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Year 2, Issue 10

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*  The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition
*    Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells
*    Basin Bird Highlights: "Inspector" Tom Nix
*    Pilgrim's Progress Compiler: "Stoinking" Matt Medler
*    Composite Deposit, Stat's All: Karl "Father of the Madness" David
*    Evans Cup Compiler: "Bird Hard" Bard Prentiss
*    The Yard Stick Compiler: Margaret "in Mansfield" Launius
*    Bird Bits: Jay "Beam Hill Me Up, Scotty" McGowan
*    Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer
*    Dimmer Board Operator: Jeff Wells
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A lone Cupper stands on the lighthouse jetty in the wee hours of
morning. On the horizon, he scopes an incoming Whimbrel--he knows
this bird's a fly-by, but he's got to get other Cuppers onto it, and
fast.  He pulls out a strange, beeper-like instrument, presses a
button,  and within minutes, a chopper veers up behind him.  Out of its
belly drops a flock of elite Cuppers, mini-parachutes cradling them
quickly but securely down onto the jetty.  As the Whimbrel wings past,
a chorus of "Got it!"s echoes across Cayuga's vast waters.  Thumbs-up
all around--another rare bird sighted, reported, and confirmed.
 
Who are these mysterious drop-in Cuppers?  They're the brave and
dedicated members of the David Cup QuAC (Quick Action Confirmation)
team!  And, starting sometime in November, QuAC team members (QuACkers)
could be landing for a bird near you.
 
The QuAC team has been outfitted with only the most effective high-tech
equipment: a peregrine-speed chopper (QuACCopter) complete with
parachutes, rapelling ropes, life rafts (stocked with water-proof
optics, field guides, and plenty of hot coffee), and inflatable survival
suits (for mid-lake drops), with a centrally located landing pad atop
the Lab of O.  For by-land operations, there's the revolutionary new
QuACMobile--Bard Prentiss' Hippymobile with a facelift: flock-tracker
radar equipment, infra-red bird detectors, night migration sensors, an
up-to-the-minute weather systems analyzer, and plenty of hot coffee.
Offshore sighting? No problem! There's the QuACCanoe-cum-Speedboat,
an interchangeable flotation machine that can, in less than a wingbeat,
transform from Hog Hole-creeping canoe to gotta-be-at-Aurora-Bay-now
speedboat. And QuACkers are always ready for swift action with his/her
QuACker-As-The-Crow-Flies, a jet-propulsion unit that eliminates the
cumbersome problem of roads; its built-in bird-call-magnification
device enables QuACkers to pick up even the faintest calls of
high-flying crossbills and redpolls while blasting over Sapsucker
Woods on a mission to Mundy Wildflower Garden.
 
Have no fear, the FAIR (Fast Avian Information Relay) system will get
details to all other Cuppers almost immediately.  With a simple press
of the handy-dandy CupMate (a technologically advanced beeper, soon to
be in the hands of all Cuppers), information about a sighting,
including time, location and species name, will be transmitted via
satellite to the Birdline, Cayugabirds, and any radio tuned to WICB's
"Jazz Impressions" from 12pm to 2pm weekdays.
 
So, in case you were wondering who mastered the seemingly impossible
task of placing that pumpkin on top of the Cornell bell tower...you
can keep on wondering.  Because there is no QuAC team. No QuACCopter.
It was all just wishful thinking on the part of the editors, a vision
of the way life should be.
 
As consolation, we give you The Cup 2.10, and hope that it, at least,
is all it's quacked up to be.
 
                        @   @    @    @    @     @
                           NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
                          @   @    @    @     @     @
 
WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: Can you believe it? Yet another
Basin dweller has been lured into the wild and whirling waters of the
David Cup! Of course, he hasn't sent us his totals yet, but at least
we've got him thrashing on the line!  Those of you who know who it is
that took the bait, we need your help to finish the daunting job of
reeling him in.  For those of you who have no idea who we're talking
about it, let's just he's one Big Fish!
 
WELCOME TO THE WORLD: Speaking of fish, a hearty Cup welcome to
Olivia Francis Rosenberg, who on October 3rd at 5:10am, came swimmingly
into the world--literally!  Daddy Ken reports that wife (and fellow
Cupper) Anne James delivered safely--and easily--in a hot tub!  Ken
says this was all part of the plan, that it's becoming more common in
the birthing process because it keeps the mom-to-be more relaxed.  Papa,
on the other hand, is feeling a tad tense these days, since Olivia is
not showing strong signs that she's a birder, let alone a Cupper. "I
don't think she's actually seen a bird yet," he says, "but she's looked
at me, and I'm a birder, does that count?  And she does do a pretty
good Hawaiian Crow imitation.  When she cries, she does this wild
 a-al-la' thing. Sounds just like a Hawaiian Crow."  Hmm. No wonder
Ken's Dryden total is so high.
 
RELIANT UPON YOU?: Remember Matt Medler's "trusty" Reliant?  Well,
turns out, that trust has been misplaced. The old car recently got all
steamed up about something--Matt's tardiness in getting the Pilgrim's
Progress totals to the Cup editors?--and blew it's top, or at least
its head gasket.  Rather than dump an exorbitant amount of money into
a car that has seen better days--and better decades--Matt has decided
to look for a new vehicle.  So if any of you Cuppers/Cup subscribers
know of a quality used vehicle for Matt (preferably one that's more in
keeping with his bad-boy image), he would like you to email him at
mdm2@cornell.edu.  Just be sure the car is reliable, not Reliant,
okay?
 
"UNLIMITED" SUCCESS: At last the question has been answered: How
will the Lab of O fill the space left achingly vacant when its gift
shop, the Crow's Nest, flew the coop?  Put in a ping pong table to
ensure Lab employees get a little exercise in the workplace?  Or maybe
a jacuzzi (with views of the birdfeeding stations) as part of a radical
new experimental mind- focus program?  Despite our best efforts to
convince them to host the 100 Club there, they went ahead and let Wild
Birds Unlimited take refuge in it.  On the other hand, this means that
Cuppers will be able to bird Sapsucker Woods and then buy all sorts of
birder necessities that they can then donate to Cup Headquarters, all
in one easy trip.  So if you haven't checked WBU out already, stop by
--the gift-giving season is fast approaching! As for the wishlist at
Cup Headquarters, how 'bout putting that jacuzzi in over here?
 
FEED, ER, WATCH: If your yard is vacant of birdfeeders, soar on over to
the aforementioned Wild Birds Unlimited.  If your feeders area already
hung and filled, consider taking part in Project FeederWatch, a
"citizen science" program cosponsored by the Lab of O and National
Audubon.  FeederWatch participants count the birds that visit their
feeders, from November to March, according to an easy-to-follow
protocol developed by the Lab of O.  FeederWatchers help scientists
track changes in abundance and distribution, and they have fun doing
it.  For you "family time" time Cuppers/Cup subscribers, this is a
great way to get the kids to learn and appreciate the birds in their
yards.  And how's this: it's now on-line.  For more info, call the
Lab of O's Project FeederWatch Coordinator/Cupper Margaret Barker at
254-2427.
 
DUMPING ON THE BANDWAGON: Newsweek has done it once again. They proved
(again) in their November 3rd issue that they are an inferior news
source compared to The Cup.  Check out the "Perspectives" page: " I
look at gulls like teenagers in the mall.  They come here to hang out
and eat good food.' USDA wildlife biologist Ken Preusser, on the
infestation of seagulls at one of New York's upstate landfills."  Yo,
Newsweek, gulls at landfills is nothing new!  Why, some of us have
been savoring our lunch hours gull-watching at landfills for years!
And we assume we're not alone in our offense at the word "infestation,"
which Webster defines as, "trouble or disturbance due to large
numbers."  Obviously, the folks at Newsweek have yet to discover the
beauty of hordes of gulls tearing into bulging bags of smoldering
refuse.  (And "seagulls"? Ha! Don't get us started!)  Listen, don't
let their showy covers of never-before-seen photos of colliding
galaxies fool you into thinking Newsweek is anything more than a
showcase for editors suffering from Cup-envy.
 
MEGAN UPDATE: Looks like Megan's still on the move ... to catch her
daddy's David Cup score, that is: "Megan and I had a delightful
morning at Stewart Park last week.  She isn't quite walking solo, but
she's happy to tromp all over the place if I hold both her hands.  So,
we explored the various nooks and crannies of the park on foot.  The
Ring-billed Gulls and Canada Geese were the most obliging, of course,
allowing us to march right into their midst. As we were swinging in
one of those chairs near the beach, a Snow Goose (white phase) flew
right over our heads, landing near the tennis courts. The chorus of
Fish and American crows caused Meg to look around quizzically from time
to time, unable to locate the source of the sounds.  A sunny and warm
morning in October and a chance to enjoy the regular avian denizens of
the park.  An added bonus--the Snow Goose was new on my McList (and
Meg's, too)!"  Hmm.  Who's holding whose hand here?
 
BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: Cupper Andy Farnsworth is
not only an awesome birder and Coach (see Coach's Corner, this issue),
he's also one steamin' guitar player.  In October, some of us caught a
Rongo performance of his band Mectapus, a rockin', stompin', funk-
infused, (at times) country-rock tempered, (at times) Latin-flavored
musical kaleidoscope. (Perhaps a co-listener put it best when he said,
"I have no idea what you call this kind of music, but I like it!")
Imagine a bird that's part Blue Jay, part Sandhill Crane, part Hoatzin,
part Western Kingbird, and part Jacana.  You wouldn't let a rare bird
like that get away without your seeing--or hearing--it, would you?
Catch Mectapus Thur Nov 13 at Key West ($3-4) 10:30 PM; Sat Nov 15 at
The Rongo ($4-5) 10PM; Thur Nov 20 at Happy Ending in Syracuse ($8)
8-10PM, and/or  Fri Dec 12 at Tinker Street Cafe, Woodstock ($5)
10:30PM.
SHAMELESS PLUG #1: "CDs should be available by the beginning of
December, I hope. Until then, we occasionally have tapes for sale at
gigs."
SHAMELESS PLUG #2: The Ithaca Ageless Jazz Band brings their swingin'
Big Band jazz and blues to the Rongo Friday, Nov 21, from 10pm to 1am.
Bring your dancing shoes or sit back, relax and tally your David Cup
lists. (Please be sure to mention that the kick-back from your $5 cover
charge should go to Allison Wells, not to Jim Lowe or Jeff Wells.)
 
