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Year 7, Issues 10-12

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*The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competitions.
*  Editor-in-Chief:  Matt "Better Late Than Never" Medler
*  Queen of The Cup:  Allison Wells
*  Chef Extraordinaire:  Ben Fambrough
*  Boy Wonder:  Jay McGowan
*  Best Boy:  Jeff Wells

     Welcome to The Cup 7.10-7.12, the Lost Issue of The Cup!  That's 
right, it's the issue of The Cup that you thought you'd never see, 
covering October to December 2002.  And yes, that would make this issue 
more than three years overdue.  Now that you're over the initial shock 
of receiving this, are you having a hard time remembering 2002?  (I 
know I am.)  After doing a little research, it appears that this is 
what was happening in late 2002:  the Bush administration was busy 
lying to the American public about Iraq, trying to justify an impending 
invasion; both the Red Sox and White Sox were still looking for their 
first World Series titles in more than 80 years; and the second "Lord 
of the Rings" movie was just hitting theaters in December.  Closer to 
home, Tim Lenz was still a runny-nosed undergrad looking to win his 
first McIlroy Award, Jay McGowan had short hair and no driver's 
license, and Pete Hosner was wrapping up the most dominant year in 
Basin birding history.        
     Pete's final tally?  Two hundred sixty-three species of birds 
identified in the Cayuga Lake Basin during 2002.  To put that in 
perspective, not only did Pete shatter the old Basin record of 254, but 
he actually saw more birds by himself in one year than all Basin 
birders *combined* saw in 2001 (260 species) and 1998 (259 species). 
Pete's phenomenal effort was the undisputed highlight in a year that I 
view as the pinnacle of The Cup era.  Pete led a group of three birders 
who matched or exceeded the legendary 254 total, and they were joined 
in the exclusive 250 Club by another two Cuppers.  Just how hard is it 
to see 250 species in the Basin in one year?  In the six Cup years 
preceding 2002, the 250 mark had been reached only three times.  
     What made 2002 so special, though, was not that Pete set a new 
record, or that five birders topped the 250 mark.  What impressed me 
was the depth of the birding coverage throughout the year.  There were 
so many different birders who were actively birding, and there never 
seemed to a lull in the action.  In fact, there was no lull in the 
action, as at least one new species was added to the Composite Deposit 
during every month of the year.  A careful look at the Pilgrims' 
Progress shows that 18 Cuppers joined the 200 Club during year, and 
this total might even grow to 20 if Jeff and Allison ever send in their 
final totals.  (I understand that Allison will be sending them right 
after she finishes The Cup 4.11 & 4.12.)  The seventh David Cup 
represented a complete year of birding by an entire community, and it 
is for this reason that I feel obligated to document the conclusion to 
2002, even three years after the fact.  Plus, now I can start pestering 
Jay about when he is going to finish The Cup 10.10-10.12! 

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
December, November, and October 2002 David Cup Totals 
263, 262, 261 Pete Hosner 
256, 255, 252 Mike Andersen 
254, 252, 251 Matt Medler 
253, 252, 250 Jay McGowan 
250, ???, ??? Jesse Ellis 
249, 248, 246 Kevin McGowan 
238, 235, 231 Steve & Susie Fast 
At least 236  Meena Haribal 
236, ???, ??? Ken Rosenberg 
232, ???, ??? Steve Kelling 
229, 228, 227 Tim Lenz 
227, ???, ??? Bruce Tracey 
226, ???, ??? Jeff Gerbracht 
212, ???, ??? Dan Lebbin 
210, 209, 208 Anne Marie Johnson 
209, 209, 206 Eric Banford 
208, 208, 208 Bob Fogg 
204, ???, ??? Tim Johnson 
At least 184  Allison Wells 
At least 182  Jeff Wells
173, 173, 173 Jai Balakrishnan 
172, 172, 172 Matt Williams 
At least 150  Anne James-Rosenberg 
128, 127, 126 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan 
 94,  94,  91 Martin (the Cat) McGowan 
At least 45   Rachel Rosenberg 
Mike Andersen's 250th Bird:  Lincoln's Sparrow 
Jay McGowan's 250th Bird:  Black Scoter 
Matt Medler's 250th Bird:  Greater White-fronted Goose 
Jesse Ellis's 250th Bird:  Snowy Owl 
Tim Lenz's 200th Bird:  Short-billed Dowitcher 

December, November, and October 2002 McIlroy Award Totals 
190, 189, ??? Pete Hosner 
189, 188, 187 Tim Lenz 
173, 173, 173 Jai Balakrishnan 
171, 169, 164 Jay McGowan 
161, 155, 152 Kevin McGowan 
140 Matt Medler 
128 Allison Wells 
127 Ken Rosenberg 

December, November, and October 2002 Evans Trophy Totals 
193, 193, 189 Jay McGowan 
190, 189, 185 Kevin McGowan 
170 Ken Rosenberg 
164 Pete Hosner 

2002 Yard Totals 
145 Steve Kelling 
136 McGowan/Kline Family 
100 Nancy Dickinson 
 91 Rosenberg Family 
 67 Anne Marie and Tim Johnson 
 61 Jesse Ellis 



The Composite Deposit total in The Cup 7.7-7.9 was 264; with 
Christopher Thaddeus Tessaglia-Hymes's belated report of night-flight 
Dickcissel calls on September 29, the CD total through the end of nine 
months was actually 265.  The final three months of the year yielded 
four additional species--American White Pelican, Black-legged 
Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull, and Snowy Owl--resulting in a final 
Composite Deposit for 2002 of 269.  

This final tally of 269 represents a new record year total for the Cup 
era, surpassing the 1996 total of 268 during the inaugural Cup.  The 
Composite Deposit totals for the other five Cup years were:  267 
(1997), 259 (1998), 263 (1999), 266 (2000), and 260 (2001).  

