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Year 5, Issue 1

The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition.
"Just a little drink from your loving cup,
Just a little drink and I fall down drunk." (The Rolling Stones)
Welcome to the David Cup Newsletter. Perhaps you were wondering what had
become of it, after all spring is upon us, the gray greening and the Basin
more than stirring from its colorless dormancy. Numbers! Where are those
numbers? Who's ahead? What jibes will Allison launch at unsuspecting
Cuppers? The answer is none! Did he say "colorless?" Hardly! At least
two Basin veterans were afield these past three months, giving an upstart
generation a good fight and, with satisfaction I hope, putting them in
their place. So, what's going on, you ask? And what did he mean with that
crack at our wonderful editor? Well if you're so out of the loop that you
don't know it, it's high time we fill you in. Yes, the big news is that
Lady Wells has relinquished her crown, tossing responsibility to the wind,
devil may care, come what may, and the prize lay unpursued. Imagine a
tarnished treasure discarded somewhere behind the Lab trailers, unnoticed
and undesired, passed daily by the greatness and original genius that
hatched its first incarnations only to be snatched up by an eager, kinder
and gentler (who am I kidding?) and younger (maybe) generation that has
been causing trouble for Cup kings for quite a little while. It seems oddly
appropriate that they have grabbed the treasure and made off like corvids
with ill-gotten goods. So watch out! Here it comes. Got sumfin' to say
about it? Good! Email one of the editors and maybe, just maybe, your
comments will finally grace the Cups pages. Bribes will be accepted and
weighed based on magnitude only. Credit where credit is due: if there is
any reason why we should want to entertain you with our scribbling, it's
because the inspiration of former editors and contributors infect us with a
love for both the competition and the newsletter. Thank you so much, Ms
Wells. You are missed already. Well, on with it then...
Cleaning House
by Matt Medler
Let's begin with a wrap-up of 1999, shall we? Take it away, Matt.
1999 David Cup Totals
"...and long ago somebody left with the cup." (Cake, "He's Going the
The paper placemat at my favorite Chinese restaurant said that 1999 was
"The Year of the Tiger," but in Cup circles, I think a few other names
might be more appropriate. At the risk of sounding immodest (and since
this is The Cup, I can be immodest), "The Year of the Matt" has a nice ring
to it. After all, Matts claimed the top three spots in the 1999 David Cup,
and four of the first nine places overall. With the way Williams was going
during the fall, if he had been in the Basin all year, there might have
been four Matts at the top of the list. "The Year of the Young" seems like
another good alternative. At the start of 1999, I predicted that at least
six "young" (under 30) birders would finish in the Top 10, and us young'uns
even exceeded my prediction, with seven under-30 birders placing in the Top
10. This past year, though, was really "The Year of Matt Young." After
entering the 1998 David Cup somewhat belatedly, Mr. Young dominated the
1999 Cup throughout the entire year, despite moving out of the Basin in
August. In the process, Matt became the first Cupper to win back-to-back
David Cup titles. Congratulations, Young!
246 Matt Young
242 Matt Medler
242 Matt Sarver
241 Geo Kloppel
236 Kevin McGowan
232 Jay McGowan
232 Chris Tessaglia-Hymes
229 Matt Williams
228 Ben Fambrough
226 Chris Butler
226 Meena Haribal
226 Ken Rosenberg
220 Steve Kelling
212 Allison Wells
204 Bard Prentiss
198 Bill Evans
195 Jeff Wells
188 Anne Kendall
187 Catherine Sandell
184 Jon Kloppel
177 Nancy Dickinson
175 John Fitzpatrick
170 Tringa
158 Ben Taft
157 Rachel Kloppel
157 Pat Lia
152 Anne James
142 Marty Schlabach
138 Jim Lowe
128 Melanie Uhlir
125 Sam Kelling
123 Taylor Kelling
121 Brian Mingle
120 Carol Bloomgarden
119 Perri McGowan
114 Kim Kline
114 Terry Mingle
107 Aaron Kloppel
103 Jeremy Mingle
90 Tom Nix
90 Swift Cat
63 Andy Farnsworth
57 Martha Fischer
56 Teddy Wells
50 Mimi Wells
44 Ramona Kloppel
21 Rob Scott
0 Ralph Paonessa
1999 McIlroy Award Totals
Somewhere down the road, they'll be naming birding competitions after
Allison Wells. Is it my imagination, or does Allison own this award?
