Year 4, Issue 7-8
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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
* Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer
* Animation Supervisor: Jeff Wells
OK, so it's not as big a hoopla as the Women's World Cup, but have you
noticed the big to-do over David Attenborough's - oh, excuse us - SIR David
Attenborough's "The Life of Birds"? The listservs are all a-buzz with
discussion ranging from the cinematography to how "stuffy old buzzard"
Attenborough compares to "Nature's" George Page. Yeah, there's been some
amazing footage: the hummingbird close ups; mate-craving Cocks-of-the Rock
do-whopping up and down on the forest floor, and how 'bout those Dunnocks
(can you believe they showed THAT on PBS?!?)
As fascinating as it all is, a really insightful series would be "The Life
of Cuppers"! Imagine it: "Cuppers are a fascinating breed. See what
lengths some will go to defend their territories" (Cut to Geo Kloppel
scaring off his would-be thief).
"Despite this fierceness, Cuppers are capable of living in harmonic family
units - so long as they're all Cuppers." (Run footage of Jon Kloppel and his
binocular-clad wife and kids.) "That is, ALL family members." (Show Tringa
and Swift McGowan staring out the window at the feeders. ) "The Young
among them have a distinct, furry-faced appearance, believed to give them
an edge in the competition." (Close up of Matt Young with his gotee,
holding the David Cup trophy.) "Some alternate between the fur-face look
(photo of Kevin McGowan in winter) and baring their skin to the elements
(Kevin in summer). This split-image has resulted in a particularly strange
behavior." (Cut to Kevin
in his crow-climbing harness, hanging from an intimidating pine.) "Some
kind of mating ritual? No one really knows. But speaking of rituals, watch
as these Cuppers enter the recesses of this bower, one of the most
distinguished on earth." (Clip of Brian Mingle, Terry Mingle, Allison
Wells, Matt Medler, Fitz, and Nancy Dickinson entering the Lab of O.)
"These Cuppers will remain here indefinitely, as will another segment of
this bower-birder population." (Show Steve Kelling, Ken Rosenberg, and Jeff
Wells entering the various Lab trailers.) "The individuals in this
not lived up to their potential - for example, to them THIS is birding."
(Show Steve at his desk, gazing intently at the wooden Aruba parrot on top
of his computer.) "This Cupper and his trailer mates have been banished,
for fear their slovenly Cup behavior will negatively influence the
especially promising and na ve." (Clip of Allison).
Best of all, the narration would be given not by some pretentious
Cupper-wannabe, but by the origin of this particular species - a Sir David
of our own - Karl David.
Finally, you won't hear requests for money for video cassettes of this
program. No self-congratulatory sponsors after the closing credits. You
just read The Cup 4.7 & 8, that's all.
@ @ @ @ @ @
NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
@ @ @ @ @ @
WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: "Who the heck is Ben Fambrough?" This
was the question we asked in the last issue. Were we correct? Says Ben:
"Well, your guess about being a Cornell student is reasonable I suppose, if
inaccurate. I'm one of the ones supporting a graduate student. Yes, it's
my wife who's the academic now. I left that behind after scribbling some
mediocre poetry in North Carolina. Nowadays, I bring home the bacon. Or
rather, I leave the bacon at work (the spouse is veggie). I'm the Chef de
Cuisine at the finest restaurant in town, Renee's Bistro. I run the kitchen
and am responsible for all the food except the pastry work. This fantastic
job leaves my mornings free for birding, which I do now passionately.
That's right, I ain't yet jaded and hope never to be. I've been at the
restaurant for just about four years now. This has freed Renee. She hasn't
been cooking regularly in the kitchen for a very long time (lucky her!).
And has been recently busy doing stuff like getting married and having a
baby. So I go for days without seeing her. Chances are that, if you been in
recently, I've cooked for you. In the future, I'd love it if you let me
know you were
coming! I always like to know who I'm cooking for."
Ben, you've just become our best friend
IDENTITY CRISIS: Ben isn't the only one with a recent "identity crisis."
Imagine the surprise of yours truly when her coworkers harassed her about
her recent arrest that wasn't! Apparently, there are Cuppers among us who
read the police reports in the Ithaca Journal to see who's been naughty and
there it was: "Alison Wells, age 49, of Trumansburg, for drunken and
disorderly conduct." Let's settle this thing right now: I spell my name with
two "L"s ("Alison," is as different from the name "Allison" as the name
Gertrude is- just ask any Alison); I'm not 49 (plllllease!), I live in
Etna, and I haven't been drunk since I was underage which wasn't all that
GEO KLOPPEL, BIRDER DETECTIVE: If you haven't heard already,
Geo Kloppel might do well to consider a second career, as a detective:
"After lunch yesterday I was walking back to my workshop through the old
orchard. I had just come upon a mixed foraging party of warblers and
titmice when I heard a hollow, muffled 'thump!' from over by our pond.
