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Year 1, Issue 12

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* The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy
competition.
*         Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells
*         Chauffeur: Jeff Wells
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As promised, your last Cupful of 1996 David Cup news is later than ever--and
bubbling with the biggest, most delicious reason we forewarned of its
tardiness: It's the special Year-End Issue!  Who won the David Cup?  Who won
the McIlroy Award?  And more importantly, which famous actor will play Scott
Mardis in "Bird Hard: the David Cup movie"?
 
Like all special issues of famous and critically acclaimed publications,
we've changed our format for The Cup 1.12.  The usual suspects--News, Cues
and  Blues; Basin Bird Highlights; Casey's Call; Coach's Corner, even Dear
Tick--are  imprisoned until the next issue, which will be out in early (ha,
ha) February, boasting the first 1997 David Cup and McIlroy Kickin' Tail
leaders.  But for now, there's nothing keeping you from savoring the final
standings in the award categories, sampling tasty statistical hors
d'oeuvres, and devouring robust reports of the 1st Annual Cupper Supper.
 
So enjoy this last issue of The Cup 1996, but sip, don't gulp.  Contents are
hot!
 
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!              BASIN BIRD YEAR-END HIGHLIGHTS               !
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
The first-ever David Cup started off with a bang--or rather, quick,
high-pitched trills--as Bohemian Waxwings descended upon the Basin and
delighted all but a few Cuppers (those who happened to have really bad luck
in their repeated cold- weather treks to Mt. Pleasant.)  Ralph Paonessa put
Ross' Goose on the 1996 map thanks to his affinity for winter corn fields.
Ralph's patience in scanning trillions of Canada Geese translated gleefully
to the Basin's second record ever for the species.  Tom Nix's honing
instincts for cute, cuddly owls led him--and soon after, many other
Cuppers--to a little patch of evergreens up the lake in Canoga.  The sight,
a Northern Saw-whet Owl perched asleep or gazing inquisitively back at those
who stared in awe, was almost too good to be true! On the other hand, Hoary
Redpoll proved a phantom bird to those of us who repeatedly, unsuccessfully
staked out Laura Stenzler's yard (thanks, Laura!) hoping to see this rarity.
It graced the presence of only a lucky few Cuppers, one of which happened to
be our David Cup winner; another, the DC runner-up. But any Cupper worth
his/her road salt made it over to Dodge Road for Chris Hymes' "pet" Red
Crossbills, a species that graces the Basin only every few years or so. This
past winter was especially good for Evening Grosbeaks, most of which seemed
tethered to Diane Tessaglia's Box Elder trees in Etna.  Spring continued to
rain good birds on the Basin.  With so many beautiful Bonaparte's Gulls
flashing up Cayuga Lake, it was just a matter of time before a Little Gull
made an appearance.  And voila!  After a Long Point State Park morning, the
Father of the Madness himself showered us with the good news.  Fortunately,
other Cuppers also got to see this tiny larid in other parts of the lake.  A
dandy of a Laughing Gull also made an appearance (and likewise so did
uncountable Cuppers) at Myer's Point--while the Cupper-dominated Cornell Lab
of Ornithology's World Series of Birding Team, the Sapsuckers, was
charitably staking out birds in New Jersey for the Big Day.  (Fortunately
for them, another Laughing Gull appeared in the fall at Myer's Point, and a
record seven showed up at Stewart Park long after they should have been
anywhere from Cape May  to points south.)  Later in the spring season, Kevin
McGowan's crow work hatched his discovery of a Marbled Godwit at Newman Golf
Course.  For the many Cuppers who saw this, only the second Basin record,
the bird was definitely right on par!  Buff-breasted Sandpiper in good
numbers at Montezuma'a Mays Point corral was the highlight species of the
shorebird season, though the sheer numbers and variety of shorebirds that
season was also in favorable light.   Finally, the grand finale specialty of
the David Cup's maiden year was Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, located by
Steve Kelling at Allan Treman Park.  The bird was a lifer for many a Cupper
and Cupper should-be, and Steve was immortalized for his find. For a day or
two, anyway.
 
All in all, there were some pretty good finds during our first year in the
David Cup.  No, there were no Gyrfalcons, no Sedge Wrens, but we've got no
complaints. Besides, look what's already been found in 1997!  There's
the...oh.  That's another issue.
 
     ###########################################
     #           THE NUMBERS GAME              #
     ###########################################
 
           = +/-   Stat's All, Folks!  / # ~
 
DID YOU KNOW THAT:
 
-no Cupper reached the 100 mark until March?
 
-the Cup winner had seen 90% of the winning total (251 species) by the end
of May?
 
-there were six different leaders of the David Cup but only three leaders of
the McIlroy Award race?
 
-the lead changed nine times in the David Cup and three times in the
McIlroy?
 