Here's the complete Composite Deposit for 2002:

R-t Loon, Common Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, EARED GREBE, 
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, D-c Cormorant, American Bittern, Least Bittern, 
Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, CATTLE EGRET, Green Heron, B-c Night-
Heron, GLOSSY IBIS, Turkey Vulture, Tundra Swan, Mute Swan, GREATER 
WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, Snow Goose, ROSS'S GOOSE, Brant, Canada Goose, 
Wood Duck, G-w Teal, American Black Duck, Mallard, N Pintail, B-w Teal, 
N Shoveler, Gadwall, EURASIAN WIGEON, American Wigeon, Canvasback, 
Redhead, R-n Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, L-t Duck, Black Scoter, 
Surf Scoter, W-w Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded 
Merganser, Common Merganser, R-b Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Osprey, Bald 
Eagle, N Harrier, S-s Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, N Goshawk, R-s Hawk, B-w 
Hawk, R-t Hawk, R-l Hawk, Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Merlin, 
Peregrine Falcon, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, KING RAIL, 
Virginia Rail, Sora, PURPLE GALLINULE, Common Moorhen, American Coot, 
Sandhill Crane, B-b Plover, American Golden-Plover, Semipalmated 
Plover, Killdeer, AMERICAN AVOCET, G Yellowlegs, L Yellowlegs, Solitary 
Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, 
MARBLED GODWIT, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, 
Least Sandpiper, W-r Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, 
PURPLE SANDPIPER, Dunlin, Stilt Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, S-b 
Dowitcher, L-b Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, American Woodcock, Wilson's 
GULL, Bonaparte's Gull, R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser B-
b Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great B-b Gull, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, SLATY-
BACKED GULL, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Black Tern, 
Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, B-b Cuckoo, Y-b Cuckoo, E Screech-Owl, Great 
Horned Owl, SNOWY OWL, Barred Owl, L-e Owl, S-e Owl, N Saw-whet Owl, 
Common Nighthawk, Whip-poor-will, Chimney Swift, R-t Hummingbird, 
Belted Kingfisher, R-h Woodpecker, R-b Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, Downy 
Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, N Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, O-s 
Flycatcher, E Wood-Pewee, Y-b Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher, Alder 
Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, E Phoebe, Great 
Crested Flycatcher, E Kingbird, N Shrike, WHITE-EYED VIREO, Y-t Vireo, 
B-h Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, R-e Vireo, Blue Jay, 
American Crow, Fish Crow, Common Raven, Horned Lark, Purple Martin, 
Tree Swallow, N R-w Swallow, Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, 
B-c Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown 
Creeper, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, G-c 
Kinglet, R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E Bluebird, Veery, G-c Thrush, 
Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray 
Catbird, N Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, American 
Pipit, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Cedar Waxwing, B-w Warbler, G-w Warbler, 
Tennessee Warbler, O-c Warbler, Nashville Warbler, N Parula, Yellow 
Warbler, C-s Warbler, Magnolia, Cape May Warbler, B-t Blue Warbler, Y-r 
Warbler, B-t Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie 
Warbler, Palm Warbler, B-b Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Cerulean 
Warbler, B-and-w Warbler, American Redstart, W-e Warbler, Ovenbird, N 
Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, CONNECTICUT WARBLER, Mourning 
Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Canada 
Towhee, American Tree Sparrow, Chipping 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, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland 
Longspur, Snow Bunting, N Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, 
DICKCISSEL, Bobolink, R-w Blackbird, E Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird, 
Common Grackle, B-h Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Pine 
Grosbeak, Purple Finch, House Finch, W-w Crossbill, Common Redpoll, 
Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak, House Sparrow.



Amazingly, Pete only missed six of the 269 species seen/heard in the 
Basin in 2002.  This represents a "ticking percentage" of 97.8%, which 
is truly incredible.  Since Pete was so efficient (and lucky) in seeing 
everything else in the Basin, it's worth noting how these six species 
eluded him.  Cattle Egret, Black-headed Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, and 
Western Tanager were all less-than-one-day wonders, gone within hours 
of their discoveries (and in the case of the Black-headed Gull, not 
identified until after the fact).  American Avocet, which had been 
mentioned and looked for all summer, had the audacity to appear at 
Montezuma while Pete was home in Michigan.  Finally, Dickcissel was not 
even observed by a living person, instead being detected by a sound 
recorder.  This last species raises the obvious question:  Pete, why 
weren't you lurking outside of the Tessaglia-Hymes residence on the 
night of September 29!?!

!                       KICKIN' TAIL!                      !

THE CUP:  Congratulations (slightly belatedly) on your amazing 2002 
David Cup year!  Do you remember anything about 2002 in general, let 
alone about The Cup?  

PETE:  Actually, I don’t remember a whole lot from 2002 that wasn’t 
related to The Cup, as you remember I didn’t really do much else.  I 
think I took some classes as well.  

THE CUP:  Ah yes, there were a few of those grueling Natural Resources 
classes, weren't there?

THE CUP:  Two sixty-three!  Even though I was there with you to see a 
good portion of those birds, that number still seems a bit unbelievable 
when I say it or write it.  When you started thinking about doing a 
really big David Cup year, did you ever imagine that you would top 260?  
Or even the hallowed Basin record of 254?  

PETE:  That’s 264 with Cackling Goose split, remember.  But who’s 
counting?  I never pondered what a top number would be, I just wanted 
to pick a good year for rarities and see what I could.  270 is doable, 
with a lot of effort.  If Mike Harvey had a car, he’d probably already 
have done it.  

THE CUP:  What are some highlights that you still remember from that 
year?  For me, I remember a lot of the birds, but the thing that really 
stands out in my mind still is the camaraderie that year.  I was always 
amused when people seemed so surprised to see four birders packed into 
my car or your car at Montezuma.  In my mind, you, Jesse, Mike, and I 
were like a birding team.  We obviously didn't bird together all the 
time, since you ended up with the highest total (darn you!), but it was 
rare when there wasn't at least two of us together on an outing.    

