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Year 8, Issues 6-7

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*The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competitions.
*  Editor-in-Chief:  Jay McGowan
*  Guest Editors:  Tringa and Martin McGowan
*  Guest Interviewer:  Mark Chao

Hello, welcome to the June and July 2003 issue of The Cup.  Although 
The Cup was on vacation for much of August (on a chicken farm in 
western Montana, if you want to know), now it's back, bringing you the 
most up-to-date totals (not very up-to-date, as it turns out) for the 
David Cup and related competitions.

If anyone would like to write a column for (or contribute in any way 
to) The Cup, please let me know at  

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

June, July 2002 David Cup Totals

214, 222 Jay McGowan
202, 209 Kevin McGowan
202, 208 Bard Prentiss
206, 207 Steve and Susan Fast
201, 207 Ken Rosenberg
206, 206 Tim Lenz
203, 204 Meena Haribal
198, 201 Pete Hosner
???, 198 Steve Kelling 
196, 197 Bruce Tracey
178, 179 Matt Medler
170, 170 Jeff Gerbracht
145, 167 Mark Chao
163, 163 Allison Wells
128, 161 Jesse Ellis
152, 152 Jeff Wells
112, 114 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan
 79,  81 Martin (the Cat) McGowan

Kevin McGowan's 200th bird: Orchard Oriole

Steve and Susan Fast's 200th bird: Sanderling

Bard Prentiss's 200th bird: Sandhill Crane

Ken Rosenberg's 200th bird: Barred Owl

June, July 2003 McIlroy Award Totals

183, 183 Tim Lenz
174, 178 Ken Rosenberg
154, 154 Jeff Gerbracht
146, 146 Jay McGowan
132, 132 Kevin McGowan
 92,  92 Allison Wells

June, July 2003 Evans Trophy Totals

175, 176 Jay McGowan
167, 168 Kevin McGowan
154, 155 Bard Prentiss
112, 114 Tringa McGowan
 79,  81 Martin McGowan

June, July 2003 Yard Totals

???, 134 Steve Kelling
115, 117 McGowan/Kline Family


The cumulative total is now up to 246, with the addition of Brant, 
Laughing Gull, Acadian Flycatcher, Stilt Sandpiper, and Western 
Sandpiper in June and July.  Still no Henslow's Sparrows, though.

Here's the list:

R-t Loon, PACIFIC LOON, C. Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, 
EARED GREBE, D-c Cormorant, Am. Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Blue 
Heron, Great Egret, CATTLE EGRET, Green Heron, B-c Night-Heron, GLOSSY 
IBIS, Turkey Vulture, Tundra Swan, Mute Swan, 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, 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, 
Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, 
Solitary Sandpiper, WILLET, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Ruddy 
Turnstone, Sanderling, WESTERN SANDPIPER, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least 
Sandpiper, W-r Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, Stilt Sandpiper, 
S-b Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, Am. Woodcock, Wilson's Phalarope, 
Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser B-b Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great 
B-b Gull, Caspian Tern, C. 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, 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, 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, Bobolink, R-w 
Blackbird, E. Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird, C. Grackle, B-h Cowbird, 
Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch, House Finch, Am. 
Goldfinch, House Sparrow.


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

Turnstone, WESTERN SANDPIPER, W-r Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, LITTLE 
GULL, LAUGHING GULL, C. Tern, SNOWY OWL, Barred Owl, S-e Owl, C. 
Nighthawk, R-h Woodpecker, N. Shrike, G-c Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, 
BOHEMIAN WAXWING, G-w Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Lincoln's Sparrow.


by Jay McGowan


In early June, a few shorebirds were seen at Myers Point, including a 
western-form WILLET found by Jay McGowan and Bard Prentiss on the 4th 
(along with several Forster's Terns); and 2 Black-bellied Plovers on 
the 10th.  Also, various Bonaparte's Gulls were seen there into July.  