-the David Cup winner saw 96% of all species noted in the Basin this year?
 
-the winning McIlroy number represents 75% of all species noted in the Basin
this year?
 
-the cumulative list of species seen increased the most in May (72 new
species), with the second largest increase in April (47 new species)?
 
-48% of Cuppers observed 200 or more species in the Basin in 1996?
 
-91% of Cuppers observed 100 or more species in the Basin in 1996?
 
                 ? !  Statistical Lore ! ?
 
Nobody knows better than Cuppers that the numbers game would be a big zero
if it weren't for the Cuppers themselves, scouting and scoping, ticking and
tallying.  Cuppers, here's a few stats in your honor:
 
Number of Cuppers signed up for the David Cup by January 31:   25  
Number of Cuppers signed up for the David Cup by December 31:   37
 
Number of Cuppers signed up for McIlroy by January 31:  6
Number of Cuppers signed up for McIlroy by December 31: 22
 
Number of male Cuppers:  25
Number of female Cuppers: 12
 
Number of Cuppers who live out-of-Basin:  4
Number of Cuppers who live out-of-state: 3
 
Number of Cuppers aged 14 or under:  5
 
Number of Cuppers who work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:  12
 
Number of non-human Cuppers: 1 (Mira "the Bird Dog" Springsteen)
 
Just in case those stats didn't give you the warm fuzzies, we've decided to
go ahead and run the following op-ed piece, fed-exed to us from the David
Cup Committee.  Usually hard-nosed and bullish, this piece shows the
Committee's soft, sensitive side, so we couldn't resist sharing it with the
general Cupping public.  Besides, they sent chocolate.
 
"To All Cuppers
 
Congratulations!  You are the elite among Basin birders. You realized (some
sooner than others) that it really doesn't matter what your final total is,
that just being in the David Cup is reward in itself.  By participating, you
have helped strengthen an already strong community of birding enthusiasts by
posting your sightings quickly (well, most of you) on Cayugabirds, sharing
insights on interesting bird behaviors, and, at the heart of it all, going
out birding and bringing others--family, friends, and new
acquaintances--with you. In all of you are the qualities of the world's best
athletes: you welcomed a challenge (how many birds can I see given my time
and geographic limitations?), remained committed throughout the race
(tallied up and sent your totals to The Cup every month--well, most of you)
and never expressed anything but good will (and lots of healthy,
good-natured teasing), even to those who were sprinting towards the finish
line ahead of you. Finally, the unbridled passion and enthusiasm you
demonstrated for your sport will be matched perhaps only by what you will
demonstrate in the year (and years) to come.  You deserve not only a trophy
(not to mention a Wells edition David Cup pencil) but also a medal of honor.
To those of you who've signed up for 1997, welcome.  Good luck to you all in
the 1997 David Cup and McIlroy Award competitions.
 
                                        o
                                    o  THE  o     
                                  o  WINNERS'  o
                                   o  CIRCLE  o                       
                                        o
 
The first year of the David Cup was perhaps the best juggling act ever.  It
was not only the longest juggling exhibition--12 months!--it was also the
most creative.  How does one see how many birds s/he can identify in the
Cayuga Lake Basin without letting the challenge interfere (too awfully much)
with job, school, family, and televised college basketball?  It's not easy,
and The Cup commends every Cupper for pressing on and never once complaining
(cough, cough) that some had it easier than others.  The fact is, you all
started and finished not because you dreamed of David Cup glory (well, in
MOST cases) but because you were having fun.
 
The Cup's monthly Pilgrims' Progress report was a reflection of this
juggling act, not only among the leaders--Tom Nix one month, Steve Kelling
the next, and later Kevin McGowan, Scott Mardis and others--but among
Cuppers all the way up and down the line.  It was a real circus.  So it's
only fair to assume that  the one sitting in the center of the Big Top is a
real clown, one who not only juggles well but who also can walk a tightrope,
swallow fiery daggers, and swing, twist and twirl from great heights hanging
on by his teeth!  Without further ado, we present  to you the 1996 David Cup
winner, the Father of the Madness himself...                 
 
                     :< )       KARL DAVID     ( >:
                    
                           with a grand total of
               
                                    251
 
                          Cayuga Lake Basin birds!
 
Congratulations, Karl, on an excellent year!  Karl gave such a thoughtful
and inspiring speech (let's just say he nearly brought his beloved Elaine to
tears...) at the Cupper Supper that we've reprinted it here:
 
"This is like the Congressional Record...there need be no correlation
between what I actually said and what appears in print. I can rewrite
history! In particular, this time I can remember to thank M.B.E...
 
