aside some closely extralimital Pine
Siskins (Keuka Park) and Evening Grosbeaks (Tioga County), those crossbills
have been the principal echoes of the previous winter's celebrated finch
A LONG-EARED OWL turned up dead in Danby, the first "record" for the year,
though a live bird would have been preferred. The finder was not a Cupper,
so we were not obliged to revisit the old question of when a dead bird may
be counted, happily! A few more SHORT-EARED OWLS, NORTHERN SHRIKES and
LAPLAND LONGSPURS were seen during March, even while the likes of
RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, GOLDEN EAGLE, MERLIN, AM. WOODCOCK, PECTORAL
SANDPIPER, TREE SWALLOW, E. PHOEBE, AM. PIPIT, RUSTY BLACKBIRD, E.
MEADOWLARK and FOX SPARROW were moving in from the south. A pair of
NORTHERN BOBWHITES were seen on the 30th of March in the Town of Enfield.
I was out of the Basin the first weekend of April and missed a major
fall-out, which included RED-NECKED GREBE, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, OLDSQUAW,
RUDDY DUCKS, and CASPIAN TERN at Dryden Lake, more OLDSQUAW at Jennings
Pond and Montezuma, plus many BONAPARTE'S GULLS at Stewart Park and
elsewhere. Later in the month two SURF SCOTERS and yet more OLDSQUAW were
seen at Dryden Lake, and numbers of RED-NECKED GREBES, BONAPARTE'S GULLS,
FORSTER'S TERNS and COMMON TERNS dropped in at various dates and locations.
BLACK TERN and COMMON MOORHEN returned to Tschache Marsh, where Meena
Haribal also saw BLACK SCOTERS overhead. Jon Kloppel viewed a
spring-migrant RED-THROATED LOON at very close range near the north end of
Cayuga Lake, and a few days later several of the Matts spotted another one
at the south end! But the biggest find of April was not seen by any
Cuppers. It was a SANDHILL CRANE, watched at leisure by a group of birders
on an Eaton Birding Society outing near the Greater Montezuma Wetland
Project Headquarters on Morgan Road opposite Howland Island.
Scattered RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, BROAD-WINGED HAWKS and GOLDEN EAGLES were
seen during the month, plus a few more departing SHORT-EARED OWLS. At least
one MERLIN and one PEREGRINE FALCON were reported. Several Cuppers heard a
LONG-EARED OWL calling near Neimi and Hanshaw Roads in the Town of Dryden.
Shorebird species during April included GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS,
PECTORAL, SPOTTED and SOLITARY SANDPIPER, DUNLIN, AM WOODCOCK and COMMON
SNIPE, plus a fly-over UPLAND SANDPIPER seen by the McGowans, who also
discovered the BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON that lingered at Dryden Lake for a
number of days. AMERICAN BITTERN appeared at Montezuma and, more
surprisingly, at Jennings Pond, where it may yet remain! GREEN HERON and
VIRGINIA RAIL returned to their summer haunts. Rather large numbers of
breeding-plumage LAPLAND LONGSPURS were seen by many over the course of a
few days on the Savannah Mucklands, once again confirming the speculative
optimism of Chris Tessaglia Hymes.
The expected sparrows showed up, as did the earliest warblers: YELLOW-RUMPED,
PINE, PALM, YELLOW, BLACK-THROATED GREEN and BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS,
LOUISIANA and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES. April also brought the first
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, BLUE-HEADED and WARBLING VIREOS, all the rest of
our swallows, CHIMNEY SWIFT, HOUSE WREN, BROWN THRASHER, E. KINGBIRD, LEAST
FLYCATCHER, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK and BOBOLINK. Our appetites for the
wealth that flows in during May were thoroughly aroused.
(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows. That is, when he's
not birding. In other words, he seldom makes and repairs violin bows.)