PETE:  I really don’t think there was a single bird that I alone saw.  
It helps to have more eyes out there, and other folks to keep you out 
when the weather is harsh.  I guess a lot of the memorable birds for me 
were ones that almost got away, like when I was almost sure I had a 
Glossy Ibis fly over when I was driving out of the Wegman's parking 
lot, and then having one show up at Montezuma the next day. Or the 
anonymous report of White Pelicans at Myers.  The next day there was a 
strong north wind, so we went up to Monty to look for them, and Matt 
Victoria called when we were about five minutes away saying he was 
there and he had them.  Then there was the Slaty-backed fiasco, when 
Andersen almost got us thrown in jail at the Seneca Falls Dump.   

THE CUP:  This seems like the perfect segue into an Academy Awards-type 
acceptance speech.  Is there anybody you might like to thank--perhaps 
Dominic Sherony? Or Steve Kelling?  Or maybe Ryan Bakelaar?  The person 
who pointed out that first chickadee to you?  This is your chance to 
thank anybody and everybody who has aided in your development as a 

PETE:  I never would have gotten Green Heron for the year if it wasn’t 
for Dominic.  

THE CUP:  That can be a difficult bird.  You're fortunate that you 
bumped into a real heron/bittern expert. 

PETE:  I guess the previously mentioned folks helped me out more than 
anybody--Andersen, Medler, and Jesse.  Of course the cell phone frenzy 
helped a lot as well.

THE CUP:  Since you left the Basin for good in 2004, you've been on 
ornithological expeditions to Borneo, done field work across the 
American West, and spent months at a time in both Peru and Ecuador.  
You've seen literally hundreds and hundreds of birds, including several 
undescribed species in South America.  It all sounds very impressive, 
but can any of it compare to seeing that Purple Gallinule at Montezuma 
from the roof of my Ford Tempo?

PETE:  No, not really.  The only other bird I’ve needed to stand on a 
roof to see was Gray Partridge in Ontario, but that was from the top of 
my parents' Volvo.  At this point I remember the stories more than the 
birds themselves from the Big Year, and traveling around as well.  A 
lot of it is the places and trouble you get yourself into out in the 
world just to see birds.

THE CUP:  Speaking of the trusty Tempo, I'm afraid that it now resides 
in a space in the Big Parking Lot in the Sky.  Is the Little Bandit 
still going, or is it permanently parked too? 

PETE:  It's still going strong, 205,000 miles at this point.  I really 
want to get it to 264,000 before it's done.  For some reason that 
sounds like a good number to shoot for.

THE CUP:  That does sound like a good number.  It would be even better 
if you could hit 264 somewhere along the Montezuma auto loop, perhaps 
on a future Muckrace, maybe at reverse.

THE CUP:  Have you followed The Cup closely in recent years?  If so, 
what are your thoughts?  Do you see anybody topping your record any 
time soon?  Jay has been quietly excellent the past four years, 
reaching 250 each year and becoming the second repeat winner, but even 
he maxed out at 256.  

PETE:  I think it is really a matter of effort and luck.  There are 
plenty of people in the Basin that have the skill to hit 270, it's just 
a matter of spending the time.  Jay needs to schedule his classes with 
birding time in mind, and possibly transfer to Natural Resources like 
the rest of us to eliminate that pesky need for studying. 

THE CUP:  Since this is The Cup, I am contractually obligated to give 
you a hard time at least once in this interview, so here it is.  While 
you saw a whole lotta birds in the Basin in 2002, there was just one 
thing missing from your list--a new addition to the Basin checklist, a 
bird that people will talk about years from now.  Sure, the King Rail 
was nice, but I wouldn't categorize it as a CMF.  I hate to make you 
feel bad (well, maybe I don't), but since your big year, there has been 
a slew of new species added to the Basin list:  Wilson's Storm-Petrel, 
White-faced Ibis, Cave Swallow, Black Guillemot, Mountain Bluebird, and 
Pomarine Jaeger.  Heck, even Curtis "I chase other people's rarities" 
Marantz was part of a group that found the Pomarine Jaeger.  Any 

PETE:  What's a CMF?  Perhaps you need to elaborate on that.

THE CUP:  What?!  You haven't come across that term during any of your 
world travels?  It's a British acronym:  CMF = Really Good Bird.  

PETE:  I don’t know how I managed to not find any new species or even 
previously recorded CMFs in the Basin, but it's not limited to that one 
year either.  I guess I am better at finding birds that are supposed to 
be there.

THE CUP:  Well, we did find the Piping Plover in 2001.  No less an 
authority than Bill "Silvertop" Evans deemed that the "Bird of the 
Century" for the Basin.  

THE CUP:  Now, you are the only person to ever achieve the Triple Crown 
of Basin birding--winning the David Cup, Muckrace, and McIlroy Award 
all in the same year.  How does winning each of these events compare?  

PETE:  I felt bad about that because I wanted Tim to win the McIlroy.  

THE CUP:  Sure you did.

PETE:  He’s done ok since though.  

THE CUP:  Yes he has.  He is definitely the poster child for The 
Birding Club.

PETE:  Clearly the highlight is the Muckrace.  If I got a free bottle 
of terrible wine for winning the David Cup I would reconsider.    

THE CUP:  I had forgotten about your high standards in such matters.

THE CUP:  OK, this is it--your last Kickin' Tail question ever.  Do you 
have anything you'd like to add?

PETE:  Is there a world Big Year record, and would someone sponsor me?

THE CUP:  Maybe you should talk to Matt "Big Spender" Sarver about 
that.  He's always throwing around money.  

THE CUP:  Congratulations again.  It was a great year!

