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Year 3, Issue 11

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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: "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
*  Mobile Phone Supervisor: Jeff Wells
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"Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Cheery New Year!" That s what you expect
this time of year from a soft, mushy-gushy publication like The Cup, right?
  Well, forget it!  Our job is to push you, not mush you. These are trying
times, friends, the final days of the David Cup are upon us. And it s not
too late for any of you to break through the gate first   Santa has pulled
off bigger miracles than that.
Well, maybe not.
 
Regardless, just quit with the caroling. Stop the shopping, forget the
eggnog, plum puddings, and those ridiculous candy canes. Certainly don t
wait for any holiday well wishing in The Cup 3.11. Get out there and bird,
bird, bird!
 
Oh, and Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Cheery New Year!
 
                     @   @    @    @    @     @
                         NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
                       @   @    @    @     @     @
 
 
WHERE S RALPH?: Remember Ralph Paonessa, the Cup s notorious stand-up
comedian? Well, he s back... sort of.  Cup Headquarters received an email
from him recently, in which he gelled his lame excuse for the "0" next to his
name in the Pilgrim s Progress list down to rhyme and meter.  Where is he,
and what s he been up to? Find out for yourself.  Check out the Bird Verse
column, this issue.  Meanwhile, Ralph, come home! There s an inflatable
Ross  Goose waiting for you on the Christmas dinner table.
 
THE "INSIDE" SCOOP: What do you get when you take 50,000+ crows and put them
all together in a great, big roost in a small Upstate New York town? If
you re Cupper Kevin McGowan you get face time with a crew from National
Geographic Explorer! More impressively, you land in a segment for that
rag-tag, gossip-monger tabloid TV show, "Inside Edition." How did his
National Geo piece go? We don t know, it won t surface until spring. And
the IE segment that ran on Friday? Who knows! Our attempts to track down
the correct channel were in vain. But at least we got a few words from our
corvid crony: "It was exciting and an honor, I guess," says Kev, "but I was
really trying to get my NSF grants written." Fame. Ain t it a Red-nosed
Albatross.
 
HOOP SCHEMES: Why have the editors made such a fuss about the upcoming
Syracuse-Villanova basketball game (February 7)? Because TJ Couette,
an-off-the-bench hot-shotter for V, is a home boy! That is, he s from
Allison s home town of Winthrop, Maine.  But that s only part of it. The
real fun will be hearing Casey Sutton and Matt Medler debating the
qualities   or lack thereof, in Matt s opinion   of the Buffalo Bills
during the car ride up.  We ll let you know who wins.  The basketball game,
we mean.
 
BI-BUY!: Great news! In 1999, you ll only have to put up with the drivel of
this rag-tag excuse for a newsletter every other month. That s right, we re
relegating the bashing and hashing to a bimonthly ritual. No more monthly
cleverless clutter in your e-mail box, no more sleepless nights wondering
if you ll be getting roasted in the upcoming issue. Of course, the down
side of this new format is that you ll have to work a little extra to stay
on top of your totals, since Matt Medler won t be there to hold your hand
every month.  But think of the suspense! It ll be even harder to guess
who s pulled ahead of who. Anyway, look for the next issue in February. It
promises to be full of final totals, and of course, an in-depth report on
the fun, foolishness, and frivolous frolicking of the 3rd Annual Cupper
Supper!
 
YUP, ER, IT S THE CUPPER SUPPER: Leave late January and February open.
Cup Headquarters, posing as the Wells  Birdland Bistro, will again host the
wild and crazy dish-to-pass Cupper Supper...we just aren t sure when  yet.
Come put a face to those David Cup totals you ve been reading all year. Hear
the rompin  stompin  blues of DJs Kevin McGowan and Ken Rosenberg. And
don t miss the bestowing of the David Cup and other trophies. As always,
the Cup staff promises a few antics to warm up the crowd, and if Santa
bothers to read Allison s Christmas list, there ll be a ping-pong table ready
to smoke up the family room (remember, the Wells bought a house this summer,
so you won t have to eat out on the fire escape of the old apartment.)
Kids are welcome   they make nice fuel for the fire (just kidding, right,
Jay?)  Watch for upcoming notices to appear without warning in your e-mail box
...just when you thought you were cutting down on Cup clutter.
 
SAY NOT TO STARBUCKS: What to give that special someone for the holidays? Not
a gift certificate for Starbucks, apparently. This news item that came over
BirdChat may inspire you to take pen in hand: "Starbucks continues to resist
supporting shade-grown coffee. Shade-grown coffee provides valuable habitat
for songbirds in the neotropics, both for residents and for migrants from
the USA. Supporting shade-growth is even more important now than ever
before, as some of the recent hurricanes have devastated shade-growth farms
in some areas, and many farmers are replanting with sun-grown coffee to
recoup profits as fast as possible, with the birds paying the price for it.
  So unless they start selling shade-grown (And they haven't yet), boycott
Starbuck's!"  Remember, it doesn t do much good to
boycott a business if you don t tell them why.
 
BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: In the name of the Father, we re again
stretching this blues/jazz column to include...gulp...classical music.
Here s why:
"Not one, not two, but THREE Cuppers sang in the Ithaca Community Chorus and
Chamber Singers program of contemporary Eastern European Music in Sage Chapel
on December 5. They then winged to Elmira to repeat the performance the next
day. Well, Sue Kelling may not be a Cupper yet, but then neither was Kim
Kline until this year. Cupper spouses have a  If you can't lick 'em, join
'em  history, so look out, Sue, you may be next!  Especially since you
tricked husband Steve into attending Saturday by promising salsa-influenced
classical music was on the program! Hard to believe he fell for that, but
expect to see yourself registered for the David Cup next year in
retaliation. Kim's husband and son, Kevin & Jay McGowan, excused themselves
from attending the premiere on some pretext of showing gulls to Cayuga Bird
Club members at Niagara Falls, but they (and daughter Perri) constituted a
significant fraction of the Elmira audience, so they are forgiven.  And of
course my spouse was in Wisconsin and so couldn't be expected to attend,
right? As for the music ... no, it wasn't blues or jazz, but it had just as
much connection to birds as most of the programs the Editor[s] allow for
review, so [they] guiltily conceded that it ought to be mentioned in these
pages as well ..."
  Karl David
 
:>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>
                    BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
                            By
                        Geo Kloppel
 