165 Allison Wells
155 Kevin McGowan
147 Bill Evans
143 Jay McGowan
128 Ken Rosenberg
120 Jeff Wells
118 Jim Lowe
112 Matt Medler
105 Chris Butler
53 Martha Fischer
1999 Evans Trophy Totals
200 Ken Rosenberg
186 Matt Young
179 Kevin McGowan
177 Jay McGowan
143 Bard Prentiss
141 Allison Wells
128 Matt Medler
105 Jeff Wells
1999 Lansing Total
142 Kevin McGowan
1999 Etna Challenge
95 Allison Wells
61 Carol Bloomgarden
The Yard Stick
150 Rosenberg/James Family, Dryden, NY
140 Kelling Family, Caroline, NY
135 John Fitzpatrick, Ithaca, NY
130 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden, NY
114 Geo Kloppel and Pat Lia, West Danby, NY
97 Nancy Dickinson, Mecklenberg, NY
66 Wells Family, Etna, NY
61 Carol Bloomgarden, Etna, NY
50 Fredericks Family, Van Etten, NY
46 Jeff Holbrook, Canton, NY
45 Melanie Uhlir, Etna, NY
The Office Report
100 Wes Hochachka, Ken Rosenberg, & friends, Green Trailer, Lab of O
46 Steve Kelling & friends, Tan Trailer, Lab of O
42 Melanie Uhlir, Tan Trailer, Lab of O
41 Allison Wells, Main Building, Lab of O
1999 Cupper Survey Results
by Matt Medler
Yes, it's the moment for which you've all been waiting. Well, maybe it's
not, since only four non-Matts responded to the 1999 Cupper Survey
Questionaire, but regardless, here are the winners...
Surprisingly, this was a runaway, with Ruff easily earning Bird of the Year
honors. Honorable mention: King Eider, Wigeon, Red Crossbill, and Glossy
This one worked out just the way I hoped- Matt Williams and Ben Fambrough
split the votes right down the middle. (And no, I did not fix the outcome.)
This one also ended in a tie, much to my surprise. Despite one voter's
comment that Bard Prentiss's white something-or-other with a rack on top
looks like Matt Williams's white Honda with a bike rack on top, Bard's car
still tied for this honor. The other recipient? Matt Young's classic
butternut yellow 4WD Toyota hatchback, complete with rust, bumper stickers,
and a shall we say "vocal" exhaust system.
Also known as the Geo Award, thanks to Geo Kloppel's consistent excellence
in this category for best posts to Cayugabirds-L. Honorable mention goes to
Nancy Dickinson for picking up a vote.
I was trying to go light on Ken Rosenberg this year, but the voters
certainly didn't. Ken once again won this award in a landslide, although
Karl David did pick up a vote for his Fork-tailed Flycatcher posts.
In addition to making outstanding use of ALLCAPS and exclamation points in
his posts, Matt Young should also be commended for getting the word out
quickly on all the birds he saw during the past year!!!
I thought Bill Evans would receive more votes for this award, but Tom Nix
won quite handily. As for an explanation for this outcome, one voter
pointed out, in voting for Nix rather than Evans, "You have to be in
contention at some point in order to then fizz out."
I even confused myself in introducing this new award. Is it for the most
misses during the course of the year, or the biggest miss? Either way, I'm
sure Matt Sarver will accept this award with pride.
