Year 7, Issue 5

***************************************************************** *^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^ *The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competitions. * Editor-in-Chief: Matt Medler * Waxwing Poetic: Eric Banford * Basin Bird Highlights: Mike Andersen * Interview Transcriber: Ryan Bakelaar * Diving Instructor: Tim Lenz ****************************************************************** Welcome to The Cup 7.5, celebrating the amazing birding month of May! Whether you happen to be a relative newcomer to the Basin, or a grizzled veteran (do I get my membership card soon, Kevin?), I hope you got the sense that this month was a special one for Basin birding. Why was it so special? A list of highlights from the month--Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, Little Gull, Purple Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Least Bittern, Whip-poor-will, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat--might start to explain, but it was more than that. It's one thing for one or two people to see a rarity, but when a Purple Sandpiper hangs around at Myers for a week, two Least Bitterns choose to expose themselves frequently at Sapsucker Woods (of all places!), and a Whip-poor-will stays put at the Hawthorn Orchards for two days, you start to have the makings of an extraordinary month. But it was more than that. There was a sense of community that suddenly burst into full bloom as the trees started to leaf out and the birds arrived back. Stopping at Sapsucker Woods might not have yielded a bittern the first time, but you were bound to bump into at least one or two other birders--old friends and new faces--eager to help you see the bird. Don't know where the Whip-poor-will is? Follow me through the mud and muck and I'll show you. Everywhere you went, there were other birders, seeing birds and being excited about showing these birds to others. I think all of this, taken together, is what made May such a special month. Either that, or the fact that I saw the Marbled Godwit and Allison Wells didn't! @ @ @ @ @ @ NEWS, CUES, and BLUES @ @ @ @ @ @ SAPSUCKERS WIN...AAAH...SAPSUCKERS WIN!: This year, they really did it! After finishing in a first-place tie in last year's World Series of Birding, the Lab of Ornithology Sapsuckers--John Fitzpatrick, Steve Kelling, Kevin McGowan, Ken Rosenberg, and Jeff "Boom Boom" Wells-- finally broke through and won the 24-hour Big Day event in New Jersey. For those of you not familiar with the World Series of Birding, it is a small tune-up event for *the* premier Big Day competition of the birding year--the Montezuma Muckrace, held at Montezuma NWR in September. Despite the fact that Jeff Wells created the Muckrace six years ago so that the Sapsuckers might win something (anything!), the best they have been able to do is finish in a first-place tie with the vaunted Goatsuckers team (Matt Medler, Chris Tessaglia-Hymes, and Matt Sarver) in 1998. The past two years, the Sapsuckers literally haven't even shown up at the Muckrace. We're all hoping that now that the team has a bit of confidence from its little World Series victory, they might have the nerve to participate in the upcoming Muckrace. There will be no shortage of young birders there to remind the Sapsuckers that Montezuma is a long ways from New Jersey. NEW SPECIES?: This news just in from my (non-birding) sister, Jen: Here is a little bird info for ya--they closed the 11 pm local news last night with a bird story: I guess an endangered bird has decided to hang out on a beach on Nantucket. I think they said the bird is the Piping Glober (I wrote that down; that's what it sounded like they said). Anyway, this is newsworthy b/c the bird is on the endangered list, but also b/c Nantucket is now relocating their July 4th celebration to another part of the island so they don't disturb the birds! Ha! I thought that was very considerate of them :) OUT OF BASIN BIRDING: Talk about Cupper commitment. It turns out that a number of Cuppers are way out of the Basin at the moment, but that hasn't stopped most of them from sending in up-to-date totals, along with a few extralimital sightings. Here's a quick update from Jesse Ellis, who is in Costa Rica for the summer, beginning research on the stoinkin' White-throated Magpie-Jay: "Costa Rica is good. I'm still getting into the swing of things, I guess, having only just finished my dry box and begun recording Magpie-Jays. They're great birds though, and not too tough to get decent footage of. I haven't been birding too hard, but I've seen some beautiful birds... Scrub Euphonia, Collared Forest-falcon, Thicket Tinamou, etc. Probably common stuff, but cool nonetheless. We're going up to Cacao, the second volcano, this weekend, and I've been told it's pretty awesome for birds, toucans and araçaris everywhere. Should be good." Not to be outdone, Meena weighed in with this in-the-field update from the Dominican Republic: "Hi Matt, I think it is 210. I am in Dominican Republic. So cant check for sure. But i know it was 210 last time i counted, but may be more. I can add it in next months total. Hope you guys are having good birding. I saw 30 species of DR and of them 10 are endemic species. I am going tomorrow to mountains look for some more species." Finally, Dan Lebbin is in Peru for the summer, doing who knows what (we're not even sure if he knows). We imagine that he's seen more birds there in a few weeks than all of us will see in the Basin in an entire year, but you never know with Dan. He's good with identifying large birds like gannets, but when it comes to the little birds, he starts to have problems. Take a look at his (correct) total in Pilgrims' Progress. Dan, have you thought about taking some birding lessons from Tringa McGowan? @#$$%#%$^!(*$)%^@>(#?@<$&%^@( DEAR TICK @#%$^!)$(%*&^>$*%?