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Year 2, Issue 12

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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
*    Crane Grip: Jeff Wells
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Huh! So you thought you were getting away with something, eh?  You
thought you had escaped the final edition of The Cup--no ranting, no
gloating, no high-fallutin ideas from the editors and their coconspirators
this month.  That's what you thought.  But you were wrong.  You were very
wrong.  True, most of our regular columns have been bumped this time
around. Nonetheless,  The Cup 2.12 is even more crocked than usual,
because...IT'S THE SPECIAL YEAR-END ISSUE, which includes all the gossip,
foolishness, and howdy-rowdy details from the 2nd Annual Cupper Supper!
Okay, not ALL of them, but enough (we hope) to make you wish you'd been
there!
 
And if you HAD been there, you'd already know the answers to such
mind-burning questions as, Who took home the BirdMobile Trophy (for most
"distinguished" Cupper vehicle)?  Who would Kevin McGowan be, if Cuppers
were rock stars? What were 1997's Top Ten Reasons to be in the David Cup?
And who won the crazy, back-bustin' David Cup this year, anyway?
 
It's all here, in The Cup 2.12.
 
But before you start slurping up the soup, accept our ("our" as in,
everybody who's currently in the David Cup) invitation to join the David
Cup family this year.  You've been reading about it, for how long?  You
know what it's all about: watching birds, sharing interesting
observations, and, big deal, keeping track of the number of different
species you see (is that so hard?  Good heavens, people have walked on
the moon!)  (Well, okay, so its main purpose is to foster discontentions
between Bill Evans and John Bower.)  Now forget the "I don't have time!"
excuse. Most Cuppers have families (a few even have newborns!),
jobs, and the challenge of having to resist televised New York Nicks
games.  The David Cup asks only that you keep track of what you see,
regardless of how much time you spend watching birds, and send them in to
The Cup.  So come on, join the fun!  Who cares if you don't win the
David Cup? In the very least, you'll stand a chance at scooping the
"Homebody Prize"!  Email the editors with your January totals, and you'll
be all set for a year of fun, informative birding adventure!
 
Speaking of adventures, The Cup 2.12 awaits...
 
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!              BASIN BIRD YEAR-END HIGHLIGHTS               !
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
If Dateline NBC can do it, why can't The Cup?  Besides, we
needed some excuse to put into service all those emails that have
been gobbling up valuable space in The Cup mailbox throughout
the year.  Although we surely have (not purposely) omitted some
important dates here, we hope the 1997 David Cup Timeline (which
you Cupper Supper attendees remember from the walls of Jeff and
Allison's Birdland Bistro) will help you put the past year in
perspective...or at least remind you of all the good birds you missed.
 
1997 DAVID CUP TIMELINE
 
1/5/97: Tom Nix finds BARROW'S GOLDENEYE among 600 Common Goldeneye at
Sheldrake.
1/6/97: Karl David and Bard Prentiss rush up to Sheldrake, spend hours
sorting through the Common Goldeneyes and finally find the BARROW'S.  They
are the last two to see the bird.
1/12/97: LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL found at Stewart Park.
     Allison and Jeff Wells arrive back from Aruba.  The real
competition starts!
1/13/97: ICELAND GULL spotted at Stewart Park.
1/17/97: Megan Runge born to Cupper Michael and wife.
1/18/97: 1st Annual Cupper Supper held at Jeff and Allison's Birdland
Bistro. Awards are bestowed, Karl David performs a victory tap dance on
the coffee table, and Stephen Davies is knighted.
1/20/97: Spring comes early as Casey Sutton finds Am ROBINS and a GRAY
CATBIRD in Sapsucker Woods.
1/97: John Greenly makes a daring lunge into Cup waters, much to Matt
Medler's later frustrations.
     Steve Kelling tries for Family Time Prize by signing up sons Taylor
and Sam.
 
2/14/97: Jazz saxophone great Phil Woods gives free concert at Ithaca
College. At least 3 Cuppers attend.   The show is fabulous.
2/15/97: Ken Rosenberg gets in "family time" by taking wife-Cupper Anne
James and daughter Rachel "sledding" at Lounsbury Rd. cemetery--where
a SNOWY OWL had been reported earlier.
2/16/97: Anne Kendall-Cassella picks up lifer LAPLAND LONGSPUR on Irish
Settlement Rd.
2/17/97: Casey Sutton wowed by two lifers, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (at
Seneca landfill) and CAROLINA WREN (Hog Hole).
2/19/97: Allison and Jeff Wells try--and fail--for Stewart Park L B-b GULL.
2/22/97: Allison and Jeff Wells try--and fail--for Stewart Park L B-b GULL.
2/23/97: Allison and Jeff Wells try--and fail--for Stewart Park L B-b GULL.
2/24/97: Allison and Jeff Wells try--and fail--for Stewart Park L B-b GULL.
2/22/97: Pennsylvania Cupper Margaret Launius picks up an astounding 41
Basin birds.
2/23/97: Tom Nix finds EURASIAN WIGEON in Canoga.
2/28/98: Cupper-forever Scott Mardis and wife Heather welcome son Stover
Clark into the world.  Sadly, they're all now living in Massachusetts,
preventing little Stover from being lured into the David Cup.
2/?/97: Tom Nix finds WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE at north end of lake.
2/?/97: New England Patriots lose to Green Bay Packers in Superbowl.  All
Cuppers are distraught.
 
3/15/97: Allison and Jeff Wells finally see L B-b Gull at Stewart Park.
3/21/97: Kevin McGowan finds THAYER'S GULL at Stewart Park.  Many Cuppers
show up to see it.  Stephen Davies is not one of them.
     Woody Herman's Thundering Herd gives jazz concert at historic State
Theatre.  At least three Cuppers attend.
3/21/97: Stephen Davies leaves Basin for Wales to recover from having
missed the THAYER'S GULL, under the guise of his sister's wedding.
3/30/97: Michael Pitzrick jumps into the Cup.
 
4/97: Cuppers Diane Tessaglia and Chris Hymes announce engagement!
 
5/20/7: Stephen Davies ticks off AMERICAN and LEAST BITTERNS while
"mincing through the mud in [his] new stilettos" at Montezuma.
5/23/97: Matt Medler, Allison and Jeff Wells find a kitten stranded on a
piling in the river at "the Prothonotary Warbler spot" north end of lake.
"Phoebe" is saved, now living happily with Matt's parents and the
family's other cat, Bear, in Schenectady.
5/97: Cuppers-forever Larry Springsteen and Scott Mardis skip back to the
Basin for a little Cupping catch-up.  Larry does not bring Mira the Bird
Dog, fearing too much competition.
 
6/3/97: Chris Hymes finds SEDGE WREN on east side of lake.
6/19/97: Kevin McGowan finds WHITE-EYED VIREO in Sapsucker Woods.  The Lab
of O empties as employees rush to go see--or rather, hear--it.
6/97: Geo Kloppel gulps down the Cup.  Cayugabirds is changed (for the
better) forever.
     Maine Cupper Sarah Childs returns to her job as Cup Summer Intern
and the integrity of The Cup (i.e., the editors' work load) improves
drastically.
 