There came two more thumps as I hastened over there, screened most of the
way by trees. My thoroughly unintimidating little dog Grover was in the
lead, and he arrived about 100 feet ahead of me.
"A burglar had broken a window and entered one of our buildings. This
expletive-inviting miscreant saw me coming, ran out the door and off
through the brush and trees. I chased him down through multiflora roses and
poison ivy, into the woods and down the steep slopes into the gorge,
through the very area that some of you will remember visiting last spring
to see Worm-eating Warbler, Mourning Warblers, Hooded Warblers, Scarlet
Tanagers, Broad-winged Hawks and other interesting birds.
"Alas, the wretched offender got away. He was a young man with
near-shoulder length blondish hair hanging out from under a white painter's
cap, he wore no shirt (he must have got some mean tears from those roses!),
and he carried a bundle wrapped in a green cloth, possibly some object he had
wrapped his shirt around so that he could break the window with less noise.
I spent a couple of hours searching the wider area, camera in hand, and I
also described the guy to all of my neighbors, but it was fruitless.
"The Sherrif's Patrol came out to view the scene and take a report. The
officer in charge looked at the broken window, then looked at the building,
and said 'This is a sauna, right?' 'Sure is!' I replied. 'Huh!... Why in the
world would he want to break into a sauna?'"
We smiled at the ineptitude of petty crime.
"But the WORST thing, the that really brought me down, was receiving good
news too late! Five Common Terns were at the jetty at lunchtime, but I
didn't get word until 6 pm, a full fifteen minutes after Ken posted the fact.
I jumped in the car and rushed down to Ithaca, but the only tern there in
the evening was an adult Caspian.
Sorry about your bad luck, Geo, but dang, you make it sound pretty.
NORTH TO ALASKA: Dreaming of going to Alaska? Or maybe you've already been -
wouldn't you love to relive the experience? The Cornell Lab's renowned
Library of Natural Sounds has come out with another audio guide, "Bird
Alaska". It Features more than 260 species (including many of those tricky
shorebirds that pass through the Basin!) Hear the voices of Asian
rarities, Alaska-specific dialects, and much more. For a sampling, visit
the Lab's web site at http://birds.cornell.edu. You can purchase from Wild
Birds Unlimited at Sapsucker Woods (877) 266-4928 or from ABA (800)
634-7736. Cost for the 2-CD set is $24.95.
MUCK LUCK: The real question isn't "Who won the Muckrace?" it's "How
did Matt do?" Matt, as in Young, Williams, Sarver, and Medler - the team
that garnered the prestige of being sponsored by The Cup. "We didn't win,
but we made you proud. We came in fourth out of 19 teams!" says Captain
Young. Well, that's just dandy, BUT WHY DIDN'T YOU WIN? (For more
on the Young Muckrace perspective, see Kickin' Tail, this issue.) Meanwhile,
congratulations to the more than 60 birders who participated in the third
annual Montezuma Muckrace held Saturday., September 11, in the Montezuma
Wetland Complex. Together, they tallied an impressive 174 bird species
during the 21-hour event. Teams of three or more birders were given from
midnight Friday until 9 PM Saturday to identify as many species of birds as
The Cayuga Bird Club team from Ithaca took top honors, identifying 128
species, a record high for the event (naturally, since Cuppers Meena
Haribal, Bill Evans, and Tom Nix were on the team, as was Cupper
would-be-if-he-didn't-Live-in Michigan Adam Byrne. Sponsored by the
National Audubon Society of New York State and its Owasco
Valley/Fingerlakes chapter, the event is designed to provide a way for
birding enthusiasts to contribute to
conservation work at Montezuma. Past monies from registration fees have
been used to purchase nest boxes, to fund research on rails--little known
chicken-like marsh birds-and to develop a birding trail map for the area.
