Year 4, Issue 9-10


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*The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition.

*  Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells

*  Basin Bird Highlights: "Thoreau" Geo Kloppel

*  Pilgrim's Progress Compiler: "Stoinking" Matt Medler

*  Leader's List, Composite Deposit: "Thoreau" Geo Kloppel

*  Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer

*  Acrobat consultant: Jeff Wells




                     @   @    @    @    @     @

                         NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

                       @   @    @    @     @     @


How did you spend your Sunday afternoon? The Cup editors raked the leaves

around their yard, transferred wood from the pile by the lawn's edge to the

stack inside the garage, chatted with our neighbors. After that, Allison


on a poem while Jeff read scientific journals, "Thistle and Shamrock"

lilting Celtic melodies from the radio. Now, as Jeff riffs on his trumpet

over a jazz improvisation tape, Allison settles in to work on The Cup and

bursts out, "What's happened to us?"

It takes a moment for Jeff to figure out that what Allison means is, "Why

didn't we go chasing winter finches at Summerhill? We still need Black

Scoter, how come we didn't swing down to Stewart Park for at least a quick

sweep? Good

lord, couldn't we at least have spent a little time on the back deck

scoping for Golden Eagles?


The answer, we couldn't have. Or rather, yes, we could have but we

didn't.  We did what we did and - are you sitting down- we're not sorry! We

enjoyed ourselves. Sure, Allison heard a couple of Evening Grosbeaks fly

over while splitting kindling, but even if she hadn't, she would've ended

her afternoon feeling just fine.


Well, how did you spent your day? Did you go traipsing out hoping for early

white-winged gulls? Did you sit around on your duffer watching your African

violets grow? It doesn't matter, we just hope you enjoyed yourself (and trust

you didn't see the bird that puts you in the David Cup Top Ten and bumps

Allison out).


We also hope that, despite our comfy-cozy intro, you enjoy

The Cup 4.9 & 10. Remember, there's lots more Cup to come...and there's

always next Sunday.


                     @   @    @    @    @     @

                         NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

                       @   @    @    @     @     @


SHOT IN THE DARK: Did you miss the last edition of The Shot Glass?

Compiler Matt Medler thought he was doing a good deed by sending it

only to David Cup participants. He didn't realize that the people

who actually read these publications are the non-participants, since the

Cuppers themselves are too busy birding to read (witness the intro to this

issue of The Cup!) So if you'd like to see who stomped over who last

month, e-mail Allison at Be sure to include a few

barbs at Matt that we can include in the next Cup Quotes.


MOVING PICTURES: If you're a member of the Finger Lakes Land Trust,

you probably couldn't help but well up with pride when you got to page five.

There in the Volunteer Spotlight was our own Geo Kloppel! Geo is a steward

for the Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve in West Danby. He's also

one of the voices of reason (perhaps the only one) here at Cup Headquarters,

churning out Thoreau-ish Highlights columns and dutifully keeping Matt

Young's nose to the Leader's List grindstone. Geo, congratulations

on your recognition. We promise not to draw squiggly eyes on your picture.

And pencil in a big fat cigar. And big fuzzy eyebrows. And write words

like "The FLLT's The Land Steward publication is ok but The Cup rules!"

coming out of your mouth. Oops. Too late.



at the Wells Birdland Bistro, but we're not sure when. Play it safe and

black out all of January and February. Details to follow.


PITCH PERFECT: Since one of The Cup editors is employed by the Cornell

Lab of Ornithology and the other is housed there, we feel obliged to pitch

the heck out of Lab projects (remember, the Lab director is not only a Cup

subscriber, he's also a half-hearted Cupper). The IRRUPTIVE BIRD SURVEY

is collecting observations of irruptive species, including winter finches.