*%^#*%(*& Dear Tick is back (at least for one month)! Cup Intern Allison Wells is earning that generous stipend we're giving her, having managed to track down the elusive Tick. If you have a question for the dear one, send it along to Matt or Allison, and we'll see if Dear Tick will impart more of his/her wisdom in future issues of The Cup. DEAR TICK: My wife is with child--the baby eats whatever she eats, drinks what she drinks, breaths her breath. Most importantly, the baby birds when and where she birds. In short, the two are one. Thus, shouldn't the baby be able to tick off all of the birds his/her mother has seen during this David Cup year? This would put him/her nicely ahead of many other Cuppers--and s/he's not even born yet! "Expecting" A Good Answer Dear "Expecting"- The real question is not how the baby should be compensated, but how should his/her mother? After all, the baby is enjoying the good life right now, eating, drinking, and birding merry. It's your wife who's doing all the work. I trust that you are treating her well--buying her lots of flowers, giving her massages whenever she wants, preparing her meals and taking her out to dinner, and generally doing all housework and yard tasks. On top of that, if Mom wants to share her birds with her baby-on-the-way, that's her bird-call. :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS By Mike Andersen May...a month held high upon a pedestal by birders near and far. The month in which a major transition occurs from the tease that is April to the inferno we call June. May brings to mind the passage of millions of beautiful songbirds from parts south on an epic journey northward. Birders easily fall victims to symptoms of "warbler neck," while altogether forgetting about the other birds. The month of May is often dominated by flashy, exotic names such as Scarlet Tanager, Rose- breasted Grosbeak, Blackburnian Warbler, and Indigo Bunting, at the expense of birds like Philadelphia Vireo and Acadian Flycatcher. In 2002, May produced both a memorable Basin songbird migration along with a complement of rarities large enough to be evenly spread over the span of a year. One such jewel, a shorebird of the Atlantic Coast and the High Arctic, created a magical link between an old-time legend and two up-and-coming birders from today. The month starting out frustratingly slow, as most Mays tend to do. A trickle of tantalizing reports on Cayugabirds-L (Nashville Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, American Redstart, and Eastern Kingbird) filtered in from Renwick, the Ithaca Cemetery, and Mundy Wildflower Garden (where Jesse Ellis got his name on the first arrivals list four times in a row!). A slow, but somewhat steady pattern prevailed for almost a week into the month with a few reports scattered across the southern Basin. Not until the second week of May, when the region saw large amounts of rain, did the real excitement start. The well-advertised (thanks Hymes) "place-to-be"--the Hawthorn Orchards--came through with a full week of spectacular migrants. As if every Neotropical migrant arrived on the same gust of wind, the orchards suddenly held upwards of 20 species of warblers, with the added bonus of vireos, grosbeaks, flycatchers, and tanagers. Of note was the unprecedented number of Northern Parulas--the orchards saw multiple days with upwards of 20 individuals. Also noteworthy were consistent numbers of Orange- crowned, Palm and Nashville Warblers, all of which seemed to linger into the season later than expected. Normally tough migrants to see, Swainson’s and Gray-cheeked Thrushes were relatively regular during the second and third week of May. Finally, one more noteworthy Hawthorn warbler was a Golden-winged Warbler seen early in the month in the evening and briefly the following morning. One particular morning stands out in my mind when I, accompanied by others from Cornell, easily saw 20 species of warblers on a day when 22 or 23 were recorded in total at the orchards. Save the warblers, however, this day was spectacular for the sheer numbers of birds. In one young oak, I watched as eight Baltimore Orioles fed side-by-side with eight Scarlet Tanagers, a dozen more Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and a myriad of warblers and vireos! It would be wrong of me not to mention another spectacular wave of migrants seen and promptly reported by Meena Haribal and others from the ridge on the north side of Cornell’s Beebe Lake. An estimated 500 individuals of upwards of 20 species of warblers were recorded from this amazing flock! (Maybe the orchards, while spectacular, should not be thought of as greatly superior to any other potentially good migrant trap in the Basin). As mentioned above, May produced its fair share (or maybe more) of remarkable migrant waves, but luckily, some birders remained active at other locales, tearing themselves away from the addiction of migrant songbirds. Setting the stage for a month full of unusual and rare birds was a strangely plumaged Little Gull seen by Ken Rosenberg and others on the 4th of May from Stewart Park. As is often the case with this species, it unfortunately did not stick around into the evening for others to see. On the heels of the Sapsuckers' first "real" victory at the prestigious World Series of Birding came an unlikely, yet valid-sounding report of a Purple Sandpiper at Myers. Could it be true? Could this be the year that Purple Sandpiper makes but its fourth appearance in the Basin and first since the legend, Arthur A. Allen, found one at Myers Point in 1954? YES! Kudos to Tim and Anne Marie Johnson for not only finding the bird, but also for getting the word out in a timely fashion. Within minutes a hoard of birders arrived on the scene to confirm what Tim and Anne Marie correctly identified as the Basin’s fourth Purple Sandpiper and first-ever spring record. Much to the dismay of some who arrived but minutes later, Jesse Ellis pulled a Dan Lebbin (of Northern Gannet fame) with screams of "Godwit!" Amidst yells of "Where?" and "Which one?" the group of half dozen birders temporarily abandoned the Purple Sandpiper in time to see a beautiful Marbled Godwit fly only meters over their heads. This second prized shorebird circled the spit a few times before landing, only to eventually walk within a foot of the Purple Sandpiper! Before anyone could comprehend what they were witnessing, the godwit took off, rounded the point and headed south towards Stewart Park, followed closely by McIlroy diehards Jai Balakrishnan and Tim Lenz. In a! Quite amazing how similar this was to the sighting of the murrelet and gannet last December. Can anyone say, "Patagonia Rest Stop Effect?" Thanks Anne Marie and Tim! Newcomers to The Cup, Jeff and Allison Wells made a stunning duel discovery of both a Worm-eating Warbler and Whip-poor-will at the now played out Hawthorn Orchards. Must have been beginners' luck for this "birding" couple. Most who tried for the "Whip" the next day were rewarded with stellar looks. Some were lucky enough to enjoy observations of the Worm-eater harassing the Whip. Much credit is due to Sarah Fern for relocating the Whip-poor-will the following day. Tired of the muck that was the Hawthorn Orchards, Pete Hosner and I decided to take a real adventure to the southern reaches of the Basin to the traditional Worm-eating locale, the