7/16/97: Stephen Davies and or Steve Kelling find AMERICAN AVOCET on the
jetty breakwater.  A life bird for Allison Wells and others.
7/21/97: Koko Taylor comes to a jazz festival on Seneca Lake--and no
Cuppers go.  All are docked one bird.
7/97: Cup Intern Sarah Childs heads back to Maine.  Cup Headquarters
crashes.
 
8/12/97: Stephen Davies finds CATTLE EGRET at Stewart Park, a New York
first for Steve Kelling and others.
 
9/97: By now, Cup editors have successfully sucked in current (well paid)
staff: Tom Nix, Karl David, Caissa Willmer, Jay McGowan, Matt Medler,
Bard Prentiss, and Margaret Launius.  The editors have a great laugh over
a cold one up at Myer's Point while other staffers sweat away back at Cup
headquarters.
9/6/97: 1st Annual Montezuma Muckrace held.  The Sapsuckers do not win.
9/97: Syracuse Cupper Andy Leahy Muckraces himself into the David Cup.
9/97: Former Cup whipping boy James Barry comes back to the Basin, if
only to check up on Matt Medler's "trusty Reliant".
 
10/97: Matt Medler's "trusty Reliant" dies.
10/3/97: Olivia Frances Rosenberg born to Cuppers Ken Rosenberg and Anne
James--in a hot tub! Liv impresses her daddy with a great imitation of
Mexican Crow.
 
11/5/97: Stephen Davies follows hunch and finds a FRANKLIN'S GULL at
Myer's Point.
     Jeff Wells and Ken Rosenberg are at a meeting in Albany.  Karl David
arrives just in time to be told by Matt Medler that the white speck flying
off over the fields is the gull.  It is not seen again.
11/97: John "Director of the Lab of O" Fitzpatrick is pulled into David
Cup waters but saves face by giving "only yard totals".
 
12/4/97: Olivia Rose Fox born to Rochester Cupper Kurt Fox and wife
Jeanine.  Reportedly shows vague signs of bird interest.
12/20/97: Cuppers Chris Hymes and Diane Tessaglia become husband and
wife.  Ithaca Ageless Jazz Band performs at reception.  Among other guests,
ten Cuppers attend.
12/97: Cupper Supper plans are finalized for 1/24/98.  The evening turns
out to be a big...
 
     ###########################################
     #           THE NUMBERS GAME              #
     ###########################################
 
To prove to you Cuppers that you're more than just the sum of your DC
totals, we thought we'd look at the deeper meaning of your life: how you
add up in the numbers game of David Cup statistical lure, uh, lore.
 
Number of Cuppers signed up for the David Cup by January 31, 1997: 36
Numbers of Cupper signed up by December 31: 49
 
Number of male Cuppers: 35
Number of female Cuppers: 14
 
Number of Cuppers who live out-of-Basin New York: 7
Number of Cuppers who live out-of-state: 7
 
Number of Cuppers aged 15 or under: 5 (assuming Mira the Bird Dog isn't
one of them--in doggy years)
 
Number of Cuppers who saw visits from the "stork" in 1997: 4
 
Number of Cuppers who tied the "knot" in 1997: 2
 
Number of Cuppers who work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: 14
 
Number of non-human Cuppers: 1, Mira the Bird Dog Springsteen (unless you
count "superhuman" in this category, too, in which case, add Karl David)
 
Despite their hard-nosed rules when it comes to the competition ("no
counting the fowl in the frozen food section of Wegman's; no tick-trading
["I'll trade you one of my Lesser Black-backed Gulls for one of your
Icelands"]) the David Cup committee tends to get mushy and sentimental
by year's end, and this year is no exception.  Once again, they've
submitted a little love letter to all Cuppers brave and brash enough to
sign up for David Cup 1997. We've reprinted it below, albeit drastically
edited to exclude all the "we love you"s and "you mean so much to us"s.
We can't have Cup readers crying--or getting sick--all over their nice
office furniture.
 
"To All Cuppers
 
You survived again!  This, in itself, is much to be proud of.  But your
49-bin salute is in recognition of far more than this.  By being part of
David Cup 1997, you have enhanced the fun-loving spirit and appreciation
for all things bird throughout the Cayuga Lake Basin, the Cayugabirds
listserv, and, of course, to a  competition' that is mostly about
friendship and the bond that unites all birders, no matter where they
live.  You saw the challenge (how many birds can be seen in one year,
given time and geographic limitations), met it, and, we hope, had a great
time doing so.  We hope you will all join us in 1998 for another year of
observation, insight (or is that incite?), good-natured ribbing, and
birder camaraderie.  Good luck in the David Cup year already upon us, and
remember, just by signing up, you've already won!
 
remember, just by signing up, you've already won!
 
                                               --the David Cup Committee
                                   o
                               o  THE  o     
                             o  WINNERS'  o
                              o  CIRCLE  o                        
                                 o  o
 
Sure, we all know that the David Cup is a fun-filled free-for-all. But that
doesn't mean we don't want to win, right?  Well, guess who wanted to win
more than anybody else?  Besides Bill Evans, that is.  Hint #1: He has a
Welsh accent Hint #2: In the spring, he drives around with a ladder on top
of his car. Hint #3: He sometimes birds in stiletto heals. Hint #4: His son
writes the Bird Bits column.  So who's our 1997 David Cup Chump, uh, Champ?
 
                    :< )      Stephen Davies     ( >:
                   
                                    AND
 
                                Kevin McGowan
 
                            with a grand total of
               
                                    242
 
                          Cayuga Lake Basin birds!
 
No kidding, the 2nd Annual David Cup competition ended in a tie!
Congratulations to you both on a fine, fine year of birding in the Basin.
Good luck in 1998!
 
Now, last year, we ran a copy of the acceptance speech in The Cup 1.12.
But this year's winners spoke impromptu--no wonder they won the David Cup,
huh?  So unless you were at the Cupper Supper, you'll never know what they
said (yet another reason to become a Cupper!) Suffice to say there were no
Monica Lewinski jokes, no proposals on how to spend the 1997 David Cup
budget surplus.  (There was, however, a wonderfully lilting rendition
of a very birdy Bobbie Burns poem, in honor of the Scottish poet's
birthday, by Stephen Davies.)  Both were gracious, to each other and to
Cuppers and birders everywhere. Of course, they bickered over who would
take home the trophy.  Although Karl David brought along a saw to cut the
thing in half, it was decided that Stephen will trophysit for the first
half of the year and Kevin the last half.  Karl relinquished his beloved
block of wood with great emotion (relief, perhaps? This is one honkin'
block of wood!)
 
THE TROPHY, DESCRIBED:   A block of wood (we weren't kidding), with the
look and texture of a lovingly sanded and lacquered slab of tree trunk,
with a round "cup" sunk in the center.  Father Karl was kind enough to
have a plaque (albeit with his own name and  96 total) engraved in it,
with room for recognition of our new champs.  (Trophy courtesy Steve
Kelling.)
 
