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Year 10, Issues 4-6

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*The Cup 10.4-10.6 - April/May/June 2005
*The electronic publication of the David Cup, McIlroy and various 
*other birding competitions.
*  Editor-in-Chief:  Jay McGowan
*  House Interviewer:  Mark Chao
*  Highlighter:  Bob McGuire
*  Food Critic:  Steve Fast
*  Bird Taste-Tester:  Martin McGowan

So... it's summer.  July, in fact.  April and May are long gone.  June 
has passed in a swift yet curiously unexciting blur, and July promises 
to do the same.  The hot, birdless days pass--quite fast, perhaps, but 
without rarities, practically without year birds.  So until the 
shorebirds start moving through, here is something to relieve the 
summer doldrums:

The Cup 10.4-10.6!


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

April, May, June 2005 David Cup Totals

161, 230, 231 Tim Lenz 
161, 226, 229 Bob McGuire
158, 224, 227 Jay McGowan
157, 223, 223 Mike Harvey
148, 219, 224 Steve Fast
150, 219, 222 Mike Andersen
147, 211, 217 Dave Nutter
---, ---, 215 Scott Haber
149, 202, 210 Kevin McGowan
138, 198, 208 Mark Chao
126, 192, --- Ken Rosenberg
120, 187, 197 Bard Prentiss
122, 183, 186 Anne Marie Johnson
 61, 172, 172 Matt Medler 
116, 170, 187 Perri McGowan
 78, 168, 190 Dan Lebbin
---, 143, --- Anne James Rosenberg
---, 110, --- Rachel & Olivia Rosenberg
 65,  89,  91 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan
 --,  77,  -- Jesse Ellis
 39,  55,  58 Martin (the Cat) McGowan
 28,  40,  46 Frank "Pusser D. Cat" Fast

Mark Chao's 200th bird: Short-billed Dowitcher
Scott Haber's 200th bird: Philadelphia Vireo

April, May, June 2005 McIlroy Award Totals

115, 176, 178 Tim Lenz
---, 167, --- Ken Rosenberg
100, 148, 150 Mark Chao
 90, 139, 141 Jay McGowan
 78, 114, 114 Kevin McGowan
 87, ---, --- Jeff Gerbracht

April, May, June 2005 2005 Evans Trophy Totals

123, 171, 174 Jay McGowan
113, 160, 161 Kevin McGowan
100, 144, 153 Steve Fast
 90, 137, 144 Perri McGowan
 97, 133, 140 Bard Prentiss

April, May, June 2005 2005 Yard Totals

--, --,100 John Fitzpatrick, Ellis Hollow
60, 95, -- Nancy Dickinson
53, 88, 93 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden
47, 72, -- Pixie Senesac 
40, 64, 68 Anne Marie Johnson, Caroline
45, --, -- Jeff Gerbracht

April, May, June 2005 2005 Lansing Competition Totals

96, 154, 165 Mark Chao
69, 137, 140 Jay McGowan
69, 115, 115 Kevin McGowan




Here is the total list for the end of June (245 species):

Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, Canada Goose, CACKLING GOOSE, Brant, G. W-F 
GOOSE, ROSS'S GOOSE, Snow Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Am. Black Duck, 
Gadwall, N. Pintail, Am. Wigeon, EURASIAN WIGEON, N. Shoveler, B-w 
Teal, G-w Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser 
Scaup, L-t Duck, Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, W-w Scoter, C. Goldeneye, 
Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, C. Merganser, R-b Merganser, Ruddy Duck, 
R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, C. Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned 
Grebe, R-n Grebe, EARED GREBE, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, D-c Cormorant, 
Am. Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, 
B-c Night-Heron, GLOSSY IBIS, Turkey Vulture, 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, Am. Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, 
GYRFALCON, C. Moorhen, Am. Coot, Virginia Rail, Sora, SANDHILL CRANE, 
B-b Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser 
Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, 
Ruddy Turnstone, Dunlin, Pectoral Sandpiper, W-r Sandpiper, 
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, S-b 
Dowitcher, Am. Woodcock, Wilson's Snipe, LITTLE GULL, Bonaparte's Gull, 
R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Lesser B-b Gull, 
Great B-b Gull, Caspian Tern, C. Tern, Forster's Tern, Black Tern, 
Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeon, Y-b Cuckoo, B-b Cuckoo, L-e Owl, S-e Owl, 
Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, N. S-w Owl, E. Screech-Owl, C. Nighthawk, 
Chimney Swift, R-t Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, R-h Woodpecker, R-b 
Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, N. 
Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, E. Wood-Pewee, 
Acadian Flycatcher, Y-b Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Alder 
Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, 
E. Kingbird, N. Shrike, R-e Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, 
WHITE-EYED VIREO, Y-t Vireo, B-h Vireo, Blue Jay, C. Raven, Am. Crow, 
Fish Crow, Horned Lark, Purple Martin, N. R-w Swallow, Bank Swallow, 
Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Tufted Titmouse, B-c 
Chickadee, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, 
House Wren, Winter Wren, SEDGE WREN, Marsh Wren, G-c Kinglet, R-c 
Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E. Bluebird, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD, Am. Robin, 
Wood Thrush, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, G-c Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Gray 
Catbird, N. Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Am. Pipit, 
BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Cedar Waxwing, N. Parula, O-c Warbler, Tennessee 
Warbler, B-w Warbler, G-w Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Yellow Warbler, 
C-s Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Cape May Warbler, B-t Blue Warbler, 
Cerulean Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Y-r Warbler, B-t Green Warbler, 
Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, B-b Warbler, Blackpoll 
Warbler, W-e Warbler, B-&-w Warbler, Am. Redstart, Ovenbird, N. 
Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Mourning Warbler, C. Yellowthroat, 
Wilson's Warbler, Canada Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, N. 
Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, E. Towhee, Am. Tree Sparrow, 
Field Sparrow, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, Chipping Sparrow, Grasshopper 
Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, 
Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, D-e Junco, 
Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, E. Meadowlark, Bobolink, B-h Cowbird, 
R-w Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, C. Grackle, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard 
Oriole, Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch, House Finch, C. Redpoll, Pine 
Siskin, Am. Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

ALSO SEEN BUT NOT COUNTABLE: Trumpeter Swan, Northern Bobwhite.


Eurasian Wigeon, Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, Least Bittern, Glossy Ibis, 
Northern Goshawk, Ruddy Turnstone, Stilt Sandpiper, Long-eared Owl, 
Northern Saw-whet Owl, White-eyed Vireo, Bohemian Waxwing, Orange-
crowned Warbler, Evening Grosbeak.



by Bob McGuire

This year's unusual weather played a significant role in bird 
migration. Although there was a reasonable variety of migrants, and all 
of the anticipated species were ticked at least once, the anticipated 
fallout in local hotspots such as the Hawthorns, Mundy, and Beam Hill 
did not materialize. April was slightly warmer than usual, but we saw 
significantly more rain. That certainly affected the birds and the 
birders as well. Tim Lenz, speaking early in the month, deadpanned: 
"Mike Harvey and I birded in the wind, rain, and fog today . . ." May 
was much colder than normal (-5 degrees) with considerably less rain. 
Leaf-out lagged, which seemed to slow the insect hatch and hold the 
migrants far south of here. Jay's comment of early May was typical: "It 
wasn't exactly dripping with warblers in Dryden this cold morning. . . 
." By the time it had warmed back up in June, it seemed that everyone 
was in a hurry to get north and so passed us by in the night and was 

The first of April saw the simultaneous departure of ice from the 
Montezuma Main Pool (though not Dryden lake) and the return appearance 
of two Sandhill Cranes at Carncross Road. They eventually brought forth 
two glowing orange colts that were observed throughout the spring, 
often feeding close to the road. They were joined for a few days later 
in the month by a single Glossy Ibis. A large flock of Snow Geese, 
estimated at up to 70% Blue, was present at Sherwood Road, just east of 
the basin line, from early April until the 21st. Fred Bertram reported 
at least one blue Ross's in the group. Meanwhile, Tim found a small 
flock of Wild Turkeys in the treetops of Jetty Woods, and Scott Haber 
reported a single individual in a tree across from the ABC Cafe in 
Collegetown! Turkeys are now Ithaca birds. 