Biodome. After traversing raging rivers beaver-style, a trek up the hill at the Lindsay Parsons Biodiversity Preserve produced multiple singing males with one very cooperative bird at eye-level. Could it be that the wife of this new birding couple found such a hill a daunting task in her current pregnancy? C’mon now, do you want your kid to be a birder or not? As if the highlights weren’t good enough already, Ken Rosenberg chimed in with his second great find of the month. On the morning of the 14th, he found the Basin’s first White-eyed Vireo since one showed up in downtown Ithaca in November of 1999. Unfortunately, this bird did not seem to cause as much of a stir as it should have. Did anyone go look for it? Carrying on the time-honored tradition of the Lab of O "loop," Greg Delisle took a leisurely morning saunter through Sapsucker Woods only to be pleasantly surprised with the sighting of a Least Bittern in a small cattail marsh on the north side of the main pond. By that afternoon, patient observers and digital photography helped confirm the presence of a pair! With patience, one or more of the bitterns could be observed for a few days after Greg’s initial sighting. Also of note was the presence of a cooperative and very faithful Swainson’s Thrush, along with multiple Wilson’s Warblers, some of which were as curious as chickadees, often approaching observers within inches. As the passerine migration began to wind down, all but a few hardcore, testosterone-driven birders quickly lost interest in exploring other, underbirded areas of the north Basin. Following a period of intense and prolonged rainfall, Jesse Ellis, Pete Hosner, Matt Medler, and I made frequent trips to the "land of the unknown" north of Montezuma. We were rewarded with an excellent variety of spring shorebirds at the DEC Property at the end of Morgan Road, including a Wilson’s Phalarope and a flock of 50 beautiful Short-billed Dowitcher. The sounds of American Bitterns and Soras became a preferred way to end the day at the nearby Carncross Road marsh. Near the end of the month, Steve Fast added to the shorebird list at Morgan Road with a nice report of five Sanderling (a hard-to-see Basin bird in its breeding finery), 11 Ruddy Turnstone, and 40 Dunlin, along with a scattering of Pectoral Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Semipalmated Sandpiper. Without anything better to do, the aforementioned students put together a haphazard big day route in hopes of spending a full day afield with good friends and lots of birds. Much to their surprise, they finished with a very respectable 165 species in the Cayuga Lake Basin despite below-freezing morning temperatures, three bouts with snow, and a migration so late that even wood-pewees hadn’t shown up yet. Highlights included a pair of White-winged Crossbills still lingering in Etna (much to our delight), a number of Forster's Terns at Montezuma, and one of the only Common Nighthawks of the spring migration (also seen at Montezuma). Let it be known that the four members of this team challenge anyone to "bring it" in 2003. You know who you are. After the blistering pace of the first two-thirds of May, going birding at migrant traps after the 20th seemed tedious and, perhaps, a bit futile. In an instant, gears shifted from days with more than 20 species of warblers to ones providing excitement over an odd flycatcher such as a Yellow-bellied or Olive-sided. Traditional traps such as the Hawthorn Orchards and Mundy played host to these two sought-after, late-May migrants. Birders’ attentions started to shift towards breeding activity, especially in a year of New York’s second Breeding Bird Atlas. Before all hope was lost for straggling migrants, Jai Balakrishnan came through on May 31st with a Yellow-breasted Chat, one last stellar find for the Hawthorn Orchards, and a great end to Jai's Basin birding career. :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> May 2002 David Cup Totals Just how impressive is Pete Hosner's total of 241 at the end of May? It shatters the previous May record of 226, set by Geo Kloppel in his big year of 2000. And consider the plight of poor Mike Andersen--in any previous Cup year (except 2000), his total of 225 would have placed him in first place in the David Cup race. Where does it leave him this year? A whopping sixteen birds off of Pete's blistering pace. 241 Pete Hosner 225 Mike Andersen 224 Jesse Ellis 223 Matt Medler 218 Jay McGowan 211 Steve & Susan Fast 211 Kevin McGowan 210 Meena Haribal 203 Bruce Tracey 199 Bob Fogg 197 Tim Lenz 190 Ken Rosenberg 182 Allison Wells 182 Baby Wells-in-Utero 179 Jeff Gerbracht 178 Eric Banford 178 Jeff Wells 171 Anne Marie Johnson 170 Tim Johnson 146 Steve Kelling 144 Anne James-Rosenberg 113 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan 102 Matt Williams 76 Dan Lebbin 82 Martin (the Cat) McGowan 45 Rachel Rosenberg Pete's 200th bird: Veery Jay’s 200th bird: Whip-poor-will Kevin's 200th bird: Hooded Warbler Tringa’s 100th bird: Orange-crowned Warbler May 2002 McIlroy Award Totals Could Pete be the first Cupper to win both the David Cup and the McIlroy Award in the same year? Now that Jai had moved on to a job in Dallas, it looks like McIlroy victory is a distinct possibility for Pete. Tim, please tell us that you saved some "easy" McIlroy birds for when you arrive back in Ithaca in the fall. 173 Jai Balakrishnan 173 Pete Hosner 163 Tim Lenz 151 Jay McGowan 142 Kevin McGowan 140 Matt Medler 127 Ken Rosenberg 127 Allison Wells 127 Baby Wells-in-Utero May 2002 Evans Trophy Totals Finally, a competition that it looks like Pete isn't going to win! Not only that, but look who *isn't* in first place--Ken Rosenberg, who has had a stranglehold on this competition since its inception. Could this be the year that Ken falls from his Dryden throne? 