Like little Doug Flutie in the pocket, our eleventh month was bracketed by
archetypal specimens of the extra-large. On the first day of November the
three straggling AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS, which had loitered at
Montezuma since September, were still hanging around, though that date
was to mark the end of their stay. Then in the final days of the month a
SANDHILL CRANE, likewise a wanderer from the West, was spotted
several times in flight over the greater Montezuma area. That crane was
the only new addition for our Cayuga Basin year-list, although some
hoped-for rarities like Purple Sandpiper and Bohemian Waxwing were
reported extralimitally. Regionally, the biggest find of the month was an
unprecedented ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD. This exotic non-migratory West
Coast hummer made the newspapers as well as the regional RBAs, and
proved to be a real temperature-raising distraction on several counts, as if
the strangely persistent warm weather wasn't enough. Easy-off directions
to the backyard feeder frequented by the hummer were electronically
distributed to a wide audience of birders, luring motorized listers out
onto the interstate highways, but the trivial point that the bird appeared
out-of-Basin in downtown Binghamton was not entirely lost on this reporter
in all the excitement. Similarly, migrating gulls provided thrills in nearby
parts of Upstate New York, as for example three Franklin's Gulls at once in
Irondequoit Bay and those two Iceland Gulls visiting downtown Elmira day
after day, but the group generated no additions for our slumping Basin list.
      Now I sure would like to see a couple more birds turn up to push us over
260, but rarities are only part of the game. At this stage the voids that
can still be filled in individual lists comprise much of the focus, and in
that context November did provide some gratification within bounds. A
GOLDEN EAGLE flying low over that justly-renowned Beam Hill
neighborhood on 11/2 resulted in some new ticks. Bob Meade's Loon Watch
had tallied 8382 COMMON LOONS by November 27th, a bit lower than
expected but still an amazing number. Lake-watchers (read Matt Young) at
Taughannock Point, Myers, Stewart Park and elsewhere also logged
RED-THROATED LOONS, BRANT, OLDSQUAW and all three SCOTER
species, most of the commoner waterfowl, BONAPARTE'S GULL and LESSER
  BLACK-BACKED GULL. Hundreds of TUNDRA SWANS began to pile up
at MNWR. A lone GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE once again
very cooperatively mingled for a few days with the Canadas feeding in the
lawns at Stewart Park. A first NORTHERN SHRIKE was seen at the traditional
location in Matt's neighborhood.  FOX SPARROWS peaked, and then dwindled
away.
      Winter field-birds like SNOW BUNTINGS and HORNED LARKS were on the
increase, and several LAPLAND LONGSPURS were to be found keeping company
with them on plowed or manured lands south of Dryden Lake or atop Mount
Pleasant. TREE SPARROWS arrived in force. ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS became
more numerous. A few EVENING GROSBEAKS briefly appeared, then
apparently headed farther south. Winter, which through much of November
seemed still to be far, far away, now looks like it's coming in after all.
Suits me
fine! A friend says that he wishes all those people who cheer about the
tropicalization of the temperate regions due to global warming would just
move to southern California immediately, and that it would then break off
from the added weight and sink! Ah, well, he's reached that retired age at
which good-humored cynicism is commonly given a generous interpretation.
 
(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows. At least, he uses that as an
excuse. He s really one of Santa s elves busily creating strange toys for
children who don t know the difference between a violin bow and a Game Boy.)
 
100      100      100      100      100      100      100       100
                                 100 CLUB
100      100       100      100       100       100       100       100
 
"Hmmm...Somehow I think I've been reporting outdated information for several
months (bad statistician!).  I actually broke into the coveted 100 Club in
late August, but have been too busy to fill out the application papers.  Is
this such a heinous oversight that I'll be refused admission?  Because, I
don't think I could take the rejection."
                                                   --Michael Runge
 
EDITORS  NOTE: A quick survey of 100 Club members says to let Michael in,
but only if he agrees to wear a Santa suit and bring all the good Cuppers
a very special holiday gift...an Ivory Gull, preferably in Etna territory.
 
MICHAEL RUNGE S BIRD 100: " Birds 97-113 came in a flurry at Montezuma
  on 8/30, so I can't be sure what the actual 100th was.  Rather than report
#100 as Blue-winged Teal, I'd rather pick either LESSER GOLDEN-PLOVER (does
it have a new name now?) or WILSON'S PHALAROPE.  The latter was a lifer, the
former was a satisfying identification (had to wait ~10 minutes before I saw
enough of the back and tail to make the call)."
 
EDITORS  NOTE: Matt Medler, feel free to doc Mr. Runge one bird for making a
mockery of the festidious 100 Club entry process. Such an honorable system
must not be made afowl by such buffoonish record-keeping.
 
200          200          200           200           200
                                2     0    0
   200             200                            200           200
 
NOTE ON 200 CLUB DOOR:
 
"Dear Editors,
 
I was so mortified that Pat was not welcomed to the 200 Club with
the traditional Bird 200 citation (hers was a Peregrine, no less!) that
I'm stowing The Cup 3.10 away from her eyes in a password-protected
folder, hoping that she won't notice it's missing, and counting on you
to set right this oversight in The Cup 3.11"
to set right this oversight in The Cup 3.11"
 
--Geo Kloppel
 
[Overheard in 200 Club:]
 
[Allison Wells] "Jeff, what was that grumbling noise, thunder? It had sort
of a human voice quality to it, a very irate human voice."
 
[Jeff Wells] "Oh, it was just my stomach. I m really hungry. Hey, look, here
comes Pat Lia."
 
[Allison] "And what are the chances? There goes Geo. Good thing. He seems
upset. But whatever for?
 
[Jeff] " Pat, welcome to the 200 Club!" [As an aside to Allison:] "Did you
see that?
I think Geo just gave us a, er, certain bird.]
 
[Allison] "Can we count it for our David Cup totals?"
 
PAT LIA S BIRD 200: Peregrine Falcon
 
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
November 1998 David Cup Totals
 
By Matt Medler
 
It's down to the dog days of December.  Who will emerge victorious?
Inquiring minds want to know.  Will Matt perhaps spy a Golden Eagle atop
a windy Mt. Pleasant?  Will Geo rush off in time to see a trio of beautiful
Long-tailed Ducks reported from Dryden Lake?  Now for the real questions:
Will Geo ever find that elusive Lapland Longspur?  Are enough saw-whets
tooting that Matt will get to hear one?  And what about Iceland Gull?!
There must be at least one around, right Matt?  The days are dwindling...
 