PROJECT FEEDERWATCH needs bird-feeding enthusiasts to count the

numbers and kinds of birds that visit their feeders November thru early April.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the GREAT BACKYARD BIRD

COUNT, a four-day bird counting spectacular to take place February 18-21,


The CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT is now online through BirdSource, a Cornell

Lab-National Audubon managed web site. To find out more about any of these

projects, go to Have fun!


BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: You read in our intro that Jeff was

Jammin' just now. Well, he sounded damn fine. Of course, the songs he was

really mind blowing on were "A Fine Romance," "Silver Lining," and "All the

Things You Are" - you don't have to think too hard to realize this was less

about practicing his horn than lamenting his fall as a Cupper. Alas, his

final number suggested he may already be looking ahead to next year's David

Cup: "Pick Yourself Up, Wipe Yourself Off, Start All Over Again".


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

                        BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS


                             Geo Kloppel


A few weeks ago I was hunting for sparrows in an out-of-the-way corner of a

well-known birding area near Ithaca. Two noisy Carolina Wrens lured me into

the thickets beside a wooded ravine, where I discovered a hidden shanty. No

one was about, but there were clothes drying on a line before the door. I

imagined they might have been washed in the lake under cover of darkness. I

nearly stumbled over a tupperware flat of rather stunted homegrown

smokables as I hastily back-tracked out of this inadvertent intrusion.


Another walk featuring Carolina Wrens led me to a shanty on the inlet

valley hillside near Buttermilk Park. Not long abandoned, it still had its

stovepipe chimney. Layers of threadbare rugs covered the dirt floor inside.

Though located on the forested hillside, this structure resembled the domed

Marsh Wren's nest in that it was built from materials freely obtainable

nearby, lashed to the surrounding vegetation for support, and not likely to

endure for more than a few seasons.


Hank "the woodsman" Krauss, perhaps unusual among squatters for being a

devoted feeder of wild birds, also had wrens, House Wrens, near his

cleverly concealed shanty in the state forest on Bald Hill. It seems that

there is some harmony in habitat preference which links wrens and

squatters. Local history suggests that this principal extends even to the

wetland haunts of Marsh Wrens.


A set of six Grace Miller White novels in good condition was recently

offered for $175. At c. 350 pages each, that's eight and one third cents

per page, or a dollar a dozen, for those engaging stories about a local

girl who lived among squatters in the marshland at the foot of Cayuga Lake

a century ago. A straggling shanty-town had existed there since early Erie

Canal days. (See "Squatters of the Storm Country" by Richard Herson, NY

Folklore Quarterly, for an account.) Referred to as "The Silent City" by

civilized Ithacans, it was doubtless a great eyesore, and had a fearsome

reputation, upheld by the famous brawlers among its inhabitants. It was a

goldmine for stories about chicken thievery, peculiar characters, and much

other fine raw material for the novelist. Millions subsequently viewed the

screen adaptation starring Mary Pickford. During a hundred years of

untitled occupation the squatters carried all sorts of refuse materials

into the swampland to become fill, until they were finally ejected in 1925

when the city took possession of all the inlet lands along the old Glenwood

Road. The shanties were knocked down, the road itself was grandly

rechristened Taughannock Boulevard, and the city fathers declared

intentions to remodel the territory in a beautification campaign. The

result is that we walk dryshod over those former wetlands today.


In 1911 it was still possible for Arthur Allen to describe the rich

wildlife in Ithaca's cattail marshes - weasels, mink, Coots and Gallinules,

American and Least bitterns, Soras, Virginia Rails and Marsh Wrens - but

the end was at hand. The engineered control of lake level, a development

linked to construction of the New York State Barge Canal at the north end

of the lake, and continuing reclamation efforts, i.e. filling and draining,

resulted in the destruction of Ithaca's wetlands. Foster Parker, a

contemporary rush-cutter and breeder of ducks and pheasants from Savannah

NY, wrote to Louis Agassiz Fuertes in 1916 that the rails and other nesting

water birds were likewise disappearing from the Montezuma marshes along the

Seneca River due to the operation of the water-control dams and locks. The

squatters and the Marsh Wrens were both driven out of Ithaca's waterside

community, and their habitat was transformed to prevent their return. Today

when we want to see rails, bitterns, moorhens and Marsh Wrens our best bet

is to make a one hundred-mile round trip in the automobile to visit the

restored portions of the Montezuma marshes. But there still remain some

breeding spots for marsh birds closer to Ithaca, and it's a curious fact,

not widely recognized, that there is still some habitat for secretive

squatters in our area too. Look for wrens and shanties together.


During September Montezuma continued to be the place to bird, as the list

from the third annual Muckrace reveals - GLOSSY IBIS, Black-crowned Night

Heron, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Virginia Rail, Eurasian Wigeon,

Bonaparte's Gull, Common Tern, American Golden and Black-bellied Plovers,

White-rumped, Baird's, and Stilt Sandpipers, Buff-breasted Sandpiper,

Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers, Black-billed and Yellow-billed

Cuckoos, Common Nighthawk, Long-eared Owl, Red-headed Woodpecker,

Olive-sided Flycatcher, Swainson's Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush,

Philadelphia Vireo, and Lincoln's Sparrow were among the 170+ species found

that day. Montezuma continued to produce after the Muckrace was over,

giving us Dunlin beginning on the 13th, Red Phalarope on the 17th,

Hudsonian Godwits beginning on the 21st, Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the

14th and 22nd, Wilson's Phalarope and Lesser Black-backed Gull on the 23rd.


Not ALL of the action was at the north end. Around the Lighthouse Jetty

Common Terns were seen on September 9th and 10th, Sanderling on the 16th,

and a late Common Nighthawk on the 21st. Myer's Point produced

Black-bellied Plover, Sanderling, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Baird's

Sandpiper during September, but hopes for an Avocet faded. A few more

Lincoln's Sparrows were reported from various quarters, also White-crowned

Sparrows, Wilson's Warblers, etcetera. A lone Pine Siskin flew over Ken

Rosenberg's house on the 25th.


October's best find must certainly be the 5 LAUGHING GULLS seen by Bard

Prentiss at Dryden Lake on the 5th. More Pine Siskins began to turn up at

feeders around the region. The season's first Brant were seen flying over

Dryden on the 3rd.  A Cattle Egret was seen by many at Benning Marsh

between the 8th and the 11th. Chris Tessaglia-Hymes had an Orange-crowned

Warbler at the Lighthouse woods on the 7th, and Ken Rosenberg had another

in his yard on the 11th. A Red-necked Grebe and a small group of Black

Scoters were seen from the jetty on the 20th. The very spare,

seldom-noticed fall migration of Dickcissels down the east side of Cayuga

produced one or perhaps two audible birds at the Lab of Ornithology again

this year. Though these may be migrants from easternmost Ontario, some hope

that the new millennial atlas work will uncover breeding locations in

central New

York, more than a century after Dickcissels gave up regular nesting in our



At MNWR a Short-eared Owl was seen on the 14th, Ross' Goose on the 15th

through the 18th,  2 Red Phalaropes on the 16th, a Greater White-fronted

Goose on the 17th. There were more Western Sandpiper reports from May's

Point on the 24th and 25th, Greater White-fronted Goose and Hudsonian

Godwit again on the 27th. On the 31st both Hudsonian Godwit and Cattle

Egret were seen again.


All three Scoter species were found on Cayuga Lake during October, along

with Long-tailed Ducks, and a number of flights of Brant were spotted. The

first Golden Eagle of the season was seen from the Cornell Arboretum. Tree

Sparrows and Fox Sparrows were both reported. Red Crossbills were present

at Summer Hill. Small flocks of Evening Grosbeaks began to appear

throughout the area, and by the end of the month everyone was anticipating

Redpolls. November will tell. And by December we'll be looking out for Pine



(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs fiddle bows. He plays in an old-time band

called the Crumtown Ramblers. We don't know what the name means.)


100      100      100      100      100      100      100       100

                               100 CLUB

100      100       100      100       100       100       100


Perri McGowan's 100th Bird: Great Egret

Perri is also a fabulous fiddle player. Except to her finer tastes,

it's known as the "violin."


200          200          200           200           200

                           2     0    0

   200             200                            200           200


Matt Williams' 200th Bird: Ruddy Turnstone

He stinks at ping pong.


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


Compiled by Matt Medler


"Jeff and Allison,


      Here are the totals for October.  I don't really feel inspired to

write an introduction for any of them, so feel free to add something.




October 1999 David Cup Totals


244 Matt Young

239 Geo Kloppel

238 Matt Medler

238 Matt Sarver

230 Chris Tessaglia-Hymes

229 Kevin McGowan

225 Jay McGowan

225 Matt Williams

224 Meena Haribal

223 Chris Butler

222 Ken Rosenberg

220 Ben Fambrough

220 Steve Kelling

210 Allison Wells

198 Bard Prentiss

195 Jeff Wells

192 Bill Evans

185 Anne Kendall

184 Jon Kloppel

184 Catherine Sandell

175 John Fitzpatrick

171 Nancy Dickinson

163 Tringa

158 Ben Taft

157 Rachel Kloppel

154 Pat Lia

149 Anne James

140 Marty Schlabach

135 Jim Lowe

127 Melanie Uhlir

125 Sam Kelling

123 Taylor Kelling

121 Brian Mingle

120 Carol Bloomgarden

111 Terry Mingle

109 Kim Kline

107 Aaron Kloppel

107 Perri McGowan

102 Jeremy Mingle

  90 Tom Nix

  84 Swift A. Cat

  63 Andy Farnsworth

  57 Martha Fischer

  56 Teddy Wells

  50 Mimi Wells

  44 Ramona Kloppel

  21 Rob Scott

   0 Ralph Paonessa


October 1999 McIlroy Award Totals


165 Allison Wells

154 Kevin McGowan

142 Bill Evans

142 Jay McGowan

126 Ken Rosenberg

120 Jeff Wells

116 Jim Lowe

112 Matt Medler

105 Chris Butler

  53 Martha Fischer


Compiled by Matt Medler


October 1999 Evans Trophy Totals


197 Ken Rosenberg

186 Matt Young

175 Kevin McGowan

172 Jay McGowan

143 Bard Prentiss

140 Allison Wells

128 Matt Medler

105 Jeff Wells


October 1999 Lansing Totals


142 Kevin McGowan

  October 1999 Etna Challenge


94 Allison Wells

61 Carol Bloomgarden



THE YARD STICK ----------------------------


148 Rosenberg/James Family, Dryden, NY

140 Kelling Family, Caroline, NY

130 John Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY

128 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden, NY

109 Geo Kloppel and Pat Lia, West Danby, NY

  93 Nancy Dickinson, Mecklenberg, NY

  66 Wells Family, Etna, NY

  61 Carol Bloomgarten, Etna, NY

  50 Fredericks Family, Van Etten, NY

  46 Jeff Holbrook, Canton, NY

  42 Melanie Uhlir, Etna, NY




88 Wes Hochachka & friends, Green Trailer, Lab of O

46 Steve Kelling & friends, Tan Trailer, Lab of O

41 Allison Wells, Main Building, Lab of O

40 Melanie Uhlir, Tan Trailer, Lab of O




By Geo Kloppel


Matt Young has been very busy, too busy to chase a number of nice birds

that have turned up recently. So busy in fact that I finally sent him the

following list of 244 species for quick certification. At that he was quite

prompt, and so here they all are for our collective amazement:


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, Peregrine Falcon,Merlin,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,H Godwit,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,L-e,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,G-c & 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,P Siskin,Am Goldfinch,E Grosbeak,House





Matt's percentage has actually dropped 2 tenths of a point since our last

examination, but he has still managed to keep his neck just above the mark

at 94% of all the species seen in the basin yet this year. Altogether there

have been 15 additional species found by other birders within the basin

thus far in 1999:


Cattle Egret,Brant,Black Scoter,Sandhill Crane,Little Gull,Thayer's

Gull,Laughing Gull,Red Phalarope,Western

Sandpiper,Whip-poor-will,Golden-winged Warbler,Kentucky

Warbler,Orange-crowned Warbler,Lincoln's Sparrow,Dickcissel


The composite total as of 10/31/99 - 259


The window of opportunity has not quite closed yet. Among reasonable

possibilities are three more winter finches, Snowy Owl, several gulls...

263 is an attainable finish, if the gods are kind. That's without invoking

any of a number of genuine longshots - Purple Sandpiper, anyone?


(You already know Geo.)



                      <  COACH'S CORNER      <

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

                     <           <

                      <         <

                        < < < <


It's now Wednesday evening. Getting late. No more flowery intros.

Jeff's coaching again. We ain't sayin' no more about it.


COACH J. WELLS: Here we are in November with the leaves gone but the

days still warm enough to wear t-shirts.  Well, that might be a slight

exaggeration-only about a third of the days are that warm.  The other half

feel like a Siberian winter or worst yet-gull watching at Niagara.

Whatever the weather, the birds seem to be more-or-less following the same


they always have-though certain species may be lingering a little longer.

For the Cupper trying to pull that David Cup list up to a respectable level

before the end of the year there are still quite a few species to fill in

the gaps.


Waterfowl, of course, are still around in abundance (except for

Blue-winged Teal, many of which are probably already in the Caribbean or

Central or South America). Tundra Swans have now arrived in relatively large

numbers and virtually all the regularly occurring ducks and geese can be

seen at Montezuma or certain places around the lake like Union Springs or

the south side of Myer's Point.


Sea ducks like scoters and Oldsquaw (Long-tailed Duck) can still be

found into December on Cayuga Lake and Dryden Lake.  As a matter of fact,

White-winged Scoters are sometimes counted in the Christmas Bird Count in

January.  For the birder who wants to push the envelope just a little,

there are at least three other duck species to scour Cayuga Lake for--King

Eider, Harlequin Duck, and Barrow's Goldeneye.  Just last winter a female

King Eider spent part of the winter at Myer's Point and a Harlequin Duck

wintered at the south end of Seneca Lake a few years back.   The few

Barrow's Goldeneye that have been spotted in the Basin in the last decade

have not been cooperative enough to stay long enough for many observers to

enjoy. But there have been a few times in past history when an individual

of this species did stay longer and outside the Basin, individuals have

been known to return to the same wintering location for many years.

For example, a female returned to a wintering site near the Throgs

Neck Bridge in the Bronx for three consecutive winters.


Speaking of out-of-range birds that are very faithful to their

wintering areas, we might consider some VERY rare Basin birds.  How about

Western Grebe?  A Western Grebe that was discovered wintering on the

coast on Maine in the late 70's returned to the same spot for at least a

decade.  They now show up quite regularly along much of the east coast.

One of the birds that pass over us will eventually stop-at least for

a time-on Cayuga Lake or Dryden Lake.  Another grebe that occurs with

increasing frequency on the East Coast in fall and winter

is the Eared Grebe.  Of course, picking out this species at a

distance among the Horned Grebes would probably be difficult

but again, occasionally one of these few rare off-track individuals

must stop here.  For all these waterbirds there is the question of

whether there is sufficient food resources in Cayuga Lake to sustain them

overwinter. Eiders and Harlequin Ducks specialize in mussels so the

increase in Zebra Mussels would suggest that in some areas they might

have adequate food resources.  It seems less clear what the situation

would be for fish-eating species like the grebes, although there are

always a least a few loons and grebes that seem to survive the winter on

the lake.


Enough rambling.  Sticking to this cold water theme that I seem to be

on, I'd like to throw out some ideas that are close to being beyond the

imagination. Alcids are seabirds of the cold nutrient rich northern oceans

and they are also small birds that fly fast and are often hard to pick out.

  But twice in New York's ornithological history, very rare alcids have shown

up in the fall or winter in Upstate New York.  A Long-billed Murrelet

(Asian variety of the Marbled Murrelet) spent part of October on the St.


a few years back and an Ancient Murrelet hung out for a few days in early

November in Rochester.  Can't you just imagine finding

one of these floating off the Lighthouse jetty?  Just a gentle note to go

along with this wild idea-make sure you get some photos!


I could go on with dreams of the super rarities that might show up but

maybe before I stop I should put my feet back on solid ground and mention

some of the great birds that you stand a chance of actually seeing.  I

mentioned in the last column that Golden Eagles would be starting to move

through on their way south from Canada in October.  It seems as though

really good northwesterly winds have been a little scarce this season which

may prolong the migration window for Golden Eagles. In any case, November

is an excellent time to watch for the species from Mount Pleasant though

standing on a hilltop in strong northerly winds may feel less than



White-winged gulls have started to appear along the Niagara

River so checking the Seneca Meadows Landfill roosts and the Stewart Park

roosts may yield an Iceland or Glaucous Gull.  Finally, anyone who is on

the Internet knows that this is shaping up to be a winter finch year.  Pine

Siskins and Evening Grosbeaks have been found at multiple locations around

the Basin and Common Redpolls are starting to appear as well.  There have

even been a few Red Crossbills and at least one report of Pine Grosbeak.

My sources tell me that the best bet for Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Siskins

is Summerhill in the nether reaches of the Basin and it was Summerhill that

yielded the most reliable Pine Grosbeaks two winters ago. Connecticut Hill


also been a great spot for winter finches but watch out for hunters!


(Jeff Wells, PhD., recently accepted the position of National Director of

Bird Conservation for National Audubon Society. He rakes a mean pile of




                            !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !



What better way to prove you're a Class A chef than by being the first

Cupper to be featured as Bird Brain AND Kickin' Tail at the same time,

exclusively for The Cup? "Kickin' Tail" brings well deserved honor and

recognition to the Cupper who has glassed, scoped, scanned, driven,

climbed, dug, or sauteed his/her way to David Cup glory. The word

"sauteed," of course, can only refer to one Cupper: Renee's chef perfecto

Ben Fambrough!


THE CUP: Ben, how nice of you to join us. Even if you do smell like

slivered onions.


FAMBROUGH: Hi. And by all means, cut/paste/rewrite to your hearts delight. If

it serves The Cup, I'm game.


THE CUP: Oh. We thought you were referring to our cooking. What's the REAL

difference between a cook and a chef?




THE CUP: Hallelujah! There's hope for Jeff!


FAMBROUGH: Of course, the word suggests better training, broader scope

of knowledge, more refined skills, not to mention a whole barrage of

responsibilities that come with managing a staff. But I do know what

you're asking - in our everyday language games "chef" might involve an

ability to improvise and rise above recipe-dependent cooking through

experience, applied technique and aesthetic savvy.


THE CUP: Hmmm. "Rise above recipe-dependent cooking." Guess

that qualifies Allison as a chef - she's lousy at following directions, which

may explain why she's such a great cook. How does one decide to become

a chef? (This question is for Ben, not for Allison)


FAMBROUGH: And lord knows why anyone would decide to become a

chef. It's hard on the mind and the body. In fact, it may be one of the most

abusive industries (not so at Renee's). Speaking for myself: it was a

combination of a deep love for making people happy and the need for

immediate gratification (and to avoid graduate school!). But you've got

to admit, there's something incredibly satisfying about a great meal.

And you know what? People will pay you for it, if you're good at it.

Are we gonna get to the birds soon?


THE CUP: We prefer to talk about food. Jeff has a mad passion for Renee's -

the food, that is. How about a combo question: What Renee's specialty

are you especially proud of and what does it have to do with birds?


FAMBROUGH: AH, that might be the duck liver pate which is entirely

my own.


THE CUP: Gross! Just kidding. Uh, actually, no we're not.


FAMBROUGH: I love pates and terrines. This is a duck liver terrine with

green peppercorns. And it's really, really yummy. Need I elaborate on the

bird connection? The duck confit is also very good. I sometimes wonder

what Canvasback and woodcock taste like...or a fattened grouse, yum...

why I bet I could...err...never mind.


THE CUP: We'll look for them on the menu when we celebrate Jeff's new job.

When we were at Renee's, our waiter claimed to be a birder and even

knowingly chit-chatted with us about Chihuahuan Ravens and the ABA's

700 Club (not be confused with the David Cup's more prestigious 100

and 200 clubs). Is he really as good a birder as he is a waiter or is this

some conspiracy for a bigger tip (did he hit you up for pointers as you were

sprinkling creme broullee over sauteed scallions and baby carrots?)


FAMBROUGH: Although that guy is constantly hitting me up for

snacks, he is indeed a veteran birder. I think he pulled the same joke on

Medler when he was in recently.


THE CUP: Ok, on to the obligatory Cup stuff. We all know no one can

touch Matt Young at this point (although with a little gumption he might have

gotten the record). Who's going to place second? Where will you place?


FAMBROUGH: Yeah, Young is untouchable, but that lunatic Sarver

may just give him a good run next year. Of course I mean that with the

kindest of sentiments. I really don't know the extent of his lunacy -


THE CUP: Oh, he's out there!


FAMBROUGH: But I think he's positioned to finish second. I'm trying my

damnedest to stay in the top ten. I may be able to do it. The competition is

fierce, however.


THE CUP: How did a chef-minded man like you become a birdhead anyway?


FAMBROUGH: The lucky synchrony of two events: reading Kingbird

Highway and subscribing to Cayugabirds. You crazy people are almost

entirely to blame for sparking the motherload of birding passion that lay

dangerously dormant within me.


THE CUP: We love it when  people call us crazy.


FAMBROUGH: And I can't thank you enough. My life has changed pretty

radically. And I've had the most incredible help and encouragement from

so many of you. Yes, I was always a birdwatcher. I never knew I was a

birder until I saw the light here in Ithaca, the center of birding in the



THE CUP: Amen, brother. Where would you most like to go birding, some

place you haven't been before, and how are you using your chef artistry  to

get there?


FAMBROUGH: I'd really like to get the know the birds of North America

better before I make any exotic plans. Specifically within the ABA area I'd

like to venture out West: California or Arizona would be great. Alaska would

be awesome. I birded in Hawaii last January. That was absolutely fantastic.

But the birds here are enough to keep me busy for the next few years. On

the other hand, if you here of any world traveling birders who need a

private chef....

I'd like to add that I've exceeded my own personal goals for this year. After

a few misses, I was expecting (hoping, really) to see maybe 210-213 species

in the Basin. Right now I've seen 224. Winter finches could push me over

the 225 mark.


THE CUP: Well, good luck. So long as you bring back Renee's spinach ravioli

shrimp and sundried tomatos. We really miss that



                        STAT'S ALL, FOLKS

                          By Karl David






                            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.)



mmmmmmmmmmmmmm    McILROY MUSINGS   mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm



This time around, we decided to shut Allison up once and for all about all

of her past McVictories and future predictions by interviewing her






Get it? She doesn't have any.



                     BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH

                                By Caissa Willmer



See Kickin='Tail!


(Caissa Willmer is a Senior Staff Writer for the Cornell Office of

Development and theater critic for the Ithaca Times.)



                                BIRD VERSE