:>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :> 
                         BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
                          By  Jeff Wells, Sub
 
It's a toss up over whether or not the headlines for October should read,
"Scoters Rule!" or "Winter Finches Take The Cup!" But there's no question
that October was an incredible month for Basin birding.  The Stewart Park
jettywatch team kept September's excitement going as they documented
large morning flights of waterfowl, including sizable flocks of Brant,
all three scoter species, Oldsquaw--I mean, Ice Duck (okay, Matt?)--and
a few Red-throated Loons among the early trickle of Commons.  Bill Evans
must have felt a twinge of deja vu this past month when, as last year,
he spotted a jaeger on the lake, only to watch it fade in the distance,
unidentified to species.
     Jettywatchers were also among the first to note the start of the
northern finch wave that has since swept us up with a nice current of
these often sought-after birds.  Evening Grosbeaks arrived first with
scattered individuals, then flocks early in the month, becoming a
torrent by month's end.  Common Redpolls were also noted by morning
lakewatchers midmonth, and reports became more numerous later, though
few if any Cuppers have yet had the pleasure of a redpoll flock
settling onto their feeders.  A few White-winged Crossbills and Red
Crossbills also made an appearance for a lucky few.
     Bard Prentiss and company played a hunch late in the month and
took a Sunday drive to the extensive spruce plantations of Summerhill,
east of Moravia. The gamble payed off in a big way when a lone
female-type Pine Grosbeak popped up in front of them among high bush
cranberries.  The bird was seen for another day or two and delighted
observers with its typical tameness and subtle coloration.
     Hawkwatchers had a few good October afternoons.  Red-shouldereds
from Michigan Hill early in the month, a few Rough-legs on Mt. Pleasant,
a scattering of Golden Eagles, and a large Red-tail flight on the 26th
made some Cuppers hawk-happy.
     All of this, though, was just a precursor to the great things to
come in November.  See you then!
 
(Jeff Wells is Director of Bird Conservation for National Audubon.  He
was thrilled to be forced, uh, invited to sub for Tom Nix, whose
computer crashed days before he was to sit down to write yet another
masterful Highlights column.  He'll be at the Rongo in Trumansburg on
November 21, between 10pm and 1am, to answer any bird questions you
may have.)
 
100      100      100      100      100      100      100       100
                        100 CLUB
    100       100      100       100       100       100       100   
 
SIGN ON THE 100 CLUB DOOR: "No new members admitted this month.
And if you're the foosball repair man, what took you so long?"
 
200           200          200          200           200          200
                            2     0    0
     200             200                      200           200
 
[Sign on 200 Club door]: "WARNING: BILL EVANS (still) INSIDE. Enter
at your own risk or send him off on a wild goose chase--to Seneca Lake."
 
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
by Matt Medler
 
What can we say about Stephen Davies?  He's out there finding *the*
birds--first, the American Avocet, then the Cattle Egret, and most
recently, the Franklin's Gull.  What better way to top off a splendid
year than to win the David Cup?  After a one-month anomaly, he's back
at the top of the Cup heap, ready for a final charge to the finish line.
Things could heat up during these last two months, but my money is still
on Stephen to be the last one standing come New Year's.
 
               1997 David Cup October Totals
 
                    238 Stephen Davies
                    236 Steve Kelling
                    235 Kevin McGowan
                    235 Allison Wells
                    232 Ken Rosenberg
                    231 Jeff Wells
                    231 Jay McGowan
                    230 Tom Nix
                    225 Karl David
                    221 John Greenly
                    221 Andy Farnsworth
                    219 Matt Medler
                    218 Chris Hymes
                    215 Meena Haribal
                    210 Bill Evans
                    210 Bard Prentiss
                    205 John Bower
                    202 Anne Kendall-Cassella
                    199 JR Crouse
                    198 Geo Kloppel
                    183 Chris Butler
                    181 Martha Fischer
                    158 Michael Pitzrick
                    150 Marty Schlabach
                    148 Margaret Launius
                    147 Anne James
                    141 Michael Runge
                    139 Jim Lowe
                    125 David McDermitt
                    111 Caissa Willmer
                    106 James Barry*
                     92 Casey Sutton
                     91 Andy Leahy
                     80 Cathy Heidenreich
                     68 Diane Tessaglia
                     67 Jane Sutton
                     64 Sarah Childs*
                     61 Rob Scott
                     59 Dave Mellinger*
                     46 Larry Springsteen*
                     42 Sam Kelling
                     40 Mira the Bird Dog*
                     37 Taylor Kelling
                     11 Kurt Fox
                      5 Ralph Paonessa*
                      0 Ned Brinkley*
 
*Currently living out-of-state but anticipate or have made a temporary
return to Basin within the 1997 David Cup year.  Will accept any and
all in-Basin donations.
 
Congratulations to Steve Kelling, who has shattered Allison Wells'
1996 McIlroy Award record after a mere ten months!**
 
              1997 McIlroy Award October Totals
 
                     201 Steve Kelling
                     200 Allison Wells
                     199 Stephen Davies
                     185 Jeff Wells
                     180 John Bower
                     178 Andy Farnsworth
                     168 Bill Evans
                     159 Kevin McGowan
                     156 JR Crouse
                     151 Karl David
                     150 Martha Fischer
                     148 Ken Rosenberg
                     141 Matt Medler
                     138 Jay McGowan
                     136 Tom Nix
                     123 Chris Butler
                     122 Michael Runge
                     116 Anne Kendall-Cassella
                     111 Jim Lowe
                      70 Casey Sutton
                      66 Jane Sutton
                      57 Dave Mellinger*
                      51 Rob Scott
                      50 Sarah Childs*
                      46 Larry Springsteen*
                      40 Mira the Bird Dog*
                       0 Ralph Paonessa*
                       0 Ned Brinkley*
 
*Currently living out-of-state but anticipate or have made a temporary
return to Basin during the 1997 David Cup year. Will accept any and all
in-Basin donations.
 
**Be sure to tune in next month to see if that sassy little remark has
cost Matt Medler his job at The Cup.
 
THE EVANS TROPHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Named in honor of the late Dick Evans--beloved local birder, Cayuga Bird
Club president, and friend to many--the Evans Trophy will be awarded to
the Cupper with the highest Dryden total, even though s/he will
nonetheless suffer the humiliation of totaling embarrassingly lower
than the winning McIlroy number.
 
October                                September
 
199 Ken Rosenberg                      195 Ken Rosenberg
188 Kevin McGowan                      186 Kevin McGowan
            
188 Bard Prentiss                      186 Bard Prentiss
180 Jay McGowan                        178 Jay McGowan
127 Anne Kendall-Cassella              127 Anne Kendall-Cassella
117 Matt Medler                        117 Matt Medler
                 
 
Kevin McGowan's Lansing total:   October: 156   September: 152
 
THE YARD STICK ----------------------------
 
By Margaret Launius
 
The battle of the Yards is heating up as we head into winter and the
two months remaining in the 1997 Yard Bird competition!  While many
Yardbirders had to be content with last months totals, several others
added Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Siskins.  Highlights included a
Western Kingbird seen by John Bower and a Golden Eagle by Ken Rosenberg!
 
136  John Bower, Enfield, NY
135   Ken Rosenberg, Dryden, NY
133    Kevin & Jay McGowan, Dryden, NY
122   Sandy Podulka, Brooktondale, NY
120   Ken Smith, Groton, NY
111   Bill Purcell, Hastings, NY
106         John Greely, Ludlowville, NY
 94   Nancy Dickinson, Trumansburg, NY
 92   George Kloppel, Ithaca, NY
 79    Sara Jane & Larry Hymes, Ithaca NY
 76   Margaret Launius, Mansfield, PA
 75    Jim Kimball, Geneseo, NY
 73   Allison & Jeff Wells, Ithaca, NY
 68    Darlene & John Morabito, Auburn, NY
 67    Nari Mistry Family, Ithaca, NY
 45   Mary Gerner, Macedon, NY
 43    Cathy Heidenreich, Lyons, NY
 
 
LEADER'S LIST  LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
 
By Karl David
 
Throw out all the old rules. Conventional wisdom (okay, my experience)
is that September produces a final bulge, a pale echo of May, in the
year list parade, followed by an inexorable decline of new birds from
October to December. But Stephen Davies, in reclaiming the lead from the
elder McGowan, turned that completely around by producing NINE October
birds, compared to only ONE in September. In the David Cup, no notion is
too venerable that it can't be challenged and found wanting! Not even,
perhaps, the apparent rule that the first four letters of the winner's
surname must be "Davi"?
 
