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Year 9, Issues 1-2

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*The Cup 9.1-9.2 ­ January/February 2004
*The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competitions.
*  Editor-in-Chief:  Jay McGowan
*  Highlights:  Jay McGowan

Welcome to the Cup 9.1-9.2!

2004 is off to a fairly good start.  Cuppers have enjoyed the virtually 
unprecedented number of Hoary Redpolls this winter, as well as more 
usual winter visitors.

We have a lot of new names in the David Cup this year, and hopefully a 
few more will swell our ranks in the coming months.  Thus, some of 
these names might look a little unfamiliar to some of you. Scott? Erin? 
Lena?  All the new names make me nostalgic for the good old days, back 
when all the top contenders were named "Matt."  If you met an 
enthusiastic young male birder in the field, there was no need to 
remember names; chances were he was a Matt.  And now look--only a 
single Matt in the David Cup (and he’s fading fast!)

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

January, February 2004 David Cup Totals

Steve Fast took a well-deserved lead in February.  We weren’t able to 
bring you an interview with him this issue, but possibly we will at 
some point in the future.

89, 99 Steve Fast
89, 96 Jay McGowan
75, 95 Scott Haber
88, 94 Kevin McGowan
68, 84 Bruce Tracey
50, 83 Pete Hosner
45, 80 Tim Lenz
31, 75 Lena Samsonenko
53, 73 Perri McGowan
63, 71 Bard Prentiss
61, 71 Ken Rosenberg
??, 69 Julie Hart
??, 68 Matt Medler
34, 67 Mark Chao
??, 64 Steve Kelling
43, 63 Anne Marie Johnson
18, 55 Erin Hewett
32, 42 Allison Wells
33, 41 Chris Tessaglia-Hymes
27, 36 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan
32, 35 Jeff Wells
19, 22 Martin (the Cat) McGowan
10, 11 Evan Wells
     0 Dan Lebbin

January, February 2004 McIlroy Award (Ithaca) Totals

With Tim Lenz reportedly leaving town for good this spring, Ken 
Rosenberg looks like a shoe-in for Ithaca champion this year...unless 
Jeff Gerbracht can make a big push.  Come on Jeff!

61, 69 Ken Rosenberg
42, 54 Kevin McGowan
44, 50 Jeff Gerbracht
30, 50 Jay McGowan
14, 42 Tim Lenz
29, 36 Allison Wells
21, 23 Jeff Wells

January, February 2004 Evans Trophy (Dryden) Totals

Steve Fast has joined the ranks of the Dryden listers.  Can he topple 
Beam Hill-monarch Jay McGowan for the Evans Trophy?

48, 55 Jay McGowan
??, 54 Steve Fast
46, 53 Kevin McGowan
38, 42 Bard Prentiss

January, February 2004 Yard Totals

28, 31 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden
??, 28 Steve Kelling, Caroline 
13, 15 Anne Marie Johnson, Caroline

January, February 2004 Lansing Competition Totals

Yes, that’s right: the Lansing Competition has been reinstated!  
Although not many people have competed in it in the past, it has the 
potential to be a pretty high-scoring affair...maybe?  Lansing is a big 
place, and maybe some of you will join in and count your species there.

??, 68 Kevin McGowan
??, 62 Bruce Tracey

January, February 2004 Etna Challenge Totals

And finally, the little competition that could...or not.  Feel free to 
join Allison in her quest to find birds in Etna (you know that’s in 
Dryden, right Allison?)

24, 32 Allison Wells


The Basin birding community racked up 110 species in January, with an 
additional 5 in February, making a total of 115 for the year so far.