Teams are typically sponsored by businesses or local Audubon chapters or
BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: Thanks go to long-distance Cupper
Dave Mellinger, California resident, for saving Cup staff from having to cough
up something lame for this column. Here's a fascinating post he submitted
that he came across on the CALBIRDS listserv:
"I have an interesting anecdote about saw-whet owls I thought some of you
might like. At one time I actually got paid to hoot for spotted owls. I
will tell you that the canned recordings I had got no response. For me,
vocal imitation was the most effective way to get a quick response from
spotted owls. I have also imitated most of the owls of the Sierras with
good results. But one night a recording was more effective on saw-whets.
In June 1992, I was working for an independent company contracted to
research spotted owls in the Piute Mountains for Sequoia National Forest. A
crew of 6 worked and camped out for a month. We worked in pairs. One night
my partner and I returned to an empty campsite. As we started the campfire
and made a midnight snack I asked if he objected to some music. He did not.
I proceeded to play some Scott Joplin piano rolls on the CD player.
Suddenly we were surrounded by a family of 8 saw-whet owls just sawing away
in tune to the music. Taken aback I immediately thought we were disturbing
them so I turned off the CD at which time they just looked kind of
disappointed and flew away. It dawned on me, they actually liked the music.
I turned it back on and we enjoyed a saw-whet serenade accompanied by
Joplin for the next twenty minutes. So next time you look for saw-whets
remember they may be the jazziest owls around."
:> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :>
BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
July is the month for early migrant shorebirds, but secretive marshbirds
continued to provide distraction for the sort of birders who highlight the
blanks in their checklists beside the names of the elusive rails and
waders. Basin listers who don't make a strong effort to find the local
breeders in this category, and even some who do, are apt to be surveying
some gaps at midsummer. No serious contender would utterly abandon those
birds to chance, when stake-outs of known locations might prove effective,
and so shorebirders periodically rested from the tired scope-eye that one
develops from too much gazing at distant gray peeps on gray mudflats over
gleaming water, and they searched the lush green marshes instead.
TRICOLORED HERON would not have been a yellow striped blank on anyone's
checklist before the rare vistant was observed by Ken Rosenberg at Tschache
Pool on the 5th, and by others on the 7th and 8th, but afterwards there
came sightings of LEAST BITTERN, AMERICAN BITTERN, BLACK-
CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, SORA, and VIRGINIA RAIL from the
Refuge marshlands north of the Thruway.
Among those species of shorebirds appearing during July, WHITE RUMPED
SANDPIPERS were to be found only at the Seybolt Rd. ponds, beginning on the
20th. White-rumps continued to be seen there regularly into August.
The northern marshlands commanded most of the attention throughout July,
but I'll just mention that attentive Bill Evans detected a fly-over RED
CROSSBILL on July 13th while walking across campus, thus matching Ken's
Dryden feat during the Ithaca June Count.
August began with still more excitement over waders, when Matt Young
encountered a SNOWY EGRET among gulls in the Newman Golf Course. The
bird disappeared almost immediately, and even though a Snowy showed up the
following day in downtown Elmira, few cuppers had high hopes of another
chance within the basin in '99. But just one week later, Matt and Bard
discovered another SNOWY EGRET, this time at Seybolt Road. The bird
remained there for days and days, giving dedicated chasers an embarrassment
of opportunities to try for it. It was last seen departing on the evening
of the 15th. About an hour and a half later a similar young SNOWY EGRET,
quite likely the same individual, was spotted at the Ithaca jetty by a bold
party of freshly educated young adventurers who, under the direction of
seasoned jetty veteran Bill Evans, paddled a canoe out into the gathering
twilight to confirm its identity. The first of the fall-migrant COMMON
NIGHTHAWKS flew by these fine fellows that same evening.
Backing up for a moment, a WILSON'S PHALAROPE was seen at Montezuma
on the 3nd, and a juvenal RED-NECKED PHALAROPE stopped for the afternoon
of August 8th on the vast mats of rotting watermilfoil then floating off
Stewart Park. A SANDERLING was seen on the 1st, the 3rd and the 7th at
Myers Point; WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS were seen again at the Seybolt Road Bait
Ponds on the 8th, and this was also the date of the first of several
reports of WESTERN SANDPIPER at Seybolt Road, reports that to-date linger
in that familiar if not actually traditional corner of limbo reserved for
look-alikes and uncertainties of this notorious denomination. The following
day produced BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, PEREGRINE FALCON and LEAST BITTERN at
Montezuma, BONAPARTE'S GULL at Myers and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON at
Stewart Park. Another WILSON'S PHALAROPE was at Benning Marsh on the 14th.
