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Year 8, Issues 10-11

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*The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competitions.
*  Editor-in-Chief:  Jay McGowan
*  Highlights:  Matt Medler

Merry Christmas Cuppers!  I hope you have enjoyed/are enjoying the 
winter holidays.  Unfortunately, this issue has been delayed 
considerably; additionally, despite the lengthy delay, it still 
contains very little actual content!  Hopefully this will not dampen 
your holiday spirit.

It will soon be 2004, bringing to an end a remarkable year.  Although 
last year (2002) was highly vaunted as being a very high-scoring, 
rarity filled year (and it was), this year can easily rival it for 
rarities.  At the end of November 2003 was tied with last year for 
total number of species seen in the Basin, with all of December to pick 
up a few more (which has happened).  I hope to have a more extensive 
article on this topic in the next issue.  In fact, much of the content 
which could have been in this issue is being saved for the special end-
of-year edition.  So be sure to send in your final totals is a timely 
manner for the ultimate issue for 2003.

On a related note, anyone who has anything they would like to see in 
the Cup, whether it is poetry, interviews, articles, or anything else, 
please contact me at

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

October, November 2003 David Cup Totals

245, 250 Jay McGowan
238, 242 Kevin McGowan
236, 239 Tim Lenz
233, 236 Ken Rosenberg
232?,232?Pete Hosner
227, 232 Steve and Susan Fast
???, 230 Steve Kelling
224, 225 Mike Andersen 
???, 225 Meena Haribal
217, 224 Jesse Ellis
210, 221 Matt Medler
213, 216 Bruce Tracey
213?,214?Bard Prentiss
207?,207?Jeff Wells
201, 206 Mark Chao
200, 204 Jeff Gerbracht
198, ??? Dan Lebbin
???, 192 Allison Wells
???, 186 Julie Hart
123, 125 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan
 90,  91 Martin (the Cat) McGowan
       0 Bob Fogg

October, November 2003 McIlroy Award (Ithaca) Totals

Tied once again, Ken and Tim race head-to-head towards the finish line 
in Ithaca.  I believe Tim is slightly ahead at the moment, but can Ken 
get the few birds needed to catch up?

205, 209 Ken Rosenberg
203, 209 Tim Lenz
164, 167 Jay McGowan
155, 157 Jeff Gerbracht
156, 160 Kevin McGowan
???, 145 Allison Wells

October, November 2003 Evans Trophy (Dryden) Totals

188, 191 Jay McGowan
180, 181 Kevin McGowan
123, 125 Tringa McGowan
 90,  91 Martin McGowan

October, November 2003 Yard Totals

???, 158 Steve Kelling
128, 130 McGowan/Kline Family
???,  99 Nancy Dickinson



The cumulative total up to the end of November was 269, tying last 
year's end-of-year total.  This October added Purple Sandpiper, 
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Pine Siskin and Hudsonian Godwit.  
November added Common Redpoll, Evening Grosbeak, Greater White-fronted 
Goose, Pomarine Jaeger, and Dickcissel.  Birds still lacking for the 
year include both crossbills and Pine Grosbeak.  Here's the total list:

R-t Loon, PACIFIC LOON, C. Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, 
Cormorant, Am. Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, 
IBIS, Turkey Vulture, Tundra Swan, Mute Swan, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED 
GOOSE, Snow Goose, ROSS'S GOOSE, Canada Goose, Brant, Wood Duck, G-w 
Teal, Am. Black Duck, Mallard, N. Pintail, B-w Teal, N. Shoveler, 
Gadwall, Am. Wigeon, EURASIAN WIGEON, Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, 
Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, L-t Duck, Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, W-w 
Scoter, C. Goldeneye, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, 
C. 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, Am. Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, 
GYRFALCON, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Virginia Rail, 
Sora, C. Moorhen, Am. Coot, Sandhill Crane, B-b Plover, Am. Golden-
Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser 
Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, WILLET, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland 
Sandpiper, WHIMBREL, Hudsonian Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, 
WESTERN SANDPIPER, 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, Am. Woodcock, Wilson's Phalarope, R-n 
GULL, LAUGHING GULL, LITTLE GULL, Bonaparte's Gull, R-b Gull, Herring 
Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser B-b Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great B-b Gull, 
Caspian Tern, C. Tern, ARCTIC 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, 
C. Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, R-t Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, R-b 
Woodpecker, R-h 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, B-h Vireo, Y-t Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia 
Vireo, R-e Vireo, Blue Jay, Am. Crow, Fish Crow, C. 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, Am. 
Robin, European Starling, Gray Catbird, N. Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, 
Am. 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 Warbler, 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-&-w Warbler, Am. Redstart, W-e Warbler, Ovenbird, 
N. Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Mourning Warbler, C. 
Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Canada Warbler, YELLOW-
BREASTED CHAT, Scarlet Tanager, E. Towhee, Am. Tree Sparrow, Chipping 
Sparrow, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, Field Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah 
Sparrow, Grasshopper 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, C. Grackle, B-h Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, 
Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch, House Finch, Common Redpoll, Pine 
Siskin, Am. Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak, House Sparrow.


Here's what the leader has missed as of November:

WESTERN SANDPIPER, Wilson's Phalarope, R-n Phalarope, RED PHALAROPE, 
OWL, L-e Owl, R-h Woodpecker, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, G-w Warbler, Common 



