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Year 3, Issue 10

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*The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition.
*  Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells
*  Basin Bird Highlights: "Thoreau" Geo Kloppel
*  Pilgrim's Progress Compiler: "Stoinking" Matt Medler
*  Leader's List, Composite Deposit: "Thoreau" Geo Kloppel
*  Evans Cup Compiler: "Bird Hard" Bard Prentiss
*  The Yard Stick Compiler: Casey "Sapsucker Woods" Sutton
*  Bird Bits: Jay "Beam Hill Me Up, Scotty" McGowan
*  Stat's All: Karl "Father of the Madness" David
*  Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer
*  Computer and 24-Frame Video Operator: Jeff Wells
'Tis the time to be thankful.  And what are you thankful for?
Family. The beauty and splendor of nature. All the rare birds that
have bounded into the Basin this year.  Sure, sure.  But admit it:
What you're really thankful for is that The Cup is finally out! No
more wondering if Mighty Matt Young has ousted poor unsuspecting
Geo. No more biting your nails in anticipation of reading whether
those Cayugabirds posts you spend hours making so purposefully
witty or poetic horned their way into the Cup Quotes.  No more
fretting for fear that Dear Tick will suffer burn-out and turn from
compassionate truthsayer to sarcastic pun-gunner.
No, it's all here. Despite the irrepressible demands of birding
(we felt obligated to prove that there are birds outside the Basin by
checking out the Anna's Hummingbird), unruly columnists (well, except for
Caissa Willmer--wait a minute, we take that back!), jobs (do as
we say, not as we do), and securing Syracuse basketball tickets
(Casey, we finally got the Villanova tickets!), we submit to you
The Cup 3.10!
So read it and enjoy that it's done. At least, we think it's done.
The thermometer never did pop up...
                     @   @    @    @    @     @
                         NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
                       @   @    @    @     @     @
STEPPIN' UP: We couldn't believe it! There was Father Karl, just a-hoppin'
and a-kickin', yippin' and skippin'! What, because he'd just found a
massive flock of Bohemian Waxwings? No, he was at step
aerobics class!  Although his attempts to get the instructor to put
in "Birdsongs of the Rocky Mountains" instead of those sassy little Motown
numbers were in vain, don't think he didn't get his birding
in.  Every time instructor Mo gave the command for "Around
the World," the rest of the class whooped and whistled...and Father
Karl hooted like a lost Barred Owl!  Next time you see Karl, tell him how
good he looks, will ya? [For more on this subject, see Scrawl of Fame this
IBA SEEIN' YA--STILL: You think that last news item was lame, here's
how desperate we really are for news this issue: We're running Jeff's IBA
book ad again! Don't forget to drop on by Jeff's (Wells, as in
so-called Cup coeditor) office if you haven't had a look at
Important Bird Areas of New York State. Since many of you had a hand
in the book's success by providing info on IBAs in our area, you
might like to see the fruits of your labor.  It's worth birding for!  Jeff
can be reached at (607) 254-2441 or email
They are available for purchase at $15 each.
BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL JAZZ: "They don't call him the 'King of the Blues'
for nuthin'!  BB King played Binghamton on 22 October to an excited and
enthusiastic crowd of blues fans.  A happy crowd that
seemed a tad shy of Cuppers, I might add. Despite the intense blues
interest in this circle, nary a familiar face was spied in the crowd.  Your
(big) loss!
      "No opening act, no histrionics, just BB.  After only a single
song by the band, BB himself came to the stage and did what he does best:
blazing guitar and husky baritone.  It was my first experience seeing BB
King in person, and I was not disappointed in the least.  I had heard
rumors that BB, perhaps because of his age or perhaps
because of his stature, often doesn't play all that long and that
his concerts can be disappointing.  Don't you believe it!  After a couple
of songs played standing, the 72-year-old blues legend sat
down and really got serious.  There is truth sometimes to that old chestnut
about not getting older, just better.  His voice was aged
to perfection and his fingers still had the skill and speed to make Lucille
astound us all.  Although I can imagine a younger performer doing the
guitar magic, no young punk could come close to the smokey depth of his
voice.  He played for well over an hour and a half,
then, after dispensing a large number of trinkets to the natives
(guitar picks, chains and things), he took his leave.  It all seemed gone
too fast.
      "Our most congenial group had great seats just off from the
stage. Fortunately for the Cuppers there, the noise was not too
intense that it interfered with our later ability to hear warbler
chips.  We did, however, suffer some.  Not from the music, but from
the frequent excited exclamations of one of our own number [Melanie
Uhlir--oops, sorry Mel!]!  One of our group could hardly control her
enthusiasm (not that I actually noticed her trying to, mind you),
and was constantly letting the world know just how much she was
enjoying the show.  The rest of us, I think, enjoyed it every bit as much,
just more quietly.
      "The concert reminded me a lot of the Loon Watch on a good day:
a spectacular event to enjoy with really good company, but where was
everyone else?"