237 Matt Young
236 Geo Kloppel
231 Kevin McGowan
228 Jay McGowan
224 Ken Rosenberg
223 Chris Butler
220 Karl David
218 Meena Haribal
218 Jeff Wells
218 Allison Wells
213 Steve Kelling
212 Matt Medler
210 Matt Sarver
209 Tom Nix
206 Bard Prentiss
205 Stephen Davies
201 Pat Lia
191 Catherine Sandell
188 John Greenly
186 Anne Kendall
185 Jon Kloppel
183 Alan Krakauer
180 Nancy Dickinson
170 Martha Fischer
157 Ben Taft
157 John Fitzpatrick
153 Gary Chapin
152 John Morris
141 Perri McGowan
139 Marty Schlabach
134 Kim Kline
133 Steve Pantle
133 Jim Lowe
114 Michael Runge
103 Melanie Uhlir
  98 The McGowan's Cat (Swift or Skeezix?) (DC Kitty Cup)
  98 Anne James
  97 Caissa Willmer
  88 Tom Lathrop
  84 Carol Bloomgarden
  85 Ann Mathieson
  68 James Daniel Phillip Barry*
  57 Kylie Spooner
  55 Mimi Wells (DC Kitty Cup)
  48 Cathy Heidenreich
  46 Dave Mellinger
  45 Teddy Wells (DC Kitty Cup)
  44 Tringa the McGowan Wonder Dog
  42 Scott Mardis
  39 Kurt Fox
  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.
 
November 1998 McIlroy Award Totals
 
Compiled by Matt Medler
 
[Yawn.]
[Editor s note: Did you catch that, Santa?]
 
162 Allison Wells
146 Martha Fischer
145 Jeff Wells
144 Karl David
141 Kevin McGowan
121 Ken Rosenberg
120 Jay McGowan
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.
 
November 1998 Evans Trophy Totals
 
Compiled by Bard Prentiss
 
196 Ken Rosenberg
193 Matt Young
176 Bard Prentiss
175 Kevin McGowan
170 Jay McGowan
109 Anne Kendall
 
November 1998 Lansing Totals
 
148 Kevin McGowan
122 John Greenly
 
November 1998 Etna Challenge
 
91 Allison Wells
82 Jeff Wells
18 Casey Sutton
 
November 1998 Yard Stick Totals
 
Compiled by Casey Sutton
 
[Actually, Casey didn t come to bat this time around, so those we reached
by phone are the only updated totals here. Sorry, but don t worry, we re
Sutton to get him back. We ll get him via next week s football picks AFTER
the games have already been played]
 
139 Ken Rosenberg, Dryden, NY
137 John Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY   [self-declared "spiritual leader" for
                                            having the "purist" list among
the Big Four]
125 Steve Kelling, Berkshire, NY
131 Kevin McGowan, Dryden, NY
116 Geo Kloppel, West Danby, NY
104 John Bower, Enfield, NY
   95 Nancy Dickinson, Trumansburg, NY
   70 Jeff and Allison Wells, Etna, NY
   69 Ben Taft, Ithaca, NY
   66 Darlene and John Morabito, Auburn, NY
   64 John Greenly, Ludlowville, NY
   53 Ann Mathieson, Scipio Center, NY
   28 Susann Argetsinger, Burdett, NY
     1 Casey Sutton, Ithaca, NY
 
LEADER'S LIST  LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
 
By Geo Kloppel
 
Considering how many listers have become beneficiaries of Matt
Young's ferocious enthusiasm for finding really good birds, it's a
wonder that his own impressive list hasn't appeared in this column
before, but his moment to shine has come at last - Matt takes the lead,
finishing November with a very creditable tally of 237 species. Here's
the whole list:
 
R-t & C Loon,P-b,H & R-n Grebe,Am W Pelican,D-c Cormorant,
Am. Bittern,G Egret,G B & Green Heron,B-c Night Heron,T & M Swan,
S & C Goose,Brant,G W-f 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,Black & W-w Scoter,Oldsquaw,
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,PeregrineFalcon,GYRFALCON,
R-n Pheasant,Ruffed Grouse,Wild Turkey,VA Rail,Sora,C Moorhen,Am Coot,
Am Golden,Bk-bellied & Semipalmated Plover,Killdeer,AM AVOCET,G & L
Yellowlegs,Solitary,Spotted & Upland Sandpiper,R Turnstone,Sanderling,
Semipalmated,Western, Least,W-r,Baird's & Pectoral Sandpiper,Dunlin,
Stilt Sandpiper,Short- & Long-billed Dowitcher,C Snipe,AmWoodcock,W's
Phalarope,B's,R-b,Herring,Little,L B-b & G B-b Gull,Caspian,C,
& Black Terns,Rock & Mourning Dove,B-b Cuckoo,E Screech-Owl,G
H,Barred,L-e,& S-e Owl,CNighthawk,Chimney Swift,R-t Hummingbird,
Belted Kingfisher,R-h & R-b Woodpecker,Y-b Sapsucker,Downy & Hairy
Woodpecker,N Flicker,Pileated Woodpecker,EWood-Pewee,Acadian,Alder,
Willow,Yellow-Bellied & 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,
NShrike,Eurostarling,B-h,Y-t,Warbling,Philly & R-e Vireo,B-w,G-w,TN
&Nashville Warbler,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
Warbler,Am Redstart,Prothonotary 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,
Lincoln's,Swamp,W-c & W -t Sparrow,D-e Junco,S Bunting,Lapland Longspur,
Bobolink,R-wBlackbird,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
 
COMPOSITE DEPOSIT
 
Our flagging 1998 composite may in part reflect a decline of enthusiasm, as
some have suggested, but to complement Matt's 237 species we do have the
list of 21 supernumeraries below, which helps to refurbish our collective
credit and put the absolute magnitude of the postulated decline in
perspective - clearly plenty of enthusiasm for birding went into finding
these additional species:
 
L Bittern,E Wigeon,BLACK VULTURE,Golden Eagle,Sandhill
Crane,Whimbrel,CURLEW SANDPIPER,Franklin's Gull,Glaucous Gull,
Iceland Gull,Forster's Tern,Yellow-billed Cuckoo,Snowy Owl,N Saw-whet
Owl,Whip-poor-will,Olive-s Flycatcher,Orange-crowned Warbler,
Worm-eating Warbler,Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow,Dickcissel,HOARY
REDPOLL.
 
Composite Total: 258 (an increase of just one from last month)
 
The gulls, the owls, and the eagle at least are in season during December,
so Matt still has a good chance to pick up some of these. Some
possibilities also remain for late additions to our composite total, but
whether we will reach 260 species for the Basin this year... well, that
could go either way. Only weeks remain, but two good finds would be all
that's needed, and just think how many of us there are to go out and
uncover them!
 
(You already know Geo. He s the one in the elf costume.)
 
                       <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
                      <  COACH'S CORNER      <
                     <           <<<<<<<<<<<<<<
                     <           <
                      <         <
                        < < < <
 
In all fairness to Jeff Wells, he s done little to earn his keep as Cup
Coeditor.  Sure, he "proof reads" at midnight.  He forwards totals
that come in over his e-mail. He draws the line in the sand when
his beloved Cup coworker wants to really heckle somebody...
then cheers her on when she crosses it.
 