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
Matt Sarver's BIRD 100: Long-eared Owl
Matt Medler's BIRD 100: Eastern Meadowlark
Ken Rosenberg's BIRD 100: Field Sparrow
Jon Kloppel'S BIRD 100: Ruddy Duck
Matt Williams' BIRD 100: Swamp Sparrow
Steve Kelling'S BIRD 100: Virginia Rail
Meena Haribal's BIRD 100: refused to share this top-secret info
Bard Prentiss BIRD 100: ditto
Rachel Kloppel's BIRD 100: American Woodcock
Anne Kendall's BIRD 100: Pine Warbler
Allison Wells' BIRD 100: Eastern Meadowlark
Jeff Wells' BIRD 100: House Sparrow (answered by his wife, because Jeff is
currently out of town)
Terry Mingle's BIRD 100: Blue-headed Vireo
Pat Lia's BIRD 100: Palm Warbler
Catherine Sandell's BIRD 100: Yellow-rumped Warbler
Jeremy Mingle's BIRD 100: Baltimore Oriole
200 200 200 200 200
2 0 0
200 200 200 200
HA! WISHFUL THINKING!
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
April 1999 David Cup Totals
157 Matt Young
145 Geo Kloppel
145 Matt Medler
144 Jay McGowan
143 Kevin McGowan
139 Matt Sarver
138 Chris Tessaglia-Hymes
133 Ken Rosenberg
131 Jon Kloppel
129 Matt Williams
126 Steve Kelling
125 Meena Haribal
119 Bard Prentiss
116 Rachel Kloppel
115 Anne Kendall
111 Allison Wells
110 Terry Mingle
110 Jeff Wells
107 Pat Lia
103 Catherine Sandell
101 Jeremy Mingle
100 Chris Butler
95 Marty Schlabach
94 Tringa "Bird Dog" McGowan
91 Aaron Kloppel
91 Jim Lowe
90 Tom Nix
86 Taylor Kelling
85 Sam Kelling
82 Melanie Uhlir
80 Kim Kline
79 Bill Evans
79 Ben Taft
78 Nancy Dickinson
69 Perri McGowan
67 Brian Mingle
63 Andy Farnsworth
57 Martha Fischer
45 Carol Bloomgarden
45 Anne James
43 Swift McGowan (David "Kitty" Cup)
30 Teddy Wells (David "Kitty" Cup)
26 Mimi Wells (David "Kitty" Cup)
25 Romona Kloppel (David Kitty Cup)
21 Rob Scott
0 Ralph Paonessa
March 1999 McIlroy Award Totals
97 Kevin McGowan
93 Jay McGowan
82 Jim Lowe
82 Allison Wells
75 Jeff Wells
73 Ken Rosenberg
66 Bill Evans
55 Matt Medler
53 Martha Fischer
37 Chris Butler
March 1999 Evans Trophy Totals
140 Matt Young
127 Ken Rosenberg
121 Kevin McGowan
118 Jay McGowan
97 Bard Prentiss
72 Allison Wells
72 Jeff Wells
83 Kevin McGowan
52 (???) Jay McGowan (Hey, Matt, did you drop this ball!)