If Jeff Gerbracht had been concentrating on work instead of gazing out 
at the Lab pond, we all might have missed the American Bittern that 
flew in on the 14th and then hung around, lurking at the far edge, for 
at least a week. A few bitterns were later found in the MNWR, but this 
one provided the most satisfying looks by far. The Mucklands south of 
the Potato Building produced two of the spring's surprises. (No Snowy 
Owls this year.) On April 16th, Mike Anderson and party flushed a 
Winter Wren from one of the ditches, far from any hedgerow. And on the 
30th, Dave Nutter and Bob McGuire happened upon an flock of 30 Lapland 
Longspurs, many in full breeding plumage, apparently staging for the 
flight north.

On the 17th, Mark Chao reported a Virginia Rail calling from the 
seasonal wetland east of the Lab. Two birds were subsequently seen by a 
number of birders and then photographed during a brief copulation. Mike 
Harvey, Tim Lenz, Mike Andersen, and Colby Neuman had a terrific find 
on the 23rd, when he spotted a Little Gull in a flock of Bonaparte's 
off Long Point SP. One month later a possible immature Ross's/Little 
Gull was observed in the distance at the MNWR Main Pool. The ID was 
much discussed, with the final verdict being Little Gull.

Given the paucity of fallout hot-spots this year, the Lab of O really 
stood out.  It seemed that you could get everything you wanted 
(except'n Alice), if you only birded Montezuma and the Lab. (At the 
same time, Steve Fast was out to prove that you could get them all 
WITHOUT ever visiting the Lab - and succeeded.) From the trails around 
the pond there were great looks at Bay-breasted, Cape May, Tennessee, 
Orange-crowned, and Wilson's Warblers, Swainson's and Gray-cheeked 
Thrushes, Orchard Orioles, Lincoln's Sparrows, both Cuckoos, and fly-
over Golden Eagles. Ann Marie's post of May 11th said it all: 
"Sapsucker Woods - WOW".

White Pelicans were seen from mid-May into the summer, on and around 
the Main Pool, with a pair settling on one of the remaining muskrat 
lodges. Possible breeders? Towards the end of May, Tim and party turned 
up a Red-headed Woodpecker on Howland Island, and Bob might have heard 
a White-eyed Vireo in the same vicinity. A single Sedge Wren was heard, 
seen, and photographed towards the end of June in the tall grass next 
to the parking area at Marten's Tract. Unfortunately, the edge of the 
field was subsequently mowed, and the bird has not been re-found. 

As the month of June melted into July, the first reports of fall 
migrants (shorebirds at MNWR) began to come in.





by Matt Sarver

Introduction by Matt Medler

[Editor's Note: This article was first published in June 2000, but with 
current hot weather and shorebirds coming soon it seems eminently 
relevant now.]

A fall birding trip to Montezuma can include some tough decisions. 
Black-bellied Plover or American Golden-Plover? Short-billed or Long-
billed Dowitcher? Red-necked Phalarope or Red Phalarope? Pete's Treats 
or Cream at the Top? After a long day of scoping shorebirds at Mays 
Point, you deserve some ice cream on the ride home to Ithaca. The 
question is, do you stop for a cone or shake at Pete's Treats in Union 
Springs, or do you hold out and keep heading south to Cream at the Top 
in the Town of Venice (just north of the Village of King Ferry on Rt. 
34B)? In order to settle this raging debate, a group of rugged young 
birders from the Birdwatching Club at Cornell recently set out on a 
field trip to both spots and conducted some extensive research. Under 
the expert leadership of Matt Sarver, who has years of experience in 
the ice cream business, we tested shakes, cones, chili dogs, blizzards, 
and anything else we could eat, all in the name of science. I present 
to you Matt "What fat content is that ice cream?" Sarver, to share our 