A few lingering Blackpoll Warblers were seen in early June, as well as 
several Common Nighthawks.  On June 1st, Jeff, Allison and Evan Wells 
saw a flock of BRANT over Union Springs.  On the 4th, a large number of 
late diving ducks were present at Montezuma NWR, including 21 Redhead, 
3 Ring-necked Ducks, and 1 Greater Scaup.

On June 5th, the Sandhill Cranes at Carncross Road were seen again, 
this time with a chick.  (This is reportedly the first confirmed 
Sandhill Crane breeding in New York State.)  A Golden-winged Warbler 
was found on Howland Island by Chris Tessaglia-Hymes on the 8th, in the 
same area one was found last year.

On June 13th, Mark Chao saw a hooded gull, probably a Laughing, from 
Long Point State Park.  The next day, Mike Andersen saw a LAUGHING GULL 
flying down the lake near Myers Point.

The June Count took place over the week of June 14-22; 16,117 
individuals of 127 species were counted.  Some of the highlights were a 
Merlin on Whitted Road off Snyder Hill on the 14th, and a CLAY-COLORED 
SPARROW found by Pete Hosner on Blakeslee Road, south of Ithaca (the 
Clay-colored on Creamery Road found earlier in May was also seen on the 
June Count).  On June 21st, a fledgling Yellow-billed Cuckoo was seen 
on the trails at Sapsucker Woods.


In early July, fall shorebird migration began again, with many 
shorebirds species seen at Montezuma.  On the 15th the shorebird 
selection at Benning Marsh included Short-billed Dowitchers, 1 Stilt 
Sandpiper and 1 Pectoral Sandpiper, as well as many other more common 
shorebirds.  On the 23rd, several Sanderlings were on the spit at Myers 
Point.  On the 27th, Gerard Phillips, Tom Burke and Gail Benson found a 
WESTERN SANDPIPER (along with other shorebirds) on Old Towpath Road in 
the Savannah Mucklands.  Upland Sandpipers were still present at the 
fairgrounds in Seneca Falls as late as July 19th, when 15 were visible 
in the grassy fields.  Several Least Bitterns were present at 
Montezuma, as well as many American Bitterns.

Passerines were fairly scarce in July.  On the 6th, Jay and Kevin 
McGowan found Acadian Flycatchers at a nest on Ford Hill Road in 

!                       KICKIN' TAIL!                      !

Cup newcomer Mark Chao assumes the mike this issue to bring you this 
interview with the current leader, Jay McGowan.  


A veteran of Cup competition since its inception in 1996, Jay is now
17 years old.  He resides on Beam Hill in Dryden.  Jay is a home-school 
student entering the equivalent of 12th grade.  He is the son of crow 
expert, national celebrity, and stalwart of the World Series of 
Birding, Kevin McGowan.

The Cup:  Are you named for the corvid?

Jay:  Sort of. My father was working on Florida Scrub-Jays when I was 
born, but that's not the whole reason I was named Jay. I guess my 
parents just liked the name.

The Cup:  How did you get started with birding, and how has your 
interest advanced over the years?

Jay:  I've always been interested in animals and the natural world.
My father encouraged me, and took me birding often. It wasn't until I 
was 5 or so that I really got into it. Since then, my interest in birds 
and skill at identifying them has been increasing. The local birding 
community has also been a great help.

The Cup:  You get your formal education at home.  How does that work 
from week to week?

Jay:  My mother usually gives me a fixed amount of work that I have to 
complete during the week, or sometimes daily updates. It varies.

The Cup:  What are you studying these days?

Jay:  Lately I've been doing math (Algebra and Trigonometry), world 
history, social studies, and some biology at home. I'm also taking a 
few classes at TC3 in Dryden. Last semester I took Geology, and this 
semester I'm taking Precalculus Math and Spanish.

The Cup:  How do birding and bird study fit in?