44 Matt Williams
59 Allison Wells
0 Matt Young
80 Kelling Family, Caroline, NY
79 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden, NY
79 Rosenberg/James Family, Dryden, NY
67 Geo Kloppel, West Danby, NY
59 Wells Family, Etna, NY
47 Nancy Dickinson, Mecklenberg, NY
46 Jeff Holbrook, Canton, NY
41 Fredericks Family, Van Etten, NY
33 Carol Bloomgarden, Etna, NY
56 Ken Rosenberg & friends, Green Trailer, Lab of O
46 Steve Kelling & friends, Tan Trailer, Lab of O
26 Melanie Uhlir ("Tan Trailer," Lab of O)
22 Allison Wells (main building, Lab of O)
3 Matt Medler (windowless cave of LNS, Lab of O)
LEADER'S LIST LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
By Geo Kloppel
No surprise here: Matt Young was well in the lead at the end of May. He
wasn't quite sure what-all was supposed to be on his list, so at the
absolute ultimate last minute before publishing time he sent me a list of
153 species and invited me to suggest 4 more in order to make up the 157 he
expected. Then he went out birding, I guess! I came up with 5 birds which I
believe he MUST have seen before May 1st, and I've placed them in
parentheses within his list, resulting in a total of 158. I'm sure Matt
will explain the discrepancy when he finds a little more time to update his
C & R-t Loon,P-b,R-n & H Grebe,D-c Cormorant,Great Blue & Green Heron,B-c
Night Heron,T & M Swan,Snow Goose,ROSS'GOOSE,C Goose,W Duck,G-w & B-w
Teal,Am Black Duck,Mallard,N Pintail,N Shoveler,Gadwall,Am
Wigeon,Canvasback,Redhead,R-n Duck,G & L Scaup,KING EIDER,L-t Duck,Surf &
W-w Scoter,C Goldeneye,Bufflehead,H,C & Rb Merganser,Ruddy Duck,(T
Vulture),Osprey,Bald Eagle,N Harrier,Sharp-shinned,Cooper's & N
Goshawk,B-w,R-s,R-t,& R-l Hawk,Golden Eagle,Am Kestrel,R Grouse,W
Turkey,R-n Pheasant,V-Rail,Am Coot,(Killdeer),G & L Yellowlegs,Sol,Pect &
Spotted Sandpiper,Dunlin,C Snipe,A. Woodcock,Bonaparte's,R-b,H,I,LB-b,G &
GB-b Gull,Casp,Common & Forster's Tern,R & M Dove,E-Screech,G-H,Barred,S-e
& S-w Owl,Ch Swift,B Kingfisher,R-b,D,H & P Woodpecker,N Flicker,Y-Bellied
Sapsucker,L Flycatcher,E Phoebe,H Lark,Tree,N.R-w,Bank,Cliff & Barn
Swallow,B Jay,Am & F Crow,Common Raven,B-c Chickadee,T Titmouse,R-b & W-b
Nuthatch,B Creeper,Carolina,H,M & W Wren,G-c & R-c Kinglet,B-G
Gnatcatcher,E Bluebird,H Thrush,A Robin,N Mockingbird,(Brown Thrasher),(Am
Pipit),BOHEMIAN & C Waxwing,N Shrike,E Starling,B-h Vireo,Yellow,Y-r,B-t
Green,Pine,Palm,& B & w Warbler,L & N Waterthrush,N Cardinal,E Towhee,Am
Tree,Chip,F,V,Sav,Fox,Song,Swamp,& W-t Sparrow,D-e Junco,L Longspur,S
Bunting,E Meadowlark,R-W,Rusty Blackbird,YELLOW HEADED BLACKBIRD,C
Grackle,B-h Cowbird,H Finch,(Purple Finch),Red Crossbill,Am Goldfinch,House
COMPOSITE DEPOSIT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT
A few birds had escaped Matt's roving eye. There was a Long-eared Owl found
dead in Danby, which I won't include in the composite total, and then there
were the following 17 species:
American Bittern,Greater White-fronted Goose,Black Scoter,Peregrine
Falcon,Merlin,Common Moorhen,Sandhill Crane,Upland Sandpiper,Thayer's
Gull,Black Tern,Purple Martin,Warbling Vireo,C Yellowthroat,Rose-breasted
Grosbeak,Bobolink,Baltimore Oriole,Evening Grosbeak
Composite total as of 4/30/99: 175 live birds (plus one dead L-e Owl)
(You already know Geo. )
< COACH'S CORNER <
< < < <
Whatcha gonna do when you forget to tap a coach for the prestigious
Coach's Column and you're too tired to write it yourself because
you put together everything else because your spouse is leaving town?