On the 16th Chris Butler found 2 BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS, the first of many
subsequent sightings at Mays Point, where the species has been rather
dependable this season. On
the 17th 5 COMMON NIGHTHAWKS were seen migrating through Ithaca. Also on
that day 2 young SORAS and 2 VIRGINIA RAILS showed themselves at Benning
Marsh. There was a COMMON TERN at the jetty on the 17th, and a PROTHONOTARY
WARBLER on the 19th at Mays Point for Kevin and Jay McGowan. On the 22nd
Matt Sarver and Brian O'Shea saw an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER north of Duck
Lake, the first STILT
SANDPIPER at Mays Point, and another PEREGRINE FALCON. The awesome seasonal
spectacle of immense clouds of mixed swallows coming to roost in the
marshes was well-underway by this date. Nearly 60 BLACK TERNS put on a
spectacular and unprecedented flycatching show for several days off Stewart
Park. RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES on the move began to produce some sightings
around the basin at this time also.
Beginning on the 26th, many birders viewed one or more BUFF-BREASTED
SANDPIPERS at Benning Marsh or Mays Point, and 2 GLOSSY IBISES put in
the first of a number of days' appearances there. A single LONG-BILLED
DOWITCHER also was descried from the corral on that date. The next day
Gerard Phillips found the first of a number of AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS,
with BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS in several plumages nearby for convenient
comparison. An OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was at the Lab of Ornithology
on the 28th. On the 30th Matt Williams had a WILSON'S WARBLER at the jetty
woods, while up at the north end again yours truly found a RUDDY TURNSTONE
at Mays Point.
Tuesday the 31st of August apparently was entirely uneventful!
(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows. Originally scheduled to
be on the Cayuga Bird Club team for the Muckrace, he later learned
his band had a gig the same day. Well, fiddledee-do.)
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
SIGN ON 100 CLUB DOOR: "Sorry - we don't know who any of
the new Club members are because Matt Medler didn't tell us. We
assume he's still recovering from the Muckrace, which was for a
good cause - conservation and personal glory - so we won't crack
200 200 200 200 200
2 0 0
200 200 200 200
Sign on 200 Club door: "Um, ditto. Except we know what Allison's
Bird 200 was, and since it was Glossy Ibis, we're going to go ahead
and run it."
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
How exhausted was our compiler after the Muckrace? Why, he didn't even
write an intro to his Pilgrims' Progress! No Chris Butler jokes, no clever
James Barry nicknames. Now that's exhaustion!
August 1999 David Cup Totals
236 Matt Young
227 Geo Kloppel
219 Matt Medler
219 Chris Tessaglia-Hymes
217 Matt Sarver
216 Kevin McGowan
214 Jay McGowan
206 Chris Butler
204 Ben Fambrough
201 Allison Wells
194 Meena Haribal
198 Ken Rosenberg
190 Steve Kelling
188 Matt Williams
185 Anne Kendall
184 Jon Kloppel
175 Jeff Wells
157 Rachel Kloppel
154 Pat Lia
147 Nancy Dickinson
138 Marty Schlabach
136 Ben Taft
134 Jim Lowe
127 Anne James
124 Melanie Uhlir
121 Brian Mingle
120 Carol Bloomgarden
119 Bard Prentiss
115 John Fitzpatrick
111 Terry Mingle
107 Kim Kline
107 Aaron Kloppel
103 Catherine Sandell
102 Jeremy Mingle
99 Sam Kelling
96 Taylor Kelling
93 Perri McGowan
90 Tom Nix
83 Swift McGowan
63 Andy Farnsworth
57 Martha Fischer
51 Teddy " Wells
48 Mimi Wells
44 Ramona Kloppel
21 Rob Scott
0 Ralph Paonessa
August 1999 McIlroy Award Totals
Compiled by a still-exhausted Matt Medler
155 Allison Wells
147 Kevin McGowan
132 Jay McGowan
121 Bill Evans
120 Jeff Wells
116 Jim Lowe
112 Ken Rosenberg
112 Matt Medler
105 Chris Butler
66 Bill Evans
53 Martha Fischer
August 1999 Evans Trophy Totals
Compiled by Matt Medler, who's still exhausted
186 Matt Young
175 Ken Rosenberg
174 Kevin McGowan
169 Jay McGowan
135 Allison Wells
128 Matt Medler
105 Jeff Wells
97 Bard Prentiss
Compiled by Matt Medler. Did we mention he's exhausted?