Well, this month, in the spirit of the holiday gift-giving season,
our boy has slid down the chimney with his pom-poms to cheer
on Cuppers in their last hurrah for David Cup victory...or at
least a little respectability. Here s Coach Wells  gift to all
Cuppers who read this column:
 
COACH WELLS: The land of milk and honey is just around the corner
yet Cuppers still find themselves struggling, dare I say, gasping for that
last spurt of energy to carry them across that finish line   the David
Cup marathon finish line of midnight December 31.  The beauty of the
DC is that, unlike the Ironman or the like, Cuppers begin the new race
the second they have ended the last.  So as you struggle to stave off the
cramps and nausea of the end of the race, just remember a new day is
dawning for you on Jan. 1.
      But still, what do you have left to look for in these last few days of
December? Winter finches?  Fugetaboutit!  They ain t HERE!  And they
won t be!  How about white-winged gulls?  Yes, keep checking Stewart Park,
the Seneca Meadows landfill, and spots around the north end of the lake.
But don t hold your breath.  So far this season the white-wings haven t
really materialized.
      The neat thing this year for December birding is really the effect of
the warm weather.  The loon and sea duck migration has extended well
into the month and there may well be opportunities for finding a scoter
or Oldsquaw, er, Long-tailed Duck, through the end of the month.  We
have always known that Golden Eagles were late fall migrants but this
year they have been exceptionally late and should continue to be watched
for as they mosey on south.  If for some reason you ve missed any of the
normally occurring waterfowl most species are still in the Basin.  Even
Blue-winged Teal, a bird that winters into South America, has been seen
in the last week.
      So squeeze in a little birding around your holiday shopping. It s
the only way to know just how good you ve really been!
 
(Jeff Wells is director of bird conservation for National Audubon of
of New York State. He s skulking his wife s Etna Challenge list
and checking it twice.)
 
                            !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                            !   KICKIN' TAIL!  !
                            !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
What better way to prove you re worthy of de-Kickin  the kickin -est
kicker of 1998 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
found-the-most-rare-birds his/her way to the top of the David Cup list.
So much for mystery. With that kind of clue, guess you know our
featured Kicker this month is, at long last, Mighty Matt Young!
 
THE CUP: Jessica, er, Matt, you finally made it! You're finally on top! What
was the bird that got you here?
 
YOUNG: The bird that temporarily put me over the top was a lifer Lapland
Longspur.
 
THE CUP: What do you mean "temporarily." Doesn t this mean you'll take the
whole thing?
 
YOUNG: I don't know, since Geo has since tied me with an Oldsqauw that was
recently at Dryden Lake.
 
THE CUP: We told you not to post that to Cayugabirds. Sharing, generosity,
good-natured competition, it goes completely against the cut-throat rules
of The Cup!
 
YOUNG: It will probably come down to Geo's needed Lapland Longspur or my
needed Iceland Gull.
 
THE CUP: Cup money s on the longspur. But then, you managed to pull a
Greater White-fronted Goose out of thin air.
 
YOUNG: Geo also stands a chance at getting Brant (know how to spell it
now, thanks to Ken Rosenberg, i.e., Brandt). Boy, I'm now regretting that I
didn't
go to Geo's last winter to get saw-whet owl, which I didn't chase because I
didn't
know there was such a thing as the illustrious David Cup.
 
THE CUP: Blasphemy!
 
YOUNG: Geo even called to tell me he had one shacking up on his property
for weeks and that I should come over. Guess I can't cry over spoiled
cheese or is that milk! Boo hoo.
 
THE CUP: Do you and arch rival Geo ever go birding together?
 
YOUNG: Yes. In fact, we did just a few weeks ago. How can I spurn a man
that cleaned out a car seat so I could fix my jonesin when my car had
broken down?
 
THE CUP: Um, Matt, didn t you wonder HOW your car had broken down in the
first place?
 
YOUNG: In fact, we've shared hot tips on birding spots for specialties.
 
THE CUP: That s what he d have you believe. Haven t you noticed that the
CDs he s always got in his CD player are bands no one s ever heard of, that
we can t even pronounce?
 
YOUNG: I think I informed him on numerous birds (i.e., American Avocet, the
goose, Acadian Fly, Orchard Oriole, Red-headed Woodpecker and Long-eared
Owl). I've even tried to get him on my elusive friend, the Lapland Lonspur.
Don't know if I'll do that again, it depends if it means a tie or a win, if
it will help him win , I think I'll let him work, if it means tie, which I
hope we do (I'd hate for either one of us to lose at this point), I'll
almost certainly help.
 
THE CUP: Oh, please! A bitter pill to wash down the sugar! [Swallow] That s
better.  Thanks, Karl.  Matt, what's your favorite birding locale in the
Basin?
 
YOUNG: That's a tough one! I think I have three that I'm equally fond of
for various reasons. 1.Dryden Lake   where else in the Basin can you have
great looks at waterbirds of such variety?
 
THE CUP: Ken Rosenberg s bedroom window. Never mind. They re one and the same.
 
YOUNG:  In fact, out of some 35 species of waterbirds I've seen this year,
there are perhaps only five or six I haven't seen at Dryden Lake. It's
better than Cayuga Lake or MNWR, at least as waterbirds go.
 
THE CUP: Sit down!
 
YOUNG: 1A. Summer Hill -- I pick this spot because I love winter finches and
coniferous forest. Even though Summer Hill can be so painfully quiet, it
can also be a treasure. Summer Hill has provided treats such as, C Raven,
Northern Goshawk, Bald Eagle, red-phase Ruffed Grouse eating sumac, and of
course, Pine and Evening grosbeaks, and hundreds of Common Redpolls. This
year Bill Evans and I expect to turn up a Boreal Chickadee or Black-backed
Woodpecker here.
 
THE CUP: Who s Bill Evans?
 
YOUNG: As Ken Rosenberg once told me, if you don't think big, you won't get
the big one, or is it rare one? 1B. Last, but not least, Myers Point.
Somebody has to give this place its due, since Father Karl is supposed to
be leaving the Basin (ha). This spot has been a lucky one for me. Avocets
twice, Little Gull, and other uncommons such as Sanderling, Ruddy
Turnstone, Baird's and Stilt sandpipers and Golden Plover have delighted
the eye.
 
THE CUP: What's in your CD player?
 
YOUNG: Enya's "Shepherd Moons"!
 
THE CUP: Save face: What's your favorite color?
 