:>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>  :>


For this, my final installment of The Cup, I've decided to go with a 
different approach for the Highlights section.  Birders' highlights are 
being presented "in their own words," straight from Cayugabirds posts.  
My hope is that this approach with help "bring the readers back" to 
those long-gone days of late 2002.  (Either that, or I'm just lazy and 
don't want to go to the effort of a long, painstakingly-written 

This is a belated report.  I finally got the sounds from the VHS 
recording I made on the 29th digitized for further analysis on the 
computer.  While doing a rough run-through tonight, I discovered 
several (4) flight calls of one (or more) DICKCISSEL(s)
- Chris Tessaglia-Hymes, Oct. 2

This morning I went to Hog Hole to search for birds like Winter Wren, 
Northern Harrier, etc.  No luck with those, but I did see a tern fly 
down the inlet (most likely a COMMON TERN; had a brief look and it was 
pretty far away).  The highlight of the trip, however, was seeing 500+ 
BRANTS fly over Stewart Park towards Ithaca.  They circled once as if 
they were going to land, but then they just kept going.  Now I'm going 
to sit at home for a while and dry off...
- Tim Lenz, Oct. 3

John Greenly just called to say that a friend reported seeing two WHITE 
PELICANS at Myer's Point at 5:00 this evening, Thursday 3 October 
2002.  John went down and did not find them.  Perhaps they have made 
their way to Stewart Park. 
- Jay McGowan, for John Greenly, for Mary Walters (who submitted an 
accepted NYSARC report, with photos), Oct. 3

We saw the Purple Gallinule this afternoon, and watched it for about 30 
minutes.  We were parked about 10 yards north of signpost #1.  It 
appeared through the reeds, then went north, while feeding, and then 
south.  After about 15 minutes, it darted back to the inside of the 
reeds. In a few minutes we saw it south of us, just where the reeds 
start growing on the pool side.  It continued walking and feeding, 
going south.  We were about 6 feet from the bird, when it was feeding 
between the reeds and the road.  It will probably continue to be seen 
between the road the the reeds, as long as there is sufficient water 
- Joe and Carol Slattery, Oct. 3

Hey, There were 5 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS on Dryden Lake this a.m.
- Steve Fast, Oct. 4
[Editor's Note:  this marked the first of many sightings of all three 
scoters and Long-tailed Duck in October, November, and December.]

Late in the afternoon I decided to go look for the AMERICAN WHITE 
PELICANS at May's Point Pool. I arrived around 5:00 PM and they were 
standing among the gulls. Also at May's Point were both YELLOWLEGS, 
- Gary Chapin, Oct. 5

I went up to Montezuma to try for Purple Gallinule and the White 
Pelicans.  As I was driving slowly along the wildlife drive looking 
into the cattails I saw a few Swamp Sparrows and then a sparrow that 
was very different, a NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW.  The head had 
extensive orange buff and the rest was clear gray down the nape. The 
chest and flanks were also orange buff and were streaked.  I've never 
seen a Nelson's before and wasn't expecting to see one anytime soon.  
But looking through my guides, that is the only thing it could have 
been.  The bird was in the cattails about 100 yds. past the #1 marker 
on the drive.  I didn't see the gallinule but others there did see it.  
The 2 WHITE PELICANS were still present at May's Point Pool.  There was 
also a flock of Snow Geese that flew over May' Point. 
- Mark Dettling, Oct. 6

This morning I saw a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW while to my eBird census at 
my house. I had very good views of the bird in good light and at about 
15 ft. I had excellent views of the head. The bird had a very 
noticeable white crown strip, pronounced whitish supercillium, a dark 
eye-line, pale lores, dark buff auricular, dark moustache, white malar 
stripe, gray nape, buffy flanks. The rump was buffy brown and the vent 
was white. I also had many American Pipits flying overhead, and Yellow-
rumped Warblers and American Robins were in abundance. 
- Steve Kelling, Oct. 7

At May's Point Pool in the Montezuma NWR on 10/07/02: 
1-Hudsonian Godwit juvenile [from 4:50 PM to 5:20 PM when I left for 
2-White Pelicans [from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM then they returned at 4:45 PM 
and stayed till I left at 5:20 PM]
- Tim Capone, Oct. 7

- Chris Tessaglia-Hymes, for Matt Victoria, Oct. 10

At 1pm I got my lunch break, but with all the movement and 
chips I saw and heard, I decided not to eat.  I walked around the 
property [at Mackenzie-Childs], staying at the edges of the Goldenrod 
fields and shrubby patches.  HUGE numbers of WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS 
were everywhere!   Mixed in were W. CROWNED, CHIPPING, SONG, SWAMP and 
a single LINCOLN'S.  Warblers were represented by 100's of YELLOW-
RUMPED WARBLERS, but also by 6 PALM WARBLERS.  Other great finds were 7 
full crop and a BROWN CREEPER.  The Bird of the Break was undoubtedly a 
first fall WHITE-EYED VIREO that was foraging with several RUBY-CROWNED 
KINGLETS.  Wow!!!  What a way to spend a lunch break!
- Matt Victoria, Oct. 11

I didn't have very much time for birding, but I did see some great 
birds. While we were watching the duck-banding near the main pool 
observation tower, a flock of 200-300 SNOW GEESE flew over our heads 
trumpeting -- near the front of the flock was a very small white goose, 
which I identified as a ROSS'S GOOSE. (I have much experience picking 
out Ross's among flocks of Snows in Louisiana and California, and 
although some individuals or hybrids may be intermediate in size, this 
one was not). 
I'm sure they will post, but I passed the McGowan/Kelling van on the 
main drive, and they had just seen the PURPLE GALLINULE very close to 
the road. 
A brief scan at May's Point produced the single HUDSONIAN GODWIT that 
had been there, plus a PEREGRINE and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL -- 
thanks to Meena and Matt Victoria for getting me on these birds so 
quickly.  We returned to May's Point later in the afternoon, and I re-
found the GODWIT and the GULL.  I also counted at least 40 LONG-BILLED 
DOWITCHERS (a very large count for New York state), and with them were 
at least 8 STILT SANDPIPERS (a large count for so late).  There were 
also about 15 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, and a few DUNLIN. 
- Ken "I identify Ross's Geese in flight" Rosenberg, Oct. 12

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL [at Montezuma NWR] - 3 - (2 adult basic and 1 
3rd winter) if you're interested in a description, please see my next 
- Mike Andersen, Jesse Ellis, Dan Lebbin, and Matt Medler, Oct. 15

I saw the PURPLE GALLINULE today (SAT.) late morning.  It was asleep 
mostly, seen in the channel to the west of the the auto-loop at its 
start.  It was almost directly beneath that dead snag that stands tall 
- Steve Fast, Oct. 19
[Editor's Note:  this was the last report of the Purple Gallinule.]