174 Jay McGowan 172 Kevin McGowan 164 Ken Rosenberg 160 Pete Hosner May 2002 Yard Totals 114 McGowan/Kline Family 95 Nancy Dickinson 91 Rosenberg Family 86 Steve Kelling 61 Jesse Ellis 51 Anne Marie and Tim Johnson $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ COMPOSITE DEPOSIT At the end of May, the Composite Deposit (all birds seen in the Cayuga Lake Basin, by Cuppers and non-Cuppers alike) stood at 250 species. How does this compare with previous years? Last year, the Deposit stood at a mere 237 species at the end of May. In fact, the 2001 Composite Deposit didn't hit 250 until September 15, when a pale little shorebird was discovered at Myers Point. In 2000, though, the cumulative Basin total was more in line with this year's total, reaching 248 by the close of May. Here are all the species seen or heard in the Basin by the end of May: R-t Loon, Common Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, EARED GREBE, D-c Cormorant, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, CATTLE EGRET, Green Heron, B-c Night-Heron, GLOSSY IBIS, Turkey Vulture, Tundra Swan, Mute Swan, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, Snow Goose, ROSS'S GOOSE, Brant, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, G-w Teal, American Black Duck, Mallard, N Pintail, B-w Teal, N Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, L-t Duck, Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, W-w Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, R-b Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Osprey, Bald Eagle, N Harrier, S-s Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, N Goshawk, R-s Hawk, B-w Hawk, R-t Hawk, R-l Hawk, Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Sandhill Crane, B-b Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, G Yellowlegs, L Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, MARBLED GODWIT, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, W-r Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, PURPLE SANDPIPER, Dunlin, S-b Dowitcher, Common Snipe, American Woodcock, Wilson's Phalarope, LITTLE GULL, Bonaparte's Gull, R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser B-b Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great B-b Gull, SLATY- BACKED GULL, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Black Tern, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, B-b Cuckoo, Y-b Cuckoo, E Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Snowy Owl, Barred Owl, L-e Owl, S-e Owl, N Saw-whet Owl, Common Nighthawk, Whip-poor-will, Chimney Swift, R-t Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, R-h Woodpecker, R-b Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, N Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, O-s Flycatcher, E Wood-Pewee, Y-b Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, E Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, E Kingbird, N Shrike, WHITE-EYED VIREO, Y-t Vireo, B-h Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, R-e Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Common Raven, Horned Lark, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, N R-w Swallow, Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, B-c Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, G-c Kinglet, R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E Bluebird, Veery, G-c Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, N Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, American Pipit, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Cedar Waxwing, B-w Warbler, G-w Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, O-c Warbler, Nashville Warbler, N Parula, Yellow Warbler, C-s Warbler, Magnolia, Cape May Warbler, B-t Blue Warbler, Y-r Warbler, B-t Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, B-b Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, B-and-w Warbler, American Redstart, W-e Warbler, Ovenbird, N Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Mourning Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Canada Warbler, YELLOW- BREASTED CHAT, Scarlet Tanager, E Towhee, American Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Henslow's Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, N Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Bobolink, R-w Blackbird, E Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird, Common Grackle, B-h Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Pine Grosbeak, Purple Finch, House Finch, W-w Crossbill, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak, House Sparrow. LEADER'S MISS LIST Have I mentioned what an incredible year Pete is having? As we moved into June, only nine species seen in the Basin this year had managed to escape his detection: Great Egret, CATTLE EGRET, B-c Night-Heron, Black Scoter, SLATY-BACKED GULL, Snowy Owl, O-s Flycatcher, G-w Warbler, and Lapland Longspur. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! KICKIN' TAIL! ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE CUP: Congratulations, Pete! We here at The Cup take our hats off to you on an incredible month of birding. Two hundred forty-one birds at the end of May is truly amazing. You've already surpassed Matt Young's winning total of 239 for all of 1998 (although in his defense, Matt didn't even know about the David Cup until August of that year), and you're just one bird away from the 242 that co-winners Kevin McGowan and Stephen Davies posted back in 1997. Did you leave any birds to see during the last seven months of 2002? PETE: I have missed a few things that I’ll have a chance at again, but the only major misses so far have been the Slaty-backed Gull, (which I believe I saw, just not well enough) and Golden-winged Warbler, which I saw slightly out of the Basin in March down in the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica. I’m sure it intended on migrating to the Basin though. Missing that Golden-wing in the Hawthorns hurt, since I was there every day. It is also probably my second favorite warbler to Prothonotary. THE CUP: At the risk of sounding blasphemous, it seems like a foregone conclusion to me that Adam Byrne and Ned Brinkley's Cayuga Lake Basin record of 254 is history. Just how high do you think you can go? I think 260 has a nice ring to it. PETE: Well, just about everything is a tough bird now, except for a handful of shorebirds and a couple of uncommon fall migrants. I think I should be able to hit 255, but it all depends on finding rare birds. If we have a fall like last year, 260 is possible. My class schedule is good for birding--I start at 10 am and have all my afternoons off except Mondays. That should allow looking for shorebirds at Monty, hitting the Loon Watch every north wind, and looking for rare songbird migrants like Connecticut Warbler in fall. THE CUP: Wow, that is a grueling schedule--starting class at 10 am, and then having your afternoons off. Sounds like your parents' money is being put to good use on your tuition. THE CUP: So what rare bird(s) are you going to find to cap off your big year and add to your Basin legacy? Brinkley and Byrne are Basin legends not just because of 254, but because they used to get out there and really find things. We really hate to give you a hard time (really, we do), but you haven't really *found* anything yet. One Cupper has even gone so far as to nominate you for a new Cupper award-- The Big Vulture. How do you