Year 1, Issue 6
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* The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy
* Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells
* Script Writer: Jeff Wells
"BO-ring! BO-ring! BO-ring!" Like a basketball team that wastes the clock
as a stall tactic to victory, the editors of The Cup have been subjected to
this same incessant sing-song from birders protesting the way the mighty
Basin handled the David Cup competition in June. Cuppers seemed to have
forgotten that WE weren't the ones fiddling and diddling. Heck, we weren't
even the referees! We are, in fact, merely humble scribes reporting on the
action. True, our jobs were a little easier this month, despite Coach
Kelling's valiant attempt to keep his team on the offensive and to maintain
Cupper morale. Truth is, birding in June was like, well, for us reporters,
it was like getting the scoop on the latest round of the PGA after covering
the NBA finals.
Keep in mind, though, that hundreds, thousands--millions?--read all about
their beloved golf tournaments as soon as the stats hit the stands. You
should be no less faithful to the David Cup competition by devouring The Cup
1.6 now that it's in all the smoke shops. True, there weren't a lot of
"hole-in-one" rarities, and a good many of us already have our eagles, but
at least by reading this issue of The Cup you'll know how many have made it
to the green and are perfectly positioned for a good birdy!
@ @ @ @ @ @
NEWS, CUES, and BLUES
@ @ @ @ @ @
WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: It looked good for Anne Kendall-Casella for a
while--the David Cup hung before her like a sweet, juicy apple, ripe and
ready for the plucking. But her hungry palm stopped short. (Perhaps she
mistook Dear Tick for a worm?) And Marty Schlabach, while tiptoing
skillfully around the rim, nearly lost his balance and fell butt-over-bins
into the David Cup. In the end, it was the editors very own niece, Sarah
Childs, visiting from Winthrop, Maine, for the next few weeks, who said, "I
may be cuckoo but at least I'm not chicken!" (The threat of having to sleep
out on the fire escape every night of her visit had nothing to do with it.)
So, should you see a sharp-scoping thirteen-year-old scanning the Savannah
Mucklands with Allison, Jeff, and Casey Sutton, be sure to welcome her to
the David Cup, and to point out any Northern Lapwings that may be there.
SPIES T: Many of you are aware that Martha Fischer took on the role of
Assistant Coach for the David Cup in June (see Cup Quotes, this issue). You
probably aren't aware of just how seriously she took this job. According to
our sources, Martha, while wearing her David Cup T one day at Cass Park
this past month, became slain by the spirit and began soliciting prospective
Cuppers who were wasting their time jockeying about on a tennis court. She
was overheard orating on the dangers of tennis elbow to future Cupping
possibilities. Our sources tell us that Martha's argument was very
persuasive; after the first few naysayers found themselves belly flopping
into the kiddie pool, the others were scrambling for her every word.
Although none have officially signed up yet, we expect the phones here at
Cup Headquarters to be ringing off the hook anytime now.
TICKS COUNT: "The number of ticks...is expected to be especially high this
year," scientists were quoted as saying in an article that ran in the Ithaca
Journal in June. People like Andrew Spielman of the Harvard School of
Public Health in Boston claim that this is because of an unusually high
population of infected mice in the northeast. However, if the reporter had
been up to snuff, he would have found that the real reason for the increase
in ticks is due to the David Cup/McIlroy competitions, which has led to
Cuppers ticking day and night, all over the Basin. We can only assume that
Dr. David Persing of the Mayo Clinic was referring to Karl David's, Bill
Evans', Adam Byrne's, and Ned Brinkley's pre-David Cup ticking expeditions
when he announced, "The last couple of years have been a real eye-opener.
This has been occurring as an undercurrent longer than we realize."
THE HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST?: Once again, it's the goody-goody gabfest
hosts that are getting national face time. First, it's Ann Landers on
Dateline, now it's Marilyn Vos Savant squeaking into Reader's Digest--but at
least this time the face ain't so pretty. Vos Savant was once listed in the
Guinness Book of World Records as having the highest measured I.Q. and as a
result gets to flaunt her alleged intelligence in a question-answer column
for Parade magazine. Well, the Digest dug up some questions that left
bright star in the dark. To show Cuppers how good they've got it (and to
rub it in to Parade magazine that The Cup's got the real genius), we've
asked our own Dear Tick to respond to a few of the toughest stumpers:
Q: If you melt dry ice, can you swim in it without getting wet?
DT: Try it and see.
Q: Do fish have necks?
DT: Do Long-billed Green Sunbirds have lips?