1 GOLDEN EAGLE- while trying to relocate my weird peep, all of the 
shorebirds flew at Benning.  I looked up hoping for a peregrine, but 
all I saw was an eagle.  I thought to myself, that would be great if it 
was a golden.  I raised my bins, and low and behold, it was!  A 
gorgeous immature bird, with lots of white on the upperwing, underwing, 
and tail. 
- Pete Hosner, Oct. 20

About 20 minutes after Pete left me at Mays Pool, I saw the 
aforementioned GOLDEN EAGLE.  It was somewhat harassed by 2 crows, then 
landed in a tree at the east end of Mays Pool.  Over that wooded area 
an immature BALD EAGLE then appeared.  As I watched it the golden 
decamped.  Soon followed another immature BALD EAGLE, this one much 
scruffier than the first.  Later while talking with 2 duck hunters, an 
ADULT BALD EAGLE soared over.  I gave one of the hunters a look at it 
thru my scope while he was telling me at his mom's place in Nova Scotia 
they are very common.  Soon after this and just before the rain, 
another immature GOLDEN EAGLE passed by.  This one had the bright white 
band at the base of the upper tail, no white spots on the upper wing 
surface(unlike the first), while the white lower tail band and 
under wing spots were quite muted.  As the rains hit, another birder 
pointed out a flock of 8+ AMERICAN PIPITS had just landed on the 
-Steve Fast, Oct. 20

Just received a call from Meena Haribal.  She's at Mays Point Pool at 
Montezuma, looking at a Greater White-fronted Goose out amongst the 
thousands of Canadas.  Good luck! 
- Jesse Ellis, for Meena Haribal, Oct. 20

From the Montezuma refuge visitor's center, we heard the familiar sound 
of Tundra Swans.  We counted 175 from the tower.  Pete spotted a drake 
EURASIAN WIGEON from the tower off to the west loosely associating with 
other dablers and _Aythya_ species.  After ten minutes it tooked off 
like a bat out of hell and flew due west accompanied by two other 
American Wigeon. 
- Pete Hosner, Mike Andersen, and Jessie Barry, Nov. 2

From the tower overlooking the main pool at Montezuma, Jesse Ellis 
picked out a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE in the same spot we saw a 
drake Eurasian Wigeon last week (looking west).  The goose stayed put, 
however, unlike the wigeon.  Mays had an incredible number of birds 
with many thousands of Canada Geese and 836 TUNDRA SWANS.
- Mike Andersen, Jesse Ellis, and Pete Hosner, Nov. 9

Allison, Evan, and I went for a walk at Dryden Lake today and we were 
surprised to see a Great Egret (apparently the same one mentioned 
already by Jay) feeding in the cattail marsh near the trail roughly 
near the midpoint.  Actually, Evan wasn't that surprised as he was 
snoozing by then.
- Jeff Wells, Nov. 10
[Editor's Note:  this bird was reported as late as Nov. 22.]
I and several others (sorry I didn't catch all the names) braved the 
mild south winds this morning at Taughannock SP.  There was one COMMON 
LOON on the water.  Other birds of note were a singing CAROLINA WREN 
and two flyby EVENING GROSBEAKS.
- Jesse Ellis, Nov. 12

Jay and I (and my daughter Perri) were doing a quick check of Dryden 
Lake at 13:00 today (16 Nov 02, Saturday).  The beloved "Dryden Lake 
Effect" was in place on this gray, snowy day, and a large number of 
ducks were on the lake.  As part of a semi-consistent census of the 
lake that I am putting into eBird, I was counting the Ring-billed Gulls 
floating in the middle of the lake.  I noticed one individual that had 
a darker mantle and darker wing tips.  It just didn't look right, and I 
put Jay onto it with the other scope.  My first impression was Laughing 
Gull because of the darker mantle and longer winged look, but the bird 
had markings on the back of the head, so I switched to Franklin's Gull 
as a possibility.  Jay remarked on the spot behind the eye about the 
same time I realized that the dark mark on the neck wasn't a partial 
hood but rather a dark line/smudge at the base of the neck.  Those two 
characters, plus the rounded head (not the pin-headed look of a 
Bonaparte's or Black-headed) made me decide on immature BLACK-LEGGED 
We solidified the identification, and then (with Perri's help as a 
runner to the car; thank her next time you see her Pete) we called all 
the numbers logged into my cell phone.  The bird was preening actively 
and showed us the dark line across the wing, the dark nape mark, and 
dark tail tip.  Jay got some decent, but far from good photographs 
(good relative to the distance and heat distortion) while we watched 
the bird.  It was drifting amongst the Ring-bills, but seemed to be the 
most nervous of the bunch.  I was afraid that it would leave before 
anyone else got there, and sure enough when it drifted next to an adult 
Herring Gull, the larger gull tried to grab the kittiwake by the neck 
and it flew up with a number of Ring-billed Gulls at 13:43.  They all 
flew to the SW and disappeared out of sight.  We figured that the Ring-
bills landed in the corn fields over by Purvis Road, but that the 
kittiwake thought that was a stupid idea and circled back to the lake.  
Pete Hosner (the luckiest person in the Cayuga Lake basin) arrived 
about 15 minutes later and spotted the kittiwake circling back over the 
lake.  It did not land, and drifted out of sight to the NW just as the 
other contingent of avid birders arrived (and missed it). 
In flight the dark "M" mark was quite apparent, along with the dark tip 
to the tail and white trailing edge to the wing.  It had a faster 
wingbeat and more buoyant flight than the Ring-bills.  I got one 
through-the-binoculars flying photograph.  On the lake it was just 
slightly smaller than the Ring-bills, with a darker mantle, similarly 
rounded head, and all-dark bill.  It had a prominent dark spot behind 
the dark eye, and a dark line where the neck met the back.  It showed a 
thick dark line in the back half of the folded wing.  The wingtips had 
no white in them.  When scratching, it showed its black legs. 
- Kevin, Jay, and Perri McGowan, Nov. 16