respond to this criticism? PETE: Hmm. Well, as for finding rare birds, I predict that I (and others) will find a King Rail at the MNWR headquarters. THE CUP: Are you crazy? King Rail at Montezuma? There hasn't been one found there in more than fifteen years. But, if we're making predictions, I'll go so far as to say that if a King Rail is found at Montezuma in early June, you'll be in the bathroom or otherwise "indisposed" when the bird is first detected. PETE: As for the vulture comment, I believe if you add up my noble list (year list not including birds found by others) I am still ahead of everyone else. THE CUP: That might or might not be the case, but at the very least, I bet you're still way ahead of Tim Johnson. THE CUP: In all fairness, you have had one very impressive discovery this year...of a dead bird in a freezer. Can you tell us about that? PETE: I am doing my best to become a good bird skinner. However without Kevin, there really isn’t anyone around to teach. Since Ryan Bakelaar (one of Kevin’s apprentices) was up for a few weeks, I thought I should spend some time out there to learn a thing or two. Upon opening a freezer door I hadn’t opened before, I saw a swallow in a door. "Neat, a Cliff Swallow," I thought as I picked up the bag. When I took the bird out of the bag, I noticed that the forehead was chestnut, and the throat was pale brown. I then went to look at the information on a piece of paper with the bird. I didn’t remember any birds from Texas in the freezers so I was curious where it was from. "Oneida Lake, 5 November 1999, Connie Adams," the tag read. "Holy sh!t Ryan, there is a Cave Swallow here from Oneida Lake!" were my words I believe (although there is a good chance I threw in a few more curse words in the sentence). Apparently, in 1999 this would be a second state record, a first specimen in New York, and a first specimen for Cave Swallow on the East Coast. THE CUP: Boy, I can't believe Ryan Bakelaar didn't discover that bird long ago, considering all the time that he spends digging through the freezers at the Collections. But then again, Ryan has had a hard time seeing "elusive" Basin birds like Merlin and Broad-winged Hawk, so maybe it shouldn't come as such a big surprise that he would miss a dead Cave Swallow right under his nose. Anyway, do you feel like you have some special Cave Swallow karma now, after discovering the Oneida Lake specimen? PETE: The first week in November, I plan to comb the lake for another. THE CUP: Just make sure that you're combing Cayuga Lake, and not Oneida. And if you need any help with your combing technique, talk to Cup hair stylist Matt Sarver. He's becoming a master of the thorough combover. THE CUP: Speaking of spending time at the Collections, we know that you've spent most of your Friday afternoons there this year. Haven't you learned anything at all from Ryan about spending too much time there? Sure, he's prepared hundreds of beautiful specimens for the Collections, but I don't even think he's a lifetime member of The 200 Club yet. How are you going to hit 260 if you spend all your Friday afternoons inside? PETE: Well, I’ve been reading "A Parrot without a Name," and looking into grad school, so I’m fired up about preparing specimens so I can go to LSU and go on expeditions to Bolivia, or wherever they are focusing on now. I could see 260 in a day down there (and still have 70 fewer birds than Ted Parker did on his big day in Manu, Peru). THE CUP: OK, that *might* be a justifiable excuse for sacrificing valuable Basin birding time. But, don't get too carried away with dreams of Neotropical birding just yet. You still have some birds to see here in the Basin, not to mention some birds to relish from the past month. What were some of your favorite birds from the month of May? PETE: The Little Gull was neat. Too bad the books neglect to state that they can have white underwings in second summer plumage. THE CUP: Yes, that information might have been useful while we were looking at the bird, deciding that it must be a Bonaparte's Gull (since it lacked dark underwings). PETE: The Whip[-poor-will] and White-eyed Vireo were awesome. Too bad I spent all morning birding rather than studying for my final that afternoon like I should have. I always enjoy going down to West Danby for Worm-eating. All you who saw the one in the Hawthorns should take that bird off your list, because it was too easy. Everyone should be required to hike up that hill to count those birds on their Cup list. THE CUP: While we commend you on your obsessive birding efforts this year, especially in the month of May, we are slightly concerned with how all your time in the field might be affecting other aspects of your personal life. What does your beloved Katie think of your birding addiction? We're afraid that she might be a little jealous of all the time you've been spending with "that other person." (You know, Mike Andersen.) PETE: She was working on studying for finals and finishing her honors thesis, so she was very busy. Since I don’t really bother to study, I could just bird all the time. THE CUP: That sounds like quite a nice arrangement you have there. THE CUP: Now, some Cup readers viewed part of our last interview as a veiled personal ad on my part. Believe me, if I'm going to run a personal ad in The Cup, it's not going to be veiled. In fact, what do you think of running a whole "Personals" section in The Cup when you and Mike Andersen take your turn as guest editors of this fine publication? PETE: Possibly, but I think you are one of the only single Cuppers. We could run classified ads also though--that way Williams and Sarver might actually find a job. THE CUP: Whoa, don't get crazy there. Finding a date for me might be like seeing a Least Bittern (something that might happen once a year, if you're lucky), but finding a job for those two would be like turning up another Anhinga in the Basin, with a Purple Gallinule riding on top of it. THE CUP: If I'm actually foolish enough to let Mike and you write an issue of The Cup, err, I mean, when I put the reins of The Cup in your capable hands for an issue, I look forward to your complete review of the many fine food establishments on the east side of Cayuga Lake. Have you stopped at Cecil's Tavern in Lansing recently? We hear that they have the best chicken wings in the country (or maybe just in the county). PETE: They also have a fine selection of quality beer, looking at their neon beer signs. Mmm...Mikwakee’s Best, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Miller High Life. I prefer to stick to beer that costs more than Coca- cola; I