136 Kevin McGowan
44 Matt Williams
Compiled by Allison Wells
94 Allison Wells
61 Carol "I've got an Etna Uppy and you don't" Bloomgarden
0 Matt Young
129 Kelling Family, Caroline, NY
124 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden, NY
122 Rosenberg/James Family, Dryden, NY
115 John Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY
103 Geo Kloppel and Pat Lia, West Danby, NY
82 Nancy Dickinson, Mecklenberg, NY
63 Wells Family, Etna, NY
61 Carol Bloomgarten, Etna, NY
50 Fredericks Family, Van Etten, NY
46 Jeff Holbrook, Canton, NY
38 Melanie Uhlir, Etna, NY
88 Wes Hochachka & friends (including Ken Rosenberg?) , Green Trailer,
Lab of O
46 Steve Kelling & friends, Tan Trailer, Lab of O
33 Allison Wells, Main Building, Lab of O
26 Melanie Uhlir, Tan Trailer, Lab of O
3 Matt Medler, Windowless cave of LNS, Lab of O
LEADER'S LIST LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
By Geo Kloppel
NOTE: Matt sent me a list of 236, and claimed 236, so we had a novel
accord; but then I noticed that he didn't list TRICOLORED HERON. I
know he reported seeing that bird at Tschache on the 8th of July, and
I'm assuming he has not recanted, so I've added it to his list, making
his actual total _237_, not 236.
Our absconded leader, who may finally have enough homework to keep him
occupied, nonetheless retained a commanding lead through August, finishing
the month with a list that represents over 94% of all the species seen by
every birder in the basin yet this year. Here is Matt Young's list of 237
C & R-t Loon,P-b,R-n & H Grebe,D-c Cormorant,Am & Least Bittern,Great Blue
Heron,Great Egret,Snowy Egret,Tricolored Heron,GLOSSY IBIS,Green Heron,B-c
Night Heron,T & M Swan,G W-f Goose,Snow Goose,ROSS'GOOSE,C Goose,W
Duck,G-w & B-w Teal,Am Black Duck,Mallard,N Pintail,N Shoveler,Gadwall,
Eu & 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,Sora,C Moorhen,Am Coot,B-b,Golden & Semi
Plover,Killdeer,G & L Yellowlegs,Sol,Spotted,Upland,Least,Semi,W-r,Baird's,
Stilt & Pect Sandpiper,R Turnstone,Dunlin,RUFF,C Snipe,Am Woodcock,W &
R-n Phalarope,L-b & S-b Dowitcher,Sanderling,BUFF-BREASTED
SANDPIPER,Bonaparte's,R-b,H,I,LB-b,G & GB-b Gull,Casp,Common,Forster's &
Black Tern,R & M Dove,B-b & Y-b Cuckoo,E-Screech,G-H,Barred,S-e & S-w Owl,C
Nighthawk,Ch Swift,R-t Hummingbird,B Kingfisher,R-b,D,H & P Woodpecker,N
Flicker,Y-Bellied Sapsucker,O-s,Y-b,Ac,Al,Wi,L & G-c Flycatcher,E Phoebe,E
W Peewee,E Kingbird,H Lark,Tree,N.R-w,Bank,Cliff & Barn Swallow,P Martin,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,W & Sw Thrush,Veery,A Robin,G Catbird,N Mockingbird,Brown
Thrasher,Am Pipit,BOHEMIAN WAXWING,C Waxwing,N Shrike,E Starling,
B-h,W,R-e & Y-t Vireo,B-w,Tenn & Nash Warbler,N Parula,Yellow,Ch-s,
Magnolia,Cape May,B-t Blue,Y-r,B-t Green,Blackburnian,Pine,Prairie,Palm,
Bay-b,Blackpoll,Cerulean & B&w Warbler,Am Redstart,Protho & W-e Warbler,
Ovenbird,L & N Waterthrush,Mourning Warbler,C Yellowthroat,Hooded,
Wilson's & Canada Warbler,S Tanager,N Cardinal,R-b Grosbeak,I Bunting,
E Towhee,Am Tree,Chip,F,V,Sav,Grasshopper,Henslow's,Fox,Song,Swamp,
W-c & W-t Sparrow,D-e Junco,L Longspur,S Bunting,Bobolink,E Meadowlark,
R-W,Rusty & YELLOW HEADED BLACKBIRD,C Grackle,B-h Cowbird,Balt
& Orchard Oriole,H Finch,Purple Finch,Red Crossbill,Am Goldfinch,House
COMPOSITE DEPOSIT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT
Although he has moved out of the Basin and has much fresh but irrelevant
territory to distract him, our august mahatma (editors insert promised
centerfold here) is sure to try for a few more Basin birds in the remaining
months. There are still plenty of possibilities. How about an Avocet, or a
Red Knot, or a Long-eared Owl? And even if the window for Connecticut
Warbler has closed by the time you read this, we must be due for a
Hudsonian Godwit, and aren't we all just waiting for the winter finches,
Snowy Owls and other boreal surprises?