WW W  W   W     WINNERS' LIST!
 
By Karl David
 
Having to sort out the mess of a three-way tie for the lead in November
made my year-end job parsing the Davies-McGowan tie a piece of cake. In
short, they had 233 species in common:
 
R-t & C Loon,P-b, H & R-n grebes,D-c Cormorant,Am & L bitterns,G B Heron,
G & Cattle egrets,Green Heron, B-c Night-Heron, Tundra Swan,Mute Swan,S
Goose, Brant,Canada Goose,Wood Duck,G-w Teal,Am Black Duck,Mallard,N
Pintail, B-w Teal,N Shoveler,Gadwall,Am Wigeon,Canvasback,Redhead,R-n
Duck,G & L scaup, Oldsquaw,Black Scoter,Surf Scoter,W-w Scoter,C
Goldeneye,Bufflehead, H, C, & R-b mergansers, Ruddy Duck,T 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, Am Kestrel,Merlin,Peregrine Falcon, R-n
Pheasant,R Grouse,Wild Turkey,Va Rail, C Moorhen,Am Coot,B-b Plover,
Am Golden-Plover,Semipal Plover,Killdeer, AM AVOCET,G & Yellowlegs,
Solitary Sandpiper,Spotted Sandpiper,U Sandpiper, Sanderling, Semipal,
Least, W-r & ,Pectoral sandpipers,Dunlin,Stilt Sandpiper, S-b & L-b
dowitcher,C Snipe,Am Woodcock,FRANKLIN'S GULL, Bonaparte's Gull,
R-b, Herring,Iceland,Lesser B-b Gull, Glaucous Gull, & Great B-b
gulls,Caspian, Forster's, & Black Tern,Rock & Mourning doves,B-b Cuckoo,
E Screech-Owl, G H, Snowy,Barred, S-e, & N Saw-whet owls,C Nighthawk,
C Swift,R-t Hummingbird, B Kingfisher, R-h Woodpecker,R-b Woodpecker,
Y-b Sapsucker,D& H Woodpecker, N Flicker,Pileated Woodpecker,E
Wood-Pewee,Alder, Willow, & Least flycatchers, E Phoebe,G C Flycatcher,
W KINGBIRD,E Kingbird,Horned Lark, Purple Martin, Tree, N R-w,Bank,
Cliff, & Barn swallows,B Jay,Am Crow,Fish Crow,C Raven, B-c Chickadee,
T Titmouse, R-b Nuthatch,W-b Nuthatch,B Creeper,Carolina, House Wren, &
Winter wrens, SEDGE WREN,Marsh Wren,G-c & R-c kinglets,B-g Gnatcatcher,
E Bluebird,Veery, G-c Thrush,Swainson's Thrush,Hermit Thrush,Wood Thrush,
Am Robin, G Catbird,N Mockingbird,Brown Thrasher,Am Pipit,C Waxwing,
N Shrike,Euro Starling, W-E VIREO, B-h, Y-t, Warbling, & R-e vireos,
B-w,G-w Warbler,Tn, & Nashville warblers, N Parula,Yellow, C-s,Magnolia,
Cape May,B-t Blue,Y-r,B-t Green,Blackburnian,
Pine,Prairie,Palm,B-b,Blackpoll,Cerulean, & B-and-w warblers,Am Redstart,
Prothonotary
Warbler, Ovenbird,N & La waterthrush,Mourning Warbler,Common
Yellowthroat, Hooded,Wilson's, & Canada warblers,Sc Tanager,N Cardinal,
R-b Grosbeak,Indigo Bunting,E Towhee,Am Tree Sparrow,Chipping, Field,
Vesper, Savannah,Grasshopper,Henslow's,Fox,Song,Lincoln's,Swamp,W-t, &
W-c sparrows, D-e Junco,Lapland Longspur,Snow Bunting,Bobolink,R-w
Blackbird, E Meadowlark,Y-H BLACKBIRD,Rusty Blackbird,Common Grackle,
B-h Cowbird, Orchard Oriole,Baltimore Oriole,Pine Grosbeak,Purple
Finch,House Finch,C Redpoll, Psiskin, AmGoldfinch, Evening Grosbeak,
House Sparrow.
 
Nine species were Stephen's alone: Eurasian Wigeon,Wilson's
Phalarope,Common Tern,Y-b Cuckoo,L-e Owl,O-s Flycatcher,Y-b Flycatcher,
W-e Warbler,Red Crossbill.
 
Kevin and Stephen traded crossbills, so Kevin also came up with nine solo
species, whence the historic tie at 242: Golden Eagle,Sora,Ruddy Turnstone,
Baird's Sandpiper,R-n Phalarope,THAYER'S GULL,Acadian Flycatcher,Philly
Vireo, W-w Crossbill.
 
FATHER KARL'S COMPOSITE DEPOSIT
 
Sixteen more species were reliably reported in the Basin in 1997, for a
grand total of 267, one shy of last year's effort. We never got that
Bohemian Waxwing! Other notable misses included Hudsonian Godwit,
Connecticut Warbler, and Y-b Chat. The remaining species seen (not
necessarily by Cuppers): Am White Pelican, Snowy Egret, Greater W-f
Goose,Ross' Goose,Barrow's Goldeneye,Black Vulture,Western
Sandpiper,Buff-breasted Sandpiper,jaeger sp.,Laughing Gull, Little
Gull,Sabine's Gull, Whip-poor-will,Orange-crowned Warbler,Kentucky
Warbler,Dickcissel. Many of these birds, of course, also deserve
boldfacing. Great job, everybody!
 
PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
 
And who nudged you out of your seat this year?  Shame if that seat would
have placed you in the David Cup Top Ten, because, as promised, these
hard-birding (or just plain lucky) Cuppers each got a fabulous prize:
their very own trophy!  That's right, all top-ten finshers got a
"tie-dyed" birthday candle representing their final place in the David
Cup (Tom Nix, for example, got a "4" candle).  And warm congratulations
are extended to the rest of you, too, for your own efforts this year in
making the Basin birding scene a well birded one.
 
Here's the remaining final tallies, compiled by Matt Medler (so if your
final tally is wrong, his email is...):
 
241 Steve Kelling
240 Allison Wells
238 Tom Nix
237 Ken Rosenberg
235 Jay McGowan
234 Jeff Wells
234 Karl David
226 John Greenly
224 Chris Tessaglia-Hymes
224 Matt Medler
221 Andy Farnsworth
221 Bard Prentiss
219 Meena Haribal
216 Bill Evans
209 John Bower
207 Geo Kloppel
205 Anne Kendall-Cassella
199 JR Crouse*
199 Chris Butler
181 Martha Fischer
158 Michael Pitzrick
151 Anne James
150 Marty Schlabach
149 Margaret Launius
143 Michael Runge
141 Jim Lowe
139 Diane Tessaglia-Hymes
126 David McDermitt
118 John Fitzpatrick
111 Caissa Willmer
106 James Barry*
96 Andy Leahy
92 Casey Sutton
81 Cathy Heidenreich
67 Jane Sutton
64 Sarah Childs*
61 Rob Scott*
59 Dave Mellinger*
52 Ralph Paonessa*
46 Larry Springsteen*
42 Sam Kelling
40 Mira the Bird Dog*
37 Taylor Kelling
32 Margaret Barker
11 Kurt Fox
0 Ned Brinkley*
 
All Cuppers received an official David Cup certificate bearing their name
and their final David Cup total (and in some cases, graffiti), presented
with pride--and a lot of zingers--by DC compiler Matt Medler. Each was
signed by one or both 1997 David Cup champions. If you weren't at the
Supper and would like yours, email us and we'll work something out, even
if it means your sending us large boxes of expensive chocolates.
 