find the quality is a little better. THE CUP: Where exactly is Mikwakee? Is that anywhere near Milwaukee? Anyway, those all sound like quality beers to me. Do they have Schlitz? THE CUP: Staying with the food theme, I think you can stick a fork in this interview, because it is just about done. Any final words of wisdom? PETE: "The race is not always to the swift nor the strong, but that’s the way to bet." Murphy’s Law THE CUP: Murphy's Law. That is profound. I'm glad you learned something in that philosophy class of yours. See you next month, I'm afraid. WAXWING POETIC Compiled by Eric Banford This month’s poem was written by Greg Delisle, a native of Baltimore who is in his third year as Lab of Ornithology webmaster and near- Ithacan. His poems have been published in several literary journals, and he is an accomplished shoveler of dirt, picker of wild fruit, and baker of pies. He has been the life partner of disheveled beauty and raconteur Susan Barnett for eleven years. As always, we're open to your contributions at Bird! Eric Birding by Ear Ghost of a bell swinging through the branches unseen, ringing from the treetops that spring is nearly through last alarm to tell you wake wake wake wake you'll be late late late you'll miss it. And rippling in the tan leaves crisp as frost on the ground, the brown ticker turns the leaves and turns and leaves its voice behind, a dry chip between the stalks of desiccated winter. And here the hemlock cries my leaves leaves leaves too thin, the meadow trill greening shrubs and clouds pull back like sheets away revealing blue ceiling and light, wake wake, don't sleep late late too late too late don't miss it. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< < COACH'S CORNER < < <<<<<<<<<<<<<< < < < < < < < < We've decided to go for a slightly different approach to the Coach's Corner this month. Rather than rattling off a list of species that you "should see" and then telling you where to go to see them, we're going to highlight a few birding trips that we enjoy, and tell you birds that you might encounter along the way. Granted, going out birding at the beginning of July, as the temperature finally climbs into the eighties and nineties, is perhaps not ideal, but we swear that there are still some nice birds to be seen (or at least heard) at this time of year. DEPUTRON HOLLOW My assignment for the Ithaca June Count was to cover Deputron Hollow, in the Town of Danby. I had never been there before, so I wasn't sure quite what to expect, except that it was a wooded area, and Laura Stenzler and Ton Schat had Canada Warbler there on their big day. Near the start of the seasonal use road, where the "good woods" started (i.e., the houses ended), I found a small spot to pull off the road and park my car. I was immediately greeted by the voices of the three dominant birds in the area: Red-eyed Vireo, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Eastern Wood-Pewee. As I started heading uphill along the dirt road, Ovenbirds joined in with their loud song of "TEACHER TEACHER TEACHER." On a more musical note, several Veeries gave their beautiful, magical songs. As I proceeded onward, the slope on the left side of the road became more drastic, forming the side of a steep ravine. It was here, amongst the hemlocks on the steep side of the ravine, that I heard the jumbled songs of two or three Canada Warblers. In the same general area, I also noted the high-pitched songs of several Blackburnian Warblers. (Fun bird fact of the month: the terminal "trill" of a Blackburnian song can reach a frequency of 10 kHz, making it the North American species with the highest-pitched element of its song.) The ravine also seemed like perfect habitat to me for a Winter Wren, but if there is a wren in the area, it wasn't singing the morning I was there. Gradually, the seasonal use road leveled out, and it was near this "plateau" in the woods that I was delighted to hear the songs of two Hermit Thrushes. In the same area, I noted a red pine plantation, and almost on cue, a Red-breasted Nuthatch gave a call from "in the pines, in the pines, where the sun don't ever shine." After enjoying these forest species, I was surprised to suddenly come to a sizable clearing with some shrubby growth. Here, Indigo Buntings were giving their songs in couplet, several Blue-winged Warblers sang "bee-buzz" from their hidden song perches, and multiple Alder Flycatchers identified themselves by singing "fee-BEE." My morning was capped off by hearing an unusual call from a Black-billed Cuckoo, followed by several minutes of the typical "coo-coo-coo...coo-coo-coo...coo-coo-coo..." of this species. Overall, I think I walked about three miles roundtrip, in about one-and-a-half hours. Almost all the birds mentioned above were identified by sound, and with the exception of the Black-billed Cuckoo, I imagine that all of the birds could be heard (and eventually seen) on an early morning walk to Deputron Hollow in early July. And, even if you don't see or hear much in the way of birds, it's still a nice, cool place for a walk. To reach Deputron Hollow, take Coddington Road south out of the City of Ithaca, into the Town of Danby. After crossing over Miller Road, the next road on your right should be Deputron Hollow Road. Turn right onto Deputron Hollow, and drive a little less than a mile, until it looks like you won't want to drive your car any farther. That's where the good birding starts! MONTEZUMA NWR AND OTHER NORTH BASIN SPOTS While summertime at Montezuma can often be sloooow, a trip to the north end of the Basin can still be fairly productive even in early July. In order to avoid the heat of mid-day (when birds are also least active), plan on leaving Ithaca some time between 3 and 4 pm. Stop at the Visitor's Center to check the sightings log and scan for anything interesting in the area. Then hit the auto loop. In the early part of the drive, scan the "Glossy Ibis Pool" on the right for any early- arriving southbound shorebirds. Don't worry too much about shorebirds, though, as the peak time for seeing them will be in late August and September. While driving slowly along the first stretch of the auto drive, carefully scan the cattails in the little canal between the road and the Main Pool itself. At this time of year, you could see Common Moorhen, Pied-billed Grebe, and American Coot with young in this area. Another good place to look for Common Moorhen is in the stretch of cattail marsh opposite Benning "Marsh." Back on the first stretch of the auto drive, after driving over the carp control structure, you will come to a grassy stretch