Among the birds already seen in the Basin in '99, there remain a
dwindling few that Matt wasn't around for (no doubt he'll pick up a few
of these in September or October):
Black Scoter,Peregrine Falcon,Merlin,Sandhill Crane,Little Gull,Thayer's
Gull,Long-eared Owl,Whip-poor-will,Gray-cheeked Thrush,Golden-winged
Warbler,Kentucky Warbler,Orange-crowned Warbler,Lincoln's Sparrow,
Composite total: 251
Compare with 8/31/98: 252 8/31/97: 256
(You already know Geo. )
< COACH'S CORNER <
< < < <
Matt Medler isn't the only one who's been exhausted lately. Cup staff has
been too wiped out lately to enlist the help of anyone outside their
immediate realm of existence, so up steps Jeff Wells to bat us through
another two months of Cupping in the Basin
COACH WELLS: As a write this, having just participated in the Montezuma
Muckrace the day before, one of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone
for finding new birds for your David Cup list is to take a look at the final
tally from the Muckrace. The participants found 174 species during that
one 21-hour period and, though the Muckrace boundaries do extend somewhat
north of the Cayuga Lake Basin, you can bet that the majority of those
species were found within the Basin. The Cayuga Bird Club Mudhens
found Buff-breasted Sandpipers at the Savannah mucklands, late
Olive-sided Flycatchers were seen in several locations, a Eurasian Wigeon
was found in Mays Point Pool, most of the expected warbler species were
also counted. What does this mean? It means that there's still time for you
to find a lot of species if you just get out there and look carefully. If
you want to find fall warblers, and perhaps that elusive Philadelphia
Vireo, the best thing to do is to find chickadee flocks and bring them
closer by pishing or whistling screech owl imitations. Almost every
chickadee flock will contain at least one warbler or vireo species. This
is also the time to begin searching for Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. One
was reported on the Muckrace but the best place to look for the species is
at Alan Treman Marine Park near Hog Hole. The overgrown field north of the
marina has probably
yielded more of the Basin Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow records than
any other location. Usually the species is not found until late September
or early October and the best way to search for it is to get a bunch
of people and walk across the field in a line spaced about ten feet apart.
As the sparrows flush in front of you, watch for a chunky-looking sparrow
with a short, pointed tail that flies low and drops back into the grass
within about 20 feet. If you can get your binoculars on it, you may
see the orangey colored face, the white lines on the back, and the gray cap.
As we move through September into October, a trip or two more to
Montezuma's May's Point Pool will net you some of the later arriving
shorebird species. White-rumped Sandpipers and Long-billed Dowitchers
have already appeared at Montezuma and should continue, while Dunlin
will show up soon. Cayuga Lake itself will begin hosting more
migrant waterbirds so you can pick up the ones missed during spring
migration. Sea ducks, including scoters and Oldsquaw, will be grounded
under rainy weather conditions. Brant can sometimes be seen in the
hundreds, or even
thousands, in the early morning flying south in irregularly-shaped flocks.
With the various terns that have appeared off Steward Park, perhaps this
will be the year that a Sabine's Gull or a jaegar decides to actually spend
some time at the south end of the lake.
Hawks are migrating now as well and some time on Mt. Pleasant should
help you to fill in any holes on your list. Broad-winged Hawks wills be
passing through for another week or two, though probably in fairly small
numbers. Golden Eagles will begin moving over in mid to late October.
If you need falcons your best bet is always to spend time at May's Point
Pool. When the shorebirds fly up scan carefully for either a little dark
Merlin bullet or a massive fighter jet Peregrine.
(Jeff Wells is director of bird conservation for National Audubon of
of New York State. He was the one wearing the "Join the Muckrace" sandwich
board in the early part of September.)
! KICKIN' TAIL! !
What better way to prove you haven't really moved from the Basin 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 moved-out-of-the-Basin-sort-of his/her
way to the top of the David Cup list. We welcome back the fanatical, magical
Mighty Matt Young!
THE CUP: By the time you get this, you will have returned victorious from the
Muckrace! Are you pleased with your (and the team's) performance?
