Year 6, Issue 6

***************************************************************************** * ^^^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ * * The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition. * Editor-in-Chief: Matt Medler * Assistant Editor: Matt Williams * Cup Astrologer: Matt Young * Moving Assistant: Matt Sarver * Cup Beverage Supplier: Bill Evans * **************************************************************************** How many of you have ever gone fishing, let out some line, and then hooked something? The fish seems like it is a long ways off, but slowly but surely, you start reeling it in. Oh sure, the fish might fight for a little while, even pulling hard enough that you need to let out some line, but the end result is inevitable- sooner or later, with enough hard work, you're going to reel it in. Why do I bring this up? Take a look at this month's Pilgrims' Progress, and compare it with the last issue. Matt Williams seemed like he had an insurmountable 11-bird lead at the end of July, but once Matt moved out of the Basin, back home to western Massachusetts, Bob Fogg cast his line, and hooked Williams. He's been slowly reeling him in over the past two months, whittling away at the once "insurmountable" lead. Yes, Matt Williams did make it back to the Basin in time to see the Piping Plover (which kindly waited for Williams's arrival) and tick off Black-bellied Plover, but those were just desperate, last gasps. The lead is down to four at the end of September, and with a number of very "gettable" birds remaining for Bob, it seems like just a matter of time before he catches and passes Matt. The ultimate outcome seems inevitable... While Matt Williams might be stuck inside of Massachusetts with the Basin Blues, the Basin Birding scene has seen a real renaissance in the past two months. After a lackluster June and July in which Least Bittern and Black-crowned Night-Heron went unrecorded, Cuppers finally added these birds to the Composite Deposit in August. Meena Haribal and others were there at the north end of the Basin to greet fall-only shorebirds like Stilt Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, and American Golden-Plover. Hey- even Ken Rosenberg made it up to Montezuma, and he made his trip worthwhile, finding a nice Buff-breasted Sandpiper off in the distance at Mays Point. The big news of August, though, was of some big birds that arrived from the *south*. Cuppers and non-Cuppers alike from across New York State delighted in seeing the improbable sight of up to 14 Wood Storks(!) at two different sites in Clyde. As if 14 Wood Storks weren't enough to kick-start the local birding scene again, how about adding in the fifth annual Montezuma Muckrace? Some guys named Matt (are they really all named Matt?) walked (and biked) away with the coveted "Golden Boot" trophy given to Muckrace champions. With a total of 128, they tied the modern Muckrace record for total species seen, set by the Cayuga Bird Club team a few years ago. (They would have broken the record, if only Matt Medler could learn how to identify those tricky Hooded Mergansers.) Still not ready to throw your binoculars around your neck and bird like crazy? OK. How about a Piping Plover at Myers Point? The Basin's first Piping Plover in over 30 years patrolled the shorelines at Myers for a full week, delighting scores of birders, and providing at least a temporary distraction from the terrible events of September 11th. Bill Evans made his usual early fall appearance act in the Basin, encouraging Cuppers to head birding day *and* night. The month of September ended with a sign of things to come (we hope), when Kevin McGowan heard two Evening Grosbeaks fly over Beam Hill on the 30th. The birding scene has definitely picked up some energy over the past two months, and after our own dismal summer performance here at The Cup Headquarters, we like to think that The Cup is developing some momentum of its own heading into the last quarter of the year. We hope you agree. @ @ @ @ @ @ NEWS, CUES, and BLUES @ @ @ @ @ @ CUPPER UPDATES: What ever happened to Ben Fambrough, the man who resurrected The Cup two years ago? Did he ride off into the sunset with his lovely wife Dianna, never to be seen (or heard from) again? Nope, he's actually just six hours to the west of us, out in Cleveland, Ohio, where he has recently gotten a new job as the head chef at a fancy-shmancy restaurant. He was *supposed* to let us know all about his new job, and all the great birds that he's being seeing in the Cleveland area (believe it or not), but I guess once a guy sees things like Red Knot and Marbled Godwit, he starts thinking that he's too good for his Basin roots. Maybe we'll hear more from Ben next month. Oh- thanks to a generous Cup deadline extension (we were always waiting for Ben when he was Editor-in-Chief), we've just received an update from Ben: Remember that enthusiastic Basin newbie of a few years back...the one who helped keep this electronic rag alive, at least for a year after its creator abandoned it...the one who successfully substituted tireless hours of dedication to Basin birding when experience was want...the one who *nearly* took The Cup in 2000 [Dream on, Ben.]