Just got a call from Jesse Ellis, who got a call from Tim Lenz.  Tim 
made a rare foray out of the Town of Ithaca this morning, and was 
rewarded with two PURPLE SANDPIPERS at Myers.  Makes me wonder if I 
missed them yesterday afternoon.  Anyway, hurry up there if you're 
interested in seeing them.  Knowing Tim, I wouldn't be surprised if he 
tries to "shoo" them southward, to the Red Lighthouse Jetty.  (Just 
- Matt Medler, for Jesse Ellis, for Tim Lenz, Nov. 17
Dan Lebbin, Matt Medler, Pete Hosner and I, as well as Ken Rosenburg 
and Chris TH all refound Tim Lenz's TWO PURPLE SANDPIPERS at Myers 
point.  They were feeding with 7 Dunlin, as well as a single WHITE-
RUMPED SANDPIPER and a single PECTORAL SANDPIPER.  From Myers we saw 6 
or 7 Bonaparte's Gulls fly by, as well as 13 RED-THROATED LOONS on the 
water.  4 SNOW BUNTINGS flew in while we were there too. A few BLACK 
SCOTERS were north of Myers out on the lake.  From the Marina on the 
south side we found a large raft of Scaup back up in the bay, several 
Pied-billed Grebes, another raft of 16 BLACK SCOTERS, 5 COMMON LOONS 
including one with a broken lower mandible (same bird as has been 
repeatedly reported in other years?), lots of Bufflehead, Hooded Mergs, 
and Coots. 
We then went down to Stewart Park, and found 2 BRANT flying in, 100-150 
Bufflehead, 10 BONAPARTE'S GULLS on the water, Hooded Mergs, Common 
Mergs, Gadwall, A. Wigeon, Mallard, Black Duck, 3 Common Goldeneye (by 
way of Tim), and 60 odd Scoters way out in the water. Chris TH got a 
better look at them from a different vantage point and said they were 
2/3 Blacks, and 1/3 White-winged Scoters (did I get that right?).  He 
also had a raft of 21 Red-throated Loons.  There were probably other 
waterfowl I'm forgetting... 
A great morning. 
I now hereby officially prod Ken to report what he had at Myers prior 
to Tim finding the PURPLE SANDPIPERS. 
- Jesse Ellis, Nov. 17

O.K. Here are a few more details to fill in for Sunday morning's great 
birding.  I headed to Myer's Pt early for my own closer-to-home loon 
watch -- I counted there from 7 am till just after 9.  Hunters were 
already set up on the north side of the creek mouth, and a pair of 
fisherman came and went from the main spit, so it was truly a multiple-
use event. 
I'll start with the morning's highlight:  at about 8:40, I spotted a 
BONAPARTE'S GULL way our over the lake, and I got my scope on it (I was 
scoping from underneath the shelter near the tennis court, so it wasn't 
that bad for viewing).  There were at least 3 BONAPARTE'S circling out 
over the middle of the lake, and I noticed that one gull looked 
slightly larger and seemingly showed a dark underwing as it circled.  I 
thought of Little Gull, and then, because of the size, Black-headed 
Gull -- but when I zoomed in on the bird, I could see the strong upper-
wing pattern of dark leading primaries, continuing across the wing in 
the dark "W" pattern, plus a clear black smudge on the nape of the neck 
and black-tipped square tail.  Realizing that this was a first-year 
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, I followed it in the scope for about a minute 
before the group of gulls disappeared behind some trees, continuing to 
circle towards the south.  I realize anything is possible, but it's 
hard for me to believe that this bird seemingly migrating down the 
middle of Cayuga Lake was the same individual that dropped into Dryden 
Lake on Saturday. 
Almost as unusual was the loon flight I observed earlier in the 
morning.  After seeing a group of 6 COMMON LOONS low over the water 
shortly after I arrived, I then counted several small flocks of loons, 
totalling 53 birds, heading down the lake between 8 and 8:30 -- the 
problem is, they were ALL RED-THROATED LOONS; pure flocks without even 
a single Common mixed in.  I watched these birds very carefully, 
scoping and counting each group, noting the smaller size, whiter neck 
and head, smaller, upturned bills on every bird (I was looking for 
Pacific Loon).  One group of 17 RTLOs came down and settled on the 
lake, and scattered individuals were seen all morning in various 
directions off Myer's Point.  Red-throated is usually a rare-but-
regular species this time of year, most often as single birds in large 
migrating flocks of Common Loons.  So the question is:  why were these 
birds missed at the Taughannock Loon Watch?  Why didn't I see any of 
the Commons that were reported migrating?  Could it be that for some 
reason, Red-throateds were moving down the center or East side of the 
lake and are more difficult to see from Taughannock?  Or was this just 
a freak event? 
During the entire time I was at Myer's, I watched a group of 6 DUNLIN 
on the rocky spit that formed on the north side of the creek mouth, at 
times walking very close to the hunters' blind and decoys.  I was 
hoping that other shorebird species that might be in the area would 
find this flock and join them (I was certainly thinking Purple).  None 
had by the time I left, but apparently Tim Lenz arrived shorly 
thereafter and witnessed the new shorebirds coming in from the north 
side of the point after some hunters fired their guns.  I got the 
message (after running into Pete Hosner at East Shore) and headed back 
up to Myer's to join the group of birders admiring the 2 PURPLE 
SANDPIPERS and other remarkable (for November) shorebirds.  What a 
great sight! 
The only other birds not specifically mentioned by others are 2 male 
LONG-TAILED DUCKS flying north past Myer's, and 3-4 PIPITS on the spit 
early in the morning. 
- Ken Rosenberg, Nov. 17