Here are Stephen's birds through October:
 
R-t & C loons, P-b, Horned & R-n grebes, D-c Cormorant, A & L bitterns,
GB Heron, G & C egrets, Green Heron, B-c Night-Heron, T & M swans,
Snow Goose, Brant, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, G-w Teal, A B Duck,
Mallard, N Pintail, B-w Teal, N Shoveler, Gadwall, E & A wigeons,
Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, G & L scaup(s?), Oldsquaw, B & W-w
scoters, C Goldeneye, Bufflehead, H, C & R-b mergansers, Ruddy Duck,
Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, S-s & C hawks,
N Goshawk, R-s, B-w, R-t & R-l hawks, A Kestrel, Merlin, P Falcon, R-n
Pheasant, R Grouse, W Turkey, V Rail, C Moorhen, A Coot, B-b, A G &
S plovers, Killdeer, A Avocet, G & L yellowlegs, So, Sp & Up sandpipers,
Sanderling, Se, Le, W-r & Pe sandpipers, Dunlin, St Sandpiper, S-b & L-b
dowitchers, C Snipe, A Woodcock, W's Phalarope, B's, R-b, H, I, L B-b,
G & G B-b gulls, Ca, Co, F & B terns, R & M doves, B-b & Y-b cuckoos,
E Screech-Owl, G H, B, L-e, S-e & N S-w owls, C Nighthawk, C Swift,
R-t Hummingbird, B Kingfisher, R-h & R-b woodpeckers, Y-b Sapsucker,
D & H woodpeckers, N Flicker,P Woodpecker, O-s Flycatcher,
E Wood-Pewee, Y-b, Al, W & L flycatchers, E Phoebe, GC Flycatcher,
W & E kingbirds, H Lark, P Martin, T, N R-w, Ban, C & Bar swallows,
B Jay, A & F crows, C Raven, B-c Chickadee, T Titmouse, R-b & W-b
nuthatches, B Creeper, C, H, W, S & M wrens, G-c & R-c kinglets, B-g
Gnatcatcher, E Bluebird, Veery, G-c, S's, H & W thrushes, A Robin,
G Catbird, N Mockingbird, B Thrasher, A Pipit, C Waxwing, E Starling,
W-e, B-h, Y-t, W & R-e vireos, B-w, G-w, Te & Na Warblers, N Parula,
Yel, C-s, Mag, CM, B-t B, Y-r, B-t G, Blackb, Pine, Prairie, Palm,B-b,
Blackp, Cer & B-and-w warblers, Redstart, Pro & W-e warblers, Ovenbird,
N & L waterthrushes, Mour Warbler, C Yellowthroat, Hoo, Wil's & Can
warblers, Sc Tanager, N Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, I Bunting, E Towhee,
A T, Chi, Fie, Ves, Sav, Gra, Hen's, Fox, Son, Lin's, Swa, W-t & W-c
sparrows, D-e Junco, L Longspur, S Bunting, Bobolink, R-w Blackbird,
E Meadowlark, Y-h & R blackbirds, C Grackle, B-h Cowbird, O & B orioles,
P Grosbeak, P & H finches, R Crossbill, C Redpoll, P Siskin,
A Goldfinch, E Grosbeak, House Sparrow.
 
Total: 238 species.
 
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
FATHER KARL'S COMPOSITE DEPOSIT
 
Stephen could still pick up a few of these 28 birds that others have
been lucky enough to see:
 
A W Pelican, Snowy Egret, W-f & Ross' geese, Surf Scoter, B's Goldeneye,
Black Vulture, Golden Eagle, Sora, Ruddy Turnstone, W, B's & B-b
sandpipers, R-n Phalarope, jaeger sp.,Laughing, Little, T's & S's gulls,
Snowy Owl, Whip-poor-will, Ac Flycatcher,N Shrike, Philly Vireo, O-c
& Ky warblers, Dickcissel, W-w Crossbill.
 
Grand Total: 266 species.
 
A Fatherly Note: our final tally for 1996 was 268 species. There are no
predictable species left to see, but the chances aren't bad we could tie
or exceed last year, if a few rarities (like a Franklin's Gull...fat
chance, hah-hah) show up.
 
(Karl David teaches mathematics at Wells College in Aurora and is
spending a sabbatical year at Cornell.  Although he's a professor, he's
also a student in Bill Evans' course, "Lighthouse Jetty 101".)
 
                              !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                              !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !
                              !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
What better way to prove October is a tail-kickin' month than by picking
up an unprecedented nine new birds, thereby landing yourself an interview
exclusively for The Cup?  "Kickin' Tail" brings well deserved honor and
recognition to the Cupper who has glassed, scoped, scanned, driven,
climbed, dug, finched, or otherwise made his/her way to the top of the
David Cup list.
 
This month's KT Leader demonstrates exquisitely what you do when you
fall off the horse (i.e., lose a turn as Kickin' Tail Leaders)?  You get
right back on it, and in Stephen Davies' case, it's not a particularly
dark horse...
 
THE CUP:  238!  That's a nine-bird increase from last month. Astounding!
How did you do it?
 
DAVIES: Well, we all know the real key to success.  Like the main
man says: "Bird Hard!"  And after all, fall really is the time to pull
out all the stops, right?
 
THE CUP: Absolutely. We agree whole-heartedly.  (Uh, call us when you
find a Ross' Gull or a Gyrfalcon, will you? And make sure we can see it
from our cars.)
 
DAVIES: There's no doubt in my mind that fall is the most interesting
part of the year for a birder--the season with the most potential for
turning up rare stuff.  Its just so unpredictable.
 
THE CUP: No kidding! Cuppers are so uptight at the homestretch, you
never know what desperate measures they'll go to in order to win. Oh...
you mean the BIRDS are unpredictable.  Eh-hem.
 
DAVIES: I just feel so excited.  It's like the rest of the year is mere
preparation for fall.  Those first signs of southward movement are the
signal to go ballistic. Unfortunately for me, my fall migration got
kinda screwed by work through September, so October was my opportunity
to work out all that pent-up frustration and get out there as much as
possible.
 
THE CUP: If we've said it once, we've said it a million times: Cuppers
can't let jobs interfere with birding!  Did any of those nine new
species take you by surprise?
 
DAVIES: The real, huge surprise for me was the second Western Kingbird--
the Bowerbird (the McWestern Kingbird!)--which was a lifer, too.  My
miserable September resulted in my missing Bill's bird, which was a
major bite in the a__ [profanity censored to protect Cup-reading
children--Jay McGowan and Matt Medler] and very difficult to deal with
emotionally.  I tried for it several times but without success--I was
just too late getting back on the scene.
 
THE CUP: You should have heard Kevin McGowan gloat.
 
DAVIES: The following weeks were tough--long sojourns down to the jetty,
winter finches and double doses of Prozac got me through.  The scars
were just beginning to heal when I got John's message on the answering
machine.  I was gripped by this intense mixture of excitement and
horror.  I suddenly found myself thrust into this life or death
situation.  If I saw the bird, the agony of Pilgrimport Rd would
quickly melt away.  But to miss a second Western Kingbird would
certainly mean a return to the straightjacket and padded cell at least
until the end of the year.
 
THE CUP: Talk about tough birding conditions!
 
DAVIES: Fortunately for me, I managed to connect with this one and avert
an emotional catastrophe.  I never thought I'd get a second chance at
Western Kingbird this year. Thanks John, I owe you one!
 
THE CUP: Now let's not get carried away, he did break a promise to a
certain Cup editor not to call Steve Kelling about it.  Keeping with the
theme, how long do you think it'll take before one of your competitors
shoves you off the end of the jetty?
 
DAVIES: It's looking more and more likely, especially as my McIlroy
total closes in on hers.
 
THE CUP: If you're referring to Allison Wells, she would never do such
a thing (unless she was sure she could get away with it.)  On the other
hand, did Kevin McGowan try to pull anything wiley as a way to keep
you from overtaking his lead?
 
DAVIES: McGowan made his move earlier this year when I was attacked by
a crack combat unit of cunningly trained crows while birding the
cemetery on University Ave.  I was closing in on a Tennessee Warbler
when I was suddenly deafened and pinned to the ground by a squadron of
these black demons from above.
 
THE CUP: Oh, how awful for you (Kevin, the check's in the mail.)
 
DAVIES: I finally struggled to my feet and fought off the corvids from
hell with my tripod, by which time the Tennessee Warbler was nowhere to
be found.  I am wise to this tactic now, so I'm always on the lookout
for rampaging flocks of Corvus mcgowani whenever I'm out and about.
I expect there may be more of the same in store before the year is out.
 
THE CUP:  We know we're taking a terrible risk by asking you this,
considering that the last time we saw you, you were wearing that
rippin' leather jacket, had an earing through your eyebrow, and your
hair was spiked and Kool Aid green, but what CD is currently in your CD
player?
 
DAVIES: I must confess that "The Full Monty" got me jumping on the
'70s bandwagon along with everyone else, so Hot Chocolate have been
getting a lot of airtime in our house recently, especially "You Sexy
Thing".  You know how it goes, right?:
           
                      "I believe in miracles,
                       Since you came along
                       You sexy thing!
                       Where did you come from, baby?"
                       You Franklin's Gull...err I mean
                       You sexy thing"
 
THE CUP: No, I'm afraid the '70 was before this interviewer's time.
 
DAVIES: When I've had enough of that, Green Day's "Dookie" provides
a good antidote, particularly their number, "Basketcase".
 
THE CUP: Hmm. Green Day.  That makes sense: You're "Green" with envy!
Wait a minute...you're ahead.
 
DAVIES: Either that, or Moby's "That's When I Reach for My Revolver"
gets me back into competitive David Cup mode.
 
THE CUP: It's shame you aren't more competitive, Stephen, you might
stand a chance at winning. You're certainly good at finding rarities:
Cattle Egret, American Avocet, and now the November Franklin's Gull.
What's your good luck charm, and was it in anyway inspired by Steve
Kelling's smelly good luck t-shirts?
 
DAVIES:  I know I've had some good luck, and I largely attribute
this to my lucky camel, Ahmed, who sits on the ashtray in my car.  Why
a camel?  Real, live camels kick, bite and spit, and smell only
marginally better than Steve's T-shirts.
 
THE CUP: Sounds like any number of Cuppers we know.
 
DAVIES: Fortunately, Ahmed is of the stuffed variety, displays no
antisocial behavioural traits and stands about 4" tall.  Katherine's
mother brought him back from Egypt for me and told me that the taxi
drivers there all carry them in their cabs for good luck.  Figuring that
taxi drivers in Egypt must see all kinds of cool stuff, I quickly
installed him in my car, and as you can see, he's done me sterling
service so far.  No Egyptian Vultures, Senegal Thick-knees, bulbuls or
babblers yet but I'm still hoping...
 