Ice cream is serious business; so let's get right to it. Recommending 
one of these two fine establishments over the other proved to be more 
difficult than I had expected. There are several major factors to 
consider. Think about it. What's important to you when you stop at an 
ice cream joint? Oddly, the first thing that jumps right out at me is 
the ice cream: it had better be good, real good in fact. You may laugh, 
but there are lots of people out there who don't have a clue what good 
ice cream is. They're missing out. The second big factor is selection. 
Everyone's got vanilla and chocolate soft serve, but how many flavors 
of hard ice cream, shakes, sundaes, and other "specialty" items are 
available? As Matt Young said of Pete's, "They've got Fruity Pebbles 
[blizzards] but they don't have Heath bar? What kind of [insert 
expletive of your choice] place has Fruity Pebbles, and not Heath bar?" 
Ah, Mr. Young. You've invoked the corollary to the variety issue. If 
the selection is small, it needs to be quality. If it's big, it needs 
to be anchored by quality. I don't care if a store has fourteen flavors 
of bubble-gum-cheesecake-rainbow-delight, as long as they're using 
quality raspberry shake base. Get the picture? Lots of flamboyant kiddy 
flavors don't necessarily cut it. Along with selection comes what I 
like to call the grill factor. Back in the day, we used to run an 
establishment that was literally smokin'. Philly steaks, chicken 
sandwiches, burgers, fries, cheese sticks you get the picture. We even 
had a separate building with THE best BBQ chicken and ribs on the 
planet. I do not exaggerate. Folks used to drive the hour or so from 
Pittsburgh just to buy dozens of tubs of our cole slaw. I'm not just 
blowing my own horn, either. A good grill is essential. Sometimes, you 
stop for some ice cream, but you're good and hungry too. No 14" high, 
20 oz. monster cone is going to cut it. On the other hand, if the 
location of an ice cream joint (ICJ) is not the greatest (e.g. Cream at 
the Top) it may not pay to have an extensive grill. It's unfortunate, 
but it's the nature of the business. A soft-serve machine alone will 
run you into the double-digit G's. Finally, the service factor is big. 
In fact, some might say huge. Good, quick service, knowledgeable staff, 
and reasonably attractive servers are a must. (Call me sexist, but I 
guarantee you that the DOT highway workers down the road will consider 
only two things when choosing an ICJ at which to blow their lunch money 
wads. I am referring, of course, to the quality of the meat in their 
burger, and the quality of the well, you know. It also helps to have 
employees who know what they're doing. When I get a chocolate malt with 
no malt powder added (as I did at Cream at the Top just before this 
article went to press) I'm not a happy camper. Good. That's settled 
then. So how did Pete's and Cream stack up? Let's look at the ice 
cream. Both places were quality here, but as the name would suggest, 
Cream had a definite edge.

Ice Cream Ratings:

Vanilla: Pete's 7.0 Cream 9.0

Chocolate: Pete's 7.5 Cream 7.8

Mix %: Pete's 10% Cream 13%

Mr. Medler and others may have thought it silly that I specifically 
asked for the fat percent of the ice cream mix used by each ICJ. You 
see, however, that the % mix and the dairy from which the mix comes are 
two of the key factors in determining the way the ice cream will taste. 
Higher fat mix makes creamier, richer ice cream. But the story doesn't 
end there. How much ice cream an ICJ sells and how often they clean 
their machine are just as important. In order to taste top notch, the 
soft-serve has to be fresh out of a clean machine. Generally, this 
accounts for why chocolate is usually not quite as good as vanilla at 
many establishments. Chocolate is used only for cones, while vanilla is 
used in all sorts of items: it gets used up faster, and is fresher. If 
you have observant taste buds (not just elastic waistband pants) you 
can often notice a slight sour flavor in the chocolate ice cream. Good 
chocolate is hard to come by unless you arrive just after the machine 
has been cleaned. The ratings above are my own personal, perhaps 
somewhat subjective figures, but believe me, they're pretty accurate 
(p<.05, n=2). Yeah right. I said selection was important. Matt Young 
knew selection was important. Here are the numbers in the major 
categories for you to judge. Both places measured up pretty evenly in 
this department.