"I humbly accept this token of your esteem [glug-glug] in
recognition of winning the David Cup competition. You'll be
interested to hear that, now that I've been identified as the Jack
Nicholson of Basin birding, I will shortly be flying out to Hollywood
to star in the upcoming movie,  Two-hundred-fifty-one Easy Pieces.'
As Bard Prentiss said in the Cayuga Bird Club newsletter, this has
probably been the least competitive competition any of us have ever
been in. It really didn't matter who won [hisses, derisive catcalls
in background]. I felt my part was the same as everyone else's: to
push each other and see just how high we could go. We didn't quite reach
the magical 254 of Brinkley/Byrne, but we did well, and I'm left with a
great feeling of satisfaction at our collective accomplishment. And
of course ... how could I forget ... I couldn't have done it all if
it hadn't been for that wonderful, understanding, forgiving,
accepting-what-she-cannot-alter lifelong partner ... My Beloved Elaine!"
 
                                                        --Karl David
 
THE TROPHY, DESCRIBED:   A block of wood, with the look and texture of a
lovingly sanded and lacquered slab of tree trunk, with a round "cup" sunk in
the center.  In short, ehem, attractive, artistic and practical, too.  The
winner's name, date and total will be engraved.  (Trophy courtesy Steve
Kelling.)
 
And now, the final tallies for the rest of the Cupper clan:
 
250 Steve Kelling
249 Allison Wells
245 Ken Rosenberg
244 Jeff Wells
241 Kevin McGowan
241 Tom Nix
240 Bard Prentiss
237 Scott Mardis
231 Ralph Paonessa
224 Jay McGowan
221.5 Bill Evans
216 Meena Haribal
213 Chris Hymes
204 Casey Sutton
198  Anne James
193 John Bower
177 Martha Fischer
175 Kurt Fox
174 Michael Runge
173 Larry Springsteen
170 Rob Scott
154 Diane Tessaglia
145 Matt Medler
141 Dan Scheiman
125 Jim Lowe
118 Tom Lathrop
112 Mira "the Bird Dog" Springsteen
 82 Sarah Childs
 71 James Barry
 67 Cathy Heidenreich
 50 Justin Childs
 40 Margaret Lanius
 
The David Cup isn't the only powerhouse birding competition open to birders
living anywhere in the greater North America and beyond.  The McIlroy Award
was just as cut-throat, just as down and dirty as the David Cup.  More so,
really.  So much so in fact that not all David Cuppers had the guts to go
for McIlroy gold.  Winning--placing among the top 21, even--required intense
concentration and unshakable courage.  No wonder a woman swept the
competition! Although several made last-ditch efforts to try to overturn her
reign as McIlroy Royalty for the last nine months, the best they could do
was save a little face.  Alas, the 1996 McIlroy Award goes to
 
 
                       ^ ^     ALLISON WELLS   ^ ^
                        V          for          V
                                   200
                               McIlroy Birds!
 
We're reprinting here Allison's speech from the Cupper Supper, as an example
of ah, um, just how generous Cuppers can be:
 
"It is a great honor to be named the first recipient of the McIlroy Award.
The contributions of Dorothy McIlroy, Ithaca's First Lady of Birding, are,
I'm sure, appreciated by everyone here tonight, and it is a privilege to be
named the first winner of the award named in her honor.
 
"However, given the serious, soul-searching tone of tonight's Cupper Supper,
I am reminded of award ceremonies not unlike ours.  For example, I believe
it was sometime during the '60's when actor George C. Scott refused his Best
Actor Oscar in order to protest the Vietnam War.  Last year, country music
giant Garth Brooks passed along his Artist of the Year Award to Hootie and
the Blowfish for  keeping American music alive.'  And only recently, Julie
Andrews rejected her Tony Award nomination for  Victor/Victoria? because no
one else in her outstanding production team was nominated.
 
"Likewise, I too must refuse my award.  True, I spent a lot of time birding
in the Ithaca area.  But I also had some pretty nice McIlroy birds land in
my lap--birds like Worm-eating Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Bald Eagle.
In all honesty, I didn't work as hard as I should have, and for that reason,
I'm passing my McIlroy trophy on to Ken Rosenberg, because he really spent a
lot of time scouring McIlroy grounds and--no, wait, now that I think of it
he did most of his McIlroy birding from his Lab of O trailer window.  In
that case, I'm giving it instead to Kevin McGowan.  I'll never forget how
envious I was of Kevin's McForster's Tern.  He really deserves this
award--what?  He only came in at 185?  Oh.  Well, then, I'm proudly passing
my McIlroy statue to none other than Bill Evans.  Bill virtually camped out
at the lighthouse jetty and got things like McUpland Sandpiper, a McJaegar
species.  Bill, for all those early mornings, here's to you!  What?  He
almost skipped the Cupper Supper to go to Florida? Well, then I'm giving it
to my dear husband Jeff Wells.  Oops--stalled at 182.  I'll give it Karl
David--hmm, 168.  And Steve Kelling didn't enter the McIlroy race at all!
In that case, I guess I'll keep the McIlroy Award for myself.  I'm not
worthy of it, but I'm less unworthy than the rest of you!"
 