along the road, where male Bobolinks can be seen frolicking in the area while Eastern Kingbirds remain on vigilant alert for territorial intruders. Further along at Benning, check for post-breeding waterfowl and any early "fall" shorebirds. The stretch of autoloop after Benning Marsh, running parallel to the beloved New York State Thruway, is usually devoid of birds, so if you feel the need, the need for speed, here is the place to take your best shot at the Montezuma land speed record. After finishing the auto drive, stop by Tschache Pool, and at the very least, take notes on how to spell the name (pronounced "Shocky") correctly. During the summer months, a scan of Tschache could turn up a rare Tricolored Heron, as it did for Ken Rosenberg in July 1999. This is the time of year when the southern herons and egrets--Tricolored Heron, Little Blue Heron, and Snowy Egret--are most likely to wander into our area, so keep an eye out for these birds while you're at Montezuma. If you have a high- powered scope and a somewhat fertile imagination, you might be able to make out the image of distant Black Terns flying around in the backside of Tschache. However, if you'd like good looks of these gorgeous terns, beat it on down the line to Mays Point Pool. Black Terns apparently nest in Tschache Pool, but they make fairly regular foraging trips to Mays, so spend a little time there, and you're likely to get quality looks at these elegant birds. While you're at Mays, you might still be able to hear the spiraling, supercharged song of a Cerulean Warbler coming from high in the canopy above the road, along with the deliberate, burry "three-eight" song of Yellow-throated Vireo. After your stop at Mays, head south on Rt. 89 to the Town of Seneca Falls and find your way to the intersection of Rt. 414 and Martin Road. This area is home to fairgrounds that host some type of agricultural fair every summer. These fairgrounds also happen to be the only reliable place in the Basin for seeing Upland Sandpiper. Park along Martin Road and scan the grassy areas of the fairgrounds (and across the street) for Uppies. It might take a little while to find these distinctive shorebirds in the tall grass that hasn't been mowed, but keep scanning, and you're likely to eventually come across at least a few individuals, if not 10-15 birds. While you're scanning for the sandpipers, be sure to keep your ears upon for the insect-like song of Grasshopper Sparrow, but don't confuse it with the similar song of the more-common Savannah Sparrow. Also, keep an eye out for cock or hen Ring-necked Pheasants--this is prime pheasant habitat! Finally, if you've studied your grassland bird sounds, swing by the intersection of Noble Road and Cosad Road (an extension of Seyboldt Road) and take a listen for the short "tsi-lick" song of Henslow's Sparrow. There's been a fairly reliable bird singing from the small grassy field here since late April. But if you go to listen to the Henslow's Sparrow, don't bring Bob Fogg along--this species doesn't like him. If you're still up for more birding at this point (and what self- respecting Cupper wouldn't be?!), head back north, past Montezuma NWR, to the Town of Savannah. This fine town is home to a number of New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) properties that are part of the greater Northern Montezuma Wetlands complex. One such DEC site is found at the very end of Morgan Road; this spot offers some of the best shorebird habitat in the Basin during the late spring. There is probably not much to be found there in the way of shorebirds in early July, but it can't hurt to check. Plus, the Morgan Road area seems to be home to a pair of Sandhill Cranes. Scan the dirt fields all along Morgan Road for this impressive birds, and also keep your ears open for their loud, trumpeting calls. If you don't find any cranes, you still might be rewarded with a consolation prize of a Vesper Sparrow singing from the dirt fields along Morgan. Just around the corner from Morgan Road is Carncross Road, which is one of two ways to enter Howland Island. As long as you are armed with some insect repellent, the small marsh along Carncross Road is the perfect place to end a half-day of birding in the northern Basin. American Bitterns have been heard here regularly at dusk, giving their unique, "pumping" song. Sora has also been heard in the marsh, and where there are American Bitterns and Soras, there could also be Virginia Rails. Staying at Carncross Road until dark could preclude making it back to Pete's Treats ice cream stand in Union Springs before they turn off the grill and fryers at 9:45, but hearing the call of a bittern emanating from the marsh should make the sacrifice worthwhile. Although, those seasoned french fries at Pete's sure are tasty! "CUP QUOTES" ...But there were tons of Meadow Larks, several having disputes over the territories. Probably the grassland area has shrunk due to human occupancy of mega home projects and so they must have been forced to reduce their home size.... At Myers, I heard and saw a WARBLING VIREO in the willows and on the spit there was an AMERICAN PIPIT nervously bobbing his tail and feeding. I can say had the closest encounter, watched him from about 6 feet. - Meena Haribal Hey everyone- What's with Meena seeing the same birds as I do, but minutes before? I had a WARBLING VIREO singing at the Cornell Experimental Ponds along Neimi Rd this morning around 8am. Had a TURKEY there too. - Jesse Ellis I had a Black-throated Green Warbler singing in the tree top with me yesterday as I was measuring crow nestlings, on campus just south of the Big Red Barn. It didn't come nearly as close as the chickadee that checked me out the other day. I am guessing the chickadee is not used to encountering people way up in the trees, because it came within a foot of my feet and seemed to be staring at them trying to figure out exactly what they were. - Kevin McGowan Medler and I birded Stewart and East Shore this afternoon at 2pm. After a close encounter with a train ;-) we saw a Northern Waterthrush, 2 Palm Warblers, 3 Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped and a White-crowned Sparrow. Also saw 5 Lesser Scaup. - Mike Andersen I can't take it anymore! I think I should unsubscribe to the list-serv when I know I won't be able to go birding...all these posts are making me crazy. I hope some birds will still be around tomorrow. - Tim Lenz A Glossy Ibis Stopped for a visit at the Montezuma NWR this morning. - Carol Anne Anderson Well, it's only 4 days later than last year. Marva posted 2 Glossy Ibis (Ibi?:) in the same