...the really good looking one [OK, now we're just fantasizing.] who played in that great band...the talented musician who was also chef at Ithaca's finest restaurant...the one who could do 55 mph with impunity down the homestretch of the wildlife drive at Montezuma? Ever wonder what he's been up to? Aside from wondering whether or not he's still subscribed to The Cup (does it still exist?), he's moved to Cleveland, following that intellectual wife of his. (Moments ago she sighed with admiration, "Nietzsche was so smart.") Dianna took a position at John Carroll University, a Jesuit school with a large philosophy department (surprise, surprise). And I am cooking up a storm. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. After we (Renee, staff and I) closed the restaurant, Dianna and I drove to Ding Darling NWR (on Sanibel Island, Florida), followed by a lengthy route through the south to New Mexico (Cordilleran Flycatcher, Steller's Jay, Western Tanager) spending a few days in Taos, up through Colorado with several days in Rocky Mountain National Park (Clark's Nutcracker, MacGillivray's Warbler, White-throated Swift), back and forth across Wyoming, most of the time in Yellowstone (Cinnamon Teal, American Dipper, Clark's Grebe), ah, if I could only redo this past summer again and again.... My favorite part was falling asleep to the sounds of Whip-poor-wills and Chuck-will's-widows in Tennessee and the Ozarks of Arkansas. Reality set in when we had problems with the movers and then I was out of work for weeks. After some time helping out some really wonderful folks with a great Cleveland area restaurant, I've finally landed a decent job. I am the chef for a restaurant called Sans Souci ("without worry" in French). It's a French Provincial/Mediterranean restaurant in the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland. This job has some prestige, but I must confess it really translates into very, very long workdays; so much so that I'm unhappy to report my birding time has been slashed. Before landing the job I had the luxury of exploring the Ohio Lake Erie shoreline and assisting with a banding project. Now I get to steal an hour or two on a day off here and there. On the positive side (cue the Monty Python theme "Always look on the bright side of life"), birding in Ohio is top notch. There are some incredibly knowledgeable birders here. The state gets decent coverage and migration is very productive. I've had two life birds so far in Ohio: Marbled Godwit, a yearly, albeit uncommon migrant, and Olive-sided Flycatcher, which eluded me in the Basin; and seen plumages I've not been familiar with, such as Red Knot in basic plumage (I'd only seen breeding plumage birds before) and basic plumage Cape Mays, a common fall migrant here. Want to know more or say hello? My email is By the way, if you're in Cleveland and feeling hungry, here are some of Ben's new additions to the menu at Sans Souci: Lobster Salad: moroccan spiced quince, frisee, and foie gras mayonnaise Pan Seared Sea Scallops: pomegranate sauce, kumquats, chanterelles, watercress and creme fraiche Roasted Guinea Hen: wild mushroom ragout (I'm bringing in wild mushrooms from a place in Oregon) and chicken liver mousse croustade Confit of Mulard Duck: lingonberry sauce, sweet potates with pink peppercorns and frisee [Ben, don't you serve anything normal? Like pizza?] You've probably already heard too much from me (Matt Medler), but I'm going to tell you a little bit about myself. After spending over four great years working as an archivist at the Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, I decided to return to the classroom at Cornell this fall as a full-time student. I'm starting the first semester of a two-year teacher certification program in the Department of Education, and at the same time, I'm working as a teaching assistant for the introductory biology laboratory course. When I'm all done with the program, I hope to teach secondary biology and mathematics somewhere in the Northeast. SUPERWEB: If you haven't already checked out the Cayuga Bird Club's new web site, you should. After reading the rest of the Cup, of course. It's good, but it's not *that* good. Actually, it is. Lab of O Webmeister and rising Cupper Greg Delisle has created a great new resource for Basin birders. Check it out at: :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> The Piping Plover by Anne Marie Johnson pecking and tracing the water's edge first one way then the other three steps at a time campers walk dogs throw frisbees launch kayaks oblivious to the star at their feet up into the air around the people and back down the plover continues tracing the water's edge three steps at a time scopes appear the oblivious are taught ...not in 25 years... a fabulous bird... no one would expect... the plover reverses course now heading toward the scopes along the narrow beach three steps at a time chatter drifts away heads lift from scopes arms slowly raise binoculars only to lower them again jaws drop breathing halts 10 ft...6 ft...4 ft... the plover turns again retracing three steps at a time silence evaporates scopers pack up contemplating the exquisite gift the tiny plover continues pacing and pecking alone on a humble shore three steps at a time :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> CUP TOTALS += + = + = +AUGUST & SEPTEMBER 2001 TOTALS+ = + = + = + Compiled by Matt Williams "...churning and burning they yearn for The Cup..." - Cake August & September 2001 David Cup Totals AUG SEP 224 239 Matt Williams ??? 