THE TROPHY, DESCRIBED: A flashy white though obviously old high-top leather
sneaker, reminding everyone that the McIlroy competition can theoretically
be won sans car.  The sneaker was signed and dated by our McIlroy champion,
the number "200" also penned in. (Trophy courtesy Jeff Wells.)
 
Here's how the rest of the McTotals tallied up:
 
185 Kevin McGowan
184.5 Bill Evans
182 Jeff Wells
180 Ken Rosenberg
171 John Bower
168 Karl David
159 Scott Mardis
158 Jay McGowan
153 Larry Springsteen
143 Martha Fischer
142 Tom Nix
134 Rob Scott
133 Casey Sutton
131 Chris Hymes
119 Michael Runge
113 Jim Lowe
 73 Matt Medler
 55 Diane Tessaglia
 53 Sarah Childs
 35 Justin Childs
 
                   ~             food          ~
                 fun     CUPPER SUPPER SUM-UP    fodder
                     ~         foolishness    ~
 
So we all expected the much-anticipated Cupper Supper and David Cup award
ceremony to be fun, but educational?  It's true!  For example, attendees
learned that 1) Cuppers cook as well as they bird 2) Cuppers are, for the
most part, pop- culture illiterate 3) the Wells's apartment can quite
comfortably accommodate 34 men, women and children--as long as you weren't
the one crouched on top of the refrigerator.
 
Don't worry, our Cupper Supper Sum-Up doesn't stop with these few
tantalizing tidbits.  No, no, we've been swamped with requests to spill the
soup, and despite the fact that none of these requests were accompanied by
chocolate petite fours, we're obliging, starting with...
 
           %      "BIRD HARD: the David Cup movie"     %
          / \                                         / \
 
What was the first thing Cuppers saw upon entering Jeff and Allison's
Birdland Bistro?  A steamin' blues band rocking the house?  Highly paid wait
staffers greeting them with trays ornamented with exquisite hor d'oeuvres?
Of course not! They saw themselves, in stop-action stills from "Bird Hard:
the David Cup Movie"! To try and describe the scenes here, well, let's just
say we'd never be able to recapture the magic, would we, Karl and Elaine?
But since so many of you asked--rather, DEMANDED--to know which actors were
playing which Cuppers in the movie...
 
Coming soon to a theatre near you, it's "Birdhard: the David Cup Movie,"
starring...
 
JACK NICHOLSON as Karl David      
ARNOLD SCHWARTZENEGGER as Steve Kelling
BARBRA STREISAND as Allison Wells
RICHARD DREYFUS as Ken Rosenberg
CLINT EASTWOOD as Jeff Wells
TIM ALLEN as Tom Nix
HARRISON FORD as Kevin McGowan
GENE HACKMAN as Bard "Packin' Iron" Prentiss
BRUCE WILLIS as Scott Mardis
TOM HANKS as Ralph Paonessa
MCCAULEY CULKIN as Jay McGowan
HUGH GRANT as Bill Evans
GEENA DAVIS as Meena Haribal
JIM CAREY as Chris Hymes
SEAN RENFO as Casey Sutton
MICHELLE PFEIFFER as Anne James
SYLVESTER STALLONE as John Bower
ELLEN DEGENRES as Martha Fischer
ROBIN WILLIAMS as Kurt Fox
LIAM NEESON as Michael Runge
JERRY SEINFELD as Larry Springsteen
CHRIS O'DONNELL as Rob Scott
RENE RUSSO as Diane Tessaglia
BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD as James Barry and Matt Medler
MICHAEL J. FOX as Dan Scheiman
JOHN TRAVOLTA as Jim Lowe
KENNETH BRANAGH as Tom Lathrop
CLARE DANES as Sarah Childs
SANDRA BULLOCK as Cathy Heidenreich
BART SIMPSON as Justin Childs
SUSAN SARANDON as Margaret "in Mansfield" Lanius
SOME DOG (with a feather in its mouth) as Mira "the Bird Dog" Springsteen
 
(Special Guest Appearances by):
 
FAYE DUNAWAY as Beloved Elaine
TOM CRUISE as Ned Brinkley
GWYNNETH PALTROW as Hillary
BRAD PITT as Andy Farnsworth
 
(Soundtrack featuring The Byrds, The Eagles, Sheryl Crow, The Jayhawks,
Counting Crows, Charlie "Bird" Parker, The Yardbirds, and The Black Crows,
with special guest vocalist Frank Sinatra, singing "Luck Be A White-tailed
Nightjar Tonight")
 
                    """"                          % % %
                     ~ ~                        % ^  ^  %
                  c  @-@ CUPPERS' CHOICE AWARDS   *<*   %
                    ) >  )                       & U  &
                  _ _ O _ _                        )~(
                /   /  \    \                    ( ( \ \
               /   /    \    \                 / /)  / /
                   \    /                 
                     v
                 
Admit it: you don't really give a hoot about who won The David Cup and
McIlroy Award, what you really want to know is WHO WON THE FIRST ANNUAL
CUPPERS' CHOICE AWARDS!  Amazingly, most if not all of you got votes--of
course, most if not all of you voted for yourself in some of the categories
(particularly for the Strike-Out Award, and Sarah Childs, whoops, we mean
some Cupper voted for her/himself for Best Dressed three times!)
 
