Year 6, Issue 4

***************************************************************************** * ^^^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ * * The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition. * Editor-in-Chief: Matt "in-Chief-in-Brazil" Medler * Basin Bird Highlights, Pilgrim's Progress: Matt "Wildflower" Williams * Cup Astrologer: Matt Young * Staff Herpetologist: Matt "Mud Puppy" Sarver * Cup Archivist: Jeff Wells ***************************************************************************** @ @ @ @ @ @ NEWS, CUES, and BLUES @ @ @ @ @ @ CH-CH-CHANGES: Welcome to The New, New Cup! After dishing out his fancy, restaurant-quality version of The Cup for over a year, former Editor-in-Chief Ben Fambrough is moving on to the greener pastures (or soybean fields) of Ohio, to join his lovely wife Dianna at her new job in Cleveland. Ben and Dianna will be traveling out West for the next month (imagine the type of Great Basin list that he'll rack up), before spending a few more weeks here in Ithaca in July. If you happen to see Ben between now and the end of July (and I hope many of you will, as we are talking about having a big Cupper summer bash at Myers in July), be sure to thank him for carrying on the torch of what has become a truly classic Ithaca tradition- The Cup. Thanks, Ben! So what should you expect from The New, New Cup? For starters, I favor the old-school graphics and columns of The Original Cup, so look for items like "Kickin' Tail," "Bird Brain of the Month," and "News, Cues, and Blues" to resurface, at least at some point in time. Other stalwarts, such as "Coach's Corner," could have a new twist to them (see below). After that, who knows? My editorial policy is likely to be "Anything Goes," so if you have an idea for a new column, or just a one-time submission, go ahead and fire it off to me at As for a timetable for publication, many of you already know that I am famed for my punctuality, so definitely expect The Cup to come out at some point in time. Just don't ask me when. Being editor of such a fine publication like The Cup is grueling work, which is why I'm taking a three-week vacation to Brazil starting on June 1st. I hope that when I return, I will be greeted by another issue of The Cup, under the guest editorship of Matts Sarver and Williams. If not, we'll shoot to get something out by the end of June. THE CUP ON THE WEB: I know, I know- *everybody* has a Web site these days, so why should you bother checking out The Cup on the Web? Well, for starters, we have some great pictures from the Cupper Supper held back in...when was the Cupper Supper, anyway? And, I am very pleased to announce that thanks to Jeff Wells, we now have the original issue of The Cup on the Web. That's right- the classic Cup 1.1 is now online for all to read! Find out who lead the inaugural David Cup competition after January, reminisce about the Basin Bird Highlights (written by Steve Kelling!!!), and experience the issue that started it all. To get to The Cup web site, go to, and click on "The Cup." From this page, select "Cup Archive" to peruse The Cup 1.1 (as well as many of the fine issues from the past year). THE SAPSUCKERS WIN THE PENNANT, THE SAPSUCKERS WIN THE PENNANT!: After years of coming tantalizingly close, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Sapsuckers finally broke through this year and came in first place in the annual World Series of Birding competition, tallying 214 species to tie a New Jersey-based team. Thanks to pledges totaling more than $600 per species of bird, the Sapsuckers (John Fitzpatrick, Steve Kelling, Kevin McGowan, Ken Rosenberg, and Jeff Wells) were able to raise more than $135,000 for bird conservation programs at the Lab of O. "We worked very hard for this," said Cornell Lab of Ornithology director and Sapsucker co-captain John Fitzpatrick. "We're thrilled that the Urner Stone Cup will at last rest in our observatory for Lab members and friends to enjoy, as a symbol not only of the team's hard-won victory but more importantly as a tribute to bird conservation." In an exclusive Cup interview, Jeff Wells had this to say about the team's first-place finish: "We kicked some serious tail!" HIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIH APRIL 2001 HIGHLIGHTS LITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITES April is definitely a month of transition here in the basin. If, like a fool, you head out on the first of the month, the lake and Montezuma are the places to be to see all the waterfowl that are still around. By the time the 31st rolls around, thoughts have turned to migrant traps and wooded hillsides and the lake is all but forgotten. Early on, trips around the lake yielded SHORT-EARED OWLS (last reported 4/6), SNOW BUNTINGS, LAPLAND LONGSPURS, and all the common basin waterfowl. In addition, the EURASIAN WIGEON found by Bob Fogg in March was last seen by him and Nicolas Barbarin on 4/1. 