*Currently living out-of-state but made or hoped to have made at least one
trip into the Basin in 1997.  Although none were able to make an
appearance at Cupper Supper  97, to the supreme delight of Cuppers,
Ralph Paonessa, currently living in Virginia, sent along a message that
was read at the Supper.  We include it here:
 
     "It is with greatly mixed emotions that I report to you my Final
Total for the 1997 David Cup competition: 52 species of birdies.
     "As you may know, I have only spent about two days in the Basin
during 1997, and so my total is pretty small. Size matters. I have
previously been unwilling to divulge this teeny total. I noted that you
[at The Cup] were able, using advanced computer modeling techniques, to
deduce that I have seen at least five species, and you have been
broadcasting this to the entire civilized world (assuming that civility
and The Cup readership are one and the same).
     "But I can sit idly by no longer. It is quite one thing to have the
world think that I have seen fewer Basin species than young Taylor
Kelling, or Mira the Wonder Dog. But fewer birds than Kurt Fox?? I don't
THINK so!!
     "So for those who'd thought perhaps I'd traveled to the edge of the
Basin World and fallen off ... well, I think the great French philosopher
said it best:  Je Cup, donc, je suis!'
                                       Cherchez la Cup!
                                                       --Ralph"
 
Aw, to heck with the David Cup, who won the McIlroy?  Despite all the
hoopla about David Cup glory, the McIlroy Award is where the real action
was. There was Steve Kelling parked down at Stewart Park every morning,
trying for that would-be fly-by King Eider.  Stephen Davies all but set
up tent at the lighthouse jetty, dreaming of fly-over winter finches (he
got a good many this way!) and goodness knows what all else.  There was
the "brotherly shove" between Bill Evans and John Bower.  It's a wonder
there were any survivors in this year's McIlroy race at all!  Yet not
only did our glorious 1997 winner emerge relatively unscathed, she also
shattered last year's record by an incredible seven species!
Congratulations go to reigning McIlroy Champion,
 
                        ^ ^     ALLISON WELLS   ^ ^
                         V         who saw       V
                                      207
                                 McIlroy Birds!
 
Although Allison's speech was written out and could be easily cut and
pasted here, we refuse to do so, since we didn't run the David Cup
speeches. More importantly, we don't want to make Bill Evans cry again.
 
THE TROPHY, DESCRIBED: A flashy (old) white high-top leather sneaker.
This year it came with scribbling on it that reads, "Allison Wells, 1996:
200".  Now it also reads "Allison Wells 1997: 207" (Trophy courtesy Jeff
Wells)
 
Congratulations to all other McCuppers as well, two of whom also smashed
the 1996 McIlroy record:
 
Remaining 1997 McIlroy Award totals (Compiled by Matt Medler):
 
203 Stephen Davies
203 Steve Kelling
190 Jeff Wells
185 John Bower
178 Andy Farnsworth
171 Kevin McGowan
168 Bill Evans
157 Karl David
156 JR Crouse
150 Martha Fischer
148 Ken Rosenberg
144 Jay McGowan
142 Matt Medler
136 Tom Nix
124 Chris Butler
124 Michael Runge
117 Anne Kendall-Cassella
113 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*
 
THE EVANS CUP
 
Okay, so the competition wasn't as fierce for the Evans Cup.  That's
because only a handful of Cuppers were foolish enough to think they could
compete with Ken Rosenberg and his killer bedroom-window view of Dryden.
Is it any big surprise then that the first-ever Dryden competition, named
in honor of beloved Cayuga Basin birder and former Bird Club president,
the late Dick Evans, goes to
                 . .                            . .
                   >         Ken Rosenberg        >
                  U                              U
                            for his total of
 
                                 206
 
THE TROPHY, DESCRIBED: A hand-crafted miniature Wood Duck box, like the
one named for Dick Evans at Dryden Lake.  (Trophy courtesy Bard
Prentiss--Allison wants to trade her McIlroy sneaker for it.)
 
Congratulations to the rest of the foolhardy Evans pack (compiled by Bard
Prentiss):
 
194 Kevin McGowan
193 Bard Prentiss
182 Jay McGowan
128 Anne Kendall-Cassella
111 Matt Medler
 
THE YARD STICK
By Margaret Launius
 
It was a very tight race for top yard list in 1997, with the winner only
taking a commanding lead in the month of November. Leading for most of
the year was John Bower of Enfield, NY. Close on his heels were Ken
Rosenberg and Kevin McGowan, both living on Beam Hill Road in Dryden, NY.
In November, Ken discovered a glitch in his listing program, which had
omitted several species, and with a flurry of recalculations was able to
mount a last-minute comeback to claim the title of YARD STICK CHAMPION:
 
            --------           Ken Rosenberg       --------        
                                    143               
 
THE TROPHY, DESCRIBED: A yard stick, with the names of totals of Yard
Birders at the top!  (Courtesy Margaret Launius)
 
Other yard birders measured up as follows:
 
138     John Bower, Enfield, NY
134     Kevin & Jay McGowan, Dryden, NY
127     Steve Kelling, NY
123     Sandy Podulka, Brooktondale, NY
126     Ken Smith, Groton, NY
118     John Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY
114     Bill Purcell, Hastings, NY
109     Mary Gerner, Macedon, NY
107     John Greely, Ludlowville, NY
 96     Nancy Dickinson, Trumansburg, NY
 95     George Kloppel, Ithaca, NY
 87     Joanne Goetz, Fredonia, NY
 82     Sara Jane & Larry Hymes, Ithaca, NY
 78     Jim Kimball, Geneseo, NY
 78     Allison & Jeff Wells, Ithaca, NY
 77     Margaret Launius, Mansfield, PA
 70     Darlene & John Morabito, Auburn, NY
 69     Nari Mistry Family, Ithaca, NY
 45     Cathy Heidenreich, Lyons, NY
 44     The Childs Family (grandparents of Cup Intern Sarah), Winthrop, ME
 41     Lois Chaplin, Ithaca, NY
 
As you all remember, The Cup has been tracking the birding skills of Megan
Runge, born in January 1997.  So, before we move on to the festivities of
the Cupper Supper (and to soften the hard bite of all those competitions),
Cup Daddy Michael Runge offers here some gentle reflection on his first
year with daughter Megan:
 
MEGAN UPDATE: "Hard to believe it's been a year since Megan was born.
Amazing to see the development in so short a time:  from a warm, snugly,
blob to a gaunt, tough, running little girl; from eyesight barely able to
discern a Canada Goose at arm's length to a hawk's skill at picking out
Black-capped Chickadees at 20 meters.  The colder months certainly slowed
down this father-daughter birding pair, but the spring, especially, found
us delighting in the sights and sounds of the woods.  I'm looking forward
to many years of companionship, and perhaps competition, birding with
Megan." Best wishes from The Cup, Megan, and may the birdingest baby win!
 