Clearly, though, not only were you all worrying about whether or not you'd
win (or, in some categories, hoping you'd lose), you were also obviously
biting your nails in a furious attempt to out-wit each other with your
responses to the voting ballot. So good, in fact, were many of your replies
that in printing our list of category winners, we find ourselves unable to
resist running (anonymously--this is a democracy, after all) some winners of
a different sort...
 
QUICK DRAW AWARD (to Cupper with fastest Cayugabirds postings):
 
"Ken Rosenberg. How could anyone else win? He birds from his desk.
Sightings reach the Internet in real-time."
 
"Jeff and/or Allison Wells, can't tell them apart through e-mail."
 
"Martha Fischer and Rob Scott, for posting everyone else's sightings."
 
Winner: Karl David
Trophy: Miniature cap gun--(GET IT? Quick "DRAW"?)
 
SLOW GIN PRIZE (slowest to post):
 
"My cousin Justin, Temporary Cupper in Maine.  He has email but does he ever
post anything???"
 
"The one who reported the Anhinga several YEARS too late."
 
Winner: Kevin McGowan (via blame for posting the long, lost Anhinga-- that
he didn't even see!)
Trophy: Post-It Notes ('nough said)
 
STRIKE-OUT AWARD (who tried and failed for the most birds):
 
"Jeff Wells would have gotten my vote for Barred Owl--if he'd tried for it!"
 
"Karl for his Surf Scoter, Not!"
 
"Bard Prentiss.  I don't know what I would do without Bard to
commiserate with."
 
"I am probably just a duffer in this category, and may not even be eligible
since I didn't sign up, but here's my track record:
 
    Short-eared Owl, 3 trips.  Nope.
    Bohemian Waxwing, 4 trips.  Nope.
    Ross' Goose, 2 long trips.  Nope.
    Red Crossbills, 4 trips.  Nope.  Nor the western Red-tailed Hawk nearby.
    Eurasian Wigeon, 1 long trip.  Nope.
    Screech Owl: 4 listening trips.  Nope."
 
Winner: Karl David
Trophy: A book of matches (he needs as many strikes as he can get)
 
BEST DRESSED (not most appropriate for the weather, but who looked
sharpest):
 
"Rob Scott, but only when he's wearing his sapsucker costume."
 
"Hey, what about worst dressed? I always try for that one. That way, given
a crowded viewing platform, nobody wants to stand next to the geekiest,
ugliest fellow there - me -which allows for ample viewing space."
 
"Anyone who wears their vintage David Cup T-shirt."
 
"Actually, I can't think of any sharp dressers in this crowd."
 
 
"Bill Evans in those big red overalls.  Witness how closely his shade of red
matched the red of the jetty lighthouse where he spent most of the fall.
Bill, in those overalls, was stiff competition for the lighthouse itself -
you could see him from many miles away.  In fact, he should get the David
Cup Boating Safety Award.  I am sure that he saved many a boater from ruin
on the lighthouse jetty on those foggy fall mornings.  Bill was so
conspicuous that I easily spotted him on the jetty as I drove up the Rt. 13
hill bound for work in the mornings.  As often as not, he was still there in
the evening as I drove down the hill from work.  Even from that distance, I
could see how his eyes were always scanning above the clouds, or into the
fog, for those rarities he kept hauling in.  Such
dedication!  Only when the lady's crew team happened to pass the jetty
would Bill's binoculars abandon their skyward gaze for some close study of
the plumage characteristics of water-bound wildlife."
 
"Golden-winged Warbler - the birds are clearly more concerned about their
appearance than us birders are."
 
Winner: Ralph Paonessa
Trophy: A comb (because there's more to life than nice clothes)
 
MOST MEMORABLE CAYUGABIRDS TYPO:
 
"Is there even a contest for this one?"
 
Winner: Meena Haribal's peeing screech-owl got all votes!
Trophy: White-out pen (though it may not be quite as effective on the
Internet...)
 
FAMILY TIME PRIZE:
 
"Ken Rosenberg.  Taking his family to Long Point park for a  picnic' in high
wind on a cold day when the only sensible thing to do was look for, say, a
migrating Whimbrel."
 