60 LONG-TAILED DUCKS were seen off the west shore in Varick on 4/2 and at least 1 was seen off of Long Point on 4/15. RED-THROATED LOON (or Loons?) was seen a few times: flying past Sheldrake on 4/2, off of Cayuga Lake SP on 4/4 and from the Village of Cayuga on 4/6. Presumably a different RED-THROATED LOON was seen from Stewart Park on 4/7. A (or the?) drake BARROW'S (or mostly Barrow's) GOLDENEYE was seen off of Long Point on the 1st by Ken Rosenberg and then relocated on 4/6. A breeding plumaged EARED GREBE was seen from Stewart Park by Steve Kelling on 4/18 and then relocated from the Ithaca Yacht Club later that day. A FORSTER'S TERN was seen off Stewart Park along with two RED-NECKED GREBES and some NORTHERN SHOVELERS by many on 4/8. The next day (4/9), Kevin McGowan had a CASPIAN TERN fly over him at the Ithaca City Cemetery. One COMMON TERN was seen at Myers on 4/14 and 3 were seen off of Stewart Park on 4/22. A single COMMON TERN made an appearance on DRYDEN LAKE with 2 FORSTER'S on 4/12. The Dryden Lake Effect was a little bit weak this month but there was a RED-NECKED GREBE on 4/14, LONG-TAILED DUCKS on 4/13 and 4/25, and SURF SCOTERS on 4/30. Most of the rare wintering gulls were gone but there was at least one LESSER BLACK-BACKED around because one reported from Tschache on 4/1 and Benning Marsh on 4/21. The majority of BONAPARTE'S GULLS passed through this month. Fortunately, the team of Kelling, Rosenberg and Wells (60% of the Sapsuckers) scanned through a bunch of them and found an adult LITTLE GULL off of Long Point on 4/15. Shorebirds started moving through and into the basin early this month. COMMON SNIPE was found in Dryden on 4/3, followed by reports from Morgan Rd. of GREATER YELLOWLEGS (4/5), LESSER YELLOWLEGS (4/6) and PECTORAL SANDPIPER (4/7). SPOTTED SANDPIPER waited until 4/14, UPLAND SANDPIPER was seen at the Empire Days Fair spot on 4/17, DUNLIN were at Carncross by 4/20 and SOLITARY SANDPIPER wasn't seen until 4/30 at the Lab of O. FOX SPARROWS and TREE SPARROWS were not seen after this month ended but April saw the arrival of CHIPPING SPARROW (4/5), VESPER SPARROW (4/6), GRASSHOPPER SPARROW (4/29) and LINCOLN'S SPARROW (4/29). The warblers started to arrive in good numbers as well with PINE WARBLER showing up at Monkey Run on 4/9 and Comstock Knoll the next day. LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSHES showed up on 4/21 at the South Rec. Way. A field trip to Lick Brook on 4/22 yielded LOUISIANA as well as BLACK-THROATED GREEN, BLUE-HEADED VIREO and some PINE SISKINS. A PALM WARBLER was found with the YELLOW-RUMPS at Dryden Lake on Earth Day (4/22) and a BLACK & WHITE was seen in Ithaca the next day. The competition for the basin's first YELLOW WARBLER ended up with Wayne Hsu et al. edging out Dave Nutter by about 3 hours on 4/23. BLUE-WINGED was seen at Monkey Run North on 4/26. OVENBIRD showed up on 4/22 and CHESTNUT-SIDED and NASHVILLE on 4/30. Other miscellaneous highlights include LONG-EARED OWLS that continued hooting near Ludlowville until early April, PURPLE MARTINS at Sheldrake on 4/23, AMERICAN BITTERN along Carncross Rd. on 4/15, and what was perhaps the basin's last ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK seen on 4/29 at Summerhill. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> CUP TOTALS += + = + = +APRIL 2001 TOTALS+ = + = + = + Compiled by Matt Williams "...churning and burning they yearn for The Cup..." - Cake April 2001 David Cup Totals 154 Matt Medler 152 Bob Fogg 151 Matt Williams 151 Ben Fambrough 149 Kevin McGowan 142 Jay McGowan 140 Pete Hosner 140 Jai Balakrishnan 130 Allison Wells 136 Susan Barnett 136 Greg Delisle 126 Bruce Tracey 110 Jeff Gerbracht 91 Ken Rosenberg 79 Jon Kloppel 79 Steve Kelling 73 Tom Nix 70 Jeff Wells 66 Meena Haribal 66 Bard Prentiss 88 Jim Lowe 47 Tringa (Doggie) McGowan 31 Martin (Kitty) McGowan February 2001 McIlroy Award Totals 98 Kevin McGowan 95 Allison Wells 85 Jim Lowe 83 Matt Williams 74 Jay McGowan 66 Ken Rosenberg 57 Bill Evans 40 Jeff Wells February 2001 Evans Trophy Totals 118 Kevin McGowan 108 Jay McGowan 62 Ken Rosenberg 38 Bard Prentiss Yard Totals 65 Nancy Dickinson 58 McGowan/Kline Family 44 Ken Rosenberg 24 Steve Kelling 5 Pete Hosner Lansing Listers 91 Bruce Tracey 87 Kevin McGowan 84 Matt Williams Office/Classroom Totals 21 Jai Balakrishnan 17 Matt Williams 5 Matt Medler 1 Pete Hosner !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! KICKIN' TAIL! ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE CUP: So, Matt, what got you into birding? Did it have much to do with working at the Lab or with the David Cup competition? MEDLER: No, the Lab and The Cup really had nothing to do with my getting into birding. It was really the chance to meet Steve Kelling that made me pick up those binoculars for the first time. THE CUP: (Steve who?) And how long have you been actively competing; I mean, submitting totals? MEDLER: I am proud to say that I am an original Cupper. If you look way down the list of competitors in the first Pilgrims’ Progress (from January 1996), you’ll see my name next to the staggering total of 39. THE CUP: Please correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the first time you’ve been in the lead isn’t it? MEDLER: Objection! Leading the witness. [Overruled.] Why yes, this is the first time I’ve been in the lead, but now that I am in first place, make no mistake about it- I AM KICKIN'’ TAIL! THE CUP: Yes, your one or two-bird lead has us trembling in our boots. Will you please describe the conspiracy of events in which the lead inadvertently slipped from Williams’ grasp and into your lap? MEDLER: Didn't you read the last Cup?! Especially the part about Williams and a certain lady friend? During the last week of April, I was out chasing down migrants, and I kept bumping into Williams here at Sapsucker Woods out on the trails. He seemed to have this goofy, love-struck look on his face, and he kept looking down at the ground. “Willie, do you have a sparrow? Maybe a Lincoln’s?” I’d ask. “No I’m just looking at these wildflowers here."” Ahh- how sweet. But sweetness won’t win you The Cup. THE CUP: So, do you plan to capitalize on your happy, if accidental, victory? MEDLER: You better believe it. I’m printing out this issue of The Cup, and having it framed to put on my wall. And, I’m letting everybody know that I’M KICKIN’ TAIL. THE CUP: Look. Williams is tearing up the place. You don’t seriously think you can beat him do you? MEDLER: Of course I can. He's learned quite a bit in the past year or two, but he’s still a relative Basin greenhorn. You don’t think I've shared all my Basin birding secrets with you guys, do you? I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. THE CUP: You’re right. I’ve said as much myself: Williams is really nothing to worry about. But what about Bob Fogg? Heck, Pete Hosner must be really doing well, too. MEDLER: Pete Hosner already has my vote to win the 2002 David Cup. But, he’s still learning the ropes this year. I don’t even think he’s picked up Yellow Warbler yet, despite checking the hawthorn orchard every day. As for Bob Fogg, he could be trouble. THE CUP: I’d review his totals, if I were you. Last time I looked, his checklist included four of five ticks for Lesser Black-backed gull alone. Not that it will matter after this month, but are you sure you counted correctly? MEDLER: Huh. I’ll have to look into that. THE CUP: In what may have been the only case on record of a staff editor firing the Editor-in-Chief, you forced me into early retirement. Now that the feather is in your cap, would you care to explain to the readers why you did such a thing? MEDLER: Hey, that’s Mr. Senior Editor to you. And yes, I’d be happy to explain why you got the boot. The Cup was getting too mushy. There’s no room for any sentimentality in a fine publication like this. THE CUP: And when is The Cup coming out? Think it might be by the time I get back for the Muckrace? MEDLER: Listen, Jerky. The rest of The Cup is all ready to go. I’ve just been waiting for you to get off your lazy bottom and send me these interview questions. THE CUP: I see. So what’s playing in your favorite color right now? Oops. Read the cards wrong: What’s in your CD player right now? MEDLER: At home, it’s Grateful Dead’s “Reckoning,” with the classic “Bird Song.” Here on my work computer, I’ve been rocking out to Andy Farnsworth and the gang’s “Mectapus Live @ Odyssey.” It doesn’t have “Regulus” on it, but it does have smokin’ versions of “Frank” and “Truck Drivin’ Man.” Finally, on my studio CD player, I have “Voices of Amazonian Birds: Birds of the Rainforest of Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia: Volume 2: Toucans (Ramphastidae) through Antbirds (Thamnophilidae).” Besides having the world’s longest title, this CD has some quality bird sounds on it. THE CUP: What’s your favorite color? MEDLER: The black of Black Rail. THE CUP: Much like your heart, eh? I’m not going to ask this boxer/brief question. NO. Forget it. MEDLER: Good, because I’m not going to answer it. THE CUP: Any candidates yet for bird of the year? MEDLER: Not yet. I’m still holding out for a Red Knot at Montezuma that everybody gets to see. That would be the bird of the year in my book. THE CUP: Any particularly memorable birding events or sightings so far this year? MEDLER: Of course. Where should I start? Well, seeing a beautiful drake Eurasian Wigeon in one scope, and then turning around to see a stunning Red-backed Shrike in…Oh wait. That was from