The Numbers Game

Hard Ice Cream: Pete's 25 Cream 33

Blizzards: Pete's 8 Cream 7

Sundaes: Pete's 9 Cream 8

Shakes: Pete's Not posted Cream 6

Cream boasted an additional 7 hard ice cream flavors, including Purity, 
Perry's and Cornell. Pete's serves only Purity and Perry's. So if 
you're a die-hard fan of the only local dairy with a stupid trans-lunar 
cow on their logo, you might like Cream for that reason. As far as soft 
drinks (otherwise known to those of us from places other than this 
silly state as "Pop"), both ICJs were supplied by Pepsi. Pete's had 
more specialty items, but Cream still advertised a few, including 
"Creamsicle Cooler," and "Boston Shake," floats, "Turtle," and brownie 
sundaes. Okay. Enough messing around. Here's the big difference between 
Pete's and Cream. You guessed it: the grill factor. If the grill factor 
was actually a number, not just a figment of my demented imagination, 
Cream would receive about a 0.7. They sell chili dogs. Pete's on the 
other hand, might muster, oh, say a 48. They also sell chili dogs. Bear 
with me here. Pete's also sells about 47.3 other items hot off the 
grill or out of the friers. If you're hungry, the choice is obvious. If 
you mostly like ice cream, the grill factor is a diminished 
consideration. Since chili dogs were the only common denominator, it 
only made sense to test them. Matt Medler was our leading dawg-
discriminator, but I don't listen to him anyway, so here's what I 
thought. While the chili was about equivalent at both places (fairly 
lousy and fresh out of the can) the wieners (it's not often you get to 
use that word) were slightly better at Pete's. So Pete's gets the nod 
all-around for hot food. Now comes the tricky part. Service at both 
places was good. There's often a long line at Pete's in the evening, 
but they're open an hour later (10, rather than 9). It's unlikely that 
your time spent standing in line would exceed that extra hour. Again, 
the quality of the servers (male and female) at Pete's is a little 
better (from a construction worker's point of view). I know what you're 
thinking - how many construction workers inspect the assets of male 
servers? But there would be a flaw in your logic. Not all construction 
workers are men, and not all birders are construction workers. (See, 
now you know why you failed the SATs). Then there are the intangibles. 
These are things that you can sense, but can't quite put your finger 
on. Kind of like the assets of the servers. Atmosphere is big here. 
Atmosphere means about as much to the ice cream business as the 
environment does to George W. Bush. Seating is adequate at both Pete's 
and Cream, and neither discriminates on the basis of political 
affiliations. Banana splits are more costly at Cream, but blizzards 
cost less per ounce at Pete's. Due to its remote location, you can see 
more birds at Cream, but if you run out of gas or fruit, you're stuck.

So what does a birder do when faced with this momentous decision? If 
you're looking for a meal, Pete's is the place. But for pure, creamy, 
richer ice cream, go straight to the Top. Happy eating.


!                       KICKIN' TAIL!                      !

THE CUP:  Welcome to Kickin' Tail, Tim!  And congratulations on your 
David Cup lead at the end of May and June!  It's hard to fathom, given 
your remarkable Basin birding career so far, but I think that this this 
is the first time that you've had sole possession of the Cup lead at 
month's end.  How does it feel to be on top?

TIM:  Actually, I sprinted to an early Cup lead in January but then Bob 
McGuire was able to stay ahead of me from February onward...until now.  
So, being in the lead again feels great, but I don't want to get too 
comfortable yet.  The race is only half over. 

THE CUP:  You are in a pretty strong position, with most of the front-
runners' Cup lists already having taken shape.  What's it going to take 
to hold the lead to the end?

TIM:  I'll just have to be out in the field as much as possible.  
Whoever can find the birds at the right place at the right time will 
probably win.  A Cup victory might also involve some stringing and 
sabotage.  Bob McGuire's frequent trips to Howland Island have been 
worrying me a bit, especially since he has been finding things like 
White-eyed Vireo and Sedge Wren.  A good strategy for me might be to 
crush the fuel line in his pickup truck or drill his tires right before 
a big birding weekend in early September. Would that be against Cup 

THE CUP:   This is a much better answer than the usual cliches about 
"taking it one bird at a time," or "staying focused" or "remembering 
what got me here."  But if you took down Bob's truck, then he'd 
probably just bike around Howland Island and find a lot of birds 
anyway.  Or he'd weld a new fuel line out of his sandwich wrapper.  

What about the other contenders, Tim?

TIM:  As long as Jay gets a nice workload at Cornell this fall, and 
Mike Harvey doesn't get a car, then I should be in good shape for the 
finish in December.  Steve Fast might make a push in the fall, but I'll 
take care of him when the time comes.  I see no reason to worry anymore 
about Mike "150+" Andersen.