THE CUP: Not to pop your bubble or anything, but does your high score
this month suggest that you perhaps won't be so upwardly mobile in the
DC months ahead?
 
DAVIES: It will get tougher to add stuff in the next couple of months,
but I'm still excited about what remains of the year.  Northern Shrike
was one I missed in the first winter period.
 
THE CUP: Stephen, you're probably not going to get one down at the
jetty...
 
DAVIES: So I'll be looking to pick up one. There's still a chance at
Golden Eagle, I guess--or am I clutching at straws?  And then there's
the northern stuff we all hope will put in an appearance: finches,
Bohemian Waxwing, Snowy Owl, etc. Maybe even something more fanciful
than that.
 
THE CUP:  What's your strategy for the upcoming month?
 
DAVIES: Of course, I'll be concentrating on getting out as much as
possible.  Bird hard, right?  There's still plenty of potential for
picking up cool stuff around the lake
 
THE CUP: "Cool" in more ways than one.
 
DAVIES: Purple Piper, Red Phalarope, kittiwake--so I'll be jetting out
to the Jetty as much as possible and checking the other lakeshore
hang-outs. Who knows what could show up? It's been a rip-roaring
rollercoaster of a fall so far.  Then there's the passerine scene:
White-winged Crossbill--
 
THE CUP: Got it!
 
DAVIES: --is high on my wanted list, so I'll be hanging around the
conifers a bit.  And with what seems like a preponderance of westerly
goodies this fall so far, who knows what else is out there?  A Varied
Thrush, maybe?
 
THE CUP: Allison has gotten that for the last three years, right on
April 1, at the family feeders (the infamous fire escape, even!)  Jeff
always manages to just miss it.  She's afraid he may finally "get it"
this year, though.
 
DAVIES: I'll be checking out the waxwing flocks, of course.  And then
gull study is an absolute must.  Still plenty of things to keep me off
the streets.
 
THE CUP: If we can pull this Miss David Cup thing off, as mentioned in
The Cup 2.9, do you think you'd have a chance at winning?
 
DAVIES: Well, having not really seen the competition "in the flesh," as
it were, it's kinda hard to say.  I hear Bill Evans has already booked
an appointment for a full body wax, and I've had great fun watching
Kelling perfect his "Funky Chicken" over at Stewart Park these last few
mornings.
 
THE CUP: He'll do anything for a new McIlroy bird!
 
DAVIES: I understand Ken Rosenberg recently made a bulk purchase of
Saran Wrap, and is it my imagination or has Tom Nix been plucking his
eyebrows of late?  I'm getting the impression that this could be a
tough contest.
 
THE CUP: "Tough"--you ain't kiddin'.  Thanks a lot, Stephen, and
good luck, but not too much.
 
DAVIES: Over and out.
 
THE CUP: Hey, what happened to "smoke me a kipper"?  Never mind.  We
probably don't want to know.
 
JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ
                           BIRDBITS
                         By Jay McGowan
JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ
Welcome to Birdbits!  Here's a chance to test your knowledge of  the
world of birds. Answers next month.  (But if you happened to find me a
Common Tern or a Red-shouldered Hawk .)
 
1.  What type of bird is a dikkop?
2.  In Britain, what is the Lapland Longspur called?
3.  What are the largest South American waterfowl?
4.  Why do crossbills have crossed bills?
5.  What do Townsend's Solitaires like to eat in the winter?
6.  Which bird has to be removed from the New York checklist with the
recent changes by the AOU, and which bird will be put in its place?
7.  In Florida, which icterid (in the blackbird family) feeds
extensively on snails?
8.  Which bird's genus means rain?
9.  Which bird's trivial (species) name means snow?
10. Which large wading bird preys on penguins?
 
ANSWERS TO LAST MONTH'S BIRDBITS:
 
1.  Which bird migrates the farthest?  The Arctic Tern, which flies
from the Arctic to the Antarctic.
2.  Almost all birds that breed in North America winter in North or
South America or the Caribbean,  but one land bird winters in Africa.
What is it? The Northern Wheatear.           
3.  What falcon times its breeding so it coincides with fall migration
so that it can feed migrating birds to its young?  Elenora's Falcon of
the Mediterranean.
4.  What South American bird periodically turns up in New York because
it gets turned around when trying to go home to Argentina from
Venezuela? Fork-tailed Flycatcher.
5.  What North American hawk has the longest migration?  Swainson's
Hawk. This western hawk winters in southern South America.
6.  What three relatively common New York birds breed in the southern
hemisphere and winter in New York in their winter and our summer?
Greater Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, and Wilson's Storm-Petrel.
Cory's  Shearwaters also breed in the southern hemisphere, but most of
the ones we see are young birds that have not yet bred.
7.  Most of the spotted thrushes winter in Central and South America.
Which one winters in the U.S.?  Hermit Thrush.
8.  What occasional visitor to "The Basin" breeds in the high arctic and
usually winters in the Great Plains but sometimes turns up at feeders
here? Harris's Sparrow.
9.  Which bird's name means "Wandering Thrush"?  Turdus migratorius, the
American Robin, although it migrates the least of our thrushes.
10.  What bird (besides Peregrine Falcon) has peregrinus in the name?
Tennessee Warbler (Vermivora peregrinus).
 
BONUS:  Why do birds fly south for the winter?  Because it's too far to
walk.
 
(Jay McGowan, age eleven, is home-schooled. He has a part-time job as a
stand-up comedian Saturday mornings at the lighthouse jetty.)
 
49087-908792x837-48576+5764.679/4905%8677-34566.578+0486940
                    STAT'S ALL, FOLKS
                       By Karl David
6879403+58-098%908773.6978/4857694~58674%x98458.6059679+697
 
     December 31, 1986. On a gray day, I go out for a year-end run in
Aurora, half-hoping as well for a final year-bird to break the tie
(213) with 1985, my first full year of Basin birding. And there it is
at the south end of Lake Road, calmly watching me ascend the final hill
from Long Point, perched on the wires by the barn nearest Rt 90: a
Short-eared Owl! How sweet it is.
     Fast forward to 1997: I missed the owls that put in only a brief
appearance earlier this year at their current Rafferty Road stronghold.
Unless they turn up by January 1--and I see them--there will be a blank
next to their name on my yearly Basin checklist for the first time,
ever.
     Welcome to the strange, capricious and sometimes cruel world of
"never-missed" birds. I actually first got the idea for this from Greg
Butcher, who would always begin the Christmas Count compilation session
by running through the birds never before missed. As I remarked at one
such session, it's a list that can only grow shorter. And so it has, and
within my memory. I believe Ring-necked Pheasant, Brown-headed Cowbird
and Evening Grosbeak have all disappeared in recent years. And I suspect
Purple Finch should be off: there have been years when there were no
reports, except for a dozen at just one feeder. Hmmm ...
     By the time I began paying attention to this list for myself, it
was 1990, and my 213 species for 1985 had already dropped to 171 for
1985-89. 1990 was also the year Dick Evans, Bill Evans and I realized we
were independently keeping year lists, and that we were virtually even.
I finished with 220, my best ever. What's more, for the first time [as I
reconstructed it] I lost no birds from the never-missed list.
     That luck continued in 1991 and '92, and I began to think the
bleeding had stopped for good. Ah. hubris! In 1993, not one, not two,
but three birds vanished: Merlin, Tennessee Warbler, and Nashville
Warbler. I was a little bit stunned, but life went on. 1994 & '95 saw no
further losses. Then came last year, with the maximum effort in
successful pursuit of the coveted first David Cup. At 251, it was my
best ever by a considerable margin...but I couldn't turn up Olive-sided
Flycatcher to save my life, and that other list dropped one more,
to 167. You win one, you lose one.
     This year could match the debacle of '93. Wilson's Phalarope is
as good as gone, and Short-eared Owl is in serious trouble. Most
embarrassingly, though, I still haven't turned up...Ruffed Grouse! Twice
on club field trips I've led to Conn Hill this year [for this list I
still count it], I've wandered off briefly in pursuit of dickey birds,
only to find the main group had had it while I was gone.
     In going over my records while preparing this column, I've found
some surprises. Greatest perhaps is Philadelphia Vireo. I missed it
this year, but I wouldn't have believed that I've only missed it once
before that--way back in 1987.
      And what do I think are my best streaks, and my worst misses?
The flycatcher and phalarope streaks WERE fairly remarkable, I think;
and so IS (he said, using the adverb correctly for once, hopefully) the
Short-eared Owl one. The best two that I've shepherded safely through
this year are Upland and Baird's sandpipers. Pine Siskin ain't bad
either--the only non-resident winter finch to survive the whimsies of
the annual cone crops. And how about the should-be-shot-for-missing
birds? This list of shame is headed by Solitary Sandpiper, Cliff Swallow,
Black-throated Blue Warbler [a breeder, for God's sake!], White-crowned
Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird, i.a. What can I say? They were gone before I
even knew it.
     If one really tried, I believe it wouldn't be too onerous a task to
keep this never-missed list for the Basin above 200 species almost
indefinitely. It might be fun to work out that absolutely irreducible
set of species, but I'll leave it to you as an exercise for whiling
away those long winter evenings that are about to descend upon us once
again. But don't get too comfy--you have to help me find those
Short-ears!
 
(Did we mention Karl David is a mathematics professor?)
 
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
                               SCRAWL OF FAME
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
        "A Rebuttal to Insanity Allegations" (or "January Marshes")
                           By Kurt Fox
 
     I sometimes ponder the "Kickin' Tail" interview with Tom Nix
(The Cup 2.2):
 
"THE CUP:  After reading Kurt Fox's Scrawl of Fame last month, which
 proves' 100 is possible in the Basin in January, what do you think,
is he brilliant or bonkers?
"NIX:  Oh, there's such a thin line.... I think Kurt proved that in a
year with an unusual number of lingerers, a birder with unlimited time,
or perhaps the ability to be in more than one place at a time, could
come close to hitting the century mark for the month. Some of Kurt's
suggestions: Bittern, Virginia Rail(!), Sora(!!) strike me as, well,
fanciful.'"
   