Mute Swan, , Tundra Swan, Canada Goose, Snow Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, 
Am. Black Duck, Gadwall, N. Pintail, Am. Wigeon, G-w Teal, Canvasback, 
Redhead, R-n Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, L-t Duck, Black Scoter, 
W-w Scoter, C. Goldeneye, BARROW'S GOLDENEYE, Bufflehead, Hooded 
Merganser, C. Merganser, R-b Merganser, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, 
Wild Turkey, R-t Loon, PACIFIC LOON, C. Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, 
R-n Grebe, EARED GREBE, D-c Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Turkey 
Vulture, Bald Eagle, N. Harrier, S-s Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, N. Goshawk, 
R-s Hawk, R-t Hawk, R-l Hawk, Am. Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, 
Am. Coot, Killdeer, Bonaparte's Gull, R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland 
Gull, Glaucous Gull, Lesser B-b Gull, Great B-b Gull, Mourning Dove, 
Rock Pigeon, S-e Owl, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, E. Screech-Owl, 
Belted Kingfisher, R-b Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, 
N. Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, N. Shrike, Blue Jay, C. Raven, Am. 
Crow, Fish Crow, Horned Lark, Tufted Titmouse, B-c Chickadee, R-b 
Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, Winter Wren, G-c 
Kinglet, E. Bluebird, Am. Robin, Hermit Thrush, N. Mockingbird, 
European Starling, Am. Pipit, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Cedar Waxwing, Y-r 
Warbler, N. Cardinal, E. Towhee, Am. Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, W-
t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland 
Longspur, Snow Bunting, B-h Cowbird, R-w Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, 
Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch, House Finch, W-w Crossbill, C. Redpoll, 
HOARY REDPOLL, Pine Siskin, Am. Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

Of the total, this month’s leader missed the following birds:
Double-crested Cormorant, Black Scoter, Red-shouldered Hawk, Killdeer, 
Bonaparte's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Barred Owl, Northern 
Shrike, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Bohemian Waxwing, Chipping Sparrow, 
White-crowned Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-winged Crossbill, HOARY 


by Jay McGowan

     The Ithaca Christmas Bird Count was conducted as usual on January 
1st.  75 species were recorded, with an additional four count week 
birds.  Highlights included a TURKEY VULTURE near Ellis Hollow Road 
(new to the count), PEREGRINE FALCON, Fish Crow, EASTERN TOWHEE, and 
CHIPPING SPARROW.  The Montezuma CBC had a fairly low count, totaling 
67 species.  Highlights included high numbers of SNOW GEESE and TUNDRA 
SWANS, an assortment of diving ducks, and 9 BALD EAGLES.
     One of the main attractions of this winter was, of course, the 
winter finches.  On the 1st of January, Bruce Tracey found a WHITE-
WINGED CROSSBILL at Summerhill, and Mickey Scilingo reported several 
flying over his house on Yellow Barn Road in Dryden on the 15th.  
EVENING GROSBEAKS continued to be seen regularly at the feeders on 
Fillmore Lane in Summerhill, but virtually nowhere else in the Basin.  
PINE SISKINS were seen regularly at Summerhill, and less often at 
various other locations.  COMMON REDPOLLS, though their numbers were 
not as high as they might have been, were enjoyed by many feeder 
watchers.  Just outside the Basin limits, Steve Kelling’s yard in 
Caroline hosted a female PINE GROSBEAK on February 1st.  The most 
interesting phenomenon was the number of HOARY REDPOLLS reported in the 
Ithaca area.  One was reported from the west side of Beam Hill on the 
3rd of January, and a female turned up at our house on the east side of 
Beam Hill on the 6th.  We continued to see at least two different 
female Hoaries intermittently until mid-February.  A Hoary was 
photographed at a feeder on Hunt Hill in late January, and another was 
reported near Mount Pleasant on February 7th.  A Hoary was reported at 
the Lab of O on February 8th, and a male was seen there again on the 
13th, and observed by a few individuals over the course of the next 
week or two.  Another Hoary Redpoll was reported in Ithaca on the 16th.
     At Myers Point, a yellow wing-tagged TRUMPETER SWAN (one of the 
same birds as last year, 305) was seen often, in association with one 
or more Tundra Swans.  Additionally, a family of three (two adults and 
one immature) TRUMPETER SWANS spent time on the Mill Pond at Union 
Springs.  Also in the main pond at Union Springs, a RED-NECKED GREBE 
spent some in late January, allowing close looks.  RED-NECKED GREBES 
began appearing in mid-January and increased in numbers through 
February.  Additionally, the EARED GREBE continued to be seen from 
Aurora throughout the winter.  A BONAPARTE’S GULL appeared briefly off 
Stewart Park, and two female LONG-TAILED DUCKS spent all of January and 
February at the ice edge at the south end of the lake.  Single WHITE-
WINGED and BLACK SCOTERS were seen near Long Point S.P. on January 
25th.  On January 25th, Mark Dettling discovered a male BARROW’S 
GOLDENEYE with a flock of Common Goldeneye at Myers Point.  This bird 
was fairly cooperative for most people and stayed until at least March 
     A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK spent January and February around Sapsucker 
Woods (possibly the same individual as exhibited similar behavior in 
the same are last year?), and a MERLIN was seen over the pond on the 
6th and 7th of January.  A HERMIT THRUSH was seen at Sapsucker Woods on 
January 15th.  Nearby, a single CHIPPING SPARROW was seen at feeders 
for most of January.
     Apparently the only FISH CROWS around this winter frequented the 
neighborhood near the P&C on the north side of Ithaca.  LAPLAND 
LONGSPURS were seen regularly at Cornell Lane near Harford, and 
occasionally at other locations.  As usual, some observers were able to 
find a few YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS wintering in the cedars along Lake 
Road near Long Point S.P.
     The campus PEREGRINE FALCON continued to be seen roosting on 
Bradfield Tower into March.  Red-tailed Hawk numbers at the game farm 
at Game Farm and Stevenson roads were very large, with a high count of 
65 birds on January 17th.  SHORT-EARED OWLS were seen once or twice one 
both sides of the lake in January and February.  On February 10th, my 
sister Perri and I found one sitting on the ice north of the red 
lighthouse at the south end of the lake.
     On February 8th, Pete Hosner, Tim Lenz, Mickey Scilingo, and 
Melanie Driscoll observed a probable PACIFIC LOON off the marina at 
Myers Point.  Other observers looked for the loon, but confusion ensued 
when a dark, immature RED-THROATED LOON--apparently not the same bird 
as Pete and Tim’s Pacific--also was seen.  The probable Pacific Loon 
was not seen again after the 8th, though the Red-throated was present 
until late February.
various locations around the lake throughout the winter.  A possible 
immature THAYER’S GULL was seen at the Seneca Meadows Landfill in 
Seneca Falls on February 14th, but the characters were not quite 
convincing enough for it to be counted on the year list.
     On February 22nd, Meena Haribal found a BOHEMIAN WAXWING in a 
large flock of Cedar Waxwings near Asbury Road.  This bird was not 
relocated, despite substantial searching later that day.
     A late report was received of a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER frequenting 
a feeder in Lansing in late January and early February.
     Towards the end of February, a few early "spring" arrivals were 
noted, including KILLDEER and AMERICAN PIPIT.