spot last year on 4/28/01. They (or at least another single bird) hung around until at least 5/10/01 and somehow I never made it to MNWR to see them. Apparently they liked that field well enough to warrant a return visit. Now that's good wildlife management!! For those who are wondering how I find this utterly useful information...I have kept all posts to Cayugabirds-L in Eudora from 11/98-present. I recently figured out how to (easily) get them into a web-friendly format but I'm still in the process of figuring out where to put them. Stay tuned for a link... - Matt Williams Hi, I got to Montezuma at the break of dawn, there was a CATTLE EGRET on the west side of the drive between the entrance and the visitors center, The GLOSSY ISIS was in the new pond, 7 BALD EAGLES including 4 adults, a SANDHILL CRANE on Carncross Rd (flew right over the car, then landed on the dike to the north of the road) and a BEAVER AS BIG AS A BUICK! It had to weigh 100 lbs. or more, it crossed the auto route near Benning Marsh. - Fred Bertram Also, I kept hearing what I think was a CERULEAN WARBLER in the back of the garden. I heard the song about 20 times: an ascending, buzzy spiral that ended in a high pitched buzz. It was singing from somebody's backyard so I couldn't get any closer. - Tim Lenz Yesterday, I had two SOLITARY SANDPIPERS (an oxymoron!) at Treman lake. They were feeding near the confluence of the tiny creek with the lake. It was indeed a nice spectacle (pun intended). - Jai Balakrishnan Tsachache (8 years of birding in the basin and I still am not sure of the spelling): 25 !!!!!!! Black Tern 2 Common Tern 10 Bonaparte's Gull Solitary Sandpiper 25 Least Sandpiper Both Yellowlegs - Ryan Bakelaar But to heck with scenic beauty -- I decided that if the warblers were so good at Flat Rock, I should head straight for the hawthorn orchard. I still haven't quite figured out my own logic, but I'm very glad I decided as I did. - Mark Chao I had all 5 species of regular vireo in the basin today, a first for me. Now where can I find a White-eyed...... - Pete Hosner Jesse "Silver thunder" Ellis, Tim "Mercedes" Lenz, and I birded the Hawthorns between 6:30 and 8:30am this morning. - Dan Lebbin So I couldn't help but skip an hour or two of studying time in the wee hours of the night (early Friday morning) to listen for migrants. (DISCLAIMER: I in no way intend to be an expert in this field and all birds are highly subject to be very incorrect). - Mike Andersen Ten Pine Siskins are hanging from our feeders this afternoon, which is very unusual! - Nancy Dickinson After dropping Aleta off at daycare, I thought I would swing by and make a quick (yeah, right) stop at the Hawthorn Orchard to see what's been seen. - Chris Tessaglia-Hymes If people can tear themselves away from the Hawthorns and other migrant songbird spots in the next two weeks, I encourage you to stop by Myers Point as often as possible to look for shorebirds out on the spit of land on the south bank of the mouth of Salmon Creek. This is a great place to see breeding-plumaged shorebirds like Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Dunlin, White-rumped, Least, and Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers up close and personal. - Matt Medler We went to Myer's today at around 2:00. In a pool of water just at the end of the parking area on the spit were two shorebirds--right in front of our car. One was a Dunlin, gorgeous in breeding plumage. The other bird we have not been able to figure out. Here's the description I wrote down before driving away.... I think it was a Purple Sandpiper. Any other ideas? - Anne Marie Johnson I just got a call from Matt Medler, he is watching the PURPLE SANDPIPER at Myers, standing next to a MARBLED GODWIT. Two great birds in one spot. - Jeff Gerbracht I went over at noon to the path from Fuertes Observatory down to Beebe lake, and up by the observatory ran into one of the biggest foraging armies ("flock" just doesn't do it justice) I've ever seen. I've certainly never seen so many SCARLET TANAGERS in one place- over 20. - John Greenly Allison and I went out to check out the Purple Sandpiper around 3:30 and had one of the most incredible birding days we've had in the Basin in awhile.... The highlight of the day was our time at the Hawthorn Orchard. Given the kind of day it was we felt that the orchard was likely to be good but it was clear that we would end up soaking wet and muddy if we ventured there. We were correct on all counts! The best warbler find was a WORM-EATING WARBLER which Allison picked out when we were closer to the bottom end of the grove. We also had numerous other songbirds including a singing LINCOLN'S SPARROW and at least one SWAINSON'S THRUSH. However, the neatest bird we had at the Hawthorn Orchard was a WHIP- POOR-WILL. We must have flushed it from a roost site in a tree and it flopped through the air for about 30 feet while a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD mobbed it. Oddly enough (to me at least) my first impression of it as it flew over was that it looked like the silhouette of a small parrot but then it landed on a branch about 20 feet from us were we watched it for about 5 minutes. During the first minute or so the redwing continued diving at it. After watching it we looked the other way for a second and it had disappeared. - Jeff Wells Bard Prentiss just told me that he and Jay had the WORM-EATING WARBLER about 2 inches over the head of the WHIP-POOR-WILL in the orchards. - Kevin McGowan The next stop, at around 4:00 PM, was Montezuma where we encountered a big day team packed into Matt Medler's silver car all looking bleary- eyed, runny-nosed and gulping down Cheetos like a robin gulps worms after rain. I'm sure we'll hear by tomorrow of the outcome and adventures. - Jeff Wells First of all cheery news is that, I watched two baby Screech Owls peering (note correct spelling) out of the whole from their Sycamore house. - Meena Haribal Matt Medler, Pete Hosner, Jesse Ellis and I completed a big day on Sunday, 19 May 2002....Most interesting about the day was the abnormally cold temperatures for mid to late May. Dawn temperature at Summer Hill was subfreezing with occasional snow. Star Stanton Rd. on Hammond Hill had patches of snow on the ground and Dryden Lake at 11am saw a few more flurries. By mid afternoon, temps topped out at a balmy 47° with increasing northwest winds at about 10 to 15 mph. - Mike Andersen This morning at 8:45 am, I heard and saw a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT near Hawthorne orchards, Ithaca. - Jai Balakrishnan May Your Cup Runneth Over, Matt