"Sarah Childs, for letting her cousin Justin tag along with her for McIlroy
birds in Sapsucker Woods."
 
"Jeff and Allison Wells - not only do they bird together a tremendous
amount of time but by including Casey as much as they have, they have
extended the bounds of family beyond its traditional definition."
 
"Ken, luring his family to Long Point at dawn to pick off Whimbrel."
 
Winner: Ken Rosenberg
Trophy: Family Time playing cards (to give them all something do on the off
chance that they're not out birding together)
 
THOREAU AWARD (for the Cupper with the most distinguished postings):
 
"The really literary types, like Caissa Willmer, weren't Cuppers. So I'll
vote for Bard, simply for his  Bird hard' motto (actually more
Hemingway-like than Thoreau)."
 
"Caissa Willmer--a cross between Thoreau and Dickinson."
 
"Probably the barking duck himself, Ralph P. - creative and humorous.
For artistic, Caissa certainly has some artsy-fartsy postings."
               
"Ralph Paonessa - Haiku master, hmmpf!
 
Winner: Bard Prentiss
Trophy: Miniature writing tablet (for whenever the muse takes over)
 
TREKIE AWARD (most number of miles Cupped):
 
"Karl da David, though I suppose he should be disqualified for combining
commuting miles with birding miles."
 
"Ralph. If it weren't for Ralph, I'd probably rank close to tops.  Karl must
burn some gas too."
 
"Ralph, just for getting TO the Basin."
 
Winner: Ralph Paonessa
Trophy: Car air freshener (when you spend THAT much time in your car...)
 
HOMEBODY PRIZE (least number of miles Cupped):
 
"Well over half my birds were seen while walking my dog at my house!"
 
Winner: Ken Rosenberg
Trophy: A plant pot (because he's planted in one place)
 
UNDYING PATIENCE PRIZE (to Cupper who spent most time answering questions on
Cayugabirds):
 
"Kevin McGowan, who answers all questions gracefully and at a level that all
readers can learn from."
 
"Karl David.  Often, his questions show more insight than other people's
answers!"
 
"Kevin McGowan is quite often the ONLY one to answer my questions."
 
"Dear Tick!"
 
Winner: Kevin McGowan
Trophy: Pack of chewing gum (long-lasting and flavorful)
 
TEAM SPIRIT PRIZE:
 
"Ralph Paonessa - his energy is boundless."
 
"Without THE CUP, enthusiasm may have not been maintained at such a fevered
pitch."
 
"George and Gracie, otherwise known as Jeff and Allison, Editors of The
Cup."
 
Winner: Editors of The Cup (aw, shucks!)
Trophy: Microwave popcorn (because the cheering section at sporting events
is  always eating--and throwing--popcorn)
 
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED NEXT YEAR AS DAVID CUP CHAMPION:
 
"Tom Nix.  He's probably half way there already!"
 
"I predict a runoff between Karl and Steve again.  They have demonstrated
more fire (or was it firewater?) in the belly than the rest of us."
 
Winner: Stephen Davies (new 1997 Cupper!)
Trophy: Crazy straw (because the road is long and winding--yellow, the color
of hope???)
 
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED NEXT YEAR AS MCILROY CHAMPION:
 
"If my dog Tucker can just turn up a few more goodies!!!!"
 
"Not John Bower."
 
"Allison Wells - almost certain. The real question is, will she take the
David Cup as well?"
 
"Bill Evans.  He's like a wounded animal."
 
"All others would go down the drain if Casey Sutton had a car."
 
Winner: Bill Evans
Trophy: Crazy straw (as above, only his is blue.  Blue goes nicely with red
[see quote under Best Dressed...])
 
                    /       EDITORS' CHOICE AWARDS     \
                                                        '
Since the editors of The Cup successfully bribed enough voters to win one of
the Cuppers' Choice Awards categories, we were catapulted into a fit of
generosity.  We gave out our own awards to those who made our lives a
little--no, a lot-- easier by offer writing up their expert advice for the
Coach's Corner.  To all Coaches, we awarded Lifesavers, because to most
Cuppers, that's what the Coaches were.  Please stand again when your name is
called:
 
Kevin McGowan, Ned Brinkley (his Lifesavers are in safe keeping until he
moves back to the Basin), Jeff Wells, Steve Kelling, Ken Rosenberg, Karl
David, Tom Nix, Bill Evans, and Andy Farnsworth.
 
There were also those who took the time to write columns every (cough,
cough) month, thereby giving a level of respectability to an otherwise
scandalous publication.
 