Kevin McGowan has put together an online bulletin board to display 
photos of local birds of the Cayuga Lake Basin and surrounding areas.  
Anyone is welcome to have their photos displayed for others to view.  
Not just photos of rare birds, but also interesting plumages, behaviors 
or just nice photos are welcome.  The site can be viewed by anyone at 
.  Some recent 
interesting photos on the site at present include an assortment of 
Hoary Redpolls, the Aurora Eared Grebe, Myers Point Barrow’s Goldeneye, 
the Eurasian Green-winged Teal from Dryden, Ross’s Goose, and various 
views of the incredible Snow Goose flock near Union Springs.

To put your photo on the sight, send it as an attachment in an email to 
Kevin at  with "Cayuga BC photo" in the subject line.  
Also, please include photographer’s name, where and when the photograph 
was taken, and any short comments you might have.  Don’t be shy about 
putting up your pictures.  We all enjoy seeing what other people are 



Dear Tick:

There are 365 days in a year, yet I live outside the Basin and so don't 
spend 365 days birding in the Basin. Therefore, I'm sure you'll agree 
that I should calculate my Basin total based on actual days birding in 
the Basin. It seems only fair.

Calculating in Out-of-Basin

Dear Calculating:

Your argument is not unrelated to early Cup banterings by Kevin
McGowan regarding "time in the field," and is especially reminiscent of 
Ken Rosenberg's subtle lobbying for the David Cup crown when he boasts 
about his high ratio of time spent birding vs. number of birds seen.
Unfortunately, neither Kevin nor Ken has the statistical background to 
come up with an accurate formula to make these reasonings really stick. 
Luckily for you, I do. Here's how you should run your numbers:

Sum of the total # species seen in per Basin birding day/number of days 
in-Basin birding x 365 (days in a year) = Basin total for a given 

Example: If you did the Muckrace and saw 100 species and that was the 
only Basin birding you did that year, you divide 120 by 1 and multiply 
by 365, for a Basin year total of 3,650.