--Kevin McGowan
:>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>
                       BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
                           Geo Kloppel
Although the marvelous trio of AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS disporting at
Montezuma through the entire month became a very familiar sight
to those who checked the Refuge regularly, it was hardly possible
to grow indifferent to their presence. Serene, every bit as imposing while
stolidly squatting in the mud as they were in soaring flight,
they alternated industrious fishing with grand loaf-about
insouciance. Comic at times, never tiresome, they were ultimately sublime,
and so it seems appropriate that their departure was unobserved, as if they
had simply evaporated. If we are so lucky as
to see the threesome return next year, which their apparent
contentment and lengthy stay permit us faintly to hope, they will
seem like dear (if rather snooty) old friends.
      Moving from the persistent to the ephemeral highlights now, a Cayuga
Bird Club walk led by Bard Prentiss scored very big at Dryden Lake on
October 10th with extended views of a NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW, which
left the five attendees glowing, and those who might
have attended but didn't rather envious, especially those who searched high
and low for the bird later that day and the next without success. Add Ken
Rosenberg's flyover DICKCISSEL on the 11th (a consolation
prize for missing the Sharp-tail) and the ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER in Kevin
McGowan's yard on the 13th, a flock of BRANT, a SURF SCOTER, a MERLIN or
two, the first ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, plus the horde of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS
in Matt Young's yard, the first of the fall's FOX SPARROWS and a final
LINCOLN'S SPARROW or three, not to mention
one AMERICAN COOT (very HOT, we're told), and you have unassailable proof
that Dryden still rules!
      A lone GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was sighted at May's Point
on 10/11 by Gary Chapin, and another on 10/24 by John Van Neil.
PHALAROPE and scattered lingering shorebirds made the Refuge worth
the stop even if one was sick of pelicans (?). Matt Young called up a SORA
at Tschache Marsh on the 13th. Elsewhere in the Basin, along
with the more common waterfowl SURF, WHITE-WINGED and BLACK
SCOTERS were all seen, as were transient OLDSQUAW, BRANT, and RED-THROATED
LOONS, most from Bob Meade's annual Loon Watch at
Taughannock Point by eagle-eyed Matt Young. RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were on
the move, or lingered in favored swamps throughout the month.
      More ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS appeared. A surprising number of
NORTHERN GOSHAWK reports were uncovered, suggesting that we might be
in for a winter invasion. Wide-roaming RAVENS were heard or seen
outside of their expected areas. RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS came and went.
Various warblers made (probably) their final curtain-calls. AMERICAN TREE
up. The first snowflakes fell. Winter approaches. Know what you're
going to bring to dinner after the Christmas Count?
(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows. He is fluent in English.)
100      100      100      100      100      100      100       100
                                 100 CLUB
100      100       100      100       100       100       100       100
Sign on 100 Club door:
You weren't thankful enough. Stay out.
200          200          200           200           200
                                2     0    0
   200             200                            200           200
Sign on 200 Club door:
You, too.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
October 1998 David Cup Totals
Compiled by Matt Medler
235 Geo Kloppel
234 Matt Young
228 Kevin McGowan
225 Jay McGowan
224 Ken Rosenberg
220 Chris Butler
218 Meena Haribal
218 Karl David
217 Jeff Wells
216 Allison Wells
213 Steve Kelling
209 Tom Nix
209 Matt Sarver
207 Matt Medler
205 Stephen Davies
202 Bard Prentiss
200 Pat Lia
191 Catherine Sandell
188 John Greenly
186 Anne Kendall
183 Alan Krakauer
178 Nancy Dickinson
177 Jon Kloppel
176 Nancy Dickinson
170 Martha Fischer
157 Ben Taft
157 John Fitzpatrick
153 Gary Chapin
152 John Morris
139 Marty Schlabach
139 Perri McGowan
134 Kim Kline
133 Steve Pantle
133 Jim Lowe
114 Michael Runge
103 Melanie Uhlir
  98 Anne James
  85 Caissa Willmer
  84 Carol Bloomgarden
  78 Swift McGowan (DC Kitty Cup)
  85 Ann Mathieson
  68 James (Straw) Barry*
  57 Kylie Spooner
  54 Mimi Wells (DC Kitty Cup)
  48 Cathy Heidenreich
  46 Dave Mellinger
  43 Teddy Wells (DC Kitty Cup)
  42 Scott Mardis
  39 Kurt Fox
  38 Tringa the McGowan Wonder Dog
  35 Tom Lathrop
  34 Margaret Barker
  26 Andy Leahy
  20 Figaro (DC Kitty Cup)
   0 Ned Brinkley*
   0 Ralph Paonessa*
   0 Larry Springsteen*
   0 Mira "the Bird Dog" Springsteen*
*Currently living out-of-state and refuses to move back.