YOUNG: Pinkish-red of a Pine Grosbeak or White-winged Crossbill.
 
THE CUP: Very nice. With precious few weeks left, what's your strategy for
victory, and do you think Karl David has a chance?
 
YOUNG: A weekly trip around the lake in hopes of observing a white-winged
gull, occasional trips up to Mt. Pleasant for a late-migrating Golden Eagle
or an intermixed Bohemian Waxwing, and of course, some prayers for the
Lapland Longspur, that it continues its elusiveness.
 
THE CUP: Ouch!
 
YOUNG: As far as Father Karl catching the leaders, he'd have to have a
record-breaking finish. But, they don't call him Father Karl for nothing.
 
THE CUP:  Did you enjoy this interview? Don't worry, we won't change your
answers.
 
YOUNG: Thoroughly, until I see your precious little quotes conveniently
sprinkled throughout.
 
THE CUP: Let it be known that we never put words in our interviewees mouths.
 
YOUNG: I LOVE THE CUP! THE CUP IS GOOD! I WORSHIP THE CUP!
 
THE CUP: No need to get carried away. What do you want for Christmas?
 
YOUNG: Books: Grant's book on gulls and the bibles on seabirds and shorebirds
(which I've already lost once).
 
THE CUP: Okay, but don t be TOO good. Remember, Santa s not the only one
watching!
 
JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ
                                BIRDBITS
                              By Jay McGowan
JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ
 
 
WHERE S JAY S BIRD BRAIN QUESTIONS? Perhaps
they are hung by the chimney with care...
 
492x837-48576+5764.679/4905%8677-34566.578+0486940
                        STAT'S ALL, FOLKS
                          By Karl David
6879403+58673.6978/4857694~58674%x98458.6059679+697
 
Well, as I threatened to do at the soi-disant "farewell supper" ("Never can
say good-bye," etc.), here it is: my official list of Cayuga Lake Basin
birds, 1985-1998.
      But first, (more than) a few words of explanation. I arrived in the
Basin at the end of August, 1984, and of course did a lot of birding the
rest of that year. However, I have since re-seen all those birds, so for
uniformity I'm going to rewrite history and begin January 1, 1985. That way
you can see how my year-to-year effort correlates with the running total of
species seen overall.
      And of course, 1998 isn't quite over yet, and I'd love to add a year
bird or two or, even better, one more new bird for the Basin ...
      BECAUSE ... one more bird would give me a 280 official total species. I
say "official" because, like everyone else, I have a number of "private"
birds: unusual birds for which I either never submitted a report or had an
honestly-written report rejected (I have to work on doctoring my reports so
they'll be accepted). I accumulated 11 such species in the 14 years, but I
won't include them below. The yearly totals are also adjusted to remove
these birds.
      I will also identify those species seen every year. By staying through
this fall and thus asking all those species to fly through this hoop one
more time, I had one casualty: Lincoln's Sparrow was lost! This is
definitely a "soft" list, since I wasn't consciously trying to keep it as
long as possible from the start. I'd probably been here four or five years
before I even thought about it. Thus perhaps a dozen or more "easy" species
(such as White-crowned Sparrow) had actually already been missed.  This
list comes to an end at 164 species, so I estimate that it wouldn't be hard
for  new observers in the Basin to keep it above 175 indefinitely if they
really wanted to.
      First I'll give the yearly numbers, then the list of species. It would
also be interesting to track the never-missed list from year to year, i.e.
see at a glance how many birds were lost from it every year, and I did in
fact do that once before in Stat's All, but I didn't think to bring that
data in to my office with me, so we'll have to live without it. Here goes:
 
Year              Year List                Cumulative Total Species
 
1985                 211                           211
1986                 213                           228
1987                 201                           230
1988                 202                           235
1989                 209                           240
1990                 220                           249
1991                 232                           254
1992                 243                           262
1993                 222                           265
1994                 231                           268
1995                 245                           271
1996                 251                           276
1997                 233                           278
1998                 221                           279
 
Now, for the list of 279 species (the 164 never-missed birds are indicated by
an asterisk).
 