After speaking with Jesse Ellis and various other birders this evening, 
doing research in field guides, and then looking at images on-line, I 
am fairly confident that Jesse and I did see an adult winter BLACK-
HEADED GULL from East Shore Park in Ithaca at approximately 9 am on 
Monday, 18 November 2002.  Here are my recollections of the situation 
and the bird: 
I was using a Kowa 20-60x scope to scan the water on the west side of 
Cayuga Lake for possible scoters, so I believe I had the scope at 30-
40x.  I looked away from the scope for some reason, and when I looked 
back, there was a gull in the scope, flying north, into a fairly stiff 
north wind.  My first impression, based on the pattern of the 
upperparts--light gray mantle and wings, a few white primaries forming 
a white triangle at the leading edge of the outer wing, and a black 
trailing edge to the primaries--made me think adult winter Bonaparte's 
Gull.  For whatever reason, I encouraged Jesse to get on the bird, and 
once he did, he quickly noted that the bird had dark underwings.  This 
made us consider Little Gull, and indeed, the darkness of the underwing 
was reminiscent of the coloration of the one adult winter Little Gull I 
have seen.  However, as Jesse also quickly pointed out, the bird we 
were watching had a white triangle on the leading edge of the 
underwing, something that Little Gull does not have.  This white 
triangle on the underwing contrasted sharply with the overall dark 
appearance (what I would describe as "dark gray") of the rest of the 
underwing.  While we had Little Gull on my mind, I commented that I 
thought that the bird was much too big for a Little Gull, and that it 
actually seemed bigger to me than a Bonaparte's Gull.  (I realize that 
judging the size of a lone bird is a difficult task, but these were my 
impressions of the bird's size).  I also thought that the bird's flight 
was stronger and more direct than the typically bouncy, tern-like 
flight of Bonaparte's Gull.  At the time, as we tried to rationalize a 
default identification of Bonaparte's Gull, I thought that the bird's 
flying into the stiff north wind might straighten out its flight (if it 
were in fact a Bonaparte's), although now I wonder about this idea.  It 
seems to me now that a Bonaparte's flying into a stiff north wind might 
experience quite erratic flight.  At any rate, the bird was quite 
distant from us, and flying away from us to the north, so I was unable 
to get any feel for details like leg color or bill color.  The bird had 
a white head, and to be honest, I don't specifically remember noting 
the black ear-spot to be expected on both Bonaparte's and Black-
headed.  I don't know if this was an oversight in my observations, or 
if such a spot was just not visible due to the distance from which we 
were viewing the bird.  Finally, the tail was all white. 
When we arrived back at my apartment, we quickly checked the Sibley 
Guide.  After seeing Sibley's depiction on p. 209 of an adult 
nonbreeding Black-headed Gull with dark primaries, but whitish 
underwing coverts and secondaries, Jesse ruled out Black-headed Gull as 
a possibility, and we just "let it go" at the time.  While speaking 
with Ben Fambrough this evening, he mentioned a Black-headed Gull in 
the Cleveland area, and this spurred me to look at my "Gulls" (second 
edition), by Peter Grant.  A look at the photographs in Grant, 
specifically #19, suggested to me that Sibley's depiction might be 
inaccurate.  A look at the European Collins Bird Guide, by Mullarney, 
Svensson, Zetterstrom, and Grant includes a vignette on p. 171 
comparing winter adults of Bonaparte's Gull and Black-headed Gull; 
Black-headed is depicted as having a dark gray underwing (including the 
underwing coverts) that becomes almost blackish in the primaries 
immediately adjacent to the white outermost primaries.  The National 
Geographic "Field Guide to the Birds of North America" (second edition) 
shows Black-headed Gull with dark gray primaries, but white underwing 
Jesse and I strongly welcome comments (either on-list or privately) of 
our report.  And, we hope that people will get out to Stewart Park, 
East Shore, and Myers, in the hopes of getting longer, more detailed 
looks of this bird. 
- Matt Medler, Nov. 19

Nine cold observers were on hand this morning to observe the first 
major Loon flight of the year. 1664 Loons were counted with 941 seen in 
periods 1-4 and 727 during the remaining periods. 2746 Loons have been 
counted so far this year which is by far the lowest number counted by 
this time during the 10 years of the count.
- Bob Meade, Nov. 23 

There is a first winter Glaucous Gull at Stewart Park.  It was on the 
ice near the tennis courts.  Amazing looks, only about 30 yards away.  
Should be another hour of light left to look for it.
- Pete Hosner, Dec. 12

There was a SNOWY OWL this afternoon on the south side of RT 31 at the 
Savannah Mucklands in Northern Cayuga county. The bird was very distant 
and a scope was required to make a positive ID (e.g. not just a 
shimmering blob of snow) but the bird was best viewed from the 
"potatoes building."   
The bird had a vested appearance, being white down the center of the 
belly and on the upper-breast. The head appeared all white but for a 
few bars to the nuchal area/back of the head. 
- Gerard Phillips, Dec. 18