Jay:  Birding (and now bird and butterfly photography as well) are what 
is most important to me right now, so I spend much of my time doing 
that.  Being home-schooled gives me enough flexibility that if, say, a 
Long-billed Murrelet shows up at Stewart Park, I can take the day off 
to go see it without any qualms. I can make up the time in the evening, 
or on the weekend.

The Cup:  Is it safe to assume that you hope to make ornithology a 

Jay:  It's hard to say at this point. I hope so.

The Cup:  What subdisciplines, species, or regions interest you most?

Jay:  Behavior interests me. I do have a fondness for corvids, but I 
like other groups too.

The Cup:  Is Cornell your first choice for college study?

Jay:  Maybe.  We're not sure yet.

The Cup:  How about your other interests?  Sports?  Music?

Jay:  I'm not very into sports. I downhill ski and ice skate, but not a 
lot else.  I'm similarly disinterested in music, although I like some 
classical music.

The Cup:  Got a girlfriend?

Jay:  Nope.

The Cup:  After you win the Cup, you'll have no shortage of female 
admirers, I'm sure.  But how do you connect with other kids your age, 
given your home schooling and pursuits?

Jay:  One of the disadvantages of home-schooling can be the lack of 
social exposure. However, there is a very large home-schooling 
community in Ithaca, and most of my childhood friends were home-
schooled. I do have a few birding friends my age (two of whom I will be 
doing the Muckrace with very soon.)

The Cup:  What's your best bird find of the year?

Jay:  Undoubtedly the Pacific Loon in Varick in April. Bard Prentiss 
and I were going down the west side of the lake, and I was looking for 
loons for our day-list. I finally saw a few dark spots on the water, 
and looking at them through binoculars, noticed one had a pale head.  
When we stopped to get a better look, it turned out to be a breeding-
plumaged Pacific Loon!

The Cup:  You've also had some great finds of Grasshopper Sparrows, 
frequently and in great numbers.  What is your secret to locating this 
elusive bird?

Jay:  Grasshopper Sparrows are much more common in The Basin than 
people think. Although there aren't many places very close the Ithaca 
area where they can be found reliably, on the west side of Cayuga Lake 
they are very common (I've heard 8 or more singing along one short 
stretch of road about halfway up the lake). The west side of the lake 
is very under-birded, and it wouldn't surprise me if many other species 
we think of as uncommon here are much easier on the west side.

The Cup:  In the last issue of the Cup, you suggested that we have a 
contest for most species photographed in the Basin. This seems to me a 
little like Arnold Schwarzenegger challenging the other California 
gubernatorial candidates to an arm-wrestling tournament. Aren't you 
just looking to pad your credentials for college applications? Or has 
the joy of unadorned digiscoping faded so much that you need 
competition to get that same testosterone rush? 

Jay:  Actually, I was hoping to inspire others to keep track of species 
photographed, take more pictures, and possibly drum up more interest in 
the David Cup competition in general (in the long run), eventually 
making this a better world to live in. Or maybe I just like winning. 
(Although there's no reason Kevin and I have to have a stranglehold on 
that hypothetical competition--more and more people these days are 
'digiscoping', taking digital pictures through telescopes and 
binoculars--making it easier to get a large list of photographed 

The Cup:  Well, I'm not sure the world is a better place yet, but at 
least you (and mostly Ken Rosenberg) have helped motivate me to get 
started.  If we do launch that contest, you better look out -- I've got 
photos of six species already.

Jay:  Good job.  You're in second place so far.

The Cup:  Cup zeal has waned among the usual contenders. Does that 
dampen your satisfaction at being on top? And do you have any words for 
the old guard?

Jay:  It does somewhat, yes. Knowing that no one else is even trying 
makes it a little less fun, but that's okay. As for the Old Guard, I'd 
just like to share with them these words of wisdom: "Ha ha! I'm ahead 
of you!"

The Cup:  I wouldn't say that no one is even trying.  A friend of mine 
has even been making thrice-weekly trips to Myers this summer to look 
for rarities like Red-breasted Merganser.