235 Bob Fogg 215 225 Matt Medler 212 222 Kevin McGowan 213 221 Jay McGowan 215 221 Ken Rosenberg 204 217 Pete Hosner ??? 215 Meena Haribal 207 213 Jai Balakrishnan 201 212 Bruce Tracey 194 205 Jeff Gerbracht (Wilson's Warbler) 192 201 Susan Barnett (Gray-cheeked Thrush) 192 205 Greg Delisle (American Golden-Plover) ??? 199 Allison Wells ??? 180 Jeff Wells 151 151 Ben Fambrough 119 119 Jim Lowe ??? 114 Tringa (Woof) McGowan ??? 88 Martin (Meow) McGowan DNF DNF Tom Nix MIA 79? Steve Kelling MIA 66? Bard Prentiss August & September 2001 McIlroy Award Totals 140 142 Jai Balakrishnan 140 141 Ken Rosenberg 93 135 Bill Evans 130 134 Kevin McGowan 124 124 Matt Williams 117 118 Jay McGowan 114 114 Jim Lowe ??? 101 Allison Wells 40 ??? Jeff Wells August & September 2001 Evans Trophy Totals 180 188 Ken Rosenberg 161 164 Kevin McGowan 156 157 Jay McGowan 38? ??? Bard Prentiss Yard Totals 121 127 Ken Rosenberg 108 113 McGowan/Kline Family 65? ??? Nancy Dickinson Lansing Listers 141 143 Bruce Tracey 120 130 Kevin McGowan 127 128 Matt Williams Office/Classroom Totals 30 Jai Balakrishnan 17 Matt Williams 1 Pete Hosner ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ COMPOSITE DEPOSIT & LEADER'S LIST To see a complete checklist of the birds seen in the Basin through September 30, and to see which of these species Matt Williams missed, go to the following site: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! KICKIN' TAIL ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Cup is very pleased to welcome Jai Balakrishnan, this month's leader in the McIlroy Award competition (limited to the Town of Ithaca). The Cup: Hi Jai. It's great to see you here, Kickin' Tail in the McIlroy Award. We've known each other for a while now, but there might still be some Cuppers who haven't met you out in the field yet. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Jai: I am an Electrical Engineering graduate student at Cornell University. I came to Ithaca four years back and I started birding just about two years ago. The Cup: Wow. I knew you had started birding fairly recently, but didn't realize that it had only been two years. How did you first get interested in birding, and how did you get so good so fast? You've gone from seeing birds for the first time last year to being the first person in the Basin to see tough birds like Brant and Olive-sided Flycatcher this year. Jai: I was interested in birds from my childhood days and had done a bit of backyard birding back in India but never owned a pair of binoculars or a field guide. Once I came here and found that I could afford to buy binoculars I started serious birding. Last year I enrolled in the Spring Field Ornithology course by Steve Kress. The course field trips and birding with other serious birders has helped me in honing my bird identification skills. As far as finding the birds, it is just a question of being out there in the field. The Cup: Astute readers of The Cup undoubtedly noticed the appearance of the nickname "Cape May" Jai in last month's issue. Could you explain the story behind that name? Jai: The story you are referring to happened in early May. I had gone birding with a friend to Sapsucker Woods in the morning and we found a Cape May Warbler by the main pond along the Wilson Trail. It was a life bird. Later in the afternoon I drove over to MNWR and found another Cape May at the beginning of the auto loop. Perhaps Cape May Warblers have a natural affinity towards me. The Cup: You're lucky. They seem to have a natural aversion to me. What are some of your other favorite birds from this year? Jai: The Golden-winged Warbler and Olive-sided Flycatcher that I serendipitously found at the Hawthorn Orchards in May. On one occasion I was biking along the recreation way and stopped to look at a Common Yellowthroat when I heard the Golden-winged, while the other sighting was during a leisurely evening walk. The Cup: In previous years, the McIlroy Award was the source of some spirited competition between the likes of Bill Evans, Allison Wells, and Steve Kelling, among others. Recently, though, the competition had fallen upon hard times, and we assumed that Evans would win again this year, because he seemed like the only person who cared about his McIlroy total at all. Did you plan on making a big push in the McIlroy competition this year? Jai: Actually, I was not serious about the McIlroy Award and was only aiming to tally 200 species for the David Cup. Since I did a major chunk of birding during spring migration inside the Ithaca area, especially the Hawthorn Orchards, I've ended up with the lead for the McIlroy Award. The Cup: Now that you're in the lead at the 3/4 way mark, what's your strategy for the last three months of the year? What birds could you still pick up in the Town of Ithaca? Jai: Based on last year's experience I predict that October and early November are going to be the critical months. If I manage to get out regularly to Stewart Park and the lighthouse jetty, I can pick some of the rarities that might show up. I still need Red-shouldered Hawk, Canvasback, Redhead and Common Goldeneye among others. The Cup: I think you might be able to pick up those ducks, especially since there were over 10,000(!) Redhead on the Ithaca Christmas Bird