Q: Is there any significant reason for having gums?
Q: Why do cockroaches turn over onto their backs when they die?
DT: Because it's in the script.
OLYMPIC-SIZED SNUB: For the last few months, the David Cup committee waited
expectantly by the phones for the call from Atlanta, telling us that the
David Cup/McIlroy competitions would be official Olympic sporting events.
The call never came. So what'll the world do when they tune in for some
real pulse-jolting, neck-and-neck competition and all they get is the
mamby-pamby Dream Team lallygagging around a basketball court? Suffice to
say that in another four years, it won't be Michael Jordan and his ho-hum
same-old same-old they'll be watching on the tube but rather Karl David
triathaloning (rowing the length of Cayuga Lake, mountaineering the sheer
face of the Biosphere Preserve, then hightailing it through the trails of
Sapsucker Woods) across the Basin. Expect to see Karl, not Michael,
standing proudly on the highest riser, a pair of gold Elites around his
neck. After all, Michael may own the court, but have you ever heard of the
BIRD CUP BLUES: Three days of nonstop blues! Fifteen different bands,
including CJ Chenier, Mississippi Heat, and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown!
Eight thousand tickets sold! We're talking the North Atlantic Blues
Festival...in Rockland, Maine. Too bad. Well, pity the editors most of
all. They were, after all, visiting their native Maine during the big blues
chabang. So close and yet so far. The best they could muster was an
unnamed blues band jamming beneath them while they partook of lobsters and
steamers and sipped white zinfandel on the deck of a pleasant restaurant
overlooking rustic New Harbor. Poor things.
By the way, since many of you have inquired about upcoming performances of
the Cupper-heavy Ithaca Ageless Jazz Band (Jeff and Allison Wells and Jim
Lowe are all members), which is respectably into the blues for a 20-piece
big band, we've obliged by noting here several fast-approaching public gigs:
the Watkins Glen Arts & Crafts Festival on July 20 (12:30pm to 2:30), Alta B
Day at Wagner Winery's Ginny Lee Cafe on July 21 (1:00pm-5:00), Speedie Fest
and Balloon Rally at Tricities Airport in Endicott on July 27
(11:00am-12:30), and at Taughannock Park August 3 (7:30pm-9:30). E-mail any
of us for more info. See ya there!
:> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :>
Yes, there were highlights in June. No razzle-dazzle bingo birds like we've
had in months past, but hey, it's June, time to smell the roses (i.e., get
to know your family again). We hope you took the long way home. Bins in
tow, of course.
BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS
Steve Kelling (Correction: Jeff Wells. We
found Steve in a deep, summer slumber and couldn't wake him in time for him
to write up his column.)
Migrants, especially northern breeders, continued to trickle in over the
transom of early June, with species like Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Gray-cheeked
Thrush, and Swainson's Thrush being heard nocturnally. An unusually late
1st summer Iceland Gull put in an appearance at Myer's Point on June 2, and
Semipalmated Plover, Dunlin, and White-rumped Sandpiper lingered into the
second week of June at Montezuema. But it is, of course, the breeding
species that we focus on in June. Happy news was Bard Prentiss' discovery
of a colony of Cliff Swallows, which have in recent years almost disappeared
as breeders in the Basin. Bard found the colony nesting on a barn in
Freeville. Another species that is essentially gone from the Basin as a
breeder is Upland Sandpiper. This year a pair set up residence in a field
complex in Etna, though breeding was not confirmed. Acadian Flycatchers
were found in at least 3 locations, the most obliging being the pair on
Salmon Creek Road. Orchard Orioles were in residence not only at the
traditional Sheldrake location but also in at least 3 locations on the east
side of Cayuga Lake. The Prothonotary Warbler that appeared in May at
Stewart Park continued singing vigorously into June, raising hopes that it
would find a mate and breed but it was not to be--the bird was gone by the
June 15 summer count. More difficult to get to were the approximately 5-6
territorial Worm-eating Warblers along the ridges of West Danby, located by
Chris Hymes and Steve Kelling. Chris was able to confirm breeding in at
least one pair in the Biodiversity Preserve. Several sites in the Basin
held breeding populations of Cerulean Warblers and Henslow's Sparrows. Both
species have been identified by Partners In Flight and the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service as species of management concern. The Salmon Creek location
that harbored the Acadian Flycatcher hosted at least 7 singing Cerulean
Warblers and good numbers were noted at several sites within Montezuema NWR.