by Matt Medler

     OK.  Let's be honest.  How many of you thought that you had seen 
your last Basin rarity of the year in mid-September, when the storm-
petrels (Were they both Wilson's?  Was one the state's first Band-
rumped!?!) made their last appearances at the south end of Cayuga Lake.  
Nothing really good ever shows up in October and November, right?  A 
few winter finches might start to descend on the Basin, but that's 
certainly about all we could expect for highlights.  Well, if that's 
what your general perception of October and November is, maybe you 
should ponder these highlights and reconsider:  White-faced Ibis, 
Western Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Franklin's Gull, Nelson's 
Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Eurasian Wigeon, Purple Sandpiper, Hudsonian 
Godwit, Cattle Egret, a possible Pomarine Jaeger, Laughing Gull, and 
Dickcissel, Greater White-fronted Goose.  Not a bad two months, huh?
     October got off to a good start with one of September's rarities--
the Basin's first-ever White-faced Ibis--lingering at Montezuma until 
October 3.  While watching the ibis for the second time on October 1, 
and after having scoured the peeps at Montezuma for scores of hours 
over the past few years, Pete Hosner was rewarded with a nice, close 
juvenile Western Sandpiper at Benning Marsh.  Later that same day, 
while counting shorebirds at Mays Point Pool, Pete and others caught a 
brief glimpse of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper.  
     On a rare voyage out of the Town of Ithaca on October 10, Tim Lenz 
came across a young, small hooded gull at Myers Point that he initially 
identified as a Laughing Gull.  After doing some research and 
consulting his notes, Tim realized that the bird he saw was actually a 
Franklin's Gull.  To atone for both his extralimital wanderings and his 
initial identification confusion, Tim later found a real Laughing Gull 
at Hog Hole on November 5.  
     On the topic of geographically-challenged Cuppers, Steve Kelling 
is *still* living outside of the Basin, but to make up for it, he had a 
number of good birds on his farm in Caroline.  The first was a 
Dickcissel heard calling shortly after dawn on October 10.  On the 
13th, Steve heard the area's first Pine Siskin of the year (the Basin's 
first would follow on Beam Hill the next day), and he also had the 
region's first Evening Grosbeak of the year on October 20.  The Basin's 
first Evening Grosbeak sighting came almost three weeks later, when 
Jesse Ellis heard and saw this species flying over Sapsucker Woods.  On 
November 7, finchmeister Matt Young heard an early Common Redpoll at 
Summerhill, suggesting that there might be a good invasion of these 
delightful little finches, but such an irruption has not been 
     The early part of October is when Cuppers usually *talk* about 
going to Hog Hole to look for Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, but actual 
attempts to find this elusive bird are much less common.  On October 
12, though, Ken Rosenberg actually walked the walk in the wet grasses 
at the south end of the lake, and was rewarded with a beautiful 
Nelson's at Hog Hole.  To his credit, Ken was quick to alert other 
birders of his find, so that even a desperate Tim Lenz, three hours 
away in Buffalo, was able to return and see the bird before dark.  
Another bird that has generated much discussion among Cuppers in recent 
years has been Cave Swallow, which has become almost annual in Cape May 
in early November.  When Bruce Tracey spotted a Cliff/Cave Swallow type 
bird near his home in Lansing on November 4, he must have thought, at 
least for a split second, that he had achieved birding fame by finding 
the Basin's first-ever Cave Swallow.  However, try as he might, he 
could not turn this late Cliff Swallow into a Cave.
     After nearly a forty-year absence from the Cayuga Lake Basin, 
Purple Sandpiper made its *third* appearance in the Basin in less than 
18 months, on October 17.  This time, the bird was where it was 
"supposed" to be--on the red lighthouse jetty in Ithaca.  Quite 
impressively, this was the second time that Tim Lenz was the birder who 
discovered this rare species, earning him the possible nickname "Purple 
Tim" (Pink Floyd...Purple Tim, get it?)  Despite the intense McIlroy 
Award competition between Tim and Ken Rosenberg, it was actually Jay 
McGowan who made the other big discovery at the south end of Cayuga 
Lake this fall.  Adding to his Birder-of-the-Year credentials, Jay 
found not one, but two, Greater White-fronted Geese in among the mass 
of Canada Geese at Stewart Park on November 12.  Just a few days later, 
Ithaca feederwatcher Lisa Wood subscribed to Cayugabirds-L to report 
that she and her husband had spotted a probable Dickcissel in their 
yard.  A legion of Cuppers quickly descended upon the Woods' yard and 
confirmed that they did in fact have the Basin's first on-the-ground 
Dickcissel in recent memory.  A late Rose-breasted Grosbeak was also 
seen at the Wood residence for a few days before Thanksgiving.  
Speaking of "late" and "Wood," Mike Andersen saw and described a very 
late Wood Thrush on the Cornell campus on November 14.    
     As usual, Montezuma hosted its fair share of Basin rarities during 
October and November.  In addition to the birds previously mentioned, 
birders at Montezuma spotted Eurasian Wigeon on October 12 and November 
1, Sandhill Cranes on October 14 and 21, Hudsonian Godwit on October 25 
and 30, and Cattle Egret on October 29.
     One of the most intriguing reports of Fall 2003 was a report by 
Ken Rosenberg of a Pomarine Jaeger at the south end of Cayuga Lake on 
November 2.  Since Pomarine Jaeger would be a new addition to the Basin 
checklist, and details of the jaeger have not been forthcoming, this 
report remains in the "intriguing" category as we go to press .
     Finally, perhaps two of the biggest birding highlights of October 
and November were found right on the Cornell campus during November.  A 
Barred Owl that spent the day near the Vet School on November 6 treated 
countless birders and passers-by to great looks as it sat in a tree in 
a courtyard.  And, when Jesse Ellis saw a Peregrine Falcon land on a 
"big brown building" on campus on November 14, little did he know that 
this Peregrine would take up residence on Bradfield Hall for the month 
of November (and beyond), allowing patient birders excellent views 
every day at dusk.                           

            DEAR TICK

No questions were received for Dear Tick.  Apparently, no one had any 
qualms or doubts about their sightings or what they are counting.

[If YOU have a question for Dear Tick about anything having to do with 
The David Cup, or just birding in general, send it to Allison Wells at, and she will pass it along.]