Count this year. Any other easy birds that you should be able to pick up? And what about rarities? Any predictions there? They've been seeing a lot of jaegers up at Derby Hill recently... Jai: Other fairly easy birds that I can pick up would be Rough-legged Hawk and Northern Harrier. I've not been here long enough to be able to predict rarities. My wish list, however, includes Tufted Duck, Parasitic Jaeger and Sabine's Gull. The Cup: So what do you think about your main competition, Bill "Silvertop" Evans? Jai: He is a veteran and knows all the tricks of the trade and is capable of doing a big push when no one expects it. So I wouldn't be surprised if he overtakes me when the next issue of The Cup comes out. Anyway, what chance do I have against someone who ticks off Connecticut Warbler and Buff-breasted Sandpiper during nocturnal migration? The Cup: Oh yes, Bill's veteran "tricks of the trade." We've been hearing stories that Bill has been a little, shall we say, lax, in reporting some of his McIlroy birds from this fall. Like his Orange-crowned Warbler at the jetty woods, and his Great Egret at the jetty. What do you think we should do about his failure to report this birds? Jai: Isn't the whole idea of The Cup to foster friendly competition? Does The Cup ever disqualify participants? How about introducing an amendment to The Cup rules whereby uncommon birds can be checked off from the list only if timely reports are posted? The Cup: What role has your fellow Indian, Meena Haribal, played in your McIlroy success this year? I think she was picked in the Cupper Survey as "Most Likely to Win the 2001 McIlroy Award," but I believe that she has now left the Basin for an extended trip to Asia. Has she passed along any advice to you? Jai: Meena is a very inspiring birder and she suggested that I should take part in the birding competition sponsored by "The Cup". If Meena did not embark on her trip, she would have been a serious contender. Before she left, she sent me a mail with 108 tips to beat Bill Evans. Just kidding... The Cup: OK, onto the obligatory first-time interviewee questions. What is in your CD player right now? Jai: Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. The Cup: Ooh- it sounds like we have a cultured birder here. And your favorite color? Jai: The colour of Ithaca in fall. The Cup: Haven't you studied your old issues of The Cup? You're supposed to give a bird color there! Jai: Oops... How about scarlet red? The Cup: Thanks. Is there anything else you'd like to add? Jai: Yes. Keep "The Cup" rolling. The Cup: Sure thing. And don't forget: BEAT EVANS! To see a photo of Jai, go to: HIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIHIH AUGUST & SEPTEMBER 2001 HIGHLIGHTS LITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITESLITES AUGUST 2001 HIGHLIGHTS Well, even though the birders didn't know about it until late this month, I may as well start with the big highlight: WOOD STORKS. Six were seen eating bullheads in a small pond in downtown Clyde, NY from the 22nd until at least the 27th. However, an unknown observer had previously found (and not reported) 14 birds in a larger, wooded pond north of Clyde. Finally, this spot was made public and even those who missed the birds the first time got to see up to 14 birds there. The group decreased in size and they all were gone two days before the Muckrace. Rumors were flying that up to 30 Wood Storks(!!!) had been frequenting that pond since July. Other rumors say that it was big governmental cover-up involving the DEC and maybe even the FBI and CIA. I'm not sure we'll ever know the whole story but it is certainly impressive that birds like that could go essentially unnoticed (at least unreported) for nearly a month. It makes you wonder what else is out there... A breeding plumaged COMMON LOON and 12 PURPLE MARTINS were seen on the 1st by Fred Bertram while on the lake (in a kayak) near Aurora. On the 3rd, Sandy Podulka confirmed nesting of the RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS in Brooktondale when she saw them feeding young. The two SANDHILL CRANES that were found in July were seen in the same field on August 4th. These birds (and maybe other Sandhills) hung around the northern Basin and were seen until mid-September in that field and along East Rd. Many believe that a small breeding population exists somewhere in the North Basin. Meena Haribal found a breeding plumaged BONAPARTE'S GULL and 30 CASPIAN TERNS at Myers Pt. on the 5th. The day before, she had a calling RED-SHOULDERED HAWK up near Thatcher's Pinnacles in Danby. She had another RED-SHOULDERED over her house on the 13th. Jai Balakrishnan had a LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH on Cascadilla Creek on the 8th. On the 12th, at the bait ponds along Seybolt Rd, Meena had at least 1 BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, 2 STILT SANDPIPERS and some BLACK TERNS. Near there, she had a VESPER SPARROW and at MNWR later, she saw an AMERICAN BITTERN and a CERULEAN WARBLER. Pete Hosner went up to Montezuma the next day and saw a SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER at May's Pt. Jeff Gerbracht went up to Montezuma on the 15th and stuck around to see “several” BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS. Bill Mauck saw an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER at Benning Marsh on the 20th. On the 24th, Gary Chapin found a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE at May's Point. A PEREGRINE FALCON was reported in the area a few times later in the month. Back towards the south end of the basin, Meena reported seeing hundreds of COMMON NIGHTHAWKS in flight over Ithaca on the 22nd. On the 25th, Bob McGuire saw a MERLIN cruising around downtown Ithaca. Jay McGowan found a GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER along with 13 other warbler species around Beam Hill on the 29th. Later, that night he heard SWAINSON'S THRUSHES and a GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH. One of the trips to see the Wood Storks resulted in a few people getting nice looks at a LEAST BITTERN along the Auto Loop. Amidst all the stork stuff, some other birds were seen. Other nice birds that were overshadowed by storks were BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER and another LEAST BITTERN at May's Point Pool, found by Ken Rosenberg and Jeff Gerbracht on the 30th. SEPTEMBER 2001 HIGHLIGHTS In early September, many of the local birders were out preparing for the Muckrace. In fact, some of the best reports of the month were from scouts. They kept close tabs on the WOOD STORKS, hoping that they would stay to be twitched on the big day on the 8th (they left 2 days early). The area was covered so well that some birds were found independently by several groups. The OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER on Galen Rd. was first seen on the 2nd by two Matts and then found again by Meena and Jeff on the 3rd. The latter party also had a juvenile RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at the same spot. The two SANDHILL CRANES were seen in the same field near Livingston Rd. early in the week by Sarver and Williams, however they proved to be very unreliable, except for during the Muckrace(8th), when only one team (who didn't even know they were present) saw them. The shorebird diversity was good at Montezuma with nothing extremely rare showing up. BAIRD'S and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS were seen quite regularly and occasionally a SANDERLING or two would show up at May's Point. On the evening of the 11th, Catherine Sandell found a WILSON'S PHALAROPE at May's Point Pool. BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER was seen three times this month: on the 2nd at Benning by Tom Burke and Gail Benson (who were up from the city to see the Storks) and on the 16th by Gary Chapin (who seemed to know just when to hit May's this fall). The BUFF-BREASTED was relocated on the 17th by Wes Hochachka, who also saw a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE. Bob Fogg relocated the phalarope on the 18th. Both DOWITCHER species were tough in the early part of the month but LONG-BILLEDS were reported more frequently in late September. Very few dowitchers, if any, were seen on the Muckrace (usually both species can be seen). Highlights from the Montezuma Muckrace on the 8th included: SANDHILL CRANE, RED-HEADED WOODPECKER, LEAST BITTERN, AMERICAN BITTERN, SORA, VIRGINIA RAIL, BROAD-WINGED HAWK, YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, CAPE MAY WARBLER and VESPER SPARROW. During an evening bike ride to the white Lighthouse Jetty on the 10th, Bill Evans, Sarver and Williams turned up two RUDDY TURNSTONES (a very good McIlroy bird). On the 11th, Meena went to Mundy and found it “not...dripping but drizzling” and had a PHILADELPHIA VIREO and an OSPREY. New Basin birder Colby Newman turned up MOURNING WARBLER and NORTHERN PARULA that day as well. On the 14th, Pete Hosner found Mundy “dripping” with 1 BLACKPOLL WARBLER, 2 BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS and 3-4 NORTHERN PARULAS. Bob Fogg and Pete Hosner went to MNWR on the 14th and had a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at May's. On their way up, they had a SANDERLING at Myer's Point. The next day (15th), the Birdwatching Club at Cornell was at Myer's and flushed a bird that they briefly thought to be merely a Sanderling. Well, they certainly got a shock when it landed and turned out to be a PIPING PLOVER. This bird stayed on or near the spit and the swimming area at Myer's for exactly one week (until the 22nd - much longer than any usual non-resident or migrant). It withstood a bonfire and many people, kayaks, jetskis and dogs but it could be argued that, with a presumably coastal background, those things made it feel right at home. From the “Beam Hill Bunch” in Dryden: Jay McGowan reported seeing HOODED WARBLERS into the first week of September. Ken Rosenberg saw a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER in his yard on the 23rd. Ken left his hill on the 28th and went to Mt. Pleasant where he saw quite a few raptors including a MERLIN, a BALD EAGLE and 3 OSPREY as well as 2 of the resident COMMON RAVENS. Kevin McGowan had some neat stuff from his yard later in the month including NORTHERN PARULA (26th), AMERICAN PIPIT (28th), WINTER WREN (28th & 29th), RUSTY BLACKBIRD (29th) and two EVENING GROSBEAKS on the 30th. On the 29th, Meena went to the jetty and saw a PEREGRINE FALCON, a flock of 6 PALM WARBLERS, a CAPE MAY WARBLER and a NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH. Also on the 29th, Matt Sarver went to Bomax Dr. (yes, Drive) and