If that spouse is in the masthead, you get him to write spew something
over breakfast the morning of his departure. Aw, shucks, he's glad to
help, because he's Jeff Wells, and he's swell. The editor would marry
him if she weren't married to him already.
COACH WELLS: I'm giving this Coach's Column a name, because
I want to emphasize what the David Cup is all about in the upcoming
months. "Pushing the Limits," it's as simple as that. Actually, it's
as "simple" as finding these key species:
Clay-colored Sparrow: A species that breeds in relatively large
numbers within about 200 miles northeast of the Basin, Clay-colored
Sparrows very likely occur as sporadic, occasional breeders or
solitary singing males within the Basin. In the western tier of NY,
they have occasionally been found in Christmas tree plantations.
Along with this habitat, check fields that have a mix of open grass
and clumps of shrubs and Listerine for the easy-to-identify song: a
series of usually three low buzzes, "bizz-bizz-bizzz."
Western Meadowlark: This is another species that regularly
occurs sporadically throughout the northeast U.S. Western NY,
being closer to the regular breeding range, would seem even more
likely to have an occasional bird. Check lots of very large
grassy fields, listening for its distinctive, bubbly song and the
characteristic "chuck" call note.
Dickcissel: As recently as 1992, territorial singing Dickcissels
occurred in the Basin (South Lansing) and the species has bred
or attempted to breed in western NY. Again, check large, grassy
fields, especially ones that have been fallow for a few years
and that have scattered old stems for singing perches. The fields
near Ledyard Road in King Ferry are potentially good locations.
As always, learn the song well and listen carefully as the song
can be as easy to overlook as the Henslow's Sparrow simple song.
Others: Cattle Egret, Glossy & White-faced ibis, Yellow Rail,
Sedge Wren, Kentucky Warbler, Le Conte's Sparrow.
Hit the books, and then the field!
(Jeff Wells is director of bird conservation for National Audubon of
of New York State. He is sadly missed when out of town for his job
...especially when it's time to put out The Cup.)
! KICKIN' TAIL! !
What better way to prove birding hasn't completely worn you out than
by being featured in an interview exclusively for The Cup? "Kickin'
Tail" brings well deserved honor and recognition to the Cupper who
has glassed, scoped, scanned, driven, climbed, dug, or final-exammed
his/her way to the top of the David Cup list. Any guesses who's on
first thing by the end of April?
THE CUP: Greetings, Mighty Matt. We'll keep this brief, we don't want
to be held responsible if you don't break the Basin record this year! First,
ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? You've got a good chance of breaking the
David Cup record, if merely by willing the birds into the Basin. And you
run off to help scout for the Sapsuckers in New Jersey? And what was
your motive by including Matt Medler in this little soiree?
YOUNG: I must move on and at least try to make my birdwatching into
Something productive, so I'm moving out of the Basin come August, so
I can go back to school full-time. The record will have to be broken by
Someone else - Saaarver!!
THE CUP: I guess one Matt's the same as the next. Just different hair,
YOUNG: I went to NJ because I felt it was a great chance to
get out of the Basin -
THE CUP: Blasphemy!
YOUNG: --and do some real birding. Medler's the only one who
could possibly put up with me on such an adventure.
THE CUP: Sure. We couldn't help but notice some slippage in
Medler's total since you convinced him to run off with you. Now
Sarver's taken over his slot. Yeah, purely coincidental. Anyone on
Cayugabirds lately is keenly aware of your uncontrollable
urge for "time in the field." Why was it so important for you to break
200 by May 10?
YOUNG: I just thought it would be cool to do it before the 10th, I didn't
succeed. I did end up seeing an Indigo Bunting on the 11th, before the
NJ trip, for #200.
THE CUP: Congratulation. Enlighten us, now. What is the significance
of the name "Matt," i.e., what's your theory as to why the Basin has a
proportionately high number of them? And in your opinion, is this a
blessing or a curse?