THE CUP:  What are some of your Basin-birding highlights so far in 

TIM:  February and early March were spectacular this year: Gyrfalcon, 
Mountain Bluebird, Golden Eagles.  All of those were life birds or new 
Basin birds for me.  The one day that Long Point State Park was 
productive this year, April 23, was probably the best half-hour of 
birding all year.  

THE CUP:  2005 Basin first records for Little Gull and Black Tern, plus 
your first Common Tern of the year, and dozens of Bonaparte's Gulls. . 
. You went there specifically to look for Little Gull, didn't you?

TIM:  Yes, but I'm no psychic.  From March to April I always think 
about Little Gull when I visit Long Point.  But when we pulled into the 
parking lot, the weather was just perfect and I had a feeling that it 
would be the day.  Mike Andersen and I went out to the lighthouse at 
the tip while Mike Harvey and Colby stayed at the gazebo, looking 
north.  Harvey yelled "LITTLE GULL" and Mike and I dashed back to the 
gazebo to look at it through his scope.  It was magical.

In the last couple of months, I also got to see many easier birds that 
had previously eluded me in the Basin because of my early summer 
departures or consistent refusals to leave the town of Ithaca: Orchard 
Oriole, Black-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher.  The Sedge Wren at 
Marten's Tract was my last North American wren species.

THE CUP:  You also did a Basin Big Day with Mike A, Mike H, and Colby 
Neuman, and broke the all-time record.  What were the highlights of 
that day?

TIM:  The Black-billed Cuckoo that gurgled over our heads at 4 in the 
morning on Lake Rd. was a definite highlight.  Since I was driving most 
of the time, I relied on Mike Harvey's "sixth sense", Mike Andersen's 
well-trained ears, and Colby's eyes to find new birds for the day.  I 
tend not to look for birds while I'm behind the wheel, because that 
would be dangerous.  Actually, the day turned out amazingly well given 
that most all of the migrants had cleared out earlier in the week.  I 
don't think I'll ever forget the scene at the end of day, after the 
rain began to pour down.  We all ordered gigantic slices of pizza at 
our new favorite place in Seneca Falls.  Struggling not to confuse 
these pizzas for pillows, we waited until Andersen finished tallying 
our list: "172 species", he said.  Too tired for high fives or 
celebratory dances, we just kept eating pizza.  I don't remember much 
of the conversation after that.

THE CUP:  You suggest that you guys sometimes do celebratory dances.  
What celebratory dances?  Are we talking Terrell Owens in the end zone?  
Shakin' your boo-tays to "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang?  Or a 
rousing hora and chorus of Havah Nagilah?

TIM:  No, we've never actually done this, but I was thinking something 
along the lines of Terrell Owens's infamous end zone dances.  I am not 
familiar with the other dances that you mention -- you'll have to show 
me some time.

THE CUP:  I just might, if you can help me find a Kentucky, 
Prothonotary, or Connecticut Warbler somewhere in the Basin.  

You've spent a lot of time this year birding with some other extremely 
talented guys, who haven't before been part of the Basin scene.  What's 
it like to bird with Brian Sullivan and Curtis Marantz?

TIM:  I'm sorry to say that my recent attempts at being the Cup 
evangelist haven't been too successful.  Sullivan tired of the Basin 
birding scene after looking at too many of the same kinds of ducks on 
Cayuga Lake this winter.  Curtis likes to go birding occasionally, but 
he doesn't appreciate a good Cup bird when he sees one, unless he 
hasn't seen it yet in the state.  Nevertheless, I will keep the faith.  
It's always educational to go birding with people who have more skills 
and experience than I do, even if they could care less whether or not 
they beat Tringa the Dog in the Cup tally.

THE CUP:  What do you most want to see between now and the end of the 

TIM:  A Ruff at Montezuma.

THE CUP:  You also have a firm grasp on the McIlroy Award lead, even 
though you don't live in Ithaca any more.  How heated do you think your 
competition with Ken will be this year?