                   ~             food          ~
                 fun     CUPPER SUPPER SUM-UP    fodder
                   ~           foolishness     ~
 
What do you get when 40 bird brains and their families descend upon an
apartment pulsing with the sounds of Koko Taylor and Billie Holiday, the
aroma of fabulous food wafting through the air, and bird photos,
prints--and clippings of about 49 rock stars--hanging all over the walls?
You get the 2nd  Annual Cupper Supper!  January 24th was a night of great
fun and festivities, and the proprietors of Jeff and Allison's Birdland
Bistro are
extremely pleased that so many Cuppers partook of the occasion.  For those
of you who couldn't make it, we'll try our best to share with you all that
you missed, but, well, it's sort of like trying to describe a life-sighting
of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker to someone whose never seen one (of course,
WE'VE never seen one, but...)  Let us begin by telling you about
   ___
                                                             I   I
 
 
 I   I                                                              
 O   O   "THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: the David Cup Tribute Album"
                                                 
As you all know by now, "BIRD HARD: the David Cup Movie" fell through, due
to Quentin Tarentino's barroom brawl last fall (he's been banned from
making any more violent movies, so "Bird Hard" is out).  Since no one else
in Hollywood would touch the script (or write one, for that matter), we've
gone ahead with plans for a musical venture.  We haven't actually entered
into contract negotiations, not after getting burned with the movie deal,
but here's our vision:  "THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: the David Cup Tribute
Album".  Performing on this sure-fire hit machine would be those rock
stars who embody the essence of a given Cupper.  In other words, Mick
Jagger would perform for, obviously, Karl David; Paul Simon, for Ralph
Paonessa.  Naturally, all songs would have to be Cup-related.  Otherwise,
no one would buy the album.
 
Cuppers who were at the Supper already know who'll be performing for them;
they saw their rock-star selves on the wall at the Birdland Bistro.  But
for the rest of you, here's our plans for the album.  (NOTE: Although a
few of these rebel-rousers have gone to that recording studio in the sky,
use your imagination: think of that slick scene in "Forrest Gump" that
had our hero shaking hands with President Nixon):
 
Soon to become Rolling Stone's Album of the Year, it's...
 
"THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: the David Cup Tribute Album," featuring
 
THE BEATLES performing for the Sapsuckers World Series of Birding team
     (Paul McCartney for Ken Rosenberg, John Lennon for Kevin McGowan,
     George Harrison for Jeff Wells, Ringo Starr for Steve Kelling, with
            special guest "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen for John
Fitzpatrick):
     "The Long and Winding Road," "Blackbird," and "Bird in the USA"
DAVID BOWIE for Stephen Davies: "Tweety Stardust"
BONNIE RAITT for Allison Wells:  "Luck of the Draw"
ERIC CLAPTON for Tom Nix: "After Midnight"
HANSON (Zach Hanson for Sam Kelling, Taylor Hanson for Taylor Kelling,
Isaac Hanson for Jay McGowan): "MmPop"
MICK JAGGER for Karl David: "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
ELVIS COSTELLO for John Greenly: "Angels Wanna Wear My Swarovskis"
DAVID BYRNE (formerly of Talking Heads) for Chris Tessaglia-Hymes:
"Birding Down the House"
MICHAEL STIPE (of REM) for Matt Medler: "What's the Identity, Kenneth
Rosenberg?"
JAKOB DYLAN (of the Wallflowers) for Andy Farnsworth: "(One, Two,) Three
Merlins"
BOB DYLAN for Bard Prentiss: "The Totals, They Are A-Changing"
JOAN JETT for Meena Haribal: "I Love Rock Ptarmigans"
STING for Bill Evans (if only for the name!): "Wrapped Around Your Finger"
JERRY GARCIA for John Bower: "St. Stephen"
NEIL YOUNG for Geo Kloppel: "Cowbird in the Sand"
JOAN BAEZ for Anne Kendall-Cassella (technically a folkie but has requisite
rebelliousness to make the cut): "Diamonds and Rusty Blackbirds"
JAMES TAYLOR for JR Crouse: "Carolina Wren in My Mind"
BILLY JOE ARMSTRONG (of Green Day) for Chris Butler: "When I Bird Around"
BETTE MIDLER for Martha Fischer: "The Rose-breasted Grosbeak"
JACKSON BROWN for Michael Pitzrick: "Birding on Empty"
STEVIE NICKS for Anne James: "Dreams"
ARLO GUTHRIE for Marty Schlabach (yeah, another folkie, but...): "Allison's
Rest or Rant"
CARLY SIMON for Margaret Launius: "Mockingbird"
BONO (of U2) for Michael Runge: "(I'm Going to Sapsucker Woods) With or
Without You"
BILLY JOEL for Jim Lowe: "(Play Me a Song, I'm the) Bird Man"
SHERYL CROW for Diane Tessaglia-Hymes: "All I Wanna Do (Is Have Some Fun)"
DAVID LEE ROTH for David McDermitt: "(Might As Well) Bird!"
BARBRA STREISAND for Caissa Willmer (okay, definitely not a rocker): "You
Don't Bring Me Bird Books Anymore"
LIAM GALLAGHER (of Oasis) for James Barry: "Wonderscrawl"
JOHN COUGAR-MELLANCAMP for Andy Leahy: "Chris and Diane"
KURT COBAIN for Casey Sutton: "Smells Like Cup Spirit"
JOAN OSBORNE for Cathy Heidenreich: "One of Us (Cuppers)"
PATTI SMITH for Jane Sutton: "Because the Night (Belongs to Owling)"
FIONA APPLE for Sarah Childs: "Cardinal"
STEPHEN TYLER for Rob Scott: "Dream On"
JIMI HENDRIX for Dave Mellinger: "Purple Sandpiper"
PAUL SIMON for Ralph Paonessa: "I Am a Rock Dove"
GRAHAM NASH (of Crosby, Stills, and Nash) for Larry Springsteen: "Our
Birdhouse"
THE JINGLE BELLS DOG for Mira the Bird Dog: "Jingle Bell's Vireo"
JONI MITCHELL for Margaret Barker: "Help Me"
PAUL SCHAEFER (of David Letterman's CBS Orchestra) for Kurt Fox: (Some
noodling on the keyboards)
ELVIS for Ned Brinkley (who else but a true legend?  Especially in light of
last year's mysterious "Brinkley" sightings!):  "Jailhouse Rock Wren,"
"You Ain't Nothin' But a Bird Dog," and "Bluebird Shoes"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   ,,,,                             % % %
               ~ ~                           % ^  ^  %
            c  @-@ CUPPERS' CHOICE AWARDS      *<*   %
              ) >  )                          & U  &
           _ _ O _ _                            )~(
          /   /  \   \                        ( ( \ \
         /   /    \    \                    / /)  / /
             \    /                  
                v
                 
So how many times did you vote for yourself, anyway, and was it enough?
That's what you're asking yourself now, right, with the unveiling of the
2nd Annual CUPPERS' CHOICE AWARDS! Rest assured, if you didn't vote for
yourself, someone else likely did.  Tallying your votes was a busy job
this year, but well worth it! We especially enjoyed the harmless
digs, ah, witty commentary on many of the ballots, and we've included
some of them here:
 
QUICK DRAW AWARD (to Cupper with fastest Cayugabirds postings):
 
"I'm giving the nod to myself for the (bird omitted to protect Kevin's
anonymity--oops!) alert.  It was too good a bird that was present too
short a time that a bunch of people got to see. I'm just glad the pay
phones at Stewart Park work."
 