YOUNG: Yes, I'm pleased with our performance. It would have been nice to
win, but you can't win them all. It was a very respectable total. One
disturbing thing: the way I figure it, we helped the winning team get four
birds, which in turn they used to get other birds and vice versa. We weren't
THE CUP: Well, then, I think you should be given four birds. Let Allison
talk it over with the judges (Jeff). Ok. She's back. The judge says you
ahead and add four birds so long as you take them from Bill Evans' Cup
totals. Oh, wait. Never mind. Bill doesn't have four birds to spare, except
in his usual McIlroy dreams. What are some of the Muckrace highlights? Not
just birds, but interesting moments among the Matt's.
YOUNG: We had a brief moment of team turmoil, where I proceeded to get a
bagel bounced off my forehead, but we re-grouped quickly.
THE CUP: Do you have video of that?
YOUNG: The highlights were the end of the day at May's Pt. 40+ birders
watching lots of shorebirds, waterfowl, a peregrine Falcon, Glossy Ibis,
and a Eurasion Wigeon.
THE CUP: How did it feel having been sponsored by the most elite
publication in birding circles, The Cup?
YOUNG: It was an honor. I just hope next year we can return with first.
THE CUP: Good answer! Has your Basin birding suffered since moving
out of the Basin? How is birding different in your new locale?
YOUNG: Yes, it's definitely hurt my Basin birding, even my overall birding.
The upland habitat here is a bit lacking. There's little in the way of
conifers. Joe Brin did take me around the area. It seems that Whisky
Hollow is the hot spot.
THE CUP: Yeah, but what about birding places?
YOUNG: It's very odd. There are lots of hemlocks, but with
lots of breeding Ceruleans, Yellow Throated-Vireos, and only a
splattering of some of the more typical birds you find in this kind of
habitat - Blackburnians, Black-throated Greens.
THE CUP: Do you think you'll be able to pull off a repeat Cup victory,
given these challenges? You'd be the first!
YOUNG: I think so. Shoot, if I was still in the Basin, birding all the
Time, the record of 254 would be a real possibility.
THE CUP: It's not too late. What's in your CD player?
YOUNG: Birds in the meadow. We play it for our budgie. It loves
THE CUP: Hmm. That explains your bird # 236 Tell us about your
work on the upcoming Winter Finch project, with BirdSource.
YOUNG: This winter I will be helping the folks at BirdSource track
irruptive winter finches. If it happens. They have a new program
where you can basically zero in on a street corner to put in your
sightings. It's much more precise. I'll be keeping track of RBA
reports and other reports, so I can put the lazy people's sightings into
this new program.
THE CUP: Hear that, all you lazy people? Matt, glad you're still hanging
around in the Basin. Come back often!
YOUNG: Once a Basin birder, always a Basin birder.
SCRAWL OF FAME
(If you have an opinion--or insider information--about the art,
science, and/or aesthetics of birding or birding-related topics,
write it up for the Scrawl of Fame.)
mmmmmmmmmmmm McILROY MUSINGS mmmmmmmmmmm
"Matt, since you haven't had any KT attention - and probably never will - we
thought we'd get you 15 minutes by way of the McIlroy Musings. Or, more to
the point, since we had to do your work for you last issue, we're getting
our revenge now..." -The Cup editors
THE CUP: We'll start with an easy one: Why are your McIlroy totals so low?
Although you moved from Ithaca, you still have prime job real estate in
MEDLER: Who cares about the McIlroy Award? It's just a small-town,
THE CUP: Provincial is good. Ain't that right, Geo?
MEDLER: I can't be confined by artificial constraints like town lines.
When you start dealing with drainages, then you're talking.
THE CUP: Hey, speaking of drainages, what ever happened to former Cupper
and your LNS co-worker Steve Pantle?
MEDLER: Steve is actually really good about doing the occasional lunchtime
birding with me. We make our annual scoter run to Dryden Lake at some
point during the spring, and I even saw my life Northern Shrike with him
and Dave Ross two years ago during a chilly December lunch hour. As for
why Steve isn't in the Cup...I guess he's just not man enough.
THE CUP: Matt, tell us a little about your trip to Costa Rica. And please
don't go on and on about how hard you worked. We all know this was just a
MEDLER: Hey, watch it there! I really did work hard while I was down there,
and LNS has many hours of quality recordings as proof.
THE CUP: Yes, I heard the one of you falling on cactus - some good wailing
there. Greg Budney played it at a Lab staff meeting. Everyone applauded.
MEDLER: The trip was outstanding.