Finally, the Henslow's Sparrows on Caswell Road in Freeville numbered a
minimum of 5-7 singing males
(Steve Kelling is the field notes editor for the Kingbird, Region 3. He
teaches Cornell undergraduates the mysteries of physics and often calls
fellow Cuppers to make sure they're still alive, even when he's less so
himself. Jeff Wells is New York State Important Bird Areas Coordinator for
National Audubon Society. He learned just how out of shape he is while
chasing the nimble Chris Hymes' Worm-eating Warblers at the Biosphere
100 100 100 100 100 100 100
100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100
(Overheard from inside the 100 Club:)
"Wow, this is some hopping place, huh?" "Good food, good friends, and now
that we've fired the DJ and Kevin McGowan's taken over the turntable with
his inexhaustible blues collection, good music!" "I'll say! And it gives
me a warm feeling to know that every Cupper has made it into the Club."
"Yeah. We're all just one big, happy--wait a minute. Where's Tom Lathrop?"
"Hmm. I thought I saw him at the bar, exchanging bird travel tales with
Meena Haribal--no, that was Ralph Paonessa. Gosh. I guess Tom's not in the
Club." "Not in the Club?! But any birder who's any birder is in the 100
Club!" "Poor Tom. He lives in Rochester, you know, WAY outside the Basin."
"Poor Tom." "Do you think he'll EVER make it in?" "I don't know. I just
200 200 200 200 200 200
2 0 0
200 200 200 200
"We hear ya knockin' but ya can't come in!" That's the song that's been
wearing out the sound system over at the 200 Club. Yes, Clubbers there are
rubbing it in to those Cuppers lined up outside to get in. Cuppers like Jay
McGowan, Ralph Paonessa, Casey Sutton, Bill Evans. Word has it, Ralph is so
desperate to crash the 200 Club party that he tried to get his new pet,
Pete-Pete the Polar Bear, to knock down the door. Since Pete-Pete is still
just a cub, his attack merely knocked off the door knob, making it that much
harder for Cuppers to get in. Which is why, we assume, no Cuppers gained
entry in June. We can only hope Ralph gets the door knob replaced by the
end of July.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Getting Cuppers to confess their June totals was no easy task. Embarrassed,
no doubt, by their minimal progress--indeed, one can hardly call them
"Pilgrims"--several downright refused to send in their tick tallies. Of
course, they were in South America, Massachusetts, and elsewhere out of
state, but The Cup accepts no excuses.
1996 DAVID CUP JUNE TOTALS 1996 DAVID CUP MAY TOTALS
229 Allison Wells 225 Allison Wells
226 Karl David 220 Karl David
222 Tom Nix 219 Tom Nix
221 Jeff Wells 215 Jeff Wells
220 Steve Kelling 213 Steve Kelling
215 Scott Mardis 212 Bard Prentiss
215 Kevin McGowan 207 Kevin McGowan
212 Bard Prentiss 205 Scott Mardis
210 Chris Hymes 202 Ken Rosenberg
202 Ken Rosenberg 200 Chris Hymes
195 Jay McGowan 185 Jay McGowan
193 Ralph Paonessa 180 Ralph Paonessa
185 Bill Evans 174 Casey Sutton
185 Casey Sutton 173 Anne James
184 Meena Haribal 172 John Bower
173 Anne James 168 Martha Fischer
172 John Bower 167 Meena Haribal
168 Martha Fischer 165 Bill Evans
163 Larry Springsteen 163 Larry Springsteen
153 Diane Tessaglia 153 Diane Tessaglia
152 Rob Scott 152 Rob Scott
151 Michael Runge 131 Michael Runge
144 Kurt Fox 120 Jim Lowe
124 Jim Lowe 112 Kurt Fox
105 Dan Scheiman 105 Dan Scheiman
74 Tom Lathrop 49 Tom Lathrop
1996 McILROY AWARD JUNE TOTALS MAY TOTALS
184 Allison Wells 181 Allison Wells
170 Jeff Wells 164 Jeff Wells
167 Kevin McGowan 161 Kevin McGowan
154 Ken Rosenberg 154 Ken Rosenberg
152 John Bower 152 John Bower
152 Tom Nix 149 Scott Mardis
149 Scott Mardis 149 Larry Springsteen
149 Larry Springsteen 140 Jay McGowan
145 Jay McGowan 132 Martha Fisher
140 Karl David 132 Karl David
132 Martha Ficher 131 Tom Nix
129 Casey Suton 128 Rob Scott
128 Rob Scott 126 Casey Sutton
125 Chris Hyms 125 Chris Hymes
111 Jim Lowe 108 Jim Lowe
111 Michael Runge 105 Michael Runge
105 Bill Evans 103 Bill Evans
55 Diane Tessaglia 55 Diane Tessaglia
LEADER'S LIST LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
Welcome to the David Cup Leader's List Gallery. Thanks to an extension of
her grant by her generous sponsor, this month the gallery will again feature
the artful list of Allison Wells. For your viewing convenience, she only
slightly expanded her list from last month. And again, Ms. Wells gave us
the honor of marking her McIlroy birds with that thought-provoking "M".