"This would have to be Chris-Tessaglia-Hymes--I'm not biased!"
 
"Bill Evans or Kevin McGowan.  Or was Kevin posting stuff from Bill?"
 
"Stephen Davies birded the jetty, got home, and posted before I was even
out of bed."
 
Winner: Stephen Davies  (inched out Kevin McGowan by one vote!)
Prize: Deck of cards (with the recommendation that he play Slap Jack to
stay in shape)
 
SLOW GIN PRIZE (slowest to post):
 
"No contest with the Anhinga posting last year."
 
"Man, I hope I don't win this one again, on the strength of the Kentucky
Warbler-in-the-freezer episode, reminiscent of last year's Anhinga debacle."
 
Winner: Ken Rosenberg   Prize: Quik-stick Post-it labels
 
STRIKE-OUT AWARD (who tried and failed for the most birds):
 
"I can't imagine anyone who tried for one thing more than Jay McGowan
tried for that fool Northern Shrike on Hammond Hill, but I'll go with
Martha Fischer.  She had some good hard-luck stories this year."
 
"Have to nominate myself.  How did I manage to get ____ birds?"
 
"Bill Evans.  Thing is, I doubt he even knew what he was missing!"
 
"Whomever comes in second!"
 
Winner: Tom Nix   Prize: Speeding Ticket bubble gum (really, the idea is
the same!)
 
BEST DRESSED (not most appropriate for the weather, but who looked
sharpest):
 
"I was going to vote for Karl, for consistently being so inappropriately
dressed for the weather, but I decided to cast my lot for Jay McGowan.  I
noticed the other day that he is always rather natty in his khakis and
sweater, and we mustn't forget the hat!"
 
"Evans, for those big red overalls."
 
"Diane Tessaglia, but only when she's wearing those waterproof red clogs."
 
"Allison Wells, though I have no idea what she looks like."
 
Winner: Karl David    Prize: A (children's) make-up kit (for that final
touch)
 
BIRDMOBILE PRIZE (for most "distinguished" vehicle):
 
"[Kevin McGowan's] crow-mobile.  With the ladder in the spring and summer,
it's easily the most recognizable Cupper vehicle on the road...Only Bill
Evan's truck with the smashed out back window comes close, now that Matt's
car died and Karl and Bard have gone to those rent-a-car specials."
 
"Kevin McGowan's.  Although I've never seen his vehicle, I always imagine
it with one of those Hee-Haww cornfield crows as a hood ornament."
 
"Sniff, sniff, we owe it to Matt Medler, as a eulogy for his deceased
 trusty' Reliant."
 
Winner: Matt Medler's "trusty" Reliant (ousting the crowmobile by a single
vote--the overwhelming majority were out of [mock] sympathy)   Prize: A
matchbox-size fruit truck brought back from Aruba (these trucks are
notorious for breaking down)
 
"FAMILY TIME" PRIZE:
 
"Allison and Jeff Wells, except maybe they should be disqualified, since
they were both crazy birders even before they got married!"
 
"Michael Runge and daughter Megan, though Mike probably held Megan back.
She probably would have taken the David Cup otherwise."
 
"Just wait until 1998, with my entire family involved!"
 
"The Wells and their  adopted' son Casey and  adopted' little brother Matt
Medler."
 
Winner: Kevin McGowan and son Jay   Prize: A birds-of-prey stencil kit (to
ensure quality family birding time even when they're not actually birding)
 
THOREAU AWARD (for most creative posts--poetic, humorous, etc.):
 
"I'll go with the too infrequent Karl Davidisms.  We're going to miss them
when he's gone."
 
"Our beloved editor, Allison Wells.  The kingbird post was priceless."
 
"That Cornell student who posted his birding break while studying for his
stats final--it was hilarious and well done."
 
"Geo Kloppel.  He must spend as much time writing his posts as he does
seeing the birds!"
 
"Allison Wells.  She has it all--wit, poetry, and insight.  I live for The
Cup every month."
 
Winner: Geo Kloppel   Prize: Travel notebook (heartily endorsed by last
year's winner, Bard "Bird Hard" Prentiss, who still takes his with him)
 
TREKIE AWARD (most number of miles Cupped):
 
"Tom the Nix was nearly guaranteed this one until he vanished without a
trace late in the year.  Gotta go with Stephen  what vet school?' Davies."
 
"Margaret Launius--14 trips at 150+ miles/trip."
 
"Karl David. With his Beloved Elaine out of town, Karl was always out
birding."
 
Winner: Stephen Davies   Prize: QUAK team collectibles--toy airplane, car,
etc. (because to win, you really have to embody the spirit of the team)
 
HOMEBODY PRIZE (least number of miles Cupped):
 
"Jane  the unicorn' Sutton."
 
"Ken Rosenberg, with the lame excuse of having a new baby."
 
"Diane Tessaglia-Hymes.  I think she looked out her window until October."
 
"Andy Farnsworth.  Unless he walks from his house to his deck 100 times a
day, he may not have logged too many miles."
 
Winner: Diane Tessaglia-Hymes  Prize: Glue (because she's "stuck" at home)
 
UNDYING PATIENCE PRIZE (to Cupper who spent most time answering questions
on Cayugabirds):
 
"Chris Hymes.  He always answered promptly and helped me see birds like the
Sedge Wren with his great directions and updates on the list."
 
"Allison Wells.  She rarely answered my questions publically but often
responded behind the scenes."
 
"Dear Tick, definitely--if there is such a  person'."
 
"You mean the Kevin McGowan Prize?"
 
Winner: Kevin McGowan  Prize: Owl key chain--from Aruba! (Get it? Owl?
Wise?)
 
MOST LIKELY TO WIN THE YARD STICK IN 1998:
 
"John Greenly.  He's sneaky with those quietly climbing totals. Watch him."
 
"John Bower, but only because he's too lazy to get out birding."
 
"Me!  We're going to build a lake so I can compete with Ken Rosenberg."
 
Winner: John Greenly   Prize: A yo-yo (think about it!)
 