October 1998 McIlroy Award Totals
Compiled by Matt Medler
161 Allison Wells
146 Martha Fischer
145 Jeff Wells
142 Karl David
140 Kevin McGowan
119 Jay McGowan
117 Ken Rosenberg
111 Matt Medler
109 Stephen Davies
102 Jim Lowe
  86 Ben Taft
  84 Michael Runge
  80 Anne Kendall
  60 Stephen Davies
  42 Dave Mellinger
   0 Bill Evans*
*Nonetheless claims to be ahead.
October 1998 Evans (Dryden) Trophy
Compiled by Bard Prentiss
196 Ken Rosenberg
181 Matt Young
172 Kevin McGowan
168 Jay McGowan
171 Bard Prentiss
109 Anne Kendall
October 1998 Lansing Totals
146 Kevin McGowan
122 John Greenly
1998 September Etna Challenge
87 Allison Wells
80 Jeff Wells
18 Casey Sutton
THE YARD STICK ----------------------------
Compiled by Casey Sutton
138 Ken Rosenberg, Ithaca, NY
135 John Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY
123 Geo Kloppel, West Danby, NY
120 Steve Kelling, Berkshire, NY
119 Kevin McGowan, Dryden, NY
116 Geo Kloppel, West Danby, NY
104 John Bower, Enfield, NY
  99 Nancy Dickinson, Trumansburg, NY
  69 Jeff and Allison Wells, Etna, NY
  69 Ben Taft, Ithaca, NY
  67 Darlene and John Morabito, Auburn, NY
  64 John Greenly, Ludlowville, NY
  53 Ann Mathieson, Scipio Center, NY
  28 Susann Argetsinger, Burdett, NY
   2 Casey Sutton, Ithaca, NY
By Geo Kloppel
As predicted, the frontrunners' spread is closing up as the final stretch
opens before them, but last month's leader has not quite
been overtaken yet. Though I added just one bird in October, that's
the one that saved the lead for another month. Here's the list of 235:
R-t & C Loon,P-b,H & R-n Grebe,Am W Pelican,D-c Cormorant,Am & L Bittern,G
Egret,G B & Green Heron,B-c Night Heron,T & M Swan,S &
C 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,Surf &
W-w Scoter,C Goldeneye,Bufflehead,Hooded,C & R-b Merganser,Ruddy
Duck,Turkey Vulture,Osprey,Bald Eagle,N Harrier,
S-s & Cooper's Hawk,N Goshawk,R-s,B-w,R-t & R-l Hawk,Am Kestrel,
Merlin,Peregrine Falcon,R-n Pheasant,Ruffed Grouse,Wild Turkey,
VA Rail,C Moorhen,Am Coot,Am Golden,Bk-bellied & Semipalmated
Plover,Killdeer,AM AVOCET,G & L Yellowlegs,Solitary,Spotted &
Upland Sandpiper,Whimbrel,R Turnstone,Sanderling,Semipalmated,
Western, Least,W-r,Baird's & Pectoral Sandpiper,Dunlin,CURLEW
SANDPIPER,Stilt Sandpiper,Short-&Long-billed Dowitcher,C Snipe,Am
Woodcock,W's Phalarope,B's,R-b,Herring,Iceland, L B-b
& G B-b Gull,Caspian,C,F's & Black Tern,Rock & Mourning Dove,
B-b & Y-b Cuckoo,E Screech-Owl,G H,Barred,L-e,S-e & N S-w
Owl,CNighthawk,W-p-w,Chimney Swift,R-t Hummingbird, Belted
Kingfisher,R-h & R-b Woodpecker,Y-b Sapsucker,Downy & Hairy
Woodpecker,N Flicker,Pileated Woodpecker,E Wood-Pewee, Acadian,Alder,Willow
& Least Flycatcher,E Phoebe, G C Flycatcher,
E Kingbird,Horned Lark,Purple Martin,Tree,N R-w,Bank,Cliff &
Barn Swallow,Blue Jay,Am & Fish Crow,C Raven,B-c Chickadee,Tufted
Titmouse,R-b & W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper,Carolina,House,Winter &
Marsh Wren,G-c & R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E Bluebird,Veery,
G-c,Swainson's,Hermit & Wood Thrush,Am Robin,Gray Catbird,
N Mockingbird,Brown Thrasher,Am Pipit,Cedar Waxwing, N Shrike,
Eurostarling,B-h,Y-t,Warbling,Philly & R-e Vireo,B-w,G-w,TN &
Nashville Warbler,N Parula,Yellow,C-s,Magnolia,B-t blue,Y-r,B-t
Green,Blackburnian,Pine,Prairie,Palm,B-b,Blackpoll,Cerulean &
B-and-w Warbler,Am Redstart,Prothonotary & W-e Warbler,Ovenbird,
N & LA Waterthrush,Mourning Warbler,C Yellowthroat,Hooded,Wilson's
& Canada Warbler,Scarlet Tanager,N Cardinal,R-b Grosbeak,Indigo Bunting,E
Towhee,Am Tree,Chipping,Field, Vesper,Savannah,
Grasshopper, Henslow's,Fox,Song,Swamp,W-c & W -t Sparrow,D-e Junco,
S Bunting,Bobolink,R-w Blackbird,E Meadowlark,Rusty Blackbird,C Grackle,B-h
Cowbird,B & O Oriole,Pine Grosbeak,Purple & House
Finch,Red & W-w Crossbill,C Redpoll,Pine Siskin,Am Goldfinch,
Evening Grosbeak,House Sparrow
Add to that list the following 22 species other lucky birders found:
Greater White-fronted Goose,Brant,E Wigeon,Oldsquaw,Black Scoter,
Gull,Glaucous Gull,Snowy Owl,Olive-s & Y-b Flycatcher,Cape May
Warbler,Orange-crowned Warbler,Lincoln's Sparrow,Nelson's
Sharp-tailed Sparrow,Lapland Longspur,Dickcissel,HOARY REDPOLL.