Please tell Allison Wells that she should be using this same time-
tested formula when tabulating her McIlroy total (see Tim Lenz's new 
McIlroy "record" as an example).


The arctic wind was fierce: you know it's windy when the windshield 
wiper fluid doesn't even make it to your windshield!
--Mike powers

O, Lord, please send me a Redpoll.   300 Etna Rd.  Amen
--Martha Fischer

Slim pickings, but it's still better than television
--Marty Schlabach

SARCOPTIC MANGE MITES.  If you can divorce yourself from the image of 
mange and mite (they're hideous, BTW. Someone sent me some horrific 
photos) the poetry of those syllables is seductive.
--Caissa Willmer

I was passing by Rand Hall and noticed two squirrels chasing each other 
on a small patch of exposed grass.  A few seconds after I turned my 
head away from them, I literally had to duck as an immature Red-tail 
came cruising in about a foot above my ahead.  It made one stoop at the 
squirrels (they got away) before it resigned itself to a branch 
overlooking the grass patch.  Keep your eyes open (and your head down).
--Scott Haber

These observations add nothing to what has been said already by others 
so you're not getting them.
--Steve Fast

Then I decided to call it a day as realized I have had no lunch.
--Meena Haribal

With two small loons the sky clears, my mind is calm and everything is 
right with the world.
--Steve Fast

I guestimated about 70 Snow Buntings, a bit under 200 Horned Larks, and 
about 0.1 Lapland Longspurs in the fields at the far eastern end of 
Cornell Lane in about 30 minutes of scanning.  The fractional longspur 
(male) is because I only located this bird during my proverbial last 
scan before leaving.  It jumped out at me (smaller size) when I finally 
found it, and given how obvious it was and that I had been looking at 
the same flock for so long, I can only conclude that the longspur pops 
into existence irregularly.
--Wesley Hochachka

The wind never got above 5 mph, and the sun made the 10 - 15 degrees 
feel like, well, 16 or 17!
--Bob McGuire

Finally I managed to get bird and camera aligned and I clicked though 
it was not a full frame.  When I clicked bird was in the frame. But 
actually when camera opened the shutter, bird had gone and all I got 
was a branch!  Well that was my digiscoping.
--Meena Haribal

I had a Hoary Redpoll in with a flock of Commons at the Lab this 
morning.  Nice views in the morning light.
--Jeff Gerbracht

Yeah, sure you did!
--Eric Banford

Sorry, that reply was just suppose to go to Jeff! Doh! Hoary Redpoll 
has been Jeff's nemesis bird for a while. Guess you need a new one now, 
--Eric Banford

Though, if there may be any doubt left about Jeff's Hoary...  Did 
anyone else find it odd that Jeff already had a Hoary on the morning of 
Wednesday, Feb 18th?  Hmmm.. Jeff?
--Melanie Driscoll

I did, until I remembered that my Yahoo account is configured for NZ, 
allows me to get New Zealand news and also happens to set the time 
ahead by 18 hours.
--Jeff Gerbracht

Turkeys looked HUGE compared to Canada and I was surprised.
--Meena Haribal

I was looking over to south into the sun for other birds, when from the 
corner of my eye, I caught my car moving.  I did not know whether to 
hold on to my scope from falling of in the wind or run to car and stop 
it before it rolled over to Cayuga Lake. Decision was quick, left the 
scope and ran for the car.  Fortunately, scope was still standing 
though threatening to fall off in the gust.  Then even after putting on 
the hand break I was not sure that car won’t roll out....Later I found 
that probably it would have not rolled into lake as there was an ice 
bank, it would have slowed it down definitely. Finally both car and 
scope were saved.
--Meena Haribal

...There I saw a calling FISH CROW fly overhead in a group of four 
Americans (ha, take that Scott! ;-)
--Lena Samsonenko

Take that, Lena?  I also saw and heard a Fish Crow flying over Eco 
House this evening at 5PM.
--Scot Haber

Well, I am sad to say I am leaving the Ithaca area this weekend, as I 
am off to travel the tropics and the world.  It was a good last day of 
Basin birding (for the foreseeable future), and it has been a pleasure 
birding, and learning about birds with all of you.  The Ithaca/Basin 
birding community is one of the best in the country, and I was glad to 
be a part of it for a little while.  Keep up the good work.
--Pete Hosner


May Your Cup Runneth Over,
- Jay