saw an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Night Sounds by Matt Medler The setting: a mostly clear, star-filled evening atop Mount Pleasant, some time in mid-September. The characters: three of Ithaca's most active young birders, and one of their wise elders. Two of the youngsters arrive at Mt. Pleasant shortly before nine, having just enjoyed a celebratory Pudgie's pizza in honor of the Piping Plover at Myers Point. The wise elder and an eager new student are already at the observatory, listening to the first migrants of the evening. Have you guys been hearing anything? Well, there are some Great Horneds going, and a Screech off in the distance, and a few thrushes and grosbeaks overhead. Any Gray-cheeks? Nope. Did you see anything at Montezuma today? There were some shorebirds at Mays, but nothing new. Any dowitchers? No. Did you two do any birding before dark? Yeah- we headed up to Myers as soon as I got into town to see the Piping Plover. Did you see it? Yup. I can't believe it's still there. Dammmit. I mean, that's great that you got to see it. Swainson's. What was that other one? Probably a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. If you hear something strange and off-tune, it's probably a grosbeak. There's another Swainson's. Did you hear that buzz? That was a Lincoln's/Swamp Sparrow type. Can you tell those two apart? Some people say they can, but I don't feel comfortable calling them. Well if you don't feel comfortable calling them, I don't know who would. Grosbeak. Yeah, but what's that other sound? I've been hearing a loud sound coming from down low. Is that a thrush? That's the juvenile Great Horned. Oh. Oh yeah- I knew that. It just sounds a little strange. Doesn't it sound weird? Sure. What was that? I didn't hear anything. There's something running around on the ground. Didn't you hear it? No. I think it was a rabbit. Yeah, a rabbit just ran right by us. Are you sure? That was definitely a rabbit. OK. Here's a nice wave of Swainson's. Ooh- that one sounded a little high. That was another grosbeak. Oh. Was that a Veery off to the right? Could've been. What do you mean, could have been? That doesn't instill much confidence. The longer I do this, the less confident I get about these things. What was that? Swainson's. That didn't sound like a peeper to me. That's what we call a "Carly Simon Swainson's." It sounds kind of like Carly Simon singing. Who? Carly Simon. How old are you? Umm, twenty-two, I think. Do you know what DDT is? Was that a Veery? Did you hear that dry buzz? That was probably a Lincoln's. I thought you couldn't tell. Well, that one was *really* dry. Now is the peak time for Lincoln's, and Swamps come through later. I said it was *probably* a Lincoln's. Swainson's. Still no Gray-cheeks. Nope. There's a Savannah Sparrow. What was that? That sounded really strange. It was another grosbeak. They can do some really throaty things. Wait. I thought they did a high-pitched thing, even higher than Swainson's. Yeah, they do that too. Ooh- did you hear that? What, another grosbeak? No. The rabbit. Didn't you hear it this time? Nope. I think you're imagining things. There's definitely a rabbit running around. I'm going to go find it. You do that. [A few minutes later.] Did you find the rabbit? You just missed a nice Gray-cheek. Really? Yellowthroat. Nah, just kidding. Did you hear *that*? That was definitely a Lincoln's. That was extremely dry and buzzy. I'll take your word for it. It sounded like that yellowthroat to me. Well boys, I think I'm going to get going soon. I had some prune juice before I came up here, and I'm starting to feel a little funny. Prune juice, huh? It was starting to get a little old, so I figured I would just finish it off. I don't think the prune juice is the only thing getting old. There's a Gray-cheek. Where? Up high to the right. Shh. Got it. Missed it. I missed it too. Swainson's. There's a nice low Gray-cheek. Did you all get that one? Yup. There it is again. Nice. OK, so who's up for going out to listen for Dickcissel tomorrow morning at the Triangle? I am. I am too then. How early? I think seven should be a good time to catch the morning flight. Seven o'clock at the Triangle? I guess I can do that. OK, see you then. #*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*# CUPPER PHONE CARD *#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#* Call a Cupper for rarities, carpools, chasing or just birding! Jai Balakrishnan 257-3630 Susan Barnett 387-9496 Greg Delisle 387-9496 Jeff Gerbracht 277-6193 Bill Evans 272-1786 Bob Fogg 257-9123 Pete Hosner 266-9637 Kevin McGowan(home) 844-3728 Kevin McGowan(cell) 277-0491 Matt Medler 256-7961 Matt Sarver 275-0745 Jeff & Allison Wells 347-6449 Matt Williams(413) 665-3981 492x837-48576+5764.679/4905%8677-34566.578+048694048576+5764.679/4905% STAT'S ALL, FOLKS By Matt Medler 6879403+58673.6978/4857694~5867448576+5764.679/4905%%x98458.6059679+69 How many of you Cup old-timers remember Karl David's monthly statistics column, Stat's All, Folks? OK, even I'll admit that I didn't read the column every month (despite being a statistics teaching assistant). I recently had the opportunity to write a statistics question for a Biology 103 quiz, and was in need of some good data. "David Cup totals!," I thought. Here's what I came up with: 3. The "David Cup" is an annual