I thought this one was a no-brainer, and for once, the fickle voters
agreed. Matt Young won this honor in a landslide. Honorable mention goes to
Chris Tessaglia-Hymes, who was the only other non-dog to get a
vote. Sorry, Jay, but Tringa still has some work to do.
Meena Haribal picked up a vote in this category, and Geo Kloppel received
serious support, but most voters think that co-Newcomer-of-the-Year Ben
Fambrough is ready to take that next step and drink from the famed David
Cup at the end of this year. Of course, they might just be trying to get
in good with the new Cup editor.
Ken Rosenberg
Bill Evans talks a good game, but the voters seem to know that talk is
cheap, especially when it's coming from Texas while spring migrants are
passing through Ithaca. Once again, people think that Allison Wells is the
one to beat in this category. Speaking of Allison...
The Cup Speaks to Allison by Ben Fambrough
When Allison emailed me asking to be interviewed by the Cup for its first
edition, who was I to say no? So, to make room for her we've temporarily
shelved some insightful and illuminating commentary by Rosenberg and
Kelling on the nuances of posting to Cayugabirds as well as a startling
piece by Hymes on the use of video technology to document vagrant swallow
species in the Basin, strangely subtitled, "Damn right I drive through the
The Cup: Dear Allison, how does it feel to be free of editorial duties and
pressures now that you've passed the crown?
Allison: Free? I know no freedom, my friends. My burdens have shifted,
that's all. Now, rather than fretting over whose totals I should "edit"
each issue, I must be on the lookout for slanderous remarks made against me
in your attempts to avenge the reputations I worked so hard to distort.
The Cup: What advice might you offer to the upstart editors?
Allison: Always plan on each issue taking about two weeks longer than you
expect, but tell your columnists that their deadlines are three weeks
earlier than they actually are. And when they hem and haw about not being
able to make the deadline, threaten to withhold their pay. Never defame
anybody. When splicing in your subject's interviews, don't split up their
answers and insert smart-alleck commentary. It's not fair. They don't
get a chance to respond to it. As editor of The Cup, I never did that.
Only include serious, life-shaking news. For example, don't cry
"Plagiarism!" about that new art-house movie that's out called The Cup.
That sort of ploy was against policy when I was in charge of The Cup. And
by the way, I understand that movie didn't include any real Cuppers, even
though Geo Kloppel penned the screenplay.
The Cup: Now that Matt Medler is in a position of power aren't you afraid
he will seek retribution for the razzing he suffered in past editions?
Allison: I can't think of a single issue in which Matt was ridiculed by
us. Just the same, if he is tempted to go on the attack, he should bear in
mind that I know his daddy, and Daddy Medler has promised to ground Matt if
he misbehaves.
The Cup: Should Cuppers expect to see you out birding more often now that
you won't be cloistered in front of the computer tapping out brilliance and
Allison: No. I work at the Lab of Ornithology. We "work" birds, so
there's no need to actually go see them.
The Cup: In light of your husband's recent promotion, are you considering
early retirement?
Allison: My husband's promotion? What about mine! In fact, we celebrated
both our promotions by going out to dinner at Renee's. And despite it
being the best restaurant in town, we really chose Renee's because we
wanted to harass you. We made all kinds of insinuations to our waiter
about the chef, only to find out you weren't working that night! They
ended up kicking us out of the place.
The Cup: Yes, I heard about that. I've talked Renee into a second chance
for you two, but you have to promise not to throw anything. What would you
like to eat next time you come in?
Allison: There used to be a delectable ravioli dish with sun-dried
tomatoes. Renee made it special for us a few times since taking it off the
menu. Now we feel indebted, so we only throw soft curves, like rather than
garlic mashed potatoes can we have risotto? Whatever we have, you can rest
assured that Jeff and I will order the exact same thing, right down to the
polenta. This happens whenever we go to a restaurant. It's frightening.
The Cup: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Allison: Just that I'm really looking forward to seeing what the new staff
does with The Cup. Please, feel free to do what you want with it. Be
creative. Be wild. Just don't change anything.