TIM:  Ken was very busy this spring, so I imagine I just saw a lot of 
easy McIlroy birds that he missed and will be able to pick up in the 
However, I am determined to spend more time on the Jetty this fall, so 
Ken shouldn't relax too much.  No more jaegers for you, Ken!  NEXT!!!!

THE CUP:  I recently took issue with Matt Medler's claim that Stewart 
Park is "the premier birding spot in the Ithaca area."  You sided with 
Matt.  Do you still feel this way?

TIM:  For landbirds -- no, for waterbirds -- yes.  In general, I find 
it more exciting to look for rare waterbirds than for rare landbirds, 
so Stewart 
Park still wins.  During certain times of year (for example, winter and 
summer) walks around Sapsucker Woods can be consistently boring, but 
there's usually a better chance for something different on each visit 
to Stewart Park.

THE CUP:  Where did you find your life Hoary Redpoll?  What season was 

TIM:  Sapsucker Woods. Winter. Still, I could name a lot more 
interesting winter birds from Stewart Park (Gannet, Murrelet, Little 
Gull, etc.).  

THE CUP:  And how could you possibly know about how "consistently 
boring" Sapsucker Woods is in the summer, given your above-mentioned 
early-summer departures from the area?  But maybe a few cuckoo 
encounters and/or totally unexpected birds (like last year's Red 
Crossbill on July 7) will eventually change your mind.  

TIM:  I'm in the Basin this summer, and I've walked around the Lab once 
or twice at lunch time.  Ain't nothin' but redstarts and Yellow 
Warblers.  Nevertheless, I'll keep looking...

THE CUP:  And I'll be keeping an open mind too -- like with that 
lopsided Brant by the tennis courts this past week. . . that's quality 
Stewart Park birding.

Tim, after four years of undergraduate study and a year of master's-
degree work at Cornell, you now serve as a staff member at the Lab.   
What is your job?  How's it going?

TIM:  I'm a software engineer for the eBird project (, 
charged specifically with the task of revamping the data output tools.  
I'm really looking forward to the beta release of eBird v2.0, in early 
August -- there will be a lot of new features, and the whole site will 
have a new look and feel.

THE CUP:  Why did you choose computer science instead of ornithology?

TIM:  It's easier to pay off school loans with an engineering degree 
than it is with a degree in biology.  Plus, computer science is such a 
broad and diverse field that it has practical applications for just 
about any other scientific pursuit.  Naturally, I chose to combine it 
with ornithology.

THE CUP:  What percent of your time outside work and sleep would you 
say that you spend on birding?  

TIM:  90 percent.  I do eat food occasionally.

THE CUP:  Where did you buy your winter camouflage jacket?  And do you 
find that it really helps you to sneak up on birds?

TIM:  Matt Medler once referred to that jacket as my "alternate 
plumage." Sadly, I left it with my dad in Reno last summer. I was 
politely informed that there were more stylish winter clothing options 
available, that might fit in better with the Ithaca culture.

THE CUP:  That's too bad.  I've never seen camouflage quite like that -
- I thought that it was visually very arresting, even Pollockesque, 
with its random whitish streaks and spatters.  Or was that Glaucous 
Gull guano?

TIM:  Thank you.  No, it wasn't guano.

THE CUP:  You used to dive for the varsity at Cornell, right?

TIM:  Yep.  All 4 years...

THE CUP:  How good were you?  I mean, what were your best dives, and 
what kinds of scores did you get?

TIM:  My favorite dive was a reverse dive in the straight position off 
the 3-meter springboard.  I could usually put that down for 7.5's or 
8's.  The fancier dives are tougher to get good scores on, but the 
scores are weighted by degree of difficulty to make up for it.  My 3-
meter list was Reverse 2 1/2 tuck, (305C), Inward 2 1/2 Tuck (405C), 
Front 2 1/2 Pike (105B), Back 2 1/2 Tuck (205C), and Front 1 1/2 with 2 
Twists Pike (5134B).

THE CUP:  Very impressive, even though neither I nor any of our readers 
have any idea what those weird codes mean.  Do you still dive now?

TIM:  Nope.

THE CUP:  Here comes the lightning round. . . What's your favorite 
Basin flycatcher, and why?

TIM:  Eastern Phoebe -- it's the first one I see every year.