Jay:  Sorry.  That was rather thoughtless.  I won't let it happen 

The Cup:  Does anyone have a chance against you this year? Or next?

Jay:  Anyone who gets out enough has a chance. Tim Lenz started out 
with a bang, and has been close behind (and in front of) me for most of 
the year. He was definitely one of the people who got out the most in 
the spring.  Although he disappeared for the summer, it seems he has 
returned, and could easily be a threat.  Pete Hosner, after his record-
pulverizing run in 2002, seems to be taking it easy this year, although 
you never know with him. There are always other possible contenders, if 
they made a push (people such as Meena Haribal, Jesse Ellis, Mike 
Andersen, or even 'Old Man Medler'), but no one seems to have the 
determination to really do it this year.

The Cup:  Now, in closing, I thought we'd try something new:  the
"Lightning Round."  Here we go...your favorite bird family? 

Jay:  Falconidae, Corvidae or Parulidae.

The Cup:  Favorite bird species? 

Jay:  Probably Peregrine Falcon.

The Cup:  Favorite bird song? 

Jay:  Probably the Musician Wren from South America. I also like the 
calls of Common Raven and Black-bellied Plover.

The Cup:  Most coveted bird species for life list? 

Jay:  Maybe Long-billed Murrelet.

The Cup:  For your Basin list? 

Jay:  This year, Pacific Loon; past years, probably Slaty-backed Gull.

The Cup:  Place you'd most like to visit? 

Jay:  In the U.S., probably Arizona. I've never been in the Southwest 
at all.  In the world, I'm not sure. I'd like to go to Australia 
someday, though. I've been to Peru once, but I'd love to go back (or to 
somewhere else in South America).

The Cup:  Most respected historical figure? 

Jay:  Umm...I really couldn't say.

The Cup:  Mine is Allison Wells.  Favorite school subject? 

Jay:  Biology, and maybe Geography/Geology.

The Cup:  Your most formidable Cup challengers? 

Jay:  So far this year, Tim Lenz.

The Cup:  Which would you most like to possess: the power to become 
invisible, the ability to fly, or infinite knowledge? 

Jay:  Number three. If I had infinite knowledge, I could probably 
develop the technology to become invisible and fly.

The Cup:  Which would you choose: a date with Cameron Diaz or a digital 
photo of a Basin Yellow Rail? 

Jay:  The photo (assuming I was the one who took it). I have wanted to 
see a Yellow Rail for some time now.  And I don't like meeting 

The Cup:  Guess on your final Basin bird of the year?

Jay:  Probably a winter finch of one sort or another. Since this last 
winter was an off one for finches, listers will have to scramble for 
them in December (the peak is usually January and February, with often 
only a few in December).  Maybe Common Redpoll if I'm lucky?



[EDITOR'S NOTE: Unfortunately, this summer very few people said 
anything witty or memorable; therefore, this section is much shorter 
and more boring than past ones have been.  To all you Cayugabirds 
posters reading this: Remember to try to be a little more witty and 
memorable in the future.  Thank you.]

I took a walk on the Dryden Lake Trail this morning and encountered the 
immature BALD EAGLE....It was visited by 2 of its CROW friends; 
interesting how the crows shrank noticably in size on landing just 
above the eagle.
--Steve Fast

The numbers tell the story of this wintry June morning at Myers:
40 degrees F, winds 30+ mph from the north (at times, it felt as if 
those figures ought to be reversed)
--Mark Chao

This evening, at 2030 hrs., on the Dryden Lake Trail, I had an adult 
GREAT HORNED OWL fly out of the woods, land on the top of a snag, and 
engage me in a staring contest.  It won.
--Steve Fast

Time to start practicing those fall warblers...  it's migration.
--Jesse Ellis

The skies are dull
The shorebirds null
Just Mallards, swallows, and Ring-billed Gulls.
--Mark Chao

May Your Cup Runneth Over,
- Jay