Grand Composite Total: 257
Our final tally for 1996 was 268, while we finished 1997 with 267,
but 1998's total threatens to be distinctly lower. We have now
fallen 9 birds behind the October 1997 tally of 266. Only two more
were added during all of last November and December. This year we
need to find three just to crack 260. Since November is already well under
the bridge with no additions yet, it looks daunting. A few of
the rarely visiting gulls and waterfowl offer our best hope, if hope there
be. There are of course no winter finches left to add. An outlandish hummer
would be great, but something tells me the bird
will turn up out-of-bounds. Last year's eleventh hour appeal for Bohemian
Waxwings didn't produce any, but the slumping composite is
far more sorely in need of them this year. With no NBA action to distract
us, we should be making an all-out effort to find them.
No Bulls this fall, it's Bears or nothing, as if we were in a market
slump after the winter-finch euphoria subsided and the spring
warblers yielded disappointing returns. Where the heck is the
coaching staff on this anyway?
(You already know Geo.)
                      <  COACH'S CORNER      <
                     <           <<<<<<<<<<<<<<
                     <           <
                      <         <
                        < < < <
Some people (Geo!) are so demanding. They actually expect their
coaching staff to show! We at The Cup know that you need not be
present to dole out advice. In fact, you don't even have to dole out
a new game strategy from game to game. Just get out the old clip
board and tap away. (Hey, it beats giving into demands for pay increases!)
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 my 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. 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.
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.
The time is now to begin looking for those elusive 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. Watch for scoters,
Brant, 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
      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.
A juvenile Northern Shrike has already been reported at Neimi Rd. Perhaps
others are scoping the hedgerows now. Rough-legged Hawks
are taking up their quarters, too.
      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
      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. It's doubtful that he will see you all "out
there," since he doesn't appear to be living in the Basin anymore...)
                            !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !
What better way to prove you're gonna take the whole can of worms than by
being featured in 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, or fiddled his/her way
to the top of the David Cup list.
This month's leader is--again--Geo Kloppel! What incite does he have
for the rest of us?
THE CUP: Evenin', Geo. Uhh, you're still on top...
KLOPPEL: That must mean it was a sluggish month for others, Matt
Young excepted of course.
THE CUP: Actually, it was slow for Matt, too. He only got in 30 days
of birding in October, instead of the whole month. How'd you stay
ahead, given his relative fanaticism?
KLOPPEL: We all labor under the same constraining circumstance - a limited
list of birds expectable or at all likely to be found in our region. As the
year winds down, the tallies of the most diligent and successful searchers
can be expected to begin crowding together under this common ceiling. I
added just one bird in all October, and some of the ones I'm still missing
are now gone for sure. In short, I can't
take any credit at all for maintaining the lead through October...
THE CUP:  No kidding!
KLOPPEL: Matt out-did me at least two-to-one for the month! And those who
were farther behind no doubt have made even more impressive
gains. In fact I'm sure even as we speak that I've already been
THE CUP: Yes, Tringa, the McGowan's new dog, did especially well.
On the subject of Mr. Young, some thought that the over-heard conversation
we ran as last month's KT was actually something made
up by Allison! Please set them straight!
KLOPPEL: You mean he denied the tete-a-tete at the 200 Club? Doesn't
surprise me! He took rather a duffing on that occasion, didn't he? But it
was by no design of mine that eavesdroppers picked up the conversation. The
"Cone of Silence" was on the blink again! "Toujours c'est la meme chose."
My advice to Matt - Get Smart now about the paperazzi - the best way to
parry their unforgivable intrusions and lamentable readiness to manipulate
the facts is to beat them at their own game. He will find, if he winds up
taking the David Cup in the
end, that he'll become a celebrity and they'll never take their
snooping eyes off him again, beginning on the very night of the
Cupper Supper, where the winner might be expected to come up with an answer
to Stephen Davies' stunning recitation on an avian theme drawn from the
songs of the Bard of Caledonia, which he delivered in fair
and sonorous facsimile of Rab the Rhymer's native dialect. How indeed could
any of this year's contenders measure up to that challenge, who look like
failing by such a wide margin even in the more fundamental task of matching
the composite totals of previous years?