THE CUP:  What's your favorite owl, and why?

TIM:  Flammulated -- spookiest bird on the continent.

THE CUP:  Your favorite gull?

TIM:  Sabine's Gull.

THE CUP:  What bird species do you think is most underrated, and why?

TIM:  Horned Lark -- common as the dirt they thrive on, but they look 
and sound a lot nicer.  A spark of life in otherwise desolate places.

THE CUP:  Beautiful!!!  Your favorite composer?

TIM:  Last year it was Franz Liszt.  This year it's J.S. Bach.

THE CUP:  Your favorite pianist?

TIM:  Sviatoslav Richter is the best overall.  For Liszt, Gyorgy 
Cziffra.  For Bach, Glenn Gould.

THE CUP:  Your favorite restaurant dish in the Basin?

TIM:  Foot Long Texas Hot Dog at Pete's Treats!  What else is there??

THE CUP:  Your three most exciting Basin bird sightings ever?

TIM:  Black Guillemot, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Long-billed Murrelet.

THE CUP:  Your worst misses?

TIM:  Red Crossbill, Connecticut Warbler, Long-eared Owl.

THE CUP:  Which would you rather see -- a Northern Goshawk (another 
Basin bird that has eluded you so far) chasing and catching a Lesser 
Yellowlegs (your McIlroy nemesis) at Stewart Park, or an Ivory-billed 
Woodpecker flying away through an Arkansas swamp, as in the recent film 
clip, in view for one second?

TIM:  Hmm...probably the latter.  I would go into shock if either of 
these events happened to me.  A goshawk going after a yellowlegs? Where 
am I again?  Stewart Park!?  Why is that a goshawk and not a Peregrine 
Falcon?  Am I hearing the death call of a Greater or a Lesser 
Yellowlegs? Confusion settles in, the birds disappear, and all is lost.

THE CUP:  Until a Pomarine Jaeger flies in, kleptoparasitizes the kill, 
and saves your birding day.  Hey, you've seen stranger things at 
Stewart Park!    

Tim, thanks for the interview, and best wishes in your pursuit of the 
Cup and McIlroy Award for the rest of the year!



While biking up to the lab at 10:45 this morning, I had a male 
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher along Sapsucker Woods Road near telephone pole 
#12 and the "Area Speed Limit 30" sign (is surpassing 30 even possible 
on this road?).
--Mike Harvey

In case I unexpectedly become leader, and this becomes "important", I 
refuse to undergo a polygraph, as they are scientifically unreliable.  
The authorities already have my fingerprints.
--Dave Nutter

...and 1 DOWITCHER.  It was still in basic plumage; I realize this is a 
hard call ( it had to be one or the other), but I feel that because of 
the generally lightish spotting on the flanks and along the tail and  
more clearly defined back feathers, that this was a SHORT-BILLED 
DOWITCHER.  Four young Cornell experts also viewed this bird at length, 
got some pictures, consulted Sibley and came to no definite conclusion 
at that time.  
--Steve Fast

I'm not sure who the 4 young Cornell experts were or why we didn't run 
into them at Carncross (they probably could have helped us out a bit), 
but after looking at the dowitcher that Steve Fast found, Tim Lenz, Dan 
Lebbin, Colby Neuman, Mike Harvey and I agreed that it was a Short-
billed Dowitcher.
--Ben Winger

This is an excellent example of
1.  not being able to count (my apologies), and
2.  using the wrong field marks to obtain the correct result.
--Steve Fast

This is just an after thought, I was wondering after Steve Fast's 
apologetic second e-mail that he could not count, was he wrong? May be 
he just counted experts!
--Meena Haribal

A few winters ago, a male N. Harrier spent a lot of time about 20' up 
in a tree overlooking the Croton Point landfill. Maybe Ken has missed 
seeing loafing Harriers because he is virtuous enough to get out in the 
early morning when the birds are catching breakfast, while non-hotshot 
housewives miss all the action by strolling through the mid-day 
--Lee Boyd

American Bittern - I've yet to see one this year.  Maybe I don't look 
up enough.  Maybe I don't look down enough.  Maybe I don't look closely 
--Dave Nutter

May Your Cup Runneth Over,
- Jay