The Cup: Allison, let us be the first to thank you for all your efforts!
You were great. I hope we can continue the tradition of excellence.
Allison: Editing The Cup for the past four years was one of the best
experiences of our lives. We live in a fantastic birding community, with
good birders and fun personalities. We designed The Cup to tap into that.
I know Ben and the Matts will do a great job carrying on that tradition.
If I can offer any guidance or other kinds of help in the future, please
let me know and I'll fax you my rates.
Highlights by Matt Williams
Basin Birding for January-March, 2000
With so many great highlights in these first few months (and already more
for the next Cup), I found myself sitting here wondering, "Where should I
start!?!" After much deliberation and consultation with experts, January
seemed to be the best match for what I'm trying to do here.
The Ithaca Christmas Bird Count certainly got January, and this century,
off to quite a start. The Long-eared Owl continued until mid-month in a
coniferous woodland lot near Ithaca. This irruption year yielded good
numbers of grosbeaks, siskins and redpolls. One feeder in Ellis Hollow had
good numbers of the latter two, which helped many a cupper add Pine Siskin
to their January total. Some of them even got hot cider in the process.
Northern Shrikes were seen regularly throughout January as well as some
other winter specialties such as Rough-Legged Hawks. Lapland Longspurs
were present among the Horned Larks and Snow Buntings near the Triangle
Diner, west of King Ferry, as well as a few other locations. Further
north, the 3 rare gull species were being reported from the ice edge.
Closer to Ithaca, the Game Farm once again proved to be the prime raptor
location. Five species were seen in the vicinity that month; Merlin,
Harrier and Sharpie were the not so obvious. Our "calurus" or rufous morph
Red-tail conveniently returned for those who missed it last year.
So January continued on with mostly the usual species until an Eared
Grebe! Ben Fambrough found this western specialty among some Horned Grebes
in Aurora Bay. In addition to many Cuppers, a pair of White-winged Scoters
also spent much of January at this location.
February was another spectacular birding month, if you like cold, wind,
snow and ice. Apparently, the huge raft of divers that is present annually
at Hog Hole didn't mind the weather. Once again, an Oldsquaw (Long-tailed
Duck) was found amidst the sea of Aythya by one who calls himself, simply,
Andre. Ben Fambrough and Matt Williams then found a pair of Barrow's
Goldeneye near the north end's ice edge (2/11). These birds, like the
grebe, brought nearly everyone with a scope up the lake. Many were lucky
enough to sort these incessantly diving birds out from the jumble of
Commons, but unlike the grebe, many others who tried were not as
fortunate. All this birding activity spurred additional sightings, such
as the Thayer's Gull that Ken "Eagle Eye" Rosenberg, "Mighty" Matt Young,
Tom "New York" Nix and others found near the beautiful Seneca Meadows
Landfill (2/12), along with Glaucous & Iceland Gulls. In addition, much to
this highlight compiler's delight, Williams and Sarver relocated the Eared
Grebe from the southern cliffs high above Aurora (2/12).
With all the lake activity, the land/air sightings could get overshadowed,
but here they are anyway. On the irruption front, most noteworthy were
the two Hoary Redpoll sightings by Ken "Dr. Late Post" Rosenberg on the 8th
of February, and then John "Sled-run" Fitzpatrick, about a week later.
Okay, back to the lake. The first Ruddy Ducks hit us on 2/26 at East
Shore Sailing and American Pipits were also heard on that unseasonably
warm day. Blackbirds began moving through towards the end of this month.
March's first quality sightings included numerous (3) Golden Eagles. One
was spotted in Dryden on 3/4 by the Conservation of Birds Lab and then
another was seen over Fitz's house on 3/6 and was first identified
(correctly) by Van
Remsen from LSU. Geo Kloppel had one over his home in West Danby on
3/8. So, if there is any trend here, I'd say that early March may have
been been a good time to find a Golden Eagle overhead.