     Oh, I particularly love that quote! I was reminded of that just a
short while later, when I picked up The Kingbird (Summer 1997?) and
read the Region 3 report only to find, well, of all things, a SORA
"(!!)" in late-December (!!!!)  in the Basin (!!!!!). It was found alive
in the marginal habitat at Hog-hole.
     Nevertheless, I was curious as to how crazy I was (am?). I know that
Virginia Rail is regular in Region 2 in winter. I also know that there
have been a few years with overwintering American Bitterns in Region 2,
and several with Soras as well. So, I actually followed my own advice
(and Ned Brinkley's) in the Scrawl of Fame (see "A Basin Big January,
Part II: Strategies", The Cup 2.3). I spent a rainy weekend and a few
weeknights reading the past 31 Region 3 winter issues of The Kingbird. I
charted and tracked which species were seen in January and winter in
Region 3. I found some neat facts!
     Regarding rails and bitterns in the past 31 winters, I have come up
with the following information for Region 3 and Cayuga Lake Basin: [all
CAPS are my emphasis]
 
American Bittern:
(The Kingbird - Jan 72, Feb 80, both MNWR) -"an overwintering bird
observed several times in early Feb [1980]" The Kingbird: Vol 30 No 2
King Rail (!): (The Kingbird - 31 Dec 1979, MNWR) - From Bull (1974,
p216), "Sedentary and migratory...perhaps overlooked. This species is
seen, caught alive, or found dead MORE OFTEN IN THE WINTER MONTHS than
at any other time of the year...18 winter specimens...7 caught in
muskrat traps...Three winter specimens from the interior: (1) freshly
killed, NY Thruway at the MONTEZUMA marshes, Jan 6, 1960 (GOS field
trip)". - From The Kingbird (vol 29 no 2), 31 Dec 1979 "located at
MNWR by trappers."
 
Sora: (The Kingbird - mid-Dec 1972, mid-Dec 1996)
-From Bull (1974, p 216), "Upstate: two specimen records caught in
muskrat traps at Montezuma, Jan 9, 1960. Breeding ... although fairly
widely distributed in suitable marshes, it is nowhere really common,
unless it be the vast MONTEZUMA and Oak Orchard areas."
-Perhaps the most difficult of the rails to find in winter? But, it has
also been found on a few occasions in winter near Rochester.
 
Virginia Rail: (The Kingbird - in Reg 3 in winter in 67; in CLB in Jan
in 69, 72 and 73; in CLB in winter on 28 Dec 1975).
- From Bull (1974, p 216), "The Virginia Rail is regular in the spring
and fall, but as it occurs both summer AND WINTER, it is difficult to
give arrival and departure dates... Breeding: Virginia Rails are
ESPECIALLY PLENTIFUL upstate in the extensive MONTEZUMA marshes"
- "one found dead last part of Jan, MNWR (1969)" The Kingbird: vol 19,
no 2
- "report by trappers that they are caught in traps REGULARLY in marshy
areas nearby is interesting" The Kingbird: vol 18, no 2
- "one Dec 3 (1969) dead on Cornell Campus" The Kingbird: vol 20, no 2
- "one trapped MNWR in early Jan by muskrat trappers" The Kingbird
 
     The Virginia Rail is not as commonly reported as I would have hoped.
But, considering effort, I am pleased with the number of birds.***  BTW,
I have since learned that local birders often employ the use of tapes to
get this bird to respond in winter. I am not endorsing the use of tapes,
but since it is not the sensitive breeding season, considerate use of
tapes might be employed to confirm wintering species.
 
[*** Kingbird regional editors change throughout the years. A new editor
may not communicate with trappers and fewer recent reports may indicate a
communication issue, not a lack of rails. Also, a historical note: Back
when I was growing up, the fur market was booming. Then, animal cruelty
folks kicked up a fuss and the fur market plummeted in the late 1970s.
Many trappers shut down their traplines because it was no longer
economical. What does this have to do with anything? Well, few winter
rail records reported by trappers lately does not necessarily mean few
winter rails, but fewer trappers to record them. I still think that they
are out there. It seems to make sense that the rails are reported by
those who are most often in their habitat--the trappers! You can't expect
to find them at your Niger feeder. So, ask for some Swampers for
Christmas and get ready to head to the marshes in January.]
 
     Yet, the rails were not the only surprises. There are plenty of
stories of odd birds (both Tree and Barn Swallows have been found in
January). Here are some other trends of note: Raptors (e.g. Bald Eagle)
have rebounded from DDT days in the late 1960s. Wild turkeys numbers
have exploded while RN Pheasant numbers have plummeted. Gulls numbers
have exploded since the mid-1970s. (I credit Ned Brinkley for solely
blowing the Larid variety right out of the water in Reg 3. Ned proved
that many species can be found right in the Basin. His favorite haunts
seemed to be landfills and Stewart Park). Fish Crow and Common Raven are
regular more recently.
     What happened to snipes? They used to get Common Snipe almost
regularly from 1972 to 1983 and dogs used to kick them up. Maybe Mira
the bird dog is needed? LE Owl: there is a trend, but I won't reveal it
here due to the sensitivity of this owl. I'd say that it is probably
regular in January in winter. N. Saw-whet Owl is irregular. Probably
more common and more regular than found due to lack of owlers.
Red-headed and Red-bellied Woodpeckers have flipped regularity--about
1984. Past records of Red-headed were centered around Sheldrake and
Clyde (does anybody ever bird up there in January?), but a few scattered
reports from Aurora (right, Karl?). N. Mockingbird and Carolina Wren are
more common. House Finch numbers exploded.
     But those are not really surprises. Now, to the things that
surprised me: Look at Merlin. It has been regular in the Reg 3 in winter
since 1991. (Four years in Jan in CLB, 2 in CLB in winter, 1 in Reg 3 in
winter). (I almost think that this is a widespread occurrence in Upstate
NY.) RC Kinglet: In Reg 2, this bird is occasional in winter. Yet, down
in the Basin/Reg 3, I find that it is irregular (recorded 1 every 2
years). Perhaps a one shot now-you-see-it,-now-you-don't bird but much
more common than I thought. Perhaps it should be targeted in CLB? YB
Sapsucker: I was surprised at how often it was recorded in the Basin. It
is almost regular! But, I think that you must network to get this one as
it can be hard to chase after-the-fact, unless visiting a suet station.
E. Towhee: almost exclusively a feeder bird in winter. Again, you MUST
network to get this one. Rusty Blackbird: bird of the marshes. I was
surprised at how often it was recorded in the Basin. I would tend to
think it is more regular in Reg 3 in January than in Reg 2. Does it have
something to do with the hills to the south, or the marshes in the
north? I'm not sure.
     Things that really surprised me: Eastern Phoebe: Although not
providing any fuel to my comments below, I found that it has been found
*in January* four (!) times in the Basin (5 times in Reg 3). It has been
recorded 5 times in the past 7 years in Reg 3 from 1 Jan to 6 Feb since
1991 (!):  In the winter of 1995-1996, it was found in Reg 2 on the LL
CBC and also in Reg 1 on the Beaver Meadow CBC. Outbuildings and
pavilions (places with spiders, cobwebs, etc.) seem to be better places
for these birds. Is it really becoming more common in winter? Marsh Wren:
Never recorded in the Basin in January! However, it has been recorded in
Reg 3 several times in Jan. Likewise, Reg 2 has several winter records
as well. Note: it is often in the same habitat as the rails and C.
Yellowthroat. Swamp Sparrow: This species is not recorded with the
regularity it is in Reg 2. I wonder why. In the "little finger lakes"
area of Reg 2 (read: the very same habitat that you have in Ithaca), it
was reported in numbers and trends like Reg 3 until the early 1980s.
Since then, it has become regular. I wonder if the wintering trend for
this species is changing, or the birders looking and finding it (!) more
often.
     NOTE: It is often in the same habitat as the rails and C.
Yellowthroat. C. Yellowthroat: the 1997 bird, according to the Kingbird,
was reputedly the 7th winter record for Reg 3. However, in my 'research'
in just the past 31 years, I find it mentioned 9 times. That's 1 in every
3 years! Now, I ask: if you "beat" that habitat in winter, don't you
think it would turn up more often? I certainly do.
     I find it peculiar that a Region with so many marshes (Montezuma,
Cayuga Marsh and Canoga, etc) and so many good birders find so few
marsh species (bitterns, rails, Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrow,
C. Yellowthroat) in winter. I think this is an under-appreciated habitat
in January. I'd bet if you birded there on a sunny, non-windy day, you'd
turn up some surprises. Acre-per-acre, there is more food in marsh
habitat than any other habitat. Why would you think that would change in
winter? Snow may cover *open* fields and ice may cover *open* water, but
the vegetation (cattails) and decomposing (warm) muck and springs should
keep food available longer in marshes.
     I am not trying to scorn anyone in this essay. I am just trying to
point out some, perhaps non-obvious, facts about winter (January)
birding. After rereading all the old Reg 3 winter Kingbirds and all
things considered, now more than ever, I think that the marshes in Reg 3
are underbirded in winter. I am reminded of the "Doubting Thomas" (pun
intended) :^) and fanciful thoughts of a recent December Sora. If a Sora
can stay alive in that small amount of habitat into late December,
imagine how many are running around at the north end of the lake in
those huge marshes and springs at Cayuga Marsh and Montezuma! I shudder
at the thought that nobody has even tried.
     Am I brilliant or bonkers? I plead the fifth.
 
(Kurt Fox is a software engineer at Eastman Kodak Company. He been seen
wearing one of Stephen Davies coats--the rippin' leather wear or the
straight jacket? You decide.)
 
(If you have an opinion--or insider information--about the art, science,
and/or esthetics of birding or birding-related topics, write it up for
the Scrawl of Fame.)
 