The Basin Bird Highlights column was the perfect vehicle for Steve Kelling,
a place for him to showcase his encyclopedic knowledge of not only what had
been seen in the Basin the last month but also for the last few hundred
centuries.  More often than not, Steve came through for us, and we again
thank him.  Although he left it at our place after the Cupper Supper, we
were particularly proud of the map of the night sky we gave him as an award,
to encourage him in a new area of birding.
 
To Casey Sutton, who came through MOST of the time with his vastly popular
Casey's Call, we awarded a can of Pringles BBQ Chips.  Perhaps half of the
birding money we spent on food at the Express Mart in Union Springs was in
answer to that twelve-year-old voice echoing through our car, "If you get
chips, get Pringles!"  A small investment for Casey's willingness to
enlighten Cup readers about the natural history facts associated with the
birds he features in his column.  On behalf of all Cup readers, thanks,
Casey!
 
Finally, who, tell us, who could overlook the contributions of our fearless
advice columnist, Dear Tick.  Everyone at the Cupper Supper held their
breath when we announced Dear Tick's Award (Tic Tacs, because Tick could
sometimes use more tac-t) as much in anticipation of discovering who this
mystery columnist is as perhaps in fear of Dear Tick's retribution for the
"tac-y" trophy.  But alas, the closest Cuppers got to meeting their hero was
this note, which came over our fax machine just as we were bestowing the Tic
Tacs:
 
"My Dear Cuppers--
 
Sorry, but I won't be able to make it to the 1st Annual Potluck Cupper
Supper.  I know this is short notice, but my consulting services have
whisked me off to South America to settle the long-standing border dispute
between Ecuador and Peru.  (I'm sure that after I've made my ruling, heads
will not only roll but will end up dried and stuck on the tops of large
spears.) After a year of doling out my advice free of charge (except to
Serious Competitor and Son, and Philosophical in Sapsucker Woods--I'm still
waiting for your checks) I was looking forward to signing autographs for
you, and to shaming you all face to face, particularly that Aurora Cupper
who's tried ruthlessly all year to pun his or her way to victory.  Pitiful,
really.  I hope you at least placed in the David Cup top ten. And you,
Sleepy in Ithaca, I'd been anticipating setting you straight on this whole
bird dream hang up of yours once and for all, though I've since been
brushing up on my dream analysis, and your dreams, well, let's just say it's
going to take a lot more than a chit-chat at some potluck supper to get you
safely in line.
 
Now, to prove to you all that being shunned by Dateline NBC for that goody-
goody advice columnist Dear Abby has not shaken my faith in a system that
rewards the worthy, I am bestowing my own award, the Dear Tick Trophy for
the Most Creative Question (a.k.a., Most Desperate Cupper award).  Sorry
that I can only give out one trophy, since you all deserve that kind of
recognition.  Maybe next year, my book contract will come through and I'll
be able to afford to buy you each a little reminder of your pathetic
tactics.
 
Till then, I hereby bestow The Most Creative Dear Tick Question Award to:
 
                          ORGANIZATIONALLY-IMPAIRED IN ETNA
 
who's question to me was
 
 Dear Tick, I lost my year list.  Can I still play?'
 
For those of you who don't remember, here's my response:
 
 Of course you can still play.  What difference does a list make?  As I
understand it, the three leading Cup totals are merely best guesses, based
more on what the beholders felt they deserved rather than on what they
actually saw.  If you're so disorganized to have lost your list, chances are
it's because you're spending most of your time birding.  Go ahead, give it
your best guess.  And don't forget to include those rarities you were
entitled to but somehow missed.'
 
It's not beneath me to congratulate you all on a fine, fun-filled David
Cup/McIlroy year, and for having the good sense to include me as part of it.
I look forward to entertaining your questions throughout the 1997 year--that
is, unless it's my head down there on the Ecuadorian/Peruvian line!
 
Sincerely
 
Dear Tick"
 
Dear Tick wasn't the only one who posted regrets.  Ralph Paonessa's "sorry I
can't be there" was so Ralph-like that it was as though he were right there
in the Birdland Bistro with us.  His post was available for perusal in the
100 and 200 Clubs (which were admissible by others upon permission of a
Clubber), but just in case you didn't get that far, we're reprinting it
here:
 
"Greetings from Texas!
 
"This note comes to you from the great state of Texas!  I would like to
say a few things of relevance to the David Cuppers as the Cupper Supper
approaches. Some of you may recall my alleged sighting of a Ruff at MNWR
this past fall.  Despite my heartfelt conviction, after days of research and
one
night of channeling during which I spoke with Arthur Allen, that the
bird I saw indeed was a Ruff, I have noticed a certain ... shall I say,
skepticism.  For instance, on a fine evening of jovial discussions after
counting shorebirds at May's Point with some birders whose opinions I
regard highly, I interjected,  So, do you believe my Ruff sighting last
week?'
 