my trip to Sweden. Have I ever told you about my trip to Sweden? THE CUP: Are you still sneaking into the Lab at night to produce CDs under your own private label, Birdbrain, The Cat’s Meow (BTCM). MEDLER: I take the Fifth on this one. THE CUP: What can you tell us about these rumors of a new Costa Rica CD on Birdbrain, TCM. MEDLER: Lies! Vicious lies and half-truths! Actually, I did recently put together a CD of some of the recordings I made while I was in Costa Rica two years ago. The idea was to make the recordings available in the national park where I stayed (Santa Rosa National Park), so most of the CDs that I burned are now down in Costa Rica. I do have one or two copies here in the studio, and I’m always happy to play my sound recordings, so if you’re every in the neighborhood (Studio B in the Library of Natural Sounds), feel free to stop by and take a listen. THE CUP: I understand you’ll be in Ithaca for a while. You accepted a position as a teaching assistant or secretary or something, is the right? MEDLER: Actually, I’m going to be the new head chef at Renee’s American Bistro. Didn’t you hear that they fired the old chef? THE CUP: Gonna miss me? MEDLER: Maybe a little bit. THE CUP: Come ‘ere and give me a big wet kiss. MEDLER: I might rub that bald little head of yours, but that’s where I draw the line. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< < COACH'S CORNER < < <<<<<<<<<<<<<<< < < < < < < < < With the relatively high number of new Cuppers this year, we thought it might be helpful to resurrect Coach's Corner to help these greenhorns learn the ropes of Basin birding. Matt Young has been named full-time Cup Coach, but rather than having Matt write a column each month (a column which would undoubtedly focus on winter finches, even in July), we are encouraging you, the Cuppers, to send questions to Matt (grosbeak@clarityconnect) about where and when to find certain species that have been eluding you. Can't seem to track down a House Sparrow? Have no fear- just ask Mr. Young, and he'll give you the answer. Well, actually, ask Mr. Young and he'll *eventually* give you the answer. Since the Cup is keeping to such a tight schedule, we had no time to wait for Young's shenanigans such as "I sent it to you last week." and "I've been pretty busy [birding Summerhill] lately." So, unfortunately, this edition of the cup goes out without his wise insight and instructions on basin birding. By now, perhaps tips for finding birds in May & June might not be too useful anyhow. CUP QUOTES On a ledge on the cliff face, a hundred yards upstream of "Devil's Kitchen," the bend in the creek above Lucifer Falls, there is a pair of nesting common ravens feeding at least 3, maybe 4, beefy looking nestlings. -Karen Edelstein Jaymi LeBrun and I also saw a WILSON'S WARBLER on the Wilson Trail. It flew over our heads like a bolt of lightning and Jaymi spotted where it landed, so we were both able to get really satisfying looks at him. It was really a treat for me since last year (when it was a Life Bird) I only saw one for approximately a twentieth of a second--long enough for my brain to register the black cap and think, "Hey! That's a !" and it was gone. -Melanie Uhlir So, I'm a wannabe cupper?????? I guess I'm going to have to go to Cornell Law School after all so I can finally participate in and win the Cup! -Ryan Bakelaar P.S. By the way, I know that Eurasian isn't your favorite word, but now everybody REALLY thinks that I'm a wannabe Cupper because they probably think that I found just another Am Wigeon and got all excited. On a mid-afternoon Mother's Day hike at Robert H. Treman park (with my mom, natch), I saw a single raven on the nest ledge, no others in sight. I shall refrain from any interpretations of its behavior, only say that he or she seemed to be at a loose end, somehow. Much wing-flapping (perched on edge of ledge, but facing cliff wall), and investigation of nest debris. Most notably, the raven repeatedly picked up the same piece of shale and dangled it from his or her bill for a few seconds before moving away and returning to it a few moments later. "Nope, it's still not food." -Susan Barnett I noticed that I wrote "east" side of Salmon Creek, when I should have written "west" side. The directions, however, are accurate. Furthermore, I have been reminded by private email that the land is owned by NYSEG (which I omitted mentioning) and is posted. Even so, I think the well used ATV trails and neighbors testament (that the land is well used by all) releases me (and should you) from worry of trespass. Having said that, I think folks motivated enough to chase Acadian Fly will not let the sign dampen their pursuit. Moreover, it is a fantastic birding spot. Give it a try. And tell NYSEG I sent you. ;) -Ben Fambrough May Your Cup Runneth Over, The Matts