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
                     <  COACH'S CORNER        <
                    <           <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
                    <           < 
                     <         <
                       < < < <
 
Who but Andy Farnsworth could write up a totals-smashing Coach's
Corner able to match what might well be the most intense month of birding
in the Basin this year (especially if Kevin McGowan and Stephen Davies
run into each other in a dark alley...or a dark jetty?)  Able to scan
wind-whipped fields for high-flying Michigan Hill hawks, willing to scope
for fly-bys in the blistering chill of the jetty (yeah, and he's still
not ahead in the DC, can you believe it?), Coach Farnsworth offers here
his expert advice on finding those birds you have yet to see:
 
COACH FARNSWORTH: My first thoughts on November begin with a
bad cup of coffee, messy hair, dysfunctional fingers and fogged up
binoculars. A bad cup of coffee to start a morning that might not
otherwise have started for another several hours; messy hair because a
wool hat has not been invented that functions and is static-free;
dysfunctional fingers from gripping for dear life your binoculars that
are horribly fogged and colder to the touch than your core temperature.
Yes, November is not for the weak.
     I am looking forward, truly, to standing out on the lighthouse jetty
in a blasting north wind, thinking about speaking to whatever brave souls
stand beside me, but then thinking better of it for fear of freezing the
entirety of my insides with a blast of cold air into my lungs and
freezing everyone else's insides as they try to respond to my coughs and
gags. But I also envision lifting my binoculars to my eyes and watching
a late Parasitic Jaeger cruise by at such high speed that its passage
shakes the very jetty on which we stand (a new land speed record set by
none other than...jaeger!) I imagine near tragedy as those same brave
souls cling to the jetty for dear life, barely avoiding a cold watery
grave while watching a transient Purple Sandpiper wonder how it ended up
in such a gray place (and subsequently leaving very quickly).  And please
don't let me forget about all the ducks cruising overhead sparking grand
debate ("what do you mean swan?!?!?! that was a bufflehead!!! Hmmmm...)
 I guess at that point I wake up happy from me dream.
     But in all seriousness. Though November is cold, the chill is worth
it. Let me explain.  The Mount Pleasant-Michigan Hill Factor: I seem to
speak about these places almost incessantly. Nonetheless...You can bet
that on days with northerly winds I will be freezing my tail at one of
these locations, watching the last of the Golden Eagles trickle through,
thanking the lone Rough-legged Hawks and Northern Goshawks for keeping
my company, hoping this day is THE day for that big Red-tailed Hawk
flight that is sure to come soon. In the morning, I plan to watch,
smiling all the while, as the number of redpolls, crossbills, grosbeaks
and siskins passing over increases logarithmically (but not so quickly to
force me to use calculus!). I anticipate with great fervor the handful
of Northern Shrikes that will fly by migrating south to marginally warmer
destinations, leaving us to wonder why marginally warmer is so much
better than McIllroy airspace. And I have been and will continue to wait
for the armada (can one bird be an armada if no man is an island??) of
Sandhill Cranes to fly over one of our hawk watches. It's going to happen
soon enough, why not this November?
     Both Mount Pleasant and Michigan Hill offer commanding views of the
southern Basin's airspace. I cannot say enough good things about
migration watches at these spots. Though there certainly have been and
will continue days with seemingly no birds, the days that produce big
flights definitely make up for these more than amply.
     Besides these places, the southern Basin has a number of other good
places to watch late hawk migration and waterfowl flights as well as
morning landbird flights. Sunset Park somehow always draws the shortest
straw on my birding priority list, but every time I have been recently,
I think to myself that I ought to bird there more often.
     The Lake Vector: The final frontier. These are the voyages of
the..oops, just kidding. (A little too much TV and I don't mean Turkey
Vulture.) The lake will no doubt be a gold mine this month. With barely
a week gone by in the month we have already seen (at least some lucky
folks have ) the appearance of Franklin's Gull, three scoter species,
Brant, Red-throated Loon and Red-necked Grebe at various point on the
lake. Like the sky-watching migration sites of Mt Pleasant and Michigan
Hill, the lake needs major coverage this month.
     The possibilities are not endless but they are very exciting. Gulls
are beginning to appear in large numbers at the north end of Cayuga Lake.
The time is now to begin looking for those sometimes elusive Lesser
Black-backed, Iceland, and Glaucous Gulls. A species we could easily be
overlooking at times is Mew Gull--again something to seek out in the
growing gull flocks. Black-legged Kittiwake no doubt drifts through the
Basin unnoticed on occasion. The moral: keep your eyes peeled and sharp
while watching gulls. Three words, if you will: COME ON, IVORY!!!
     Waterfowl migration is now in full swing. I mentioned the scoters,
the Brant...also Oldsquaw, maybe a Harlequin Duck at Long Point or at the
Union Springs Railroad Crossing. And the big cheese - the spectacle of
the loons.  Loon migration visible on this lake of ours is nothing short
of extraordinary. For the students of migration, a good loon flight
morning at Taughannock Falls State Park is a spectacle not to be missed.
And especially when you consider that one of these days a murrelet is
going to fly by (no doubt subject to the same frigid wind that will keep
binoculars from eyes and keep lips from speaking...well, maybe a bit
dramatic I know, but still!) I suggest watching for those sometimes
elusive north winds, getting mobilized pre-dawn when they finally arrive
and then dressing VERY WARMLY (bad cup of coffee not necessary although
it might make for a better story). And while watching the loons don't
forget to watch the huge numbers of blackbirds pouring overhead up in the
stratosphere (yes you too can dream about all the Brewer's and
Yellow-headed Blackbirds for the incredible price of sore eyes and a kinked
neck.)
     Other places to watch: the bluffs above Aurora Bay. Though this
commanding view leaves you far above Cayuga's waters (pun intended),
there is something about the vista of the entirety of the bay before you.
You can scan everything with a scope easily and then make you choice as
to which flock warrants further inspection. May I suggest the one with
the Common Eider in it, if I may be so bold?
     A further note: Once the icky fog begins to creep in and the low
ceiling becomes no ceiling at some point during the month even the
smallest pond or lake could have downed waterfowl swimming about. Though
the grebe spectacle of several years ago in upstate NY that brings this
to mind was brought about by a freeze some time during the winter I think
that on the horribly gray, foggy, drizzly days we should be out pounding
the water, if you will. That's when the crazy stuff will be out and
about.
     Open Field, Closed Minds: With winter setting in the usual
assortment of open country birds is arriving. Snow Buntings, Lapland
Longspurs, and American Tree Sparrows have shown their faces. Northern
Shrikes are not far behind with several reports to our north in the past
weeks. No doubt they are scoping their hedgerows now. Rough-legged Hawks
are taking up their quarters.
     Though the idea of standing out in a field during a morning snow
squall might not be appealing, in reality it is not appealing. Oh, did
I say that? Excuse me. I meant to say, "open country birding need not be
forgotten because of all the action in and around the lake." We know
Pine Grosbeak has been out and about; we know redpolls are about--so
mind those fields and shrubs. From all I have heard, Salt Road could be
a goldmine this winter for finches, or at least that's the word on the
street.
     I almost forgot: It's time to watch those Cedar Waxwing flocks for
any straggling bigger friends that might associate with them. If you see
any of these stragglers, please remain calm. They are not dangerous. But
please report immediately to the proper authorities in the following
manner: THE BOHEMIANS ARE HERE, THE BOHEMIANS ARE HERE!!!!
     It's also that time of the year to begin investigating conifer
groves and tangles for wintering owls. Long-eared, Northern Saw-whet,
and dare I say other owl species might be lurking in the thickest
vegetation you can find. But be warned, be mindful of private property-
-though that grove might look good, that sign most likely means business.
And most importantly: NEVER EVER DISTURB these birds if you do happen to
find one. On too many occasions have these birds been harassed to the
point of departing and maybe worse. Sorry for the politics. We now
return to our regularly scheduled silliness.
     Finally, we have a very special category. I'd like to think of it
as the wildcard factor. Since birds have wings and are known to use them
(several people have told me this), there is no telling what could show
up in the Basin. What wish birds would I love to see appear at some point
during the month? Well...
     How about Varied Thrush at a feeder in Cayuga Heights? Maybe a
Great Gray Owl somewhere south and east of Ithaca? Townsend's Solitaire
in the cedars in the vicinity of Long Point State Park?  November could
be a great month for vagrants. Cape May has already seen a truly wild
bird in the form of Brown-chested Martin. Who knows?
      As much as I always speak of crazy birds and wish lists and
possibilities, as much as I always think of new areas in the Basin that
might produce that true rarity, everything boils down to getting into
the field and searching high and low through the smallest patch of dead
goldenrod as well as the largest flock of starlings. The birds are out
there; all we have to do is find them.
     I hope to see you all "out there."
 
(Andy Farnsworth leads professional bird tours when he's not touring
with his band, Mectapus [see Bird Cup Blues and All That Jazz, this
issue.] If you want to know the real Andy, go to his next gig and
request that "true" trucking song...)
                  
                      mmmmm
mmmmmmmmmmmmmm    McILROY MUSINGS   mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
                      mmmmm
 
Despite her best efforts, Allison was unable to come up with a worthy
excuse to keep Steve Kelling out of McIlroy Musings this time around.
But there's always next month...
 
THE CUP: You've been leading in the McIlroy competition for the last
five or so months, yet you haven't been spending much time in the
McIlroy Musings.  Are you just shy?
 
KELLING:  NO! Actually, I have been the one being interviewed all these
times.  Like last month...that was not Allison, that was me.  And the
month before, that was not John Bower or Bill Evans (I get them
confused), that was me.  A certain editor of this magazine asked me to
pretend to be someone else and to answer the questions as if I were that
person.
 
THE CUP: How reprehensible of Jeff to ask you to do something like that!
 
KELLING: The editor quit talking to me around August when the editor
realized that I was going to win AGAIN for the month.
 
THE CUP: We understood that that had something to do with you slicing
the tires on certain blue Nova?  In fact, with you ahead in the McIlroy,
Stephen Davies leading in the David Cup, be honest, is there a Steves
Conspiracy?
 