MOST LIKELY TO WIN THE EVANS TROPHY IN 1998:
 
"That new baby is going to keep Ken home enough this year to make him want
it again."
 
"Jay McGowan--until he gets his driver's license, then look out David
Cuppers!"
 
Winner: Ken Rosenberg  Prize: Again, a yo-yo (ditto)
 
MOST LIKELY TO WIN THE MCILROY AWARD IN 1998:
 
"Jeff Wells.  Years of pummeling have built up to a boiling point."
 
"Well, we know that Bill Evans is full of hot air...Heck, I'm gonna go
with Jettyman Davies."
 
"Allison Wells isn't going to let anyone get close again, not after the
double-Steve scare of '97."
 
Winner: Allison Wells  Prize: Ditto
 
MOST LIKELY TO WIN THE DAVID CUP IN 1998:
 
"Tom doesn't seem to have it in him.  Stephen Davies is always dangerous.
If nobody else gets crazy, I'm a serious threat.  Maybe even numerically
challenged Steve Kelling could finally rise up and snatch victory from the
jaws of defeat.  But, from the gleam in his eye this year, I'm gonna vote
for Geo Kloppel."
 
"Allison Wells.  Davies earned it this year so he's gotta be burned out,
and Kevin only tied him because he was riding Jay's coat tails.  And he's
probably already using that pitiful  my crow work, my crow work' excuse."
 
"Matt Medler, since he's now in charge of the list."
 
Winner: Jay McGowan   Prize: You got it--a yo-yo
 
                    /       EDITORS' CHOICE AWARDS     \
                                                       '
This year, Cup editors were successful beyond their wildest dreams!  That
is, they were able to sucker, er, entice even more Cuppers into laboring
for The Cup.  To make sure we have enough help for the coming year, um, to
show our appreciation for all their hard work, we gave out our own awards.
Seriously, without the help of the following people, who knows when--and
if--each issue of The Cup would have made it out, and it certainly
would not have been nearly as interesting:
 
Highlights Column:  Tom Nix
Got: A rubber flamingo hand puppet (because really, our columnists are just
puppets--ha! ha!)
 
Stat's All Column: Karl David
Got: A vulture hand puppet (by the way, Cuppers at the supper decided which
columnist got which puppet.  You'll have to ask them on what "criteria"
they based their decision!)
 
Bird Bits: Jay McGowan
Got: A wind-up toy penguin that really swims (because Jay's knowledge of
the world's birds seems endless, you just have to wind him up!)
 
Bird Brain: Caissa Willmer
Got: A rubber ducky (we didn't want to give her a bird brain, so we gave
her a whole bird.)
 
Composite Deposit and Leader's List: Karl David
Got: A miniature calculator (for catching Steve Kelling's counting mistakes)
 
David Cup and McIlroy Compiler: Matt Medler
Got: A pull-on duck bill (because compilers are not quite puppets, but...)
 
Evans Trophy Compiler: Bard Prentiss
Got: ditto
 
Yard Stick Compiler: Margaret Launius
Got: A ruler (not quite a yard stick, but...)
 
Dear Tick: Dear Tick
Got: A crazy pen (must we explain?)
 
A big round of applause rocked the building when our trusty Coaches were
honored, and rightly so.  These individuals were generous not only in
giving up their time (when they could have--and should have!--been in the
field) but also in giving thoughtful birding tips to help birders of all
skill levels.  Each got a top-of-the-line colored plastic whistle.
The Coaches for 1997 were:
 
Ned Brinkley, Karl David, Stephen Davies, Bill Evans, Andy Farnsworth,
Kurt Fox, Steve Kelling, Kevin McGowan, Bard Prentiss, Ken Rosenberg, and
Jeff Wells
 
In recognition of the hard work and time commitment it takes to maintain
the Cayugabirds Hotline, both by phone and via Cayugabirds, the editors
recognized Chris Tessaglia-Hymes. Chris was able to juggle this
responsibility while taking classes at Cornell.  Chris did a fine job
and managed to sound friendly even when he must have been exhausted.  To
him, we bestowed a Big Bird toy phone.  Chris, those long-distance bills
can be charged to Bill Evans.
 
Lo and behold, the editors got a little surprise of their own!  On behalf
of  "everyone who's ever birded in the Basin," Bill Evans presented Allison
(presuming that she is the primary force behind The Cup) with a "gold"
hummingbird with "diamond" eyes, mounted on please remove children from the
computer screen now--a cup!  Yes, THAT kind of cup. You know, the athletic
kind.  (Jeff also got a cup, but Bill took it back, since he needs it
for the upcoming David Cup year).  Allison was flattered, embarrassed, and
all appropriate things, but couldn't help noticing that the "jewels" were
in the wrong place...
 
                           2  3  4  5
                 1   DAVID CUP TOP TEN LIST   6
                          7   8  9  10
 
Those Cuppers who came to last year's Supper must have remembered the David
Cup Top Ten Reasons scam, because they were much more prepared this time
around (well, except for Kevin McGowan).  On the surface, it appears to be
a fun and harmless memory game in which Cuppers name the product or
organization behind the Cup-appropriate advertising slogan. What it really
is, is a way to tempt Cuppers to stay inside all year watching TV and
memorizing every commercial on the tube, thereby increasing the Wells'
chances for victory.  Who won the David Cup Top Ten Reasons prize this
year?  Did you ever wonder what happened to Karl David during 1997?
 
TOP TEN REASONS TO BE IN THE DAVID CUP 1997
 
#10)  It's the heartbeat of America (Chevrolet)
 
 #9)  You're worth it  (Preference by L'Oreal)
 
 #8)  Let's the healing begin (Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion)
 
 #7)  Just do it (Nike)
 
 #6) It's everywhere you want to be (VISA)
 
 #5) Hey, you never know (New York Lotto)
 
 #4)  Four out of five dentists recommend it (Trident sugarless gum)
 
 #3)  Be all that you can be (U.S. Army)
 
 #2) Generation Next (Pepsi)
 
And the number one reason to be in the David Cup
 
IT'S MOSTLY NUTS! (Oh, Henry candy bar)
 
Winner: A tie!  Karl David and Diane Tessaglia-Hymes
Prize: A Nutrageous candy bar (because we couldn't find any Oh, Henry's)
 
To get you back in birding gear (nice pun, huh, Karl?), we're going to send
you on your way with the best kind of note Father Karl good give: a Stat's
All column!  Read it closely, think about it, then let the adrenaline carry
to the latest whereabouts of the Montezuma Snowy Owl and through the rest
of the year!  Good luck to you all, and most importantly, have fun!
 