Red-throated Loon,*Common Loon,*Pied-billed Grebe,*Horned Grebe,Red-necked
Grebe,American White Pelican,*Double-crested Cormorant,American Bittern,Least
Bittern,*Great Blue Heron,*Great Egret,Snowy Egret,Tricolored Heron,Cattle
Egret,*Green-backed Heron,*Black-crowned Night-Heron,Glossy Ibis,*Tundra
Swan, Mute Swan,Greater White-fronted Goose,*Snow Goose,Ross'
Goose,Brant,*Canada Goose,*Wood Duck,*Green-winged Teal,*American Black
Duck,*Mallard,*Northern Pintail,*Blue-winged Teal,*Northern
Shoveler,*Gadwall,Eurasian Wigeon, *American
Wigeon,*Canvasback,*Redhead,*Ring-necked Duck,*Greater Scaup,
*Lesser Scaup,*Oldsquaw,Black Scoter,Surf Scoter,White-winged Scoter,*Common
Goldeneye,Barrow's Goldeneye,*Bufflehead,*Hooded Merganser,*Common Merganser,
*Red-breasted Merganser,Ruddy Duck,*Turkey Vulture,*Osprey,Bald
Eagle,*Northern Harrier,*Sharp-shinned Hawk,*Cooper's Hawk,Northern
Goshawk,Red-shouldered Hawk,Broad-winged Hawk,*Red-tailed
Hawk,*Rough-legged Hawk,Golden Eagle, *American Kestrel,Merlin,Peregrine
Falcon,Gyrfalcon,*Ring-necked Pheasant,*Ruffed Grouse,Wild Turkey,Yellow
Rail,Virginia Rail,Sora,Common Moorhen,*American Coot,
Sandhill Crane,*Black-bellied Plover,Lesser Golden-Plover,*Semipalmated
Plover, *Killdeer,American Avocet,*Greater Yellowlegs,*Lesser
Yellowlegs,Solitary
Sandpiper,Willet,*Spotted Sandpiper,*Upland Sandpiper,Whimbrel,Hudsonian
Godwit,Marbled Godwit,Ruddy Turnstone,Red Knot,Sanderling,*Semipalmated
Sandpiper,Western Sandpiper,*Least Sandpiper,White-rumped Sandpiper,*Baird's
Sandpiper,*Pectoral Sandpiper,*Dunlin,Curlew Sandpiper,*Stilt Sandpiper,Buff-
breasted Sandpiper,Ruff,*Short-billed Dowitcher,Long-billed Dowitcher,*Common
Snipe,American Woodcock,Wilson's Phalarope,Red-necked Phalarope,Laughing
Gull, Little Gull,*Bonaparte's Gull,*Ring-billed Gull,*Herring Gull,Iceland
Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull,Glaucous Gull,*Great Black-backed
Gull,*Caspian Tern, *Common Tern,Forster's Tern,*Black Tern,*Rock
Dove,*Mourning Dove,Black-billed Cuckoo,Yellow-billed Cuckoo,*Eastern
Screech-Owl,*Great Horned Owl,Snowy Owl, Barred Owl,Long-eared
Owl,Short-eared Owl,Northern Saw-whet Owl,Common Nighthawk,*Chimney
Swift,*Ruby-throated Hummingbird,*Belted Kingfisher,Red-headed
Woodpecker,*Red-bellied Woodpecker,*Yellow-bellied Sapsucker,*Downy
Woodpecker,*Hairy Woodpecker,*Northern Flicker,*Pileated Woodpecker,
Olive-sided Flycatcher,*Eastern Wood-Pewee,Yellow-bellied Flycatcher,Acadian
Flycatcher,*Alder Flycatcher,*Willow Flycatcher,*Least Flycatcher,*Eastern
Phoebe, *Great Crested Flycatcher,Western Kingbird,*Eastern Kingbird,Gray
Kingbird, *Horned Lark,*Purple Martin,*Tree Swallow,*Northern Rough-winged
Swallow, *Bank Swallow,Cliff Swallow,*Barn Swallow,*Blue Jay,*American
Crow,*Fish Crow,Common Raven, *Black-capped Chickadee,*Tufted
Titmouse,*Red-breasted Nuthatch,*White-breasted Nuthatch,*Brown
Creeper,*Carolina Wren,*House Wren, *Winter Wren,Sedge Wren,*Marsh
Wren,*Golden-crowned Kinglet,*Ruby-crowned Kinglet,*Blue-gray
Gnatcatcher,*Eastern Bluebird,*Veery,Gray-cheeked Thrush, Swainson's
Thrush, *Hermit Thrush,*Wood Thrush,*American Robin,*Gray Catbird,
*Northern Mockingbird, *Brown Thrasher,*American Pipit,Bohemian Waxwing,
*Cedar Waxwing,Northern Shrike,*European Starling,*Blue-headed
Vireo,*Yellow-throated Vireo,*Warbling Vireo,Philadelphia Vireo,*Red-eyed
Vireo,*Blue-winged Warbler,Golden-winged Warbler,Tennessee
Warbler,Orange-crowned Warbler,Nashville Warbler,Northern Parula,*Yellow
Warbler,*Chestnut-sided Warbler,*Magnolia
Warbler,Cape May Warbler,Black-throated Blue Warbler,*Yellow-rumped Warbler,
*Black-throated Green Warbler,Blackburnian Warbler,Yellow-throated
Warbler,Pine Warbler,Prairie Warbler,Palm Warbler,*Bay-breasted
Warbler,*Blackpoll Warbler, *Cerulean Warbler, *Black-and-white
Warbler,*American Redstart,Prothonotary Warbler,
Worm-eating Warbler,*Ovenbird,*Northern Waterthrush,*Louisiana Waterthrush,
Kentucky Warbler, Connecticut Warbler,*Mourning Warbler,*Common Yellowthroat,
Hooded Warbler, Wilson's Warbler,Canada Warbler,Yellow-breasted Chat,*Scarlet
Tanager,*Northern Cardinal,*Rose-breasted Grosbeak,*Indigo
Bunting,Dickcissel, *Eastern Towhee, *American Tree Sparrow,*Chipping
Sparrow,Clay-colored Sparrow, *Field Sparrow, *Vesper Sparrow,*Savannah
Sparrow,*Grasshopper Sparrow,Henslow's Sparrow, Nelson's Sharp-tailed
Sparrow,*Fox Sparrow,*Song Sparrow,Lincoln's Sparrow,
*Swamp Sparrow,*White-throated Sparrow,White-crowned Sparrow,*Dark-eyed
Junco, Lapland Longspur,*Snow Bunting,*Bobolink,*Red-winged
Blackbird,*Eastern Meadowlark,Rusty Blackbird,*Common Grackle,*Brown-headed
Cowbird,Orchard Oriole,*Baltimore Oriole,Pine Grosbeak,*Purple Finch,*House
Finch,Red Crossbill,White-winged Crossbill,Common Redpoll,Hoary
Redpoll,*Pine Siskin, *American Goldfinch,Evening Grosbeak,*House Sparrow.
 
And there you have it. But hopefully the book isn't closed. There's always a
"wish list" of birds to add on future visits, so long as the rest of you do
>your job (at least when you know I'm coming!). I conclude by presenting you
with my "Dirty Dozen," my twelve most-wanted Basin birds. The idea behind
this constantly-revised list is to come up not with the most fantastic
birds I could see, but with the most overdue, pedestrian birds I've somehow
missed.
I don't include life birds in this list, so that eliminates Red Phalarope.
The only two of my hypothetical birds I could mention without raising
eyebrows, Little Blue Heron and Eared Grebe, also won't be on this list.
And it includes one bird I've technically seen ... Franklin's Gull ... but
after much soul-searching I decided I couldn't count it because all I saw
was a rapidly-receding gull that I was assured by the observers present was
a Franklin's Gull. That, Purple Sandpiper, and Harlequin Duck have been
seen in the state; the others would be state birds as well. All of these
birds have been seen, or at least reported, in the Basin since I've been
here, except for Purple Sandpiper. The "Dirty Dozen" are:
 
Harlequin Duck,Black Vulture,King Rail,Purple Sandpiper,Franklin's Gull,
Black-headed Gull,Common Barn-Owl,Whip-poor-will,Loggerhead Shrike,
White-eyed Vireo,Blue Grosbeak,Yellow-headed Blackbird.
 
As for my state list, eliminating the same eleven hypothetical Basin
birds from it puts it at 302 officially. Right now it looks like Great
Cormorant in Oswego Harbor could be the final addition before I leave, if I
get up there. The final list I present are the state/not Basin birds:
 
Wilson's Storm-Petrel,Sooty Shearwater,Audubon's Shearwater,
Tufted Duck,Harlequin Duck,Gray Partridge,American Oystercatcher,Purple
Sandpiper,Parasitic Jaeger,Long-tailed Jaeger,Franklin's Gull,California
Gull, Thayer's Gull,Sabine's Gull,Royal Tern,Least Tern,White-winged
Tern,Black Skimmer,Northern Hawk-Owl,Great Gray Owl,Anna's
Hummingbird,Fork-tailed Flycatcher,Harris' Sparrow.
 
Now ... how about Basin bird #280 as a going-away present before Christmas?
Anybody? Please?  Oh well ... so long and the best in Basin birding to you!
 