THE CUP: Allison couldn't have said it better herself! What cd is in your
CD player?
KLOPPEL: You've caught me off-guard: I didn't expect to be in the
lead, so I felt at liberty to listen to whatsoever I liked, with no burden
of cultural responsibility. At the moment it's Minna
Raskinen's REVELATIONS (Olarin Musikki CD64)--
THE CUP: Right, that '70's singer, the one that screeched so lovingly
during the chorus. "Loving You"--wasn't that the song?
KLOPPEL: --a solo album of unique and very creative pieces for
konsertti-kantele, a large, deep-voiced lap-harp that sounds like a piano
with action removed, the strings being plucked with the
fingertips directly. In the other player I have a Philips disk of Claudio
Arrau doing Liszt's incredibly spacious and evocative Transcendental Etudes.
THE CUP: Guess we needn't look for you at the next BB King concert.
KLOPPEL: But somewhere around here I've got some Jerry
Lee Lewis queued-up too...
THE CUP: Sure you do.  Did you at least make it to the Solas concert?
KLOPPEL: I did not...nor have I heard from anyone who did. I'll have
to wait for The Cup to come out with a review, I guess. You ARE running a
review, aren't you?
THE CUP: We got bumped by McGowan's blues review. BB wins out every time.
But that Solas concert, whoa! What a band of superstars! That
fiddle player, those strings were sparking, she was working those strings
so hard.  In fact, at one point, she called out desperately,
"Is there a violin bow repairer in the house?"  Her cry for help went
unanswered. You said something about missing some birds this year.
Which ones?
KLOPPEL: For starters I need to add Black Scoter, Oldsquaw, and Brant
to have any chance at all of staying in the running. All three
dropped in my lap at Stewart Park during mid-day business trips last fall,
but that has not worked for me this year, and failing to get to the Loon
Watch may have cost me some or even all of them. Lapland Longspur continues
to elude me. No point in blasting the cold marshes for a Sora if I can't
even add those others. I would still travel far for a Snowy Owl. Glaucous
Gull would be awefully nice for December. Bohemians would stoke my fires.
But everyone else will go out for
them too, if they show, so it comes back to the three waterfowl and
the Longspur. Those are the critical vacancies.
THE CUP: What are you doing for Thanksgiving? You won't be cooking
up any birds, will you?
KLOPPEL: The best thing about being swamped with work all month has
been the feeling that at least I was shoulder to shoulder with the
rest in the common boat, performing the irksome but necessary toil for the
good of society (bailing, right?), but I bet not many Cuppers will be at
work on Thanksgiving day, as I plan. However, I do have to take
a "dinner break", probably even have to cook something, since my daughter
and her fiance are coming up from Philly. I'll do some vegetarian
specialty, spanakopita maybe, and open a bottle or two of West Danby
Elderberry Wine. Hope your Thanksgiving's enjoyable too.
KLOPPEL: You'll be the first to know. Spanakopita? We'll be by around noon!
                              By Jay McGowan
1. How many kinds of Whistling Ducks(in the genus Dendrocygna) are
their in the world?  Eight.  Spotted  Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna guttata),
Plumed Whistling Duck (D. eytoni), Fulvous Whistling Duck
(D.  bicolor), Wandering Whistling Duck (D. arcauta), Lesser Whistling Duck
(D. javanica), White-faced  Whistling Duck (D. viduata), Cuban Whistling
Duck (D. arborea), and Black-bellied Whistling Duck (D.  autumnalis).
2.  What is the scientific name of the Black-headed Duck of South America?
Heteronetta atricapilla.   "Heteronetta  Gr. Heteros, different, another;
netta, a duck; the Black-headed Duck
H. atricapilla is the  only parasitic duck."  "atricapilla  L.
atricapillus, black-haired (i.e. black-capped black-headed)."  The
Black-headed Duck is a social parasite.  No nest or incubating female
Black-headed Duck has ever been  discovered.
3.  Where does the Musk Duck live?  The Musk Duck is fairly common
and widespread in southeastern  and southwestern Australia, occurring
on swamps, lakes, estuaries, and especially permanent marshes, its  prime
breeding habitat.
4.  There are three kinds of Eiders.  Common Eider, King Eider and
Spectacled Eider.  Their scientific  names are Somatria mollissima,
S. spectabilis, and S. fischeri.  S. spectibilis is King Eider not
Spectacled  Eider.  Why?  Spectibilis, L. spectabilis, remarkable, showy,
something worth seeing.  The King Eider is  certainly that.
5.  What Duck has the longest scientific name and what does it mean?
Malacorhynchus membranaceous,  the Pink-eared Duck.  "Gr. Malakos,  soft;
rhunkhos, the bill; ref. soft flaps on upper mandible of the  Pink-eared
Duck M. membranaceous."  "L. membranaceus, of skin, membraneous (membrana,
a thin  skin); the Pink-eared Duck
Malacorhychas has a huge bill tipped with prominent membraneous
(Jay McGowan, age 12, is home-schooled. He came through this month!