98%3479847-876+3948597%9874~9485904-987+87
               STAT'S ALL, FOLKS
                 by Karl David
2380954%34089-39845+3498756-394857@00948-8
 
     As Kurt Fox intimated I might, I found his well researched and written
article in the Cup 2.11 on a Basin Big January an irresistible temptation
for stacking up my best January against the theoretical list from which he
believes one could produce 100 species for the month. So here goes ...
     January '95 was my best ever, with 86 species tallied. I did not,
however, set out with the intention of mounting an all-out offensive; I
never have, in fact. But the presence of a fair number of relative
rarities, coupled with unusually good luck in rounding up the usual
suspects with unusual ease made me decide by about the 4th that I should be
able to eclipse my previous monthly high of 71, and that is what I
proceeded to do ... and by a much wider margin than I imagined I
could.
     The January 1 Christmas Count, spent with "Downtown" Bill Evans,
netted 33 species -- about average. However, they included White-fronted
Goose, Wood Duck and Merlin. The next day, a return to Stewart Park picked
up two more excellent Count birds, Snow Goose and Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Trips up the east side of the lake on the 3rd (always mail to check in
Aurora!) and to Hog Hole on the 4th pushed the total to 53, and I knew the
month had real potential. I circumnavigated the lake on the 6th, picking up
5 more species. The Dodge Rd Long-eared Owl was picked off on the 7th, and
Ferguson Rd yielded up all three "field birds" {Horned Lark, Snow Bunting,
Lapland Longspur] on the 8th. A strong effort between Ithaca and
Lettie Cook Forest on the 9th added 7 more species; at 76 I was now in
uncharted territory. Two long staked-out birds that had eluded several
efforts fell on the 12th [Pine Warbler at the Dilger feeder on Niemi Rd]
and 13th [Northern Shrike on Hanshaw Rd]. On the 16th, a cautious walk out
to the lighthouse jetty finally added the Red-throated Loon that was being
seen intermittently all month. At noon that day the month was half over,
and I stood at 85 species ... far more than I would have thought possible
beforehand.
     However, that was almost it right there. Having accomplished my
objective, and in spades at that, I slacked off for the second half of the
month, adding just one more species: the famous Screech-Owl peeRing out of
its equally famous Wood Duck box in Union Springs on the 30th. Final total:
86.
     Could I have seen 14 more species? Of permanent resident birds, I was
still missing Ruffed Grouse and Barred Owl. I had neither white-winged gull
(they both showed up at Stewart Park, interestingly, in early February).
Surely some time spent at the Seneca Meadows landfill would have produced
them. And more time in the field during the second half of the month surely
would have produced 1 or 2 more birds. So, 90 species surely would have
been possible, had I really  wanted it.
     Now, to get from 90 to 100 ... that's a far different story. One has
to avoid the temptation of focusing on one's unluck and adding on the birds
one might have seen but didn't, without admitting that every unlucky bird
was probably matched by a lucky one. The White-fronted Goose, for example,
wasn't seen again after the 1st. So why should the gods of chance grant me
the Snowy Owl I missed on several tries, while still letting me keep the
goose? Given the effort I put in, I probably got about what I should have.
Nonetheless, chance did play a role in putting one glaring hole in my list.
The number of relatively rare winter birds and the number of lingering
half-hardies were about average, I think, and I did fairly well
on them. But: I did not get a single "winter finch" ... not even Purple
Finch! Here I suppose it might be admissible to play the "what if" game:
with all other factors remaining the same, what if it had been a good
winter finch year? One observer almost never sees them all in one month or
even season, but 4 or 5 would not have been outrageous. Now we're at 95 or
so ... so close!
     But how to close that final gap? Taking Kurt's cue, I could have
tramped the marshes several times to get a lingering bittern, rail or Swamp
Sparrow. I could have advertised my attempt at 100 species and thus gotten
a report or two of something unusual at a feeder. But in the end, I still
would have ended up short, most likely.
     However, I do in fact agree with Kurt that 100 species is possible,
but only under extraordinary circumstances. It must be a good winter finch
year, and half-hardies and oddities must be present as well. Even then, a
single observer going for the goal while everyone else remains indoors
drinking hot toddies and going to work, will not do it. I believe that only
if a number of dedicated observers, say 8 to 10, are all out spending lots
of time in the field and sharing their sightings promptly, focusing on the
goal of 100 species, could it be done. Realistically, this is very unlikely
ever to happen. But it sure is fun to think about!
     I'll wrap up by comparing what I saw with Kurt's carefully thought-out
list of the birds one should or could get in a Big January. Recall he broke
these up into numerical categories, from the "can't miss even if you tried"
birds of Category 1 to the "amazing grace" birds of Category 5. Kurt
duplicated at least one bird, by the way: Short-eared Owl, which I saw,
appears in both Category 3 and 4a, so I'm placing it in the former:
 
Category 1: 19 birds, and of course I saw them all.
Category 2: 31 birds, and I missed only Ruffed Grouse ... by Kurt's
criteria then, my biggest miss, since all of these should be seen.
Category 3: 25 birds, of which I got 20 [Kurt said "almost all" should be
gotten]. Here I missed Barred Owl, Raven, Swamp Sparrow, Purple Finch &
Evening Grosbeak.
Category 4a: 42 birds, of which "over half" should have been seen for 100.
This is where I fell down the worst, seeing only 14.
Category 4b: 15 birds, of which "only a few" would be expected. In fact, I
got none of these birds.
Category 5: 33 miracle birds, of which I actually got 3, hence my best
birds by these criteria: Red-throated Loon, Greater White-fronted Goose
and Pine Warbler.
 
          ^                                           ~
         ~ ~                                         / \
         x x                                         6 6
          ?     Highlights from the Supper That Was   ^
          V                                           U 
 
* the David Cup cake, frosted and decorated by 6-year-old Perri McGowan,
and the ceremonious cutting thereof
 
* Bill Evans' distinctly infectious laugh, heard throughout the night
 
* the arrival of "Patti Smith" late in the proceedings (okay, so it was
really Jane Sutton, but she was wearing a very convincing Patti Smith wig!)
 
* Matt Medler's witty presentation of the DC certificates
 
* Ken Rosenberg snapping photos like a freelancer for Rolling Stone
 
* Koko Taylor and Billie Holiday "serenading" the Supper
 
* the many children fluttering in and out of the 100 and 200 clubs, playing
with their Legos and pinning Bill Evans to the floor
 
* Stephen Davies' superb reading of the Bobbie Burns poem
 
* the look on Jay McGowan's face when he won for "most likely to win the DC
in 1998"
 
* Anne Kendall-Cassella's boy Ben coming out of the 200 Club, seeing Bard
wearing his duck bill, and saying matter-of-factly, "Hi, ducky".
 
* the collage of photos from last year's Cupper Supper, especially the
"family portrait"
 
* finding out through Match Game '97 (another party "game") that Anne James
was an extra in the movie "Dreamscape," which neither she nor anyone else
in the room ever saw.
 
* the Elvis-in-action (a.k.a. Ned Brinkley) clips here and there throughout
the Birdland Bistro (the overwhelming favorite was "Elvis learning his
birdsongs")
 
* the fire escape show-n-tell (many Cuppers wanted to see the infamous
locale)
 
* the looks on the faces of Sam Kelling and Taylor Kelling when they
received their DC certificates
 
* the food, of course!
 
* the joy and good-humor that filled our apartment.  Thanks to you all for
coming.  See you at the Bistro next year! 
 
May Your Cup Runneth Over,
 
Allison and Jeff