KELLING: There is absolutely no difference between Stephen and I except
that 1) I can say mosquito properly  2) We have different parents 3) I
don't come from a country that is famous for it's jelly.  Ken Rosenberg
realized there might be a problem, and very few people know this but in
fact several years ago we tried to get rid of the UK upstart.  Remember
Linda's Junkyard Diner?  It's the gas station-turned- restaurant near
MNWR.  Ken and I took Stephen there and made him eat three WRECKER's
SPECIALS.  We did not see him for about three years, but I guess he
eventually got over it.
 
THE CUP: We're not so sure.  Have you seen his green hair?
 
KELLING: I think all this hoopla about first names is simply a trivial
blast from people who only wish they could get interviewed BECAUSE THEY
ARE IN THE LEAD, not because they are the editors and wish they could
get interviewed because they're ahead.
 
THE CUP: Hey, some people have fans that need the attention from the
Cupper of their affection.  You just don't understand the pressure...
 
KELLING:  For that matter, I think I am going to change my name to John
Evans--nah, Billy Bower . That has a better ring.  Then you could
interview one of them---Evans or Bower--- and they can be in the lead
and DESERVINGLY get interviewed, not get interviewed simply because the
editor did not want to interview the rightful interviewee.
 
THE CUP: Ooh, the steam. Why, it's enough to boil the waters of
Cayuga Lake! Let'S change the subject: Did you expect to break Mc200
so soon?
 
KELLING: Sooner. I really thought I could get it by mid-June, but I fell
off the roof of my house the first of March.
 
THE CUP: Yes, that's right, you "fell" off.  You were certainly not
pushed, no way.  It was all an accident.  (Could you sign these papers,
please?) Speaking of that, how has Allison been treating you since
you've broken her record from last year?
 
KELLING: "Allison--my aim is true."  She gave me a goal...she was the
pioneer forging new possibilities.
 
THE CUP: AND let's not forget, she wasn't even trying.  She stopped at
200 on purpose so SHE could break her record!
 
KELLING:  What she did last year is similar to what Hillary Clinton has
done for the role of First Lady in the White House.  Allison is clearly
a model to be followed...but from a distance.
 
THE CUP: Speaking of politics, who do you think will come out ahead,
Bill Evans or John Bower?
 
KELLING: Talk about a couple! Geesh, they even find the same good
bird.  I think John Bower will win because he dresses more stylishly.
Actually, I think Bill Evans could win if he could simply look over the
edge and find enlightened harmony with his inner oneness.  Are they
really two different people?  I have never seen them both together.
 
THE CUP: Since we're already talking about children, what's Sammy's
newest favorite bird?  And Taylor's?
 
KELLING:  Sammy has been enjoying Wood Ducks.  Taylor has moved to
primates...Bushbabies.
 
THE CUP: Oh, we hear they make great Christmas gifts, a real collector's
item.  No, wait, that's Beanie Babies.  We saw one in Stephen Davies
car--the rare and priceless camel model. Say, has working at the Lab
helped you at all, even though you're on the wrong side of the McIlroy
tracks?
 
KELLING:  Yep, it has: Dickcissel at a BirdSource meeting.  Woodcock
walking around the feeder area.  Philly Vireo while talking on the phone.
 
THE CUP: Uh, Steve, your office is not in McIlroy territory, so we'll
have to ask you to take that vireo off your McList---which makes you
tied with, not ahead of, Allison Wells this month.  Looks like we'll
have to scratch this whole interview!  What'll be your next McIlroy bird?
 
KELLING:  Northern Shoveler or Northern Shrike.
 
THE CUP:  What do you think Allison's, uh, the winning McTotal will be?
 
KELLING: 208.
 
THE CUP: It's coming into focus even as we speak...in Allison's scope.
 
====================================================
                  BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH             
                     By Caissa Willmer         
====================================================
     This month's bird brain has become an increasingly voluble and
arresting presence on Cayugabirds, one I always look forward to reading,
and I would imagine that he's streets ahead of anyone else in the
running for the Thoreau award. He is, of course, Geo Kloppel, a voice
from the "high hills around West Danby," about which he says, "I live in
a wildly rich and beautiful corner of the Basin, not at all well covered
by birders. Some of the interesting habitat is actually in Susquehanna
drainage, like Michigan Hollow, Bald Hill, and the North Spencer Marsh,
but there's plenty of Basin territory, too, and it deserves more
attention. The creation of the Lindsay-Parsons Biodiversity Preserve is
just a beginning, I hope."
     Geo works at home "as a maker and restorer of bows for violins and
related instruments." His workshop is "out in the middle of nowhere,"
according to many of his clients, but he insists, "This place, my home
for about 25 years, most certainly is _somewhere_, and wherever that may
be precisely, I'm privileged to occupy the exact middle of it.
     "When I'm not hunched over my workbench, I can look out across the
upper reaches of the Cayuga inlet valley to Thatcher Pinnacle. Within a
few steps of my door are old overgrown orchards, deep wooded ravines, a
secluded pond, groves of spruce and pine... and a few of my more
perceptive customers say 'I can see _why_ you live out here in the middle
of nowhere!'(Sigh!)"
     I had long suspected that Geo might be a writer of articles and
essays, but he says, "No! I'm not any kind of writer. I just like to put
some of my enjoyment of birds into my posts, because I like it when other
people do so. In fact, the _pleasure_ of birding is very palpable on
Cayugabirds, and I owe my recent revival largely to the list, and
particularly to those who use it to express their delight in birds."
     I think that most Cayugabirds listers would agree that when Geo
expresses his enjoyment of birds, it's a very infectious enjoyment and is
couched in apt and incisive language.
     He began birding in 1964 or '65 when "my father introduced me to
one of the customers at his gas station in Watkins Glen-Jack Brubaker, in
fact. I suspect that my dad planned it, but it _seemed_ like a
spontaneous moment, and I don't even recall how it came about that a few
minutes later I was with Jack in the willow groves at the south end of
Queen Catherine marsh. I had been there before, of course, being very
keen on escaping from artificial environs at every possible opportunity,
although I didn't cultivate the fishing pretext traditional in our
family. But here was something new: a  pretext,' if you will, for
retreat to nature that wasn't focused on killing wildlife. (I was 13 or
14 and had been carrying WALDEN in my back pocket for about a year. My
father and I had developed an unexpected communion in reading, and
his copy was as tattered as mine, and filled with exclamatory
underlinings! :-)
     "So Jack pointed out titmice and woodpeckers, creepers, nuthatches
and finches, even the  ears' of a Great Horned Owl protruding from the
broken-off trunk of a big blasted tree. I recall that hour like a door
opening up to let me out into the world.
     "And that's a nutshell account of how I first was hooked. After
that I was the  kid' member of the Schuyler County Bird Club for a few
busy years. Ironically, coming to Cornell in '69 pretty much coincided
with the end of my birding activity, but that's a different story."
     He came back to birding when his daughter went off to college,
which "added degrees of freedom, but returning to work at home after a
few years in a big violin shop has been even more liberating, because I
choose my work hours again now.
     "But self-employment poses problems as well as providing
opportunities. I have to play the part of critical supervisor as well as
compliant employee, and I'm still trying to figure out how best to manage
the inevitable conflict between the urge to get out in the field and the
need to knuckle down! My life has never been marked for successful
time-management. To tell the truth, I'm not at all sure that would be an
acceptable development, so perhaps I'm sabotaging the effort!  :-)
     "I was free to drop work, jump in the car, and head up to Lyons for
the Western Kingbird, but what a dither! All the way up conscience was
condemning me for irresponsible frivolity, although I knew that finding
the bird would switch the tables. When it turned out to be an
extraordinarily easy drive-up bird, the flip-flop was instantaneous, and
all the way back I was congratulating myself on having got my priorities
straight, and therefore deserving to succeed. No _wonder_ drivers turn
their radios up and zone-out!"
     But when Geo frees himself to go out in the field, it's not just
because of the call of the birds. "I'm really enjoying exploring natural
areas that I have never visited before, almost regardless of what birds
might be present, and there are so many within the official Basin
boundaries, in spite of the vast degradation and destruction during the
two centuries since the Sullivan Campaign. I know Tompkins County fairly
well, but the northernmost reaches of the basin are largely terra
incognita to me. I have yet to experience Howland Island, for example, or
Tamarack Swamp, Crusoe Lake, the Galen Wildlife Management Area, Duck
Lake, Pond Brook, Cranberry Marsh, and on and on. I want to take in some
of those in 1998, when I'll be putting in my first full year of Basin
birding.
     "But West Danby is my favorite area, and most of the birds I've
seen in '97 have been right around here. I know I'm missing lots, too."
     When asked the inevitable question about lists and listing, he said,
"Writing lists and notes is about as foreign to my original nature as
wearing clothes, cooking food, or building a house, all alien customs
that I have found it expedient to adopt. It does seem to be second nature
to weave nets of abstractions and deploy them to catch and imprison
fleeting experience. Of course it ceases to be living at the moment it's
abstracted, but birders are well-protected by the nature of the activity
from the hazard of mistaking the lists and numbers for reality: people
continue to go outdoors to find wild birds because they want the wild,
live experience, even (or maybe especially) in cases where the
preoccupation seems to be all lists and abstractions. So I think that
listing is great, though it's not the form _my_ compulsions take.
     "That said, I am finding it darned useful to keep a couple of
simple lists. It helps me to focus my wayward motivations by rewarding me
with a sense of accomplishment and the promise of more to come if I
persist. I can't imagine ever becoming an "avid" lister, but there's no
prediction to be inferred from that... I gather that these things
multiply insidiously, and I'm not much more than a neophyte!
     When asked to describe some of his more memorable Basin birding
experiences, he said, "I've been birding actively in the Basin for about
six months, and I've written about all my encounters on Cayugabirds. I
have to insert here that I experienced nearly a 30 year remission from
the obsessive pursuit of birds."
     Nevertheless, he finds it "curious that some of the things we're
apt to remember longest are things we wish we could forget. A couple of
minutes ago I told you about my very first birding experience, in which I
was shown a Great Horned Owl's tree, with the owl's  ears' poking out.
Well, the shameful truth is that, wanting a better look, I went back
there a day or so later, and being unable to see anything of the owl
this time, in impatience I stepped up and kicked the base of the tree.
     "That huge owl's silent explosion from the top of the tree was a
reproach I shall never forget, and a few moments later I realized that I
myself had just set the hook that I had only mouthed the previous day:
now I was in debt to owls."
     He goes on to reminisce, however: "One evening in early September
'96, Pat and I were sitting on the grass up at the pond watching the dusk
groping up out of the valley to our east. The local contingent of Canada
Geese passed low overhead, honking as they descended toward the valley
kettles for the night. Frogs were singing, and the sky was very beautiful.
A Whip-Poor-Will began calling from among the trees at the far end of the
pond, and a few seconds later it appeared, still calling as it headed out
over the wooded slopes below us and dropped into the gloom. Something
stirred in me at that serene moment, something I had left on hold decades
ago. When Pat said, 'You should report that,' I was already thinking of
Cayugabirds.
     "The next evening Allison and Jeff Wells were standing with us on
the dike. Astonishingly, the whole scene replayed itself for them.
Through the glow of their infectious delight, I remember answering their
questions to the effect that I had heard Whip-Poor-Wills here at some
previous time, but couldn't recall any details! Now there was a lesson
about the value of lists and notes!
     When pressed for more birding wonders, Geo said, "I don't have space
enough here. I'll have to write an article for some future issue, if
Allison doesn't preemptively revoke my subscription!"
     And I'm sure that the rest of the readers of The Cup will join me
in watching and hoping for that promised article.
 