(Karl David has been a Wells College mathematics professor on sabbatical at
Cornell. Karl, about the "so long." It sounds a little too convincing. Plans
are already underway to get someone [Geo Kloppel] to "fix" your car before
you leave.)
 
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
                               SCRAWL OF FAME
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
 
                      HAVE A VERY BIRDY NEW YEAR!
 
(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.)
 
                     mmmmm
mmmmmmmmmmmm    McILROY MUSINGS   mmmmmmmmmmm
                     mmmmm
 
We d thought we d kill this space by asking the leader in each category
why "their" category is really the most important one:
 
MATT YOUNG, DAVID CUP
 
"The reason leading the David Cup is the most important of all the
competitions is for the simple fact that all the other competitions are
really just components of the David Cup, except for maybe the Yard
Stick, but the Yard Stick has some dubious boundaries that vary greatly
from individual to individual. The David Cup competition also yields the
greatest amount of species  (240-250)."
 
ALLISON WELLS, McILROY AWARD
 
"Actually, I no longer believe that the McIlroy Award is most
prestigious. I saw the light during the summer, I believe the day
was June 21...coincidentally, the very day we moved to Etna."
 
KEN ROSENBERG, YARD and EVANS TROPHY (DRYDEN)
 
"Of course the Yard List is all that matters.  Anyone can run all over the
Basin ticking off easy stuff at Montezuma, Mt. Pleasant, or even Stewart
Park.  But amassing a list that includes Golden Eagle, Oldsquaw, and
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher from a  1-acre plot of scrubby woods on a
hillside above Dryden requires true skill!  Also, the Yard List
illustrates a correct balance of family values -- spending that precious
time outdoors with the kids, stacking wood, re-graveling the driveway --
all while contributing to the Basin's ornithological database.
 
Montezuma, anyone?"
 
KEVIN McGOWAN, LANSING LIST
 
Refused to respond to questionnaire, presumably because he s
still working on his NSF grants...or stuck up in some tree
in Auburn.
 
ALLISON WELLS, ETNA CHALLENGE
"Poor little Etna. With neither the Henslow s Sparrows nor the Upland
Sandpipers putting in appearances here this year, Etna has been shunned 
rather, used and discarded like a ticket stub. I think Etna deserves better.
For many years, Etna yielded Henslow s and Uppies, and she remains a faithful
giver of unusual flycatchers, the highly coveted Golden-winged Warbler,
and most recently, a shrike. The fact that Dryden listers try to claim Etna
is all the more a testament to her worthiness and contribution to Basin
birding, and perhaps the biggest reason why she stands on her own.
 
P.S. The fact that this is where I live has in no way, shape, or form
biased my opinion."
 
=================================================
            BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH
               By Caissa Willmer
=================================================
 
This month s Bird is Jon Kloppel (with the vaguest of prodding and a
couple of commas from Caissa Willmer)!
 
      "Without any excuses or explanation I must say I've done precious little
birding in many years.  I am currently in a birding renaissance that I expect
will lead to a comfortable relationship with birding as a favored passion
for life.
      "When I was a young boy I did some regular birding with the Schuyler
County Bird Club.  I remember peaceful early morning walks with adults who
were happy to show me the wonders of the avian world.  Today those people are
like legends to me, each with [her/] his own relationship to specific
families of birds.  Jack Brubaker was the master birder.  I especially
remember the way he would drive the edges of Seneca lake in winter in
search of the unusual grebe or loon, or the elusive Oldsquaw or pintail.
Betty Strath was in tune with the voices of all the singing spring warblers
in the way a mother knows her identical twins apart in the dark.  It was
just magic to me, and I learned little but appreciation.
I was very young.  Woodcocks flashed before us, and Ruffed Grouse drummed
because Art Cop was with us.  And I tagged along with my big brother Geo,
whom you all know now for his prose, poetry, birding skills and tenacity, and
unlimited love of nature.   I don't know what happened to all of that for
me, but now that I am stealing even the shortest moments to bird wherever I
may be, those days and those people are with me a great deal.
       "I now work for Tompkins County Mental Health Services as a
caseworker.  If you see a county vehicle driving erratically and a poorly
dressed scruffy-haired guy with binoculars gets out in the middle of the
road in a hurry to catch a glimpse of a hunting harrier, I don't know that
it can be any other than me.  Just don't tell my boss.
      "I live in Interlaken with my two children, Aaron and Rachel, and my
wife Cynthia. I have a great deal of trouble limiting the number of
different things that I do, but I think other than family and Cynthia, I
have resolved myself to two passions.  I think birding is here to stay for
me, as I find myself projecting my experiences into the future, looking
forward to the kinds of opportunities for interaction with birds that will
develop as my skills develop.  The other current passion is a new endeavor
of mine to start a small PC assembly business I call Hamguy Custom Systems.
     "I like listing a great deal.  I do understand why there is a
contingent that believes it degrades the art of birding, but I think for
people who are motivated by connections among things and goal orientation,
it is nothing but positive.  It was when I got connected to e-mail and
realized there were fun people out there listing and mock-competing
(jab-jab) that I began to list birds.  At first it was just in my head and
then on paper and then a geographically oriented paper list, the David Cup.
It gave me a different perspective on the Basin, a concept of where I live
based on watershed and habitat.  I felt like I gained a home or began to
conceptualize one that was already there, and I began to bird.  Four or
five trips a week or more to Shelldrake and Kidders.  Stealing the twenty
minutes that the laundry was in to drive the back roads west and south of
Interlaken for bluebirds and to scrutinize the flocks of Horned Larks and
soak in the beauty of the Snow Buntings.  Lunch breaks happened in the
city cemetery instead of the Chinese Buffet.  I went out of my way wherever
I went and left early to make up for the stops on the way.  My kids started
calling me "backroads jonny."   I took my clients up to see the crossbills
and donated pints of blood to the Armitage mosquitoes.  The list got me
doing all this and continues to motivate.  When it doesn't, there's next
year's list.   Maybe listing is a phase that leads to a more restful and
contemplative approach, but it's an essential phase and learning tool.
      "I think my favorite basin birds for the year were the White-winged
Crossbills I found in the City Cemetery sitting on very low branches at eye
level-made special in part by Cynthia's presence.  But then there was the
Short Eared Owl on the pole just a few miles south of Interlaken.  The
light was still very good, and Rachel was with me for that one.   I think
it was the basin first for '98.  A Snowy Owl could still top the
list for me, though.  I remember one north of Watkins Glen when I was about
13.  I haven't seen one since then.  But isn't it curious how once one
"breaks the ice" with a particular bird, that bird starts showing up all
the time?
      "There are some things I will try to change about my overall birding
experience in '99.  The first that comes to mind is hard work at warbler
song.  I'm looking forward to the next chance to learn some of those spring
migrants, hoping that this year's experiences will carry over through the
snow and wind to become useful next spring.  I suppose that's going to
depend in large part on my memory retrieval skills.  Oh-oh!
I would also like to get out more with other birders.  Most of my birding
has been alone at this point, and I think I will always enjoy birding
alone, but I'm sure I could benefit from birding with others.  So I'm
thinking of the Christmas count and some of the walks offered by the Cayuga
Bird Club as possibilities.
      "I've been tempted by the photography bug at different times during
the year in the field.  I recently traded all my old camera equipment in for
not-quite-as-old camera equipment in an attempt to come up with something
that would be appropriate for some bird photography.  I combined my 300-mm
lens with a scope eyepiece for a relatively primitive 30x scope.  Maybe
that will get me those Iceland Gulls this January.  The nice thing about it
is that as I get longer focal length lenses, I will also have the
possibility of
a higher-powered scope as a bonus.  The photography has been very
difficult.   Each time I think I have a nice shot, it turns out that my
subject is too distant to translate any of the excitement I felt when I
fired the shutter.  I am learning by failure, but happy to be learning
after all.
 