YOUNG: It's a definite blessing, we all actually get along quite well, which
makes it even more special. I guess Ithaca was prime for an "irruption"
THE CUP: And it's still irrupting. Case in point, Jeff's new employee,
Matt Victoria. Watch out! Now the obligatory "what are your glaring
YOUNG: I can't really think of many.
THE CUP: Well, excuuuuuuuse us!
YOUNG: Maybe the two common falcons and the Long-
eared Owl that Sarver found behind my house- yeah, right.
THE CUP: Ouch. How is Jess holding up during all of this crazy birding
turmoil of yours?
YOUNG: She's a saint! She understands my need for time in the
Field, which isn't always easy to find.
THE CUP: Huh? Well, listen, don't move. The Basin needs you!
YOUNG: I wish I didn't have to, but I will still be in striking
distance - 25 minutes away. I'm going to miss everyone a lot. I've
learned a tremendous amount of info from everyone, and I really
appreciate everyone for that.
SCRAWL OF FAME
(If you have an opinion--or insider information--about the art,
science, and/or esthetics of birding or birding-related topics,
write it up for the Scrawl of Fame.)
mmmmmmmmmmmm McILROY MUSINGS mmmmmmmmmmm
Since we didn't get totals (eh-hem) in time to know who's
deserving of this space, we're going to wing-it. Get it?
WHAT WE WOULD DO IF ALLISON WELLS WERE LEADING: Congratulate
her and give her a coveted interview.
WHAT WE WOULD *LIKE* TO DO IF ALLISON WELLS WERE LEADING: Place
a a lea of native plants around her neck and hope a small
flock of unusual migrants finds it.
WHAT WE WOULD DO IF KEVIN MCGOWAN WERE LEADING: Congratulat him
and give him a coveted interview.
WHAT WE WOULD *LIKE* TO DO IF KEVIN MCGOWAN WERE LEADING:
Send him on a wild crow chase - to Lansing.
WHAT WE WOULD DO IF MARTHA FISCHER WERE LEADING: Congratulate her
and give her a coveted interview.
WHAT WE WOULD *LIKE* TO DO IF MARTHA FISCHER WERE LEADING:
Close down Larch Meadows
WHAT WE WOULD DO IF JAY MCGOWAN WERE LEADING: Congratulate him and
give him a coveted interview.
WHAT WE WOULD *LIKE* TO DO IF JAY MCGOWAN WERE LEADING: Hold Tringa
hostage until he promises never to bird in McIlroy territory again.
WHAT WE WOULD DO IF BILL EVANS WERE LEADING: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH
By Caissa Willmer
This month's Bird Brain is the fourth of the continually proliferating
Matts: Matthew J. Williams, to be formal and precise. He is from Sunderland,
Massachusetts, a small town north of Amherst in Western Mass. "My family's
(grandparents' and uncle's) farm," he relates, "is located in that town and
has been for nearly two centuries, so I guess I am 'rooted' there. The family
house is on the edge of a field in a very out-of-the-way location, so it
was very good bird habitat. My parents, James and Patricia Williams,
definitely fostered, if not initiated my interest in birds. They took me
outdoors in the woods around my house and got me fascinated with everything
I saw. My grandmother Agnes Williams took me for nature walks in the woods
and my other grandmother Jane Gifford provided me with my first bird
book, the basic and small Golden book of common eastern birds. Other avid
naturalists/family friends including Larry and Helen Stowe and Gretchen
Whitman (Gretty) were even greater influences on my interest in nature and
birding. They taught me a great deal and fueled my desire to learn about
"I remember an early morning bird hike that Gretty led, I was the
youngest in the group by at least 25 years. I vividly recall seeing an
American Woodcock, a Black-and-white Warbler plus many more.
"Another early experience was going to see a Great Grey Owl that
had appeared up in Hadley, near my home. My parents piled me and my
brothers in the car and on the edge of a grassy field, we joined the crowd
that was observing this wonderful bird."