THE CUP: Pun intended?
MEDLER: I spent a month in Santa Rosa National Park, in Guanacaste
(northwestern Costa Rica). The forest is dry forest, so the number of
birds was not overwhelming, which was perfect for my introduction to the
tropics. I spent most of time walking around on trails in the park,
recording and watching birds (and monkeys). After spending over two years
archiving tropical bird sounds, it was really great to be seeing and
hearing birds like tinamous, parrots, motmots, trogons, toucans,
woodcreepers, antbirds, manakins, etc. for the first time. On the rare
days when I did take a break, I was able to visit a few of the beautiful
beaches along the Pacific, where I saw frigatebirds and boobies. And, to
top it all off, at the end of my stay I took a day to hike up a nearby
volcano (Rinc n de la Vieja) which, to my surprise, is the only active
volcano in the area. That was amazing! It was a great trip, but if you're
getting the idea that I didn't work hard, I have a picture of me after
digging the car out of the mud to prove otherwise.
THE CUP: How are things at the new place. Got a feeder up yet?
MEDLER: I haven't spent much time there yet, but it's been great so far.
There was a Wood Thrush singing every morning back in June, and Sarver
heard a screech owl out back one night. As for the feeder, I'm working on it.
BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH
Sign on Bird Brain door: "Out of order"
(Caissa Willmer is a Senior Staff Writer for the Cornell Office of
Development and theater critic for the Ithaca Times.)
Hey, Fambrough, we're waiting...
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...
Now that Matt Young has moved out of the Basin, do I stand a chance
at winning the David Cup?
--Wondering after the Wanderer in the Basin
Finally, you have discovered that the secret to winning the David Cup
is really more about psychology than birding. Whether or not Mr. Young
lives in the Basin actually never had any bearing on your chances at
victory, but since his leaving has given you a psychological boost, go with
it. And while you're at it, spend a little time birding.
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at firstname.lastname@example.org)
""""""""" CUP QUOTES """"""""
"I took the day off and Jay and I went birding around the lake. We
missed nearly every bird we were searching for."
"It is back to classes tomorrow, but this evening, I spent watching at
least 50 Black Terns soar, dive and hover like large swallows off the west
end of Stewart Park."
"Cool sounds can be heard at 5:00 a.m. or so. My dog gets me up at this
hour. While waiting for her this morning, I heard many chip notes from
birds flying over or arriving. I'm told they are Wood Thrushes, though I do
not recognize the sounds myself. I live in the city not far from Rt. 13,
and can hear them surprisingly well. Really NEAT sounds. Amazing
"Just a quick post to note that Cullen, Brian, Sarver, Young, and I
saw 5+ Common Nighthawks flying over downtown Ithaca last night. Ahh-
there's nothing quite like seeing Caprimulgids!"
"We took Perri out birding Saturday so that she could at least get ahead of
"Elaine and I overnighted in the Basin Aug 12/13 on our way to
Massachusetts to visit friends and family. We were staying in Freeville. We
went for a walk the morning of the 13th (Friday!) to make a long story
short it turned out to be what I believe was an immature FORK-TAILED
FLYCATCHER. I called the hotline and left a message but evidently Chris
too must have been on
vacation, for there was no update until just two days ago. I'm sorry I didn't
make a more determined effort to report this bird."
"At last, a serious contender for the Rosenberg Award!"
"Well, Jess and I went to work today moving ourselves into our new abode
in Phoenix, NY(~20 miles north of Syracuse and ~20 miles south of
Oswego). The apartment is pretty much finished and the feeders are up
"With all of this talk about energy-conscious Black Terns taking the low
altitude route out of the Basin, I've finally felt compelled to note that
at roughly 12:30 P.M. yesterday there was a Caspian Tern flying (and
calling) as it flew south-east over the intersection of Judd Falls Rd. and
Tower Rd. in Cornell campus. I can only conclude that Black Terns are
migratory sluggards in comparison."
"After a few drops of rain fell in the afternoon, a peewee started its
plaintive call in the yard-- another yard first for the year. I hear one
once a year, always after a rain."
"Ton and I spent yesterday evening between May's Point and Tschache Pool
to observe the probably hundreds of thousands if not more of SWALLOWS.
They amass over the marshes south of May's Point pond and over Tschache
each evening before settling into the reeds for the night. This is an
unbelievable sight, which I urge everyone to try to view!! The sky becomes
like a cloud of pepper and builds in density of birds until the light fails."
May Your Cup Runneth Over
Allison and Jeff