With the answers, anyway.  By the way, if you got all of those right, you
should be home-schooling your kids.)
                        STAT'S ALL, FOLKS
                          By Karl David
Collecting, poring over and analyzing data ... quel [quelle?] bore.
This month, I'm returning to my true love -- pure, unadulterated, useless
and glorious probability, the field where you get to pose
such interesting questions as:  if 14 people are assembled at random
and each reveals what day of the week he/she was born on, what's the
probability each day is represented at least once?
      All right, so you don't know what day of the week you were born
on ... as the man said, you could look it up. There are twice as many
people as days here, so there seems a reasonable chance every day
gets covered ... but, as Bill Clinton would be the first to point
out, we haven't defined "reasonable," have we?
      Now, what's all this got to do with birds? Well, I have to mine
my spring migration data one more time. I discovered that Baltimore Oriole
has the narrowest window of arrival dates, namely May 2 to
May 8 [7 days]. I have 14 years of data [1985-98]. Curiously, I
thought, one day [May 4] was missing from the distribution, which
breaks down as follows:
                       May 2 - 2 times
                       May 3 - 4 times
                       May 4 - 0 times
                       May 5 - 1 time
                       May 6 - 1 time
                       May 7 - 5 times
                       May 8 - 1 time.
How likely is it to be missing one (or more) days in this situation, I idly
wondered. Twenty or so pages of calculations later, I had the answer, to be
revealed in the course of our discussion, so hang on and enjoy.
      The first thing to admit is that this is a *much* harder problem than
any I've discussed to date in this forum, so I'll only sketch an outline of
the procedure I followed. A miracle of sorts is that I got the right answer
on the first try (unless two or more mistakes
cancelled each other out, which is highly unlikely). This is because I
checked my work as I went along. At one point I said 126 + 126 = 256, and
that one mistake spread slowly like a cancer through subsequent
calculations, but I caught it before too much damage was
      Secondly, we need a better metaphor than days of the week for a
general discussion (for example, what if it had been an 11-day span of
dates?). So let's follow the most common approach and "go postal": if
we have m letters to be distributed randomly in n mailboxes, what is
the probability one or more boxes receives no letters? Thus m=14, n=7
in the oriole example.
     As a warm-up, or more precisely as a way to see how to proceed, I
chopped the problem down to manageable size by trying m=5, n=3, i.e.
stuffing 5 letters in 3 boxes. Say the letters are numbered 1,2,3,4,5 and
the boxes are A,B,C. Then a symbol such as 135/4/2 will mean
letters 1,3,5 go in Box A, 4 in B and 2 in C. And 35/-/124 means 3,5
go in A, none go in B and 1,2,4 go in C.
      Here's how to solve the problem by what is known as [remember,
dead white males are responsible for most of this terminology] the "brute
force" method. Write down *all* possible configurations like
the two above. Then count how many leave 1 or 2 boxes empty (e.g. -/12345/-
leaves boxes A and C empty). The ratio of the two is the probability of at
least one empty box.
      Okay, you can do this! there are only 3^5 = 243 cases ... a manageable
number. Of them, 90 leave out one box and 3 leave out two,
so 93/243 = 38% is the desired probability. Turning it around, there's thus
a 62% chance all three boxes receive at least one letter. Go
ahead, try it! You're already wasting time reading the Cup -- what's
another hour or two?
      Surely, you say, there has to be a short cut -- a clever way to figure
out the probability without writing down every case. Well, not really.
True, you don't literally have to do so, but you do have to figure out all
the possible ways to break up 5 into the sum of 3 or fewer numbers and then
figure out how many cases correspond to each of these (e.g. 13/25/4
corresponds to 5 = 2+2+1, but so does 25/13/4). The problem is notoriously
intractable in the arbitrary case.
      However, there *is* a giant shortcut if you're willing to settle for
an approximation to the exact answer. Calculus provides a
not-too-outrageously-complicated magic formula into which you just plug m
and n and out it pops. The beauty of it is that the larger m and n are, the
better the approximation. That is, just as the exact calculations get more
and more exhausting to do by hand, the approximations get better and
better.It doesn't take too long before they're good to within 1%, then
0.1%, etc.
      Returning to the problem, here's a question to ponder. Five
letters in 3 boxes isn't quite as "good" as the 2:1 ratio of the original
14 letters in 7 boxes, as far as trying to fill all boxes is concerned. In
the 5:3 case, we have a 62% chance all boxes are filled. Shouldn't that
improve in the 14:7 case?  Take it a giant step further: suppose you
assemble 730 = 2x365 people at random and find out everyone's birthday.
What is the chance every day of the year is
represented at least once?
      The answer is, there isn't a snowball's chance in hell this will
happen. If it did, you could categorically pronounce the experiment rigged.
You'll win the lottery ten times before this ever occurs!