Song Sparrows, Red-Shouldered Hawks, Eastern Meadowlarks, Bonaparte's
Gull, Tree Swallows and more A. Pipits started to come through with greater
strength in early March. The Bohemian Waxwing that Meena "a dream come
true!" Haribal found at Cornell (3/11) didn't linger for very long. The
Cons. of Birds group came through with another good sighting of a
Red-throated Loon at Myers on 3/11. Geo Kloppel, Matt Williams and Tim
Lenz had a Red-necked Grebe off of the jetties from Stewart Park on
3/14. Chris Tessaglia-Hymes found a flock of Lapland Longspurs again this
year while trespassing in the Mucklands.
So, I will unfortunately stop here, but as many know, the April highlights
are certain to be great and the heavy migration has yet to begin. So, all
you Cuppers, get out there, see some cool birds, report them, bask in the
glory and make this highlights section as fruitful as possible for next
:> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :>
Poet's Corner
This issue features two short works by Ben Fambrough. The Cup welcomes
artistic contributions; please submit your work to the editors.
Myers Point, April 9th
White-capped and wind-boiled Cayuga piled
a tangle of iced flotsam along the spits rim,
mostly driftwood and weed. While just above Bonaparte's
flew a scissor-work in the sharpening wind,
a less elegant flutter graced that jumbled litter:
buff splotched breasts, a flash of white
outer tail-feathers, then a small green and
yellow tinged face (a careful ear can discern
their quiet squeaks): a fallout of
Pipits and Savannah Sparrows.
It takes a lot to imitate a grackle.
The eye must become black glass set in gold.
Sneak with someone through the dry
corn, long tail twitching,
speaking a barbaric tongue.
You have to abandon me completely.
But realize the next time you do
I'll take my father's squirrel gun
And shoot you out of the pussy willow.
Coach's Corner by Matt Williams
Due to fact that I'm still in juvenile plumage in the Basin, I may not be
the most suitable coach but since all this stuff is fresh and new to me, I
can still remember learning it. Hopefully I can provide some up-and-coming
Cuppers with the info they need to succeed as well as provide veterans
with a friendly reminder.
I think that, initially, the priority here is to inform new Cuppers about
the species they need to pick up before the end of April. If you haven't
seen Redpolls, Siskins or Grosbeaks yet, you need to hit the Lab of O,
Summerhill or wait for a report somewhere and just go! These guys are not
going to be around much longer and next winter will probably not be as good
for these birds. In addition, it is crucial to get the species that will
be passing through. Waterfowl, in particular, is very important.
Thankfully, we have Dryden Lake to catch any fallout and make it fairly
visible. Get there THE SAME DAY a bird is reported by the "Dryden Crew" of
Rosenberg, McGowan and Prentiss. Don't even think that you can
procrastinate. If the winds are right (wrong?), the birds often depart
within one day.
Warblers and the spring migrants will not be "thick" for about 2-3 weeks,
but if there is a reliable spot reported for one (or many!) of the uncommon
migrants, Carpe Diem! The breeders can wait, but the transient species
need to be seen in late April and May. Now on to a more challenging hit
For the record, I actually had Western Meadowlark and Little Gull on my
list of "watch for" species (I swear!), but I guess it may be redundant to
inform people of these possibilities. The following considerations should
keep you busy:
Tufted Duck: This suggestion may be a little late, but with the Scaup and
Ring-necks moving through, you never know what they might be dragging
along. Tufted Ducks are not hard birds to identify but are often mixed in
with a diving raft of similar-looking species. Both sexes have a "tuft"
of feathers hanging from the back of the head (hence the name). While this
may be subtle, look for a duck with white sides and a black back. Scaups
have a grey back and Ring-Necks have mostly light grey sides.
Sandhill Crane: While these were seen already at the Mucklands, they are
still a possibility in any open field and it seems they prefer ones with
corn stubble. These large wader-like birds may resemble herons initially,
but upon closer examination are entirely gray with a red cap. Hearing them
may be the best way to locate them. Listen for a repeated, croaking
"garooo-a-a-a, repeated" (Petersen).