In addition to those early birding experiences, Matt cherishes the
memories of his trip to Florida last May. "Despite the fact that many of the
birds had headed north (presumably to avoid the heat)," he says, "I was
able to see many of the southern egrets, herons, and shorebirds that I
hadn't been able to see in western New England." And he's looking
forward to many such trips in the future.
Matt is a junior at Cornell, studying Ag & Bio Engineering (ABEN),
which means that he's had two-and-a-half years to bird the Basin, but he
was a bit hampered by lack of adequate transportation. "I made a few trips
up to Sapsucker Woods on my bike in the past few years," he explains, "but
it wasn't until this year, with a car, that I've been able to get off
bird. It also wasn't until this past fall that I heard about the Cayugabirds
mailing list. I certainly wish I had found it sooner. I guess I missed it
because it isn't exactly a 'Cornell' club and wasn't on any lists of
It must be stated here, that Matt was interviewed way back in
February, well before all the spring excitement, to which he has
contributed in such large measure, so that when he was asked about his
favorite birding experiences in the Basin, he had to hark back to the fall.
"My first trip up to Montezuma last fall was very amazing to me.
While I did not see any excessively rare birds, the magnitude of Canada
Geese, Snow Geese, and other waterfowl passing through that area was
just impressive. I had never seen such great numbers of birds. Even
the huge flocks of starlings were impressive to me."
And then he made contact with the other Matts. "On Sunday, January
31, 1999, I decided that it was a nice day to get out for some birding.
After checking out Stewart Park, I continued northward to Myers Point.
From the park area I saw Chris Tessaglia-Hymes (whom I didn't know at the
time) by the marina motioning me over to take a look through his scope at
what initially appeared to be a Blue-winged Teal, but was actually a backlit
Greater Scaup. Soon after, I met the three other Matts (Medler, Sarver,
Young), who were a bit frantic looking for the teal because all they saw was
"They were headed up to Summer Hill, and I was going to follow them
in my car, but they shifted the scopes, and made room for me. It was nice
to finally be able to put faces on people who frequently posted to the list
and to meet fellow bird enthusiasts. We saw at least 30 different species
that day, and after that I was essentially hooked on Basin birding."
And then he was asked a standard question for this column: To what
extent does birding influence the routine of your day-to-day life?
"Birding has been latent in me for a number of years. I always
have loved to ID and take note of the birds that I see while doing other
things, but only recently (late last semester and this semester) have I
actually found myself making trips to places specifically to see birds.
With the exception of my trip to Florida, which was planned as a vacation,
not as a birding trip, the farthest I have traveled specifically for birds
was Binghamton, when I went to see the Anna's Hummingbird. Luckily, it was
there, and I went home with a lifer and not simply two hours of driving. I
will probably be going further this spring."
Matt came to Ithaca in the fall of 1996 as "an undecided freshman in
the Engineering school. I knew I loved science and technology, but I also
knew that I had a deep need to be doing something that dealt with nature in
some way. Surprisingly, I was able to fulfill both of these by affiliating
with the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department in the
fall of my Sophomore year. I am still exploring options for after
graduation. I am considering grad school or maybe working for an
Environmental Engineering or consulting firm, or perhaps the EPA, DEC,
FWS or some other government or non-profit agency. So basically, I am
undecided about my future career plans.
As for birding, I know it will remain a large part of my life, no
matter what. It has been with me for so long, and I am very happy that there
are others in the area to share the enjoyment with. Also, I would like to
mention that I was lucky enough to find a work study job at the Lab of
Ornithology helping Laura and Margaret with Project Feederwatch.
"Finally, I would like to thank anyone who had anything to do with
dubbing me 'Bird Brain of the Month.'"
(Caissa Willmer is a Senior Staff Writer for the Cornell Office of
Development and theater critic for the Ithaca Times.)