In fact, even in the 14:7 example, the probability of filling all boxes
declines considerably from the 5:3 case. As I mentioned, I did all the
calculations (and if you're wondering, "by hand" *does* include use of a
calculator, or I'd still be working on it!). The results (rounded off to
the nearest percent) are:
                       # boxes filled   probability
                               7            37%
                               6            47%
                               5            15%
                               4             1%
                            1,2,3         0%
(the final probability isn't of course actually 0, but it rounds off to that).
      Notice that for the oriole data, the most likely outcome did occur: 6
of the 7 dates were represented.
      Since I have all the numbers, further questions can be answered. For
example, how likely is the oriole distribution of 2,4,0,1,1,5,1
(i.e 2 times on the first date, 4 times on the second, etc.)? Remember this
can happen in far more than one way: any 2 of the 14 letters can
go in the first box, any 4 of the remaining 12 in the second, etc.). There
are a mere 15,135,120 ways this can happen. I say "mere" because the
*total* number of possibilities is 7^14 = 678,223,072,849, and the ratio of
these two is 0.00223%.
      We can up the probability a bit by being less stringent and ask for
the same distribution of letters in any order (i.e. 1,1,0,5,2,4,1 or
5,4,2,1,1,1,0). This increases the number of cases by a factor of 840 to
12,713,500,800, which now works out to a pretty respectable 1.87%
Extrapolate this to the big birthday problem ... imagine how likely it
would be there to get many days with 5 or more birthdays, thus forcing many
days with 1 or 0 to balance out!
      If you're still skeptical about that birthday problem, here's a way,
perhaps, to see how hopeless it is to expect every day to turn up. Let me
concede just about the whole thing and suppose that after 720 people were
polled, all but one day had turned up (this is actually just about as
impossible, but I'll grant you it for the sake of argument). Now you still
have 10 chances to get that one silly remaining day! But whoa ... the
chances any of these 10 people were born on that day is only 1/365, which
ain't too good. Even 10/365, which is actually more than the actual
probability one of the ten was born on the missing day, is less than 3%.
      One more good, final, question: what's the most likely distribution of
dates? Since 14 = 2X7, congratulate yourself if you guessed 2,2,2,2,2,2,2
... that's right! Of course, it still isn't very likely, since there's so
many cases, but it is more likely than any other one particular
distribution. Test yourself, if you know some basic probability tricks, to
confirm that this distribution can happen in 681,080,400 ways (compare with
only 15,135,120 for the oriole
distribution). It works out to 0.1% ... a number that's at least on the
charts, compared to 2,2,2, ...,2 for the birthday problem, which would be a
decimal point followed by a gazillion zeroes!
(Karl David is [still] a mathematics professor on sabbatical at Cornell. He
loves numbers.)
                               SCRAWL OF FAME
To: Jeffrey Wells, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
From: Fitness Director, Courtside Health Club
Date: October 28, 1998
Re: Aerobics Recruitment
羨 little bird' told us you are trying to work up the courage to take
aerobics classes with us. We strongly encourage you to do so,
Mr. Wells! The women get tired of looking at the same few male bodies
day after day (as great as some of them admittedly are). We need more
men! You are especially encouraged to wear tights. See you soon!'"
         --Generously Forwarded on Behalf of Courtside by Karl David
                        Scrawl of Fame II
Hey hombres!--
        I am filing my last totals report for DC '98, which includes all
the birds I had up to Aug 3rd, when we finally left Ithaca for the wild
        Don't ask me what bird 200 was.  Sorry we weren't in touch more
before leaving.  Between finishing a PhD and making plans to move, we
got kinda bogged down towards the end there. Once again, sorry for not
saying goodbye. We were really hoping to see everyone before we left,
but never got the chance.
        Hope you are well and that all is sweetness and light in Ithaca.
Sounds like some interesting birds have shown up there recently.  Curlew
Sandpiper I heard?  Sorry I wasn't there for that one.  We are settling in
just fine here in Frisco.  I have fallen in with a good crowd of local
birders and the local scene is very invigorating!  Ticked off my life
Yellow-green Vireo this morning, here in the city.  We're going into
competition with the Pt Reyes posse next!  Pelagic is coming up in a couple
of weeks - my birthday present this year and I can't wait!
        OK, I'll not distract the venerable Cup editors any longer with
extra-Basin banter.  But do drop us a line, and please come visit anytime!
I'm learning the local hotspots and would be delighted to
show Cuppers the sights!
                                      Adios muchachos,
                                              Stephen [Davies]
(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.)
mmmmmmmmmmmmmm    McILROY MUSINGS   mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
[Note from this month's McLeader]
Want to catch me in the McIlroy? Here's my advice, and don't take
it lightly: "                             "
                     BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH
                       By Caissa Willmer
Our unruly Bird Brain Correspondent refused to submit her column
this month.  Next time you see her at a premier, throw popcorn
at her!
(Caissa Willmer is a Senior Staff Writer for the Cornell Office of
Development and theater critic for the Ithaca Times.)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>                    BIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRD
                                BIRD VERSE
                             Your bird verse 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...
