Year 4, Issue 7-8


*^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^

* ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

* ^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^

* ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

* ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^

*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

sub-population have

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.

@ @ @ @ @ @


@ @ @ @ @ @

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

long ago.

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

Songs of

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 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 clubs.

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."

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



Geo Kloppel

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



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



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 CLUB

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

any jokes."

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

162 Tringa

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

Lansing Listers

Compiled by Matt Medler. Did we mention he's exhausted?

136 Kevin McGowan

44 Matt Williams

Etna Challenge

Compiled by Allison Wells

94 Allison Wells

61 Carol "I've got an Etna Uppy and you don't" Bloomgarden

0 Matt Young

Yard Stickers

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

Office Report

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


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.

Leader's List:

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



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,

Evening Grosbeak

Composite total: 251

Compare with 8/31/98: 252 8/31/97: 256

(You already know Geo. )



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

< <

< <

< < < <

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.)




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

told anything.

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

can go

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

singing along.

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.




(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

Sapsucker Woods.

MEDLER: Who cares about the McIlroy Award? It's just a small-town,

provincial thing.

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.



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

Dear Wondering;

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

""""""""" 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."

--Kevin McGowan

"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."

--Matt Williams

"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


--Martha Fischer

"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!"

--Matt Medler

"We took Perri out birding Saturday so that she could at least get ahead of

the cat."

--Kevin McGowan

"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."

--Karl David

"At last, a serious contender for the Rosenberg Award!"

--Geo Kloppel

"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

and running."

--Matt Young

"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."

--Wes Hochachka

"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."

--Nancy Dickinson

"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."

--Laura Stenzler

May Your Cup Runneth Over

Allison and Jeff