With any luck, Ms. Wells list will be on display next month as well.
Meanwhile, enjoy your visit.
C. Loon (M), P-b Grebe (M), H. Grebe (M), R-n Grebe, D-c Cormorant (M), L.
Bittern (M), G. B. Heron (M), G. Heron (M), B-c. Night-Heron (M), Tundra
Swan, M. Swan (M), S. Goose (M), Brant, C. Goose (M), W. Duck (M), G-w Teal
(M), A. Black Duck (M), Mallard (M), N. Pintail (M), B-w Teal (M), N.
Shoveler (M), Gadwall(M), E. Wigeon, A. Wigeon (M), Canvasback (M), Redhead
(M), R-n Duck (M), G. Scaup (M), L. Scaup (M), Oldsquaw, S. Scoter (M), W-w
Scoter, C. Goldeneye (M), Bufflehead (M), H. Merganser (M), C. Merganser
(M), R-b Merganser (M), Ruddy Duck (M), T. Vulture (M), Osprey (M), B. Eagle
(M), N. Harrier (M), S-s Hawk (M), C. Hawk (M), N. Goshawk, R-s Hawk (M),
B-w Hawk (M), R-t Hawk (M), R-l Hawk (M), G. Eagle, A. Kestrel (M), R-n
Pheasant, R. Grouse, W. Turkey (M), V. Rail, Sora (M), C. Moorhen, A. Coot
(M), B-b Plover, S. Plover, Killdeer (M), G. Yellowlegs (M), L. Yellowlegs
(M), Solitary Sandpiper (M), Spotted Sandpiper (M), Upland Sandpiper,
Marbled Godwit (M), R. Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least
Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin, S-b
Dowitcher, C. Snipe (M), A. Woodcock (M), Laughing Gull, Little Gull, B.
Gull (M), R-b Gull (M), H. Gull (M), Iceland Gull (M), Glaucous Gull (M), G.
B-b Gull (M), Caspian Tern (M), Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Black Tern, R.
Dove (M), M. Dove (M), B-b Cuckoo (M), Y-b Cuckoo (M), E. Screech-Owl (M),
G. H. Owl, S-e Owl, N. S-w Owl, C. Nighthawk (M), C. Swift (M), R-t
Hummingbird (M), B. Kingfisher (M), Red-headed Woodpecker, R-b Woodpecker
(M), Y-b Sapsucker (M), D. Woodpecker (M), H. Woodpecker (M), N. Flicker
(M), P. Woodpecker (M), E. Wood-Pewee (M), Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (M),
Acadian Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher (M), Willow Flycatcher (M), Least
Flycatcher (M), E. Phoebe (M), G. C. Flycatcher (M), E. Kingbird (M), H.
Lark, P. Martin (M), T. Swallow (M), N. R-w Swallow (M), Bank Swallow (M),
C. Swallow (M), Barn Swallow (M), B. Jay (M), A. Crow (M), F. Crow (M), C.
Raven (M), B-c Chickadee (M), T. Titmouse (M), R-b Nuthatch (M), W-b
Nuthatch (M), B. Creeper (M), C. Wren (M), H. Wren (M), W. Wren (M), M.
Wren, G-c Kinglet (M), R-c Kinglet (M), B-g Gnatcatcher (M), E. Bluebird
(M), Veery (M), G-c Thrush (M), S. Thrush (M), H. Thrush (M), W. Thrush (M),
A. Robin (M), G. Catbird (M), N. Mockingbird (M), B. Thrasher (M), A. Pipit
(M), Bohemian Waxwing, C. Waxwing (M), N. Shrike, E. Starling (M), S. Vireo
(M), Y-t Vireo (M), W. Vireo (M), Philadelphia Vireo (M), R-e Vireo (M),
B-w Warbler (M), G-w Warbler (M), T. Warbler (M), N. Warbler (M), N. Parula
(M), Yellow Warbler (M), C-s Warbler (M), Magnolia Warbler (M), C. M.
Warbler (M), B-t Blue Warbler (M), