Year 5, Issue 1

The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition.

"Just a little drink from your loving cup,

Just a little drink and I fall down drunk." (The Rolling Stones)

Welcome to the David Cup Newsletter. Perhaps you were wondering what had

become of it, after all spring is upon us, the gray greening and the Basin

more than stirring from its colorless dormancy. Numbers! Where are those

numbers? Who's ahead? What jibes will Allison launch at unsuspecting

Cuppers? The answer is none! Did he say "colorless?" Hardly! At least

two Basin veterans were afield these past three months, giving an upstart

generation a good fight and, with satisfaction I hope, putting them in

their place. So, what's going on, you ask? And what did he mean with that

crack at our wonderful editor? Well if you're so out of the loop that you

don't know it, it's high time we fill you in. Yes, the big news is that

Lady Wells has relinquished her crown, tossing responsibility to the wind,

devil may care, come what may, and the prize lay unpursued. Imagine a

tarnished treasure discarded somewhere behind the Lab trailers, unnoticed

and undesired, passed daily by the greatness and original genius that

hatched its first incarnations only to be snatched up by an eager, kinder

and gentler (who am I kidding?) and younger (maybe) generation that has

been causing trouble for Cup kings for quite a little while. It seems oddly

appropriate that they have grabbed the treasure and made off like corvids

with ill-gotten goods. So watch out! Here it comes. Got sumfin' to say

about it? Good! Email one of the editors and maybe, just maybe, your

comments will finally grace the Cups pages. Bribes will be accepted and

weighed based on magnitude only. Credit where credit is due: if there is

any reason why we should want to entertain you with our scribbling, it's

because the inspiration of former editors and contributors infect us with a

love for both the competition and the newsletter. Thank you so much, Ms

Wells. You are missed already. Well, on with it then...

Cleaning House

by Matt Medler

Let's begin with a wrap-up of 1999, shall we? Take it away, Matt.

1999 David Cup Totals

"...and long ago somebody left with the cup." (Cake, "He's Going the


The paper placemat at my favorite Chinese restaurant said that 1999 was

"The Year of the Tiger," but in Cup circles, I think a few other names

might be more appropriate. At the risk of sounding immodest (and since

this is The Cup, I can be immodest), "The Year of the Matt" has a nice ring

to it. After all, Matts claimed the top three spots in the 1999 David Cup,

and four of the first nine places overall. With the way Williams was going

during the fall, if he had been in the Basin all year, there might have

been four Matts at the top of the list. "The Year of the Young" seems like

another good alternative. At the start of 1999, I predicted that at least

six "young" (under 30) birders would finish in the Top 10, and us young'uns

even exceeded my prediction, with seven under-30 birders placing in the Top

10. This past year, though, was really "The Year of Matt Young." After

entering the 1998 David Cup somewhat belatedly, Mr. Young dominated the

1999 Cup throughout the entire year, despite moving out of the Basin in

August. In the process, Matt became the first Cupper to win back-to-back

David Cup titles. Congratulations, Young!

246 Matt Young

242 Matt Medler

242 Matt Sarver

241 Geo Kloppel

236 Kevin McGowan

232 Jay McGowan

232 Chris Tessaglia-Hymes

229 Matt Williams

228 Ben Fambrough

226 Chris Butler

226 Meena Haribal

226 Ken Rosenberg

220 Steve Kelling

212 Allison Wells

204 Bard Prentiss

198 Bill Evans

195 Jeff Wells

188 Anne Kendall

187 Catherine Sandell

184 Jon Kloppel

177 Nancy Dickinson

175 John Fitzpatrick

170 Tringa

158 Ben Taft

157 Rachel Kloppel

157 Pat Lia

152 Anne James

142 Marty Schlabach

138 Jim Lowe

128 Melanie Uhlir

125 Sam Kelling

123 Taylor Kelling

121 Brian Mingle

120 Carol Bloomgarden

119 Perri McGowan

114 Kim Kline

114 Terry Mingle

107 Aaron Kloppel

103 Jeremy Mingle

90 Tom Nix

90 Swift Cat

63 Andy Farnsworth

57 Martha Fischer

56 Teddy Wells

50 Mimi Wells

44 Ramona Kloppel

21 Rob Scott

0 Ralph Paonessa

1999 McIlroy Award Totals

Somewhere down the road, they'll be naming birding competitions after

Allison Wells. Is it my imagination, or does Allison own this award?

165 Allison Wells

155 Kevin McGowan

147 Bill Evans

143 Jay McGowan

128 Ken Rosenberg

120 Jeff Wells

118 Jim Lowe

112 Matt Medler

105 Chris Butler

53 Martha Fischer

1999 Evans Trophy Totals

200 Ken Rosenberg

186 Matt Young

179 Kevin McGowan

177 Jay McGowan

143 Bard Prentiss

141 Allison Wells

128 Matt Medler

105 Jeff Wells

1999 Lansing Total

142 Kevin McGowan

1999 Etna Challenge

95 Allison Wells

61 Carol Bloomgarden

The Yard Stick

150 Rosenberg/James Family, Dryden, NY

140 Kelling Family, Caroline, NY

135 John Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY

130 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden, NY

114 Geo Kloppel and Pat Lia, West Danby, NY

97 Nancy Dickinson, Mecklenberg, NY

66 Wells Family, Etna, NY

61 Carol Bloomgarden, Etna, NY

50 Fredericks Family, Van Etten, NY

46 Jeff Holbrook, Canton, NY

45 Melanie Uhlir, Etna, NY

The Office Report

100 Wes Hochachka, Ken Rosenberg, & friends, Green Trailer, Lab of O

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

42 Melanie Uhlir, Tan Trailer, Lab of O

41 Allison Wells, Main Building, Lab of O

1999 Cupper Survey Results

by Matt Medler

Yes, it's the moment for which you've all been waiting. Well, maybe it's

not, since only four non-Matts responded to the 1999 Cupper Survey

Questionaire, but regardless, here are the winners...


Surprisingly, this was a runaway, with Ruff easily earning Bird of the Year

honors. Honorable mention: King Eider, Wigeon, Red Crossbill, and Glossy



This one worked out just the way I hoped- Matt Williams and Ben Fambrough

split the votes right down the middle. (And no, I did not fix the outcome.)


This one also ended in a tie, much to my surprise. Despite one voter's

comment that Bard Prentiss's white something-or-other with a rack on top

looks like Matt Williams's white Honda with a bike rack on top, Bard's car

still tied for this honor. The other recipient? Matt Young's classic

butternut yellow 4WD Toyota hatchback, complete with rust, bumper stickers,

and a shall we say "vocal" exhaust system.


Also known as the Geo Award, thanks to Geo Kloppel's consistent excellence

in this category for best posts to Cayugabirds-L. Honorable mention goes to

Nancy Dickinson for picking up a vote.


I was trying to go light on Ken Rosenberg this year, but the voters

certainly didn't. Ken once again won this award in a landslide, although

Karl David did pick up a vote for his Fork-tailed Flycatcher posts.


In addition to making outstanding use of ALLCAPS and exclamation points in

his posts, Matt Young should also be commended for getting the word out

quickly on all the birds he saw during the past year!!!


I thought Bill Evans would receive more votes for this award, but Tom Nix

won quite handily. As for an explanation for this outcome, one voter

pointed out, in voting for Nix rather than Evans, "You have to be in

contention at some point in order to then fizz out."


I even confused myself in introducing this new award. Is it for the most

misses during the course of the year, or the biggest miss? Either way, I'm

sure Matt Sarver will accept this award with pride.


I thought this one was a no-brainer, and for once, the fickle voters

agreed. Matt Young won this honor in a landslide. Honorable mention goes to

Chris Tessaglia-Hymes, who was the only other non-dog to get a

vote. Sorry, Jay, but Tringa still has some work to do.


Meena Haribal picked up a vote in this category, and Geo Kloppel received

serious support, but most voters think that co-Newcomer-of-the-Year Ben

Fambrough is ready to take that next step and drink from the famed David

Cup at the end of this year. Of course, they might just be trying to get

in good with the new Cup editor.


Ken Rosenberg


Bill Evans talks a good game, but the voters seem to know that talk is

cheap, especially when it's coming from Texas while spring migrants are

passing through Ithaca. Once again, people think that Allison Wells is the

one to beat in this category. Speaking of Allison...

The Cup Speaks to Allison by Ben Fambrough

When Allison emailed me asking to be interviewed by the Cup for its first

edition, who was I to say no? So, to make room for her we've temporarily

shelved some insightful and illuminating commentary by Rosenberg and

Kelling on the nuances of posting to Cayugabirds as well as a startling

piece by Hymes on the use of video technology to document vagrant swallow

species in the Basin, strangely subtitled, "Damn right I drive through the


The Cup: Dear Allison, how does it feel to be free of editorial duties and

pressures now that you've passed the crown?

Allison: Free? I know no freedom, my friends. My burdens have shifted,

that's all. Now, rather than fretting over whose totals I should "edit"

each issue, I must be on the lookout for slanderous remarks made against me

in your attempts to avenge the reputations I worked so hard to distort.

The Cup: What advice might you offer to the upstart editors?

Allison: Always plan on each issue taking about two weeks longer than you

expect, but tell your columnists that their deadlines are three weeks

earlier than they actually are. And when they hem and haw about not being

able to make the deadline, threaten to withhold their pay. Never defame

anybody. When splicing in your subject's interviews, don't split up their

answers and insert smart-alleck commentary. It's not fair. They don't

get a chance to respond to it. As editor of The Cup, I never did that.

Only include serious, life-shaking news. For example, don't cry

"Plagiarism!" about that new art-house movie that's out called The Cup.

That sort of ploy was against policy when I was in charge of The Cup. And

by the way, I understand that movie didn't include any real Cuppers, even

though Geo Kloppel penned the screenplay.

The Cup: Now that Matt Medler is in a position of power aren't you afraid

he will seek retribution for the razzing he suffered in past editions?

Allison: I can't think of a single issue in which Matt was ridiculed by

us. Just the same, if he is tempted to go on the attack, he should bear in

mind that I know his daddy, and Daddy Medler has promised to ground Matt if

he misbehaves.

The Cup: Should Cuppers expect to see you out birding more often now that

you won't be cloistered in front of the computer tapping out brilliance and


Allison: No. I work at the Lab of Ornithology. We "work" birds, so

there's no need to actually go see them.

The Cup: In light of your husband's recent promotion, are you considering

early retirement?

Allison: My husband's promotion? What about mine! In fact, we celebrated

both our promotions by going out to dinner at Renee's. And despite it

being the best restaurant in town, we really chose Renee's because we

wanted to harass you. We made all kinds of insinuations to our waiter

about the chef, only to find out you weren't working that night! They

ended up kicking us out of the place.

The Cup: Yes, I heard about that. I've talked Renee into a second chance

for you two, but you have to promise not to throw anything. What would you

like to eat next time you come in?

Allison: There used to be a delectable ravioli dish with sun-dried

tomatoes. Renee made it special for us a few times since taking it off the

menu. Now we feel indebted, so we only throw soft curves, like rather than

garlic mashed potatoes can we have risotto? Whatever we have, you can rest

assured that Jeff and I will order the exact same thing, right down to the

polenta. This happens whenever we go to a restaurant. It's frightening.

The Cup: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Allison: Just that I'm really looking forward to seeing what the new staff

does with The Cup. Please, feel free to do what you want with it. Be

creative. Be wild. Just don't change anything.

The Cup: Allison, let us be the first to thank you for all your efforts!

You were great. I hope we can continue the tradition of excellence.

Allison: Editing The Cup for the past four years was one of the best

experiences of our lives. We live in a fantastic birding community, with

good birders and fun personalities. We designed The Cup to tap into that.

I know Ben and the Matts will do a great job carrying on that tradition.

If I can offer any guidance or other kinds of help in the future, please

let me know and I'll fax you my rates.


Highlights by Matt Williams

Basin Birding for January-March, 2000


With so many great highlights in these first few months (and already more

for the next Cup), I found myself sitting here wondering, "Where should I

start!?!" After much deliberation and consultation with experts, January

seemed to be the best match for what I'm trying to do here.

The Ithaca Christmas Bird Count certainly got January, and this century,

off to quite a start. The Long-eared Owl continued until mid-month in a

coniferous woodland lot near Ithaca. This irruption year yielded good

numbers of grosbeaks, siskins and redpolls. One feeder in Ellis Hollow had

good numbers of the latter two, which helped many a cupper add Pine Siskin

to their January total. Some of them even got hot cider in the process.

Northern Shrikes were seen regularly throughout January as well as some

other winter specialties such as Rough-Legged Hawks. Lapland Longspurs

were present among the Horned Larks and Snow Buntings near the Triangle

Diner, west of King Ferry, as well as a few other locations. Further

north, the 3 rare gull species were being reported from the ice edge.

Closer to Ithaca, the Game Farm once again proved to be the prime raptor

location. Five species were seen in the vicinity that month; Merlin,

Harrier and Sharpie were the not so obvious. Our "calurus" or rufous morph

Red-tail conveniently returned for those who missed it last year.

So January continued on with mostly the usual species until an Eared

Grebe! Ben Fambrough found this western specialty among some Horned Grebes

in Aurora Bay. In addition to many Cuppers, a pair of White-winged Scoters

also spent much of January at this location.

February was another spectacular birding month, if you like cold, wind,

snow and ice. Apparently, the huge raft of divers that is present annually

at Hog Hole didn't mind the weather. Once again, an Oldsquaw (Long-tailed

Duck) was found amidst the sea of Aythya by one who calls himself, simply,

Andre. Ben Fambrough and Matt Williams then found a pair of Barrow's

Goldeneye near the north end's ice edge (2/11). These birds, like the

grebe, brought nearly everyone with a scope up the lake. Many were lucky

enough to sort these incessantly diving birds out from the jumble of

Commons, but unlike the grebe, many others who tried were not as

fortunate. All this birding activity spurred additional sightings, such

as the Thayer's Gull that Ken "Eagle Eye" Rosenberg, "Mighty" Matt Young,

Tom "New York" Nix and others found near the beautiful Seneca Meadows

Landfill (2/12), along with Glaucous & Iceland Gulls. In addition, much to

this highlight compiler's delight, Williams and Sarver relocated the Eared

Grebe from the southern cliffs high above Aurora (2/12).

With all the lake activity, the land/air sightings could get overshadowed,

but here they are anyway. On the irruption front, most noteworthy were

the two Hoary Redpoll sightings by Ken "Dr. Late Post" Rosenberg on the 8th

of February, and then John "Sled-run" Fitzpatrick, about a week later.

Okay, back to the lake. The first Ruddy Ducks hit us on 2/26 at East

Shore Sailing and American Pipits were also heard on that unseasonably

warm day. Blackbirds began moving through towards the end of this month.

March's first quality sightings included numerous (3) Golden Eagles. One

was spotted in Dryden on 3/4 by the Conservation of Birds Lab and then

another was seen over Fitz's house on 3/6 and was first identified

(correctly) by Van

Remsen from LSU. Geo Kloppel had one over his home in West Danby on

3/8. So, if there is any trend here, I'd say that early March may have

been been a good time to find a Golden Eagle overhead.

Song Sparrows, Red-Shouldered Hawks, Eastern Meadowlarks, Bonaparte's

Gull, Tree Swallows and more A. Pipits started to come through with greater

strength in early March. The Bohemian Waxwing that Meena "a dream come

true!" Haribal found at Cornell (3/11) didn't linger for very long. The

Cons. of Birds group came through with another good sighting of a

Red-throated Loon at Myers on 3/11. Geo Kloppel, Matt Williams and Tim

Lenz had a Red-necked Grebe off of the jetties from Stewart Park on

3/14. Chris Tessaglia-Hymes found a flock of Lapland Longspurs again this

year while trespassing in the Mucklands.

So, I will unfortunately stop here, but as many know, the April highlights

are certain to be great and the heavy migration has yet to begin. So, all

you Cuppers, get out there, see some cool birds, report them, bask in the

glory and make this highlights section as fruitful as possible for next


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

Poet's Corner

This issue features two short works by Ben Fambrough. The Cup welcomes

artistic contributions; please submit your work to the editors.

Myers Point, April 9th

White-capped and wind-boiled Cayuga piled

a tangle of iced flotsam along the spits rim,

mostly driftwood and weed. While just above Bonaparte's

flew a scissor-work in the sharpening wind,

a less elegant flutter graced that jumbled litter:

buff splotched breasts, a flash of white

outer tail-feathers, then a small green and

yellow tinged face (a careful ear can discern

their quiet squeaks): a fallout of

Pipits and Savannah Sparrows.


It takes a lot to imitate a grackle.

The eye must become black glass set in gold.

Sneak with someone through the dry

corn, long tail twitching,

speaking a barbaric tongue.

You have to abandon me completely.

But realize the next time you do

I'll take my father's squirrel gun

And shoot you out of the pussy willow.

Coach's Corner by Matt Williams

Due to fact that I'm still in juvenile plumage in the Basin, I may not be

the most suitable coach but since all this stuff is fresh and new to me, I

can still remember learning it. Hopefully I can provide some up-and-coming

Cuppers with the info they need to succeed as well as provide veterans

with a friendly reminder.

I think that, initially, the priority here is to inform new Cuppers about

the species they need to pick up before the end of April. If you haven't

seen Redpolls, Siskins or Grosbeaks yet, you need to hit the Lab of O,

Summerhill or wait for a report somewhere and just go! These guys are not

going to be around much longer and next winter will probably not be as good

for these birds. In addition, it is crucial to get the species that will

be passing through. Waterfowl, in particular, is very important.

Thankfully, we have Dryden Lake to catch any fallout and make it fairly

visible. Get there THE SAME DAY a bird is reported by the "Dryden Crew" of

Rosenberg, McGowan and Prentiss. Don't even think that you can

procrastinate. If the winds are right (wrong?), the birds often depart

within one day.

Warblers and the spring migrants will not be "thick" for about 2-3 weeks,

but if there is a reliable spot reported for one (or many!) of the uncommon

migrants, Carpe Diem! The breeders can wait, but the transient species

need to be seen in late April and May. Now on to a more challenging hit


For the record, I actually had Western Meadowlark and Little Gull on my

list of "watch for" species (I swear!), but I guess it may be redundant to

inform people of these possibilities. The following considerations should

keep you busy:

Tufted Duck: This suggestion may be a little late, but with the Scaup and

Ring-necks moving through, you never know what they might be dragging

along. Tufted Ducks are not hard birds to identify but are often mixed in

with a diving raft of similar-looking species. Both sexes have a "tuft"

of feathers hanging from the back of the head (hence the name). While this

may be subtle, look for a duck with white sides and a black back. Scaups

have a grey back and Ring-Necks have mostly light grey sides.

Sandhill Crane: While these were seen already at the Mucklands, they are

still a possibility in any open field and it seems they prefer ones with

corn stubble. These large wader-like birds may resemble herons initially,

but upon closer examination are entirely gray with a red cap. Hearing them

may be the best way to locate them. Listen for a repeated, croaking

"garooo-a-a-a, repeated" (Petersen).

Golden Eagle: Already reported multiple times in early March, but if the

wind is right (S or SW in spring), be on the lookout. This bird seems to

be an indicator species that sometimes sorts out the Cup champions from the

Cup could-haves. Look for a big, dark raptor (no kidding!) that is not a

TV and then go from there. Goldens occasionally have a slight dihedral and

look more Buteo-like than their Bald counterpart. Juvenile Goldens will

have white "windows" in the wing and white at the base of the tail, but

don't have the "white-belly" look of the imm. Balds.

Others to watch and listen for, in order of increasing unlikeliness,

include; Dicksissel (grassland & open country), American Avocet (Myers,

shorebird habitat), Clay-colored Sparrow (x-mas tree farms), Yellow Rail

(marshes, grassy wetlands), Purple Sandpiper (Hey, have you checked a rocky

jetty or shoreline lately?)

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< THE NUMBERS GAME >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Compiled by Matt Medler

"...churning and burning they yearn for the cup" (Cake)

March 2000 David Cup Totals

Congratulations to Tom Nix, not only for leading the David Cup for the

first three months of 2000, but also for sending in his totals for more

than the two months he submitted them last year!

116 Tom Nix

112 Geo Kloppel (Turkey Vulture)

112 Ben Fambrough (Common Grackle)

107 Kevin McGowan (Purple Finch; 1st time in 3 years it's not

Blue-winged Teal)

106 Matt Young (Winter Wren)

105 Chris Butler (American Pipit)

105 Jay McGowan (Eastern Meadowlark)

105 Bard Prentiss (Eastern Meadowlark)

105 Matt Williams (Fox Sparrow)

104 Ken Rosenberg (Pine Siskin that he never posted to Cayugabirds)

89 Matt Medler

88 Allison Wells

86 Chris Butler

81 Nancy Dickinson

71 Marty Schlabach

60 Meena Haribal

58 Jim Lowe

54 Perri McGowan

46 Anne Kendall

28 Melanie Uhlir

Note: Species in parentheses are Cuppers' admission tickets into the 100


March 2000 McIlroy Award Totals

Is this the year that Allison is *finally* dethroned as the McIlroy

monarch, or is she just toying with us at the moment?

74 Chris Butler

72 Kevin McGowan

66 Ken Rosenberg

65 Matt Williams

62 Jay McGowan

57 Allison Wells

50 Matt Medler

48 Jim Lowe

March 2000 Evans Trophy Totals

These guys are pretty serious about their Dryden birds, but do any good

ones ever show up there?

94 Ken Rosenberg

91 Bard Prentiss

89 Kevin McGowan

83 Jay McGowan

50 Matt Young

Yard Totals

60 Ken Rosenberg

50 McGowan/Kline Family

49 Nancy Dickinson

47 Geo Kloppel

29 Jeff and Allison Wells

22 Melanie Uhlir

Office Totals

20 Allison Wells

14 Melanie Uhlir

Lansing Listers

66 Kevin McGowan

64 Matt Williams

The Editors' Page

We look forward to bringing you something to read in a little over a month,

perhaps some new columns, perhaps some old columns revisited. And, now

that we've gotten this gushy "Thank you Allison" issue out of the way, we

can really get down to business in the next edition. In the meantime, we'd

be happy to hear from you. Hit your reply button and speak your mind. Now,

whose totals need adjustment? Hmmm.


Ben Fambrough (who poses the question: just how long can one be an honorary

member of the under 30 club anyhow?)

Senior and Contributing Editor:

Mr. Compilation himself, "Long-tailed" Matt Medler

Contributing Editor & Office Waterboy:

Matt "Rear-wheel-drive-is-better" Williams

Editor Emeritus:

Allison Wells

Still Best Boy in our book:

Jeff Wells