Among the more normal calls, we did hear a Barred Owl, Tropical 
Screech-Owl, Potoo, Manakins...oh, that's right, those were made by 
myself, Dan Lebbin, and Pete Hosner, during the lull...
--Chris Tessaglia-Hymes

While putting out clothes for drying in solar dryer, I watched the sky. 
In about 20 minutes (it took 20 min because I was scanning the sky more 
often than hanging clothes), two Sharpies, 1 Kestrel and a TV went by
--Meena Haribal

On Hammond Hill on Sunday, the morning light and fall foliage were 
gorgeous beyond description, both in the intimate corridors of the 
gravel roads and trails, and in the expansive colorscapes of the 
surrounding hills.  
--Mark Chao

For those like myself who enjoy even numbers, I'll mention that this 
bird was my 200'th in Ithaca for the year, and also a lifer.  Thanks 
Ken! (who also surpassed 200 sometime this weekend, I might add).
--Tim Lenz

This morning when I walked up the hill behind my house I had many 
--Steve Kelling

Cool!  Three times over the past couple days I thought I heard an 
Osprey outside my house (near Beebe Lake), but I couldn't see it.  The 
third time, when I ran outside I saw . . . a Blue Jay mimicking an 
Osprey!  It was amazing how close the mimicry was.
--Fred Werner

What a day! I fully expected the small shorebird I saw on the jetty 
this morning to be another Dunlin (since they've been so numerous 
lately), and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a 
pulchritudinous PURPLE SANDPIPER.  Wasn't planning on finding that on 
the jetty until November...
--Tim Lenz

...Actually, Ken just called, said there's another small shorebird with 
the purple on the Jetty. Gotta go.
--Tim Lenz

PS: I watched MV Manhattan pass-by the Red Light house jetty and was 
hoping I was on it.
--Meena Haribal

At the loading dock of the lab I found couple of Yellow-rumped warbler 
and someone caught me talking to the warblers.
--Meena Haribal

CORRECTION:  From Stew. Park this morning I reported "6 white lumps 
that looked like Tundra Swans".  I was at the Park this afternoon at 
1630 and with much better visibility, the same location yielded 5 WHITE 
--Steve Fast

Out across the Fuller Wetlands pond, a flock of about 40 or 50 finches, 
mostly House, were playing Redpoll in the weeds.
--Jesse Ellis

At Stewart, a GRRRREATER YELLOWLEGS was swimming in the swan pen.  
--Tim Lenz, presumably lamenting over his continued lack of Lesser 
Yellowlegs for Ithaca

Good Novembirding,
--Tim Lenz

I birded up the east side of the lake this morning, and drove back down 
the west side.  I bought a muffin for breakfast at the gas station in 
Lansing, but it was stale and didn't taste very good.  There weren't 
many birds around... 
...By 10:45 I was very hungry, and worrying more about school than 
about birds, so I just drove straight home.  Nevertheless, it was a 
nice morning to be out.
--Tim Lenz

Bennings: There were two Dunlins feeding close in, with three Green-
Winged Teal way in the back, right where the Wegmans truck is . . . . 
NOW! (May have moved by now.)
--Bob McGuire

On 11/24, there was a female Purple Finch on our feeder along with the 
house finches.  A short time later. there were two Y-B Sapsuckers on 
our asian elm.  As a sign of our continuing mild weather, a garter 
snake crossed my path Monday afternoon.  That's the latest I have seen 
one here.  The birds were reported to ebird.  The snake was not.
--Bill McAneny

...apologies to gull enthusiasts, I scanned the dock so quickly & 
sloppily as not to notice whether there were Herring Gulls among them, 
but I'm pretty sure there were no skimmers, penguins, or smaller gulls.
--Dave Nutter

Bundle up, and get out there and find birds!
--Steve and Sue Fast

[In response to the above quote]: I managed to do the first two on the 
list this afternoon, but had a bit of trouble with the third.  
--Tim Lenz

I've got more notes in the car, and even attempted to sketch a few 
things, but it's snowing now so I don't want to go outside.
--Tim Lenz

It's always interesting to me how several observers can look at (the 
same bird?) and see slightly different things.  I'm off now to clean 
the lenses on my spotting scope and make an appointment with my eye 
doctor for an exam.
--Steve Fast

May Your Cup Runneth Over,
- Jay