When I am doing my tower kill survey, if I find a dead bird that I
have not yet seen in the Basin this year, can I count it?  After all,
it had to have been alive at some point to have arrived dead at my tower.
                             --Just Wondering from Mt. Pleasant
Dear Just Wondering:
You know that iceman they pulled out of the Alps or some godforsaken
place over there in Europe? At some point, he was alive, too, but I
bet you wouldn't date him now.
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at
                 """""""""       CUP QUOTES      """"""""
"You need a [Buddy Guy] connection, Geo? What about the Bird Cup Blues
column in The Cup?! Fie on you!'--Allison Wells (from The Cup 3.9)
"Of course I never for a moment forgot about the Blues in The Cup. But
I knew the monthly 'IT'S OUT!' message was overdue. Though you were not
in my line of sight, in my mind's eye I pictured you streaking for the
basket, and when I saw the opening, I quickly lofted the ball into the
dunk-zone. Sure enough, there you were, and you slammed it home. Nice."
                                                 --Geo Kloppel
"I take it you didn't receive this message last month, since my totals
didn't appear in the last Cup.  Here it is again ope you are all well.
The birding here has been amazing.  Last month, we took a pelagic on
my birthday and ran into the Northern Hemisphere's second
Great-winged Petrel, about 15 miles out of Monterey. Other highlights
for me over the last month have included Pacific Golden Plover, lots of
Thayer's Gulls, 6 species of shearwater and Black-footed Albatrosses galore."
                                        --Stephen Davies
         [for more from our former DC CoChamp, see Scrawl of Fame II]
"I'd like to get the electronic newsletter. I'm interested in this David
Cup 礎irding craze.'"
                                         --Ben Fambrough
"I'm new to the area. What's this all about?"
                                          --Mary Guthrie
"OK, I have held out long enough, please send me the electronic newsletter."
                                          --Gladys Birdsall
"Let Allison know, boy, what a great job on the last Cup!  Her
Kloppel voiceover in Kickin' Tail was -- like your subscription rate --
priceless, I kid you not.  And I've never even met the guy!  I mean it, I'm
telling you, let Allison know -- it's like even better than the movies,
keeping tabs on these characters through the sharp eyes of
The Cup. Stunning!  Magnificent!  Puts the 腺' in Bravura!"
                                           --Andy Leahy
"Lots of telephone wire birds [at Montezuma] and others too tedious to
mention.  禅hey' say the pelicans are still there!  Believe it or not, the
winner for most beautiful bird (according to me) is Gadwall.  It seems like
the marsh ducks are all out for very close inspection, allowing great views
with just binoculars."
                                           --Jon Kloppel
"Yesterday while puppy and I were looking at sparrows in the brushy grove
up our hill, a woodcock came whirring up from under our feet. I got a nice
look at the brown patterns on its back, and then it turned
in flight and showed its goofy (but practical) profile. I had to laugh."
                                           --Nancy Dickinson
"While looking unsuccessfully for Bard's Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow
Sunday morning, I was treated to a calling Dickcissel moving south, high
over Dryden Lake.  I picked up the bird in flight as it circled once and
undulated over the trees and out of sight.  Birds of all kinds were moving
all day in an almost feverish progression through the Dryden area.  It
seemed that I couldn't look up without seeing a Sharp-shin or a Red-tail
flapping overhead on the cloudy north wind.  Geese, ducks, gulls,
blackbirds (many Rusty), robins, vultures, other hawks, and
Yellow-rumped Warblers kept streaming over."
                                        --Ken Rosenberg
"Yesterday morning I went to Sodus and Montezuma. On the way to Sodus
I took a wrong turn and ended up on a back road near the Williamson
Rod & Gun Club. I found a flock of perhaps 20 Yellow-rumped Warblers,
the most warblers I've seen in one spot since last May. It was nice
to see so many warblers so late in the year."
                                        --Tom Lathrop
"Hey Matt [Young], I just want to publicly thank you for keeping us all
updated.  I've only gotten out birding a handful of times since the
beginning of October, and it seems like no one else has gotten out much,
either.  So keep up the good work, buddy - you seem to have become the
current keeper of the flame on Cayugabirds!"
                                          --Matt Sarver
"Dryden Lake had 14 Red Breasted Mergansers, along with one lonely
Canvasback, numerous Mallard, one Kingfisher and a flock of around 20
Ring-necked Ducks. Come on, Grosbeaks!!!!"
                                          --Laura Stenzler
"For those thinking about coming out [to the LoonWatch], the watch begins
at about 15 minutes before sunrise, which today was at 6:40AM and lasts for
about two hours. Normally the large flights begin about one hour after
sunrise, but are  very high. Lower flying loons are usually seen during the
half-hour after sunrise and appear after a large flight the day before
(like today ??).  The best days are normally the coldest!"
                                           --Bob Meade
May your cup runneth over,
Allison and Jeff