YOUR BIRD VERSE HERE
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,
One of my cobirders is morally opposed to using tapes to draw in birds
(rails, for example). What if he's with a bunch of birders and we use
tapes and we get a Sora calling back and he hears it because he's standing
there with us. Does Mr. No Tape get to count the bird? He wouldn't have
heard it if hadn't been with us, using the tape.
--It Matt-ers at Montezuma
Dear It Matt-ers:
Put it this way: You're eating a sandwich and you inadvertently drop
some crumbs on the table. Mr. Purist could, theoretically, eat those crumbs,
even though he didn't make the sandwich, but it wouldn't taste very
good if he did. By all rights, it should make him quite ill.
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at email@example.com)
""""""""" CUP QUOTES """"""""
"My 1999 Basin bird list total is still zero. But, hey, it's early! And, since
reading in Cayugabirds about all the Yard Birds that Ken Rosenberg is tallying
with his 60X scope from his bathroom window, I'm talking to some people at
Caltech who might be able to get me some 'unofficial' time with the Hubble
Telescope pointed down on the Cayuga Basin. (The average citizen is really not
supposed to do this, but these guys -- freshman computer hackers all -- are
GOOD.) 'I'll be seeing you, Ken!' Now I just have to find a field guide
that discusses ID'ing from above ..."
"Total (which I guess is a David Cup total) for the end of April was 82.
My office list total for the end of April was 26. (I don't hang out the
window by my toes the way Steve Kelling does.)"
"Stepped out of the house this morning to hear and then see a Great Crested
Flycatcher. Not a bad welcome to May!"
"Matt, Matt, Matt Williams and I took a cruise up to Summer Hill."
"We need some new kind of raptor to contain this Matt population explosion
before these guys start jumping off the cliff at Aurora Bay!"
"I think they must be a flock of Matts, or perhaps Matt-Matts."
--Linda A. Clougherty
"There was a Winter Wren yesterday late afternoon on the west end of the
big pond in Sapsucker Woods. I'd not have seen it if it wasn't for a more
prompt than usual walk home en route to free ice cream at Ban & Jerry's.
Sorry, no flying saucers. Oh, and there's a Swamp Sparrow in the same area
of the Woods this morning too. Aside from that, it was a slow day for
birding in the woods.
"I had a chance to really study the bird (a very lucky chance indeed as
usually you see MERLIN fly by as if it were late for something important).
I was able to see the faint moustache stripe (indicating it was of the Taiga
race), dark breast barring, and a black tail with thin buffy bands
(indicating it was either a female or immature). Then it suddenly flew
and I was able to see the checkered underwing. (I realized why it flew
away when I looked up to see Sam running from the pond as fast as
he could claiming he saw a UFO). About 20 minutes later the
MERLIN was back in the tree. h, and it wasn't a UFO afterall,
just a plane."
"Tennessee Warbler: A drive-by singer on West Hill along Bundy Road, just
in some scrubby stuff. I heard a snatch of song as we sped by at 55, then
>backed up to confirm. Man, if I could only repeat that feat in the World
Series next week!"
"Come commiserate with fellow birders about warbler neck and other
avian-induced aches and pains tonight at the Cayuga Bird Club meeting--and
hear a most important talk relating to birds and conservation."
"It's raining today. It often is when Jay and I decide to go birding."
"Where is everyone getting all these warblers? My guess is I was just too
early on a cold morning, and the sun hadn't had a chance to really warm
the area yet. Either that or I'm just cursed of late...ask Medler and
Young about that..."
"Remember, it's peek migration time, SO GET OUT AND ENJOY THE BIRDS!!
It was a 24 warbler week for me, and with the right attitude and a good neck,
you too can see these lovely jewels from the tropics!"
"In spite of the easy Worm-eater, I haven't been able to hit 20 West Danby
Warblers in one day yet; 19 yesterday, but today I'm stuck at just 17...
must be a poor year!"
May Your Cup Runneth Over
Allison and Jeff