Golden Eagle: Already reported multiple times in early March, but if the
wind is right (S or SW in spring), be on the lookout. This bird seems to
be an indicator species that sometimes sorts out the Cup champions from the
Cup could-haves. Look for a big, dark raptor (no kidding!) that is not a
TV and then go from there. Goldens occasionally have a slight dihedral and
look more Buteo-like than their Bald counterpart. Juvenile Goldens will
have white "windows" in the wing and white at the base of the tail, but
don't have the "white-belly" look of the imm. Balds.
Others to watch and listen for, in order of increasing unlikeliness,
include; Dicksissel (grassland & open country), American Avocet (Myers,
shorebird habitat), Clay-colored Sparrow (x-mas tree farms), Yellow Rail
(marshes, grassy wetlands), Purple Sandpiper (Hey, have you checked a rocky
jetty or shoreline lately?)
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< THE NUMBERS GAME >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Compiled by Matt Medler
"...churning and burning they yearn for the cup" (Cake)
March 2000 David Cup Totals
Congratulations to Tom Nix, not only for leading the David Cup for the
first three months of 2000, but also for sending in his totals for more
than the two months he submitted them last year!
116 Tom Nix
112 Geo Kloppel (Turkey Vulture)
112 Ben Fambrough (Common Grackle)
107 Kevin McGowan (Purple Finch; 1st time in 3 years it's not
Blue-winged Teal)
106 Matt Young (Winter Wren)
105 Chris Butler (American Pipit)
105 Jay McGowan (Eastern Meadowlark)
105 Bard Prentiss (Eastern Meadowlark)
105 Matt Williams (Fox Sparrow)
104 Ken Rosenberg (Pine Siskin that he never posted to Cayugabirds)
89 Matt Medler
88 Allison Wells
86 Chris Butler
81 Nancy Dickinson
71 Marty Schlabach
60 Meena Haribal
58 Jim Lowe
54 Perri McGowan
46 Anne Kendall
28 Melanie Uhlir
Note: Species in parentheses are Cuppers' admission tickets into the 100
March 2000 McIlroy Award Totals
Is this the year that Allison is *finally* dethroned as the McIlroy
monarch, or is she just toying with us at the moment?
74 Chris Butler
72 Kevin McGowan
66 Ken Rosenberg
65 Matt Williams
62 Jay McGowan
57 Allison Wells
50 Matt Medler
48 Jim Lowe
March 2000 Evans Trophy Totals
These guys are pretty serious about their Dryden birds, but do any good
ones ever show up there?
94 Ken Rosenberg
91 Bard Prentiss
89 Kevin McGowan
83 Jay McGowan
50 Matt Young
Yard Totals
60 Ken Rosenberg
50 McGowan/Kline Family
49 Nancy Dickinson
47 Geo Kloppel
29 Jeff and Allison Wells
22 Melanie Uhlir
Office Totals
20 Allison Wells
14 Melanie Uhlir
Lansing Listers
66 Kevin McGowan
64 Matt Williams
The Editors' Page
We look forward to bringing you something to read in a little over a month,
perhaps some new columns, perhaps some old columns revisited. And, now
that we've gotten this gushy "Thank you Allison" issue out of the way, we
can really get down to business in the next edition. In the meantime, we'd
be happy to hear from you. Hit your reply button and speak your mind. Now,
whose totals need adjustment? Hmmm.
Ben Fambrough (who poses the question: just how long can one be an honorary
member of the under 30 club anyhow?)
Senior and Contributing Editor:
Mr. Compilation himself, "Long-tailed" Matt Medler
Contributing Editor & Office Waterboy:
Matt "Rear-wheel-drive-is-better" Williams
Editor Emeritus:
Allison Wells
Still Best Boy in our book:
Jeff Wells