I unfortunately skipped Stewart Park this morning on my way out of town  
this morning, but saw those 2 loons from East Shore.  At the Aurora 
Bluffs I found 2 nice female WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, 2 Horned Grebes from 
the boathouse, and 1 EARED GREBE with them.  I headed up to the 
Mucklands where I failed to find the Snowy Owl.  Frankly, I don't 
believe this bird exists.  I did see 2 clumps of snow and an all-white 
ROCK DOVE. Also I heard a call note that sounded like a SONG SPARROW 
but never got good looks at it. There were 30 or so Horned Larks in the 
fields too. The lake in the town of Seneca Falls (sorry don't know the 
name) had one "darker juvenile" GLAUCOUS GULL, as pictured in Sibley.
- Tim Lenz, Dec. 21

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A New Basin Species...Already on the Basin Check-list

     Upon stepping out of the shower on a dreary November afternoon, 
Pete Hosner was greeted by not one, not two, not three, but five 
voicemail messages that all said the same thing:  "BLACK-LEGGED 
KITTIWAKE AT DRYDEN LAKE!"  Why the excitement?  This message that I 
originally posted to Cayugabirds-L on November 21 helps provide the 

     When Kevin McGowan called me on Saturday to tell me of the Black-
legged Kittiwake that Jay and he found at Dryden Lake, I knew 
immediately that it was an exceptional find for the Cayuga Lake Basin, 
as it is listed as "Accidental" on Charlie Smith's "Check-list of the 
Birds of the Cayuga Lake Basin" and I have never heard talk of any 
sightings from the Basin.  After doing some research on the subject, I 
am even more impressed by their find.  Their kittiwake sighting is 
arguably the first valid record ever for the Basin, and is certainly 
the first fully-documented Basin record. 
     John Bull's "Birds of New York State" (1974) includes only one 
upstate inland (i.e., away from the Great Lakes) record of Black-legged 
Kittiwake--an immature photographed by P. Trail on Seneca Lake at 
Geneva, on December 31, 1968.  The new "Bull's Birds of New York State" 
(1998), edited by Emanuel Levine, mentions one additional record, of 
one bird at Iroquois NWR on February 21, 1981. 
     Why, then, is Black-legged Kittiwake on the Basin checklist?  To 
answer that question, I visited the Rare and Manuscript Collection at 
Cornell University's Kroch Library to review the late Dorothy W. 
McIlroy's notes on birds in the Cayuga Lake Basin.  Here is the 
information from McIlroy's Black-legged Kittiwake note cards: 
1/1/61 n. end Cay. L.  John Morse & Enn Katkes 
          ? SHS question, not mentioned in Bull 
[12/26/36 seminar report - 1, no details, no observer listed] 
In 1930-40 Seminar records this species is checked on the 10/26/36 
seminar list, 
No comment, no indication of locality make me suspect that it was a 
mistake for another species (DWM).  Bull mentions no Cayuga Lake Basin 
record.  The Jan. 4, 1854 specimen mentioned in Eaton (1910) Vol. I, p. 
121 was taken at Auburn, not in the basin. 
Reed & Wright (1909) p. 411 - specimen reported by W. Hopkins in 1854. 
Based on this information, I would argue that the previous inclusion of 
Black-legged Kittiwake on the Basin checklist was questionable, at 
best.  But, with Jay and Kevin's sighting, supported by a thorough 
description and digital photographs, the species now rightfully belongs 
on the checklist. 

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"Cup Quotes"

After reading Tim's post, I decided to head out to Sapsucker Woods 
on Tuesday afternoon to enjoy the beautiful weather (and maybe to look 
around for the Lincoln's Sparrow that he and Mark saw).
- Matt Medler

Allison and Evan and I had our lunch at Stewart Park today (10/9).  We 
spotted a female-plumaged Surf Scoter off the west side, at one point 
near the jetty then later further out.  Allison was able to add it to 
her "Birds Seen While Nursing List" which also includes the Laughing 
Gull from a few weeks ago.
Allison also had the unusual experience on Monday of spotting the 
reflection of an adult Bald Eagle in dishwater in the sink then looking 
up to watch it soaring over our house!
- Jeff Wells

Subject: Scoterrific! 
All three species of scoters can be seen from East Shore Park/Stewart 
Park this morning, in calm winds and great light.
- Tim Lenz

Hello Birders,
Just thought I'd give you the heads-up on Steve's incident at Wegman's, 
late this afternoon.  Not being a big-store fan, Steve parked our car 
at the far end of the lot and waited there while I zipped in to do a 
little grocery shopping.  When I returned there were 2 men talking with 
Steve, who was showing them his scope.  I figured they were asking 
about birds.  Wrong!  The 2 had received a report from a customer that 
a suspicious person was out in the lot with a tripod, maybe taking 
pictures.  The men did not identify themselves as store security.  A 
clue that they came from Wegman's:  one wore a white apron. 
Incensed, I phoned the store when we got home. The manager apologized 
for not identifying himself to Steve, however, he said he was doing his 
job in investigating Steve.  "These days you can't be too careful."  I 
asked if they figured he might be a sniper.  "Yes."  Steve does not 
have a camera attachment on his scope -- if any of you do, and decide 
to bird in Wegman's lot--oh, yes and IF YOU HAVE A BEARD--you will 
probably be interrogated. 
The good news is that the bird he was watching, with scope pointed 'way 
up, was a PEREGRINE FALCON. And for that, Steve is pleased. 
- Sue Fast 

As everyone knows, there is no such thing as a "bad birding time". 
That's like "extra beer" or "bad sex". They just don't exist.
- Eric Banford

Subject: Snowy Owls DO exist!

On my way back to Ithaca today from Mayville, NY I stopped at the 
Mucklands again to search for this mythical bird.  In a 360 degree scan 
of the Mucklands, initially facing north, I found the SNOWY OWL a bit 
to the southwest of the potato building.  Magnificent!  At first it had 
its back to me but then it turned and stared at me, so I knew I wasn't 

Back in Ithaca, I checked Stewart Park, hoping those two Iceland Gulls 
would still be around.  No luck there, but the Snowy Owl was a great 
way to end a fantastic year of Basin birding! 
- Tim Lenz

May Your Cup Runneth Over,