      [Aren't birders marvelously writerly people?!-CW]
 
(Caissa Willmer is a Senior Staff Writer for the Cornell Office of
Development and theater critic for the Ithaca Times.)
 
                   BIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRD
                              BIRD VERSE
>                       VERSEVERSEVERSEVERSEVERSEVERSE
 
     Gambling in Havana
 
      By Ralph Paonessa
 
I was gambling in Havana
I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns, and money
And get me out of this.
 
I was hiding in Honduras
I'm a desperate man
Send lawyers, guns, and money
The bird poop's hit the fan.
 
I'm here in California
No Basin birds for me
I'm holed up with Roadrunners
They're not much company.
 
And so I must inform you
My David total's zip
But keep looking over your shoulder
If I get back from this trip!
 
               @#$$%#%$^!(*$)%^@>(#?@<$&%^@(
                        DEAR TICK
                 @#%$^!)$(%*&^>$*%?<!>*%^#*%(*&
 
Because birders suffer so many unique trials and tribulations, The
Cup has graciously provided Cuppers with a kind, sensitive and
intuitive columnist, Dear Tick, to answer even the most profound questions,
like these...
 
DEAR TICK:
 
Surely you ve seen the trailers: a mutant gorilla thrashing through a
forest, climbing up a ferris wheel (yes, a ferris wheel), running down a city
street, jaws agape and baring fangs the size of a high-rise apartment
building. Although the movie s title is "Mighty Joe Young," could it
be that the title character is actually based on the David Cup s own
Might Matt Young? Witness who s Kickin  Tail this month! As
always, your insight would be appreciated.
                            --"Mighty" Appreciative
 
Dear Mighty Appreciative:
 
>Yes, I ve seen the trailers. That oversized monkey is no where near as
ferocious as "our" Matt. Sure, he s got big teeth, but what are his
Cup totals? That said, I have been made privy to some insider
information. "Mighty Joe Young" is actually a composite, based on not
one but two maniacal Cuppers, Matt Young and Geo Kloppel. I asked
my Hollywood source why it wasn t spelled "Mighty Geo Young,"
and s/he said the suits were afraid people would think it was a movie about
an infant car (as in Geo Prizm) with extraordinary determination   a
revision, perhaps, of some dud called "The Little Engine That Could."
I hear it was a real downer.
 
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at jw32@cornell.edu)
 
                 """""""""       CUP QUOTES      """"""""
 
"I got no new birds in November.  Cornell is a cruel mistress jealous of
all that brings joy to my life. "
>                                                   --Ben Taft
 
"My total through November was a paltry 223. Life just gets way too crazy at
the end of the semester."
                                                   --Chris Butler
 
"I haven t eaten breakfast. I haven t had any coffee, and all I ve see are
Canada Geese. Can I have an ibuprofen?"
                                                  --Ken Rosenberg
                           ( during a birding trip around Cayuga Lake)
 
"I need your help! I m only two birds behind Ken on the Yard List. Is there
some way you can maybe change the totals just a little?"
 
                                                  --John Fitzpatrick
 
"Sorry, you ll have to speak to Matt Medler about that. We like to pretend
he s in charge of the totals."
                                                  --Allison Wells
 
"The kids and I made the trek to Binghamton Saturday to see the hummingbird.
  (My young daughter wanted to go because, according to the book, it had a
pink throat and forehead!)  The bird obliged us with good looks, despite
the gray weather.  We would like to extend our thanks to the property
owners and the people who have shared information and directions... This
was only the second species of hummingbird my avid birding children have
ever seen, and it was a beautiful male.  As my son said, it was somewhat
weird to be heading out in the snow to see a new kind of hummingbird.  That
alone made it a memorable experience.  Seeing some downstate friends and
all the interested (and considerate) people added to the experience too.
Thanks to all for making this enjoyable experience possible!"
 
                                                  --Kevin McGowan
 
"Early this afternoon, Jo and I were on the deck at Dryden Lake when an
Osprey landed in one of the trees about 50 feet east of the deck.  It then
took off and circled above the lake quite close to the deck, giving us
beautiful views.  Then it crossed the lake and dove into the water, coming
up with a small fish, which it took somewhere toward the south end of the
lake."
 
                                                   --George Houghton
 
"A crow chased a screaming Pileated Woodpecker around and around, until
they both landed in my yard. I have seen Pileated Woodpeckers in the
neighborhood before, but this is a first for a yard bird. Thanks, crow!"
 
                                                  --Nancy Kelly
 
"The Greater White-fronted Goose continues at Stewart Park this morning
(Monday 11/23). At dawn it swam up into Fall Creek with several hundred
Canada Geese and climbed out on the east bank between the boathouse and the
suspension bridge with them to feed in the lawns. It's a far more beautiful
little goose than photos and paintings had led me to expect. Well worth a
trip down to the park at lunchtime.
                                                 --Geo Kloppel
 
"In my weekly trip around the lake(only made it up east side) to find a
few more David Cup birds (i.e., Bohemian Waxwing, Iceland and Glaucous
gulls or perhaps Sandhill Crane), I quickly aborted my attempt at
counting each individual bird (with the request from Mr. Wells--only
kidding), when I arrived at MNWR and found that almost all of the
waterfowl were on the other side of the main pool!! It was a frustrating
day, but fun as always."
                                                 --Matt Young
 
Allison and Jeff