(Caissa Willmer is a senior staff writer for the Cornell Office of
Development. She's also theater critic for Ithaca Times. A recent trip to
New York City may or may not be responsible for her totals this month...)
 
                   BIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRD
                            BIRD VERSE
                   VERSEVERSEVERSEVERSEVERSEVERSE
 
                         (your birdverse here)
 
                 @#$$%#%$^!(*$)%^@>(#?@<$&%^@(
                           DEAR TICK
                     @#%$^!)$(%*&^>$*%?<!>*%^#*%(*&
 
Because birders suffer so many unique trials and tribulations, The Cup
has graciously provided Cuppers with a kind, sensitive and intuitive
columnist, Dear Tick, to answer even the most profound questions, like
these...
 
DEAR TICK:
 
I recently saw the movie, "The Full Monty," at Cinemapolis Theatre in
Ithaca. While watching the boys dance, I suddenly realized I had seen
similar movements by a lone person out at the lighthouse jetty several
times.  I got to wondering if maybe it was Stephen Davies (being a Brit
and all) out there doing the Full Monty. Or perhaps it was Bill Evans?
How can I tell which of them it is that's doing the Full Monty out there?
Is this behavior typical of Brits?   If it is Stephen, why does he do it?
Does it help him add to his McIlroy total?  Almost seems a little
dangerous on those cold October mornings...
                                               --Envious in Enfield
Dear Envious:
 
I'm afraid you've given me too many questions and not enough information.
What was he wearing?
 
DEAR TICK:
 
Is it possible to get kicked out of the 100 Club?
 
                                          --SMarty in Newfield
 
Dear SMarty
 
Longevity in the 100 Club relies solely upon what credentials you bring
to the Club (i.e., what food and beverages you keep in the kitchenette.)
For example, David McDermitt's Hirundinidae Soup is always a big splash
(although some say it's a bit hard to swallow.)  Martha Fischer's Salmon
Souffle was hardly a flop (but from heron in, she may have trouble
getting the fisch, what with cold weather settling in.) On the other
hand, I'm told that Bill Evans has remained by virtue of his excellent
jokes: his David Cup and McIlroy scores.
 
DEAR TICK:
 
When you keep your money in a bank, you get interest on it--the bank is,
in a sense, borrowing that money.  Well, between daylight savings time in
the spring and the return to standard time this fall, we Cuppers lost a
significant amount of birding time, especially when you figure in the
interest on that lost time.  If we hear a Long-eared Owl whooing at
12:01 January 1, 1998, shouldn't we be allowed to count it for our 1997
David Cup totals, considering that it was time "borrowed" from us?
 
                                   --Borrowing Owl in Brooktondale
Dear Borrowing Owl:
 
As you know, any excess revenues earned by the U.S. government goes
into paying off the national debt.  Likewise, excess time accumulated by
Cuppers goes towards balancing the David Cup deficit, a time void caused
by Cuppers who spend too many hours working and not enough birding.
I suggest you hire a lobbyist to persuade Cuppers like Jim Lowe and Tom
Nix to trim those pork-barreled employment mandates and stop borrowing
against the already bloated Basin birding time deficit.
 
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at jw32@cornell.edu)
 
                """""""""       CUP QUOTES      """"""""
 
"It must be flocking season--everyone seems to be bunching up! This
morning I had a flock of about 20 DE juncos feeding on the ground near
our feeders...Also, the titmice and chickadees have been coming out of
the woodwork (woods)!...Our M Doves duo has increased to 12 and our
single summer flicker has suddenly multiplied to 10--all feeding on the
lawn at once! I also had a pair of Snow Geese fly over honking this
morning--what an awesome sight against the morning sky with the sun on
their wings. Wow--it's fall!"
                                        --Cathy Heidenreich
 
"Chris [Hymes] just told me that there are 5 Evening Grosbeak males in
our back yard, at the edge of the Etna Nature preserve, feeding on Box
Elders. Sorry, have to go home now!"
                                        --Diane L. Tessaglia
 
"This Friday an extraordinary thing happened to me while taking a
stroll through the Etna Nature Preserve ... At one spot, I was observing
a Golden-crowned Kinglet and two Ruby-crowned Kinglets ... when I
suddenly heard about three Evening Grosbeaks calling overhead.  I ran to
the nearest opening in the canopy to look for these birds flying
overhead.  Standing there, hearing them again and still no sign, I was
perplexed.  Then, almost directly over me in a nearby Box Elder a very
loud "Peeer!" emanated.  I carefully stared and finally saw some slow
movement--there were Evening Grosbeaks feeding ... The entire time I had
been looking at the kinglets in the very same tree, these Grosbeaks had
been feeding slowly, methodically, and silently!
 
                                           --Chris Hymes
 
"For those of you keeping track of the mini-invasion of Evening
Grosbeaks, they have now been seen on Hunt Hill Rd., east of Ithaca...
I guess I'll go stock up on sunflower seed this afternoon!"
              
                                          --Laura Stenzler
 
"I have not seen the Evening Grosbeaks or Pine Siskins yet (hard to when
you are pressing grapes 24 hours per day)."
                                          --Bill Retzlaff
 
"The Lincoln's were gratifying ...Their gray faces topped by reddish-
brown stripes just off-the-crown looked very much like immature
Swampies, but the very sharply and finely streaked buff breast ending
abruptly over a white belly gave them away. The abruptness was due to
the change of background color from buff to white, coinciding with the
termination of streaking, and in the frontal view was accidentally
suggestive (to me!) of Pectoral Sandpiper."
                                         --Geo Kloppel
 
"Is a 'a frontal scope view' something like a Full Monty? Sorry!"
 
                                         --Caissa Willmer
 
"I am sending this note to friends of mine I know to be of generally low
morals, to ask a favor that needs to be done TODAY: Please help me steal
the vote on the Internet for the special request song to be played by the
Rolling Stones at the concert in Charlotte tonight. I will be attending
with Cathy, and we want to hear "Far Away Eyes." (This is perfectly
moral in Cyberspace, since other people with even less character are
trying to steal the vote.)"
                                         --Ralph Paonessa
 
"[How he got suckered to subscribe to The Cup] Yup, I guess it's time
for me to see what everyone else is talking about..."
  
                                          --Fred Conner
 
"This weekend's goal was to see Dunlin and Evening Grosbeak for my David
Cup. So planned to join CBC trip on Saturday and later was planning to go
MNWR. All ready at 8.00 am, after scraping frost off my car windows, got
into car and started the engine. Car would not move. Checked if breaks
were on. No! Still,  car refused to roll. Checked front wheel, Yes, it
was flat."
                                        --Meena Haribal
 
"Just got back from a long fall-break weekend with Elaine in southeastern
Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Michigan...I got to compare Horned and
Eared grebes...I feel much more prepared and confident now if that stray
Eared Grebe we dream about shows up on Cayuga Lake! I know I'll still be
grilled, but I should be ready, so watch out. We're gonna get that bird
here this fall, I just know it!"
                                        --Karl David
 
"I'm glad Karl had the chance and the interest to look over those Eared
Grebes specifically with the idea in mind to translate that experience
back to the Basin.  Go get'em Karl!"
                                         --Kevin McGowan
 
"Please email me The Cup newsletter.  I have been a modest lurker for
about a year, but cannot resist Coach McGowan's hints."
 
                                         --Lee Boyd
 
"Speaking of Jeff, don't look now but my McIlroy number took a
significant move in his direction last month.  I don't even worry about
Bill anymore--now I am getting psyched to catch Dr. Wells!"
         
                                         --John Bower
 
"I spent most of the day on Saturday down on someone's patio off E
Shore Dr watching hawk migration down Cayuga Lake. I didn't plan on
spending the whole day on someone's patio but the flight was good and
consistent all day (plus who can resist the offer of  can I get you
anything to eat?')"
                                          --Andy Farnsworth
 
"Four Evening Grosbeaks and one Pine Siskin flew over my house on
Sunday morning.  I was too busy to stay outside long, but it seemed like
lots of birds were moving around shortly after dawn.  Among them were
many Juncos who invaded the feeders in large numbers for the first time
this fall. Can snow be far behind?"
                                          --John Bower
 
May Your Cup Runneth Over,
 
Allison and Jeff