"The silence descended like a sudden curtain at the end of a play cut
short.  People gazed out at the mudflats, as if to not make eye contact
with me, and then drifted away.  Someone, in passing, put a comforting
hand on my shoulder, then walked on.  Far away in the marsh, a Golden
Plover whistled a plaintive call. It is at times like these that a man must
look outside himself for comfort.  Near the car, someone's dog was wandering
about.  Needing the companionship of man's best friend, I extended my hand
to pet him.  He growled,  Grrrrrrrrrrrrreater Yellowlegs!' and then he
trotted away.
 
"So, because of the tentative nature of this sighting, and the fact that
it COULD have been a Greater Yellowlegs, or perhaps a small duck or an
old sneaker, I am hereby removing this tick from my total.  I am doing
this for two reasons: First, it's the right thing to do.  And second, it
has no actual effect on my standings in the competition.  Now I can
sleep at night.
 
"Next, I would like to say something else.  Some of you may know that Ken
Rosenberg and I had a friendly rivalry going over who would see more
birds.  For a while, I thought I might actually pull it off.  But
eventually, Ken's superior experience, talent, and office location won
out.  Congratulations, Ken.  I think I speak for all Cuppers when I say
that your dedication to sitting in your office and gazing out your
window is an inspiration to us all.  No hard feelings.  Really.
 
"Finally, the rumor that I am in Texas chasing a report of Rainbow-billed
Barking Duck is greatly exaggerated.  It IS true that I am in a hotel
with Marie Read, but when the full story comes out, I think people will
understand.
 
Fellow Cuppers, enjoy your Supper!
 
Ralph-Bob in Texas"
 
                          2  3  4  5
                 1   DAVID CUP TOP TEN LIST   6
                         7   8  9  10
 
Although all of you are by well aware of far more than ten very good reasons
to be in the David Cup, many of our readers have requested we reprint OUR
reasons.  Well, we're obliging, but you should know that our top ten list is
strictly based on yet another excuse to give someone a prize. Therefore, all
our reasons are pop-culture references.  Cuppers were encourage to name the
reference, and the whoever got the most references correct won a fabulous
Birdland Bistro prize.
 
#10)  Tastes great, less filling.   (Lite Beer from Miller)
 
 #9)  It's an "up" thing.   (7Up)
 
 #8)  Something special in the air.  (American Airlines)
 
 #7) You deserve a break today.  (McDonald's)
 
 #6)  It's the quicker picker-upper.  (Bounty paper towels)
 
 #5) You'll feel better inside.  (Hallmark--no kidding)
 
 #4)  Not too tart, not too sweet.  (Minute Maid orange juice)
 
 #3)  Image is nothing.  Thirst is everything.  (Sprite)
 
 #2) The truth is out there.   (X-Files!!!)
 
And the number one reason to be in the David Cup
 
IT'S MADE FROM THE BEST STUFF ON EARTH!  (Snapple)
 
Winner: Sue Kelling and her team of approximately half the guests
Prize: A Snapple, of course
 
 
          ^                                           ~
         ~ ~                                         / \
         x x                                         6 6
          ?     Highlights from the Supper That Was   ^
          V                                           U 
 
* Karl David guzzling Bill Evans' beer from the David Cup trophy.  Kinda
like drinking from a bird house, wouldn't you guess, Karl?
 
* Jay McGowan coolly walking off with Dear Tick's Tic Tacs, for proudly
wearing his David Cup T
 
* Diane Tessaglia's excellent "where do we put all this food?"
organizational skills
 
* finding out which Cupper gave an ornithology presentation wearing only a
birthday suit
 
* the plain M&M's in the 100 Club
 
* Ken Rosenberg snapping photos like a freelancer for Rolling Stone
 
* the peanut M&M's in the 200 Club
 
* the standing ovation we got from our guests--you all are too kind!
 
* the signing of the David Cup certificates by Father Karl
 
* Rachel Rosenberg (age 2)  nonchalantly walking from the kitchen to the
livingroom with a cupFULL of fruit punch, generously poured by Sam Kelling
(age 3).  Scarey, but so sweet!
 
* the wine list, which included Six Mile Creek's Ithaca White and Ithaca Red
(McIlroy wines), Knapp's Cardinal (Flower), and Wagner's Lighthouse Blues
(in a blue bottle, even).  Basin wines, all!
 
* DJ Kevin McGowan keepin' the blues cranking from the CD player
 
* the witty one-liners quipped by our guests ALL NIGHT!
 
* the group picture (2 half shots, cleverly arranged so that all
present--even the photographers--could get in the picture!)
 
* cutting of the David Cup cake.  So what if the Purple Finch and Green
Heron looked more like dinosaurs?
 
* the joy and good-humor that filled our apartment.  Thanks to you all for
coming! 
 
Happy New Year!  See you in February!
 
May Your Cup Runneth Over,
 
Allison and Jeff