competition in which local birdwatchers compete to determine who can see the most birds in the Cayuga Lake Basin in a given year. The following numbers represent the total number of birds seen in the year 2000 by 29 David Cup participants: 50, 87, 108, 122, 129, 130, 152, 167, 168, 169, 177, 187, 193, 195, 207, 210, 210, 219, 230, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 238, 239, 245, 251. Find the median, first quartile, third quartile, and interquartile range for these data. Draw a boxplot for these data. Very careful readers of The Cup might notice that the numbers don't exactly match the final totals for last year. I took a few "liberties" with the data in order to have a low outlier (sorry, Tringa McGowan!) and clear first and third quartiles. Shocked, you say? Don't be too surprised. After all, we "adjust" totals every month any way (except for Allison Wells's - her total is too low to even bother lowering). I expect complete answers to be included when you submit your totals next month. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< < COACH'S CORNER < < <<<<<<<<<<<<<< < < < < < < < < What better way to show that the new editorship of The Cup is "old school" than to present an "encore" edition of a classic Coach's Corner. This piece originally appeared in October 1997, but it was so good, it ran again in October 1998. We at The Cup think that Kevin McGowan's advice is timeless, so here it is one more time... COACH MCGOWAN: October is the last gasp. This could be your last chance to get new year birds. Unless you are missing some fairly easy stuff, or something really neat turns up later, you won't add much after this. [It does look like we'll get two new species of winter finch in late 2001- Evening Grosbeak and Common Redpoll.] So, that said, what are you going to do to make the most of it? First, on the personal side: What are you missing? If you need a couple of shorebirds, some are still to be found at Montezuma through the middle of the month. But, be aware that many things (like Short-billed Dowitcher) are gone. Do you need flycatchers? Fuhgettaboudit! They're history. Warblers? Most are gone; the ones to look for now are Connecticut and Orange- crowned. But you'd better hurry. We've got only another week or so before it's too late for them, too. Do you need sparrows? Better luck here. Most expected sparrows are still around, along, probably, with some rarities (like Nelson's Sharp-tailed, LeConte's, and Clay-colored). The bad news is that they're so sneaky now you may never find them. I'll bet there's still a Henslow's Sparrow in the Basin right now, but I'll also bet you don't find it! Weedy fields are well worth walking through. There's lots of habitat out there. Definitely check out Hog's Hole. That's where the action will be. Patience, persistence, and pure out and out luck are what you need to turn up a couple of neat sparrows at this point. How about hawks? Are you still missing Broad-winged Hawk? ¡Qué lástima! They're gone! But, if Golden Eagle is still a hole on your list, this is the month for you. Go check out Mount Pleasant on days with north winds. Red-tailed Hawk migration peaks this month, and Golden Eagles will pass through, too. A whole lot of hawks will be going by this month, and a very, very few might be something different. Pennsylvania just [Oct. 1997] reported a Swainson's Hawk flying by. Maybe it went over Mt. Pleasant first. We'll never know these things unless you go up and check it out. Are you missing any waterfowl? If so, then the season for you is just heating up. The Loon Watch is officially under way, and although few loons have passed by yet, it's starting. Watch the last half of this month for the first of the scoters, Long-tailed Duck, and Brant. Early morning at Taughannock SP with Bob Meade is a great way to pick up interesting migrants. Or, head down to Stewart Park and join the jolly junta on the jetty for gulls, loons, and who knows what. (And the walk out to the lighthouse is one of the best places to look for Orange-crowned and Connecticut warblers.) So, play the odds and fill in your gaps. Give Montezuma a couple more tries. Watch the lake, and take a couple of lunch breaks at Mt. Pleasant. If you feel like a stroll, pick a nice weedy field. Go wander the festival grounds at Hog's Hole. And don't take down your hummingbird feeders yet. Any hummingbird that turns up this month is worth a close look. I'm hoping for some interesting feeder visitor this winter. Something like a Harris's Sparrow or Varied Thrush. We haven't had anything like that for quite a while, so we're due. Keep those feeders full and don't forget to watch them every now and then. And get outside and bird! Let me repeat myself: get outside, get outside! There seems to have been a lull in the action over the last month, so we need to turn it up a notch. Those of you without a newborn baby don't have acceptable excuses. Get out there and try to find something. This can be the most beautiful time of the year in Upstate New York, so try to appreciate it. Either use your being outside as an excuse to bird, or use your birding as an excuse to be outside. Remember, it only gets darker and colder after this. """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" "CUP QUOTES" """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" I regret that my new abstract of an office doesn't allow me to have my normal library of resources nearby, so I am only guessing that a Wood Warbler would weigh in around 15g, and a European Robin at less than 25g (20?). I believe a mass of 48g puts the bat in the range with Loggerhead Shrike. -Kevin McGowan By the way, as I was driving home, scantily clothed, from my African dance class one night last week a bat flew through my car window and landed on my neck. I knew exactly what it was, although I couldn't see it. It walked around on me a bit, then landed on my leg. The feeling was not unpleasant. I calmly stopped the car and opened the door and it flew out. I was quite surprised at my composure. Does this mean I will soon turn into a vampire?? -Marie Read I thought people (well, at least, some of you anyway...) might like to know that, because of my recent bat interaction, and after much discussion, I have started a course of rabies shots....So I can again look forward to a long and healthy life of posting bad English jokes, puns, and silly comments, mixed in with the occasional dubious bird sighting to Cayugabirds! -Marie Read I went out with intention of running some errands and birding. Laura you were right. Birds made me ditch my shopping plan. ŠIf you want really look at shore birds at close range, Seybolt Ponds are great place. Birds were as close as 15 to 30 feet. Even just binoculars were good for most identifications. In scope they looked grand. -Meena Haribal NIGHTHAWWWWKS IN HUNDREDS! -Meena Haribal I just saw 5 Wood Storks in Clyde NY and got a digital picture. -Leona Lauster Sorry for the late post -- thought surely someone else would post today.... -Ken Rosenberg And now for the Zen experience, I'm sure you have all had those looks through the scope or bins at both GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, great looks for comparison. Well that's how it started. Then add a STILT SANDPIPER and toss in a PECTORAL. Great, four birds, four sandpipers. But it only gets better, mix in a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, a LEAST SANDPIPER and a SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER. About here I start saying to Meena, "WOW, seven birds and seven species, in a single scope view". To which she calmly replys, a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER just flew in. What? eight out of eight? The to top it all off, and apparently not wanting to be left out of the fun, a KILLDEER suddenly appears. Nine birds and nine shorebird species in a single field of view. Isn't birding great? The only things that decided to remain aloof were BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS and GOLDEN-PLOVERS. -Jeff Gerbracht I had a BROWN THRASHER "tsssp"ing along Beam Hill this morning. It came right up for confirmation when I pished. Jay continues to have a few warblers around the yard (I don't), with HOODED WARBLER found nearly every day this last week. -Kevin McGowan there's a piping plover at myers point today, seen at 4:15pm. -pete h. -Pete Hosner What a beautiful day along the water. Clear azure sky, gentle waves, and a wonderful opportunity to unplug for just a little while from the events of the past week and focus on this one gift. Truly a meditation for me. -Karen Edelstein Early morning (not as early as Bob Fogg), headed to Myers to look for Piping Plover. Then called up Bill and Gladys and continued to watch his/her feeding behavior. Seemed to be getting enough stuff to eat. He was little vicious creature. He chased Killdeer many times. I don't know why those dumb Killdeer (two of them) insisted on landing close to him. He would glare at the Killdeer from a distance, and run towards the Killdeer to chase him away. Twice he chased them over water for quite some distance. He was half the size of Killdeer. We thought Ok this guy is not going to have any trouble in taking care of himself though he was only one of his kind in that area. He will do well where ever he goes for wintering. -Meena Haribal I went to Myers around 11 this morning: patriotism has taken the form of a huge pile of debris on the south spit, presumably to be burned. Lots of activity with semis carrying bundles of wood and extended cab pickups and Harleys. Almost everyone I saw contributed a cigarette butt to the beach. Not what I imagine to be ideal conditions for the little wanderer. Maybe it moved to the north side... the activity was certainly enough to scare me away. -Correen Seacord Today, I made a multi-purpose weekend trip back to Ithaca. About 15 minutes after I made it into town (6:15pm), Matt Medler and I went to Myers and watched the PIPING PLOVER foraging, bathing and preening. -Matt Williams If anyone has time and binoculars check out Mundy. -Meena Haribal Tonight's going to be a good night for migrants! Listen well, and be sure to wake up before civil twilight begins (6:32AM, sunrise 7:00AM) to hear any thrushes descend from migration. They usually stop calling at the start of civil twilight, like someone turned off a water faucet. -Chris Tessaglia-Hymes On the way back, I hit a mixed hunting party of following birds back in the woods... -Meena Haribal Today (Sunday, 30 Sep 01) I had 2 EVENING GROSBEAKS fly over our yard south of Dryden. I heard them call twice, and then they were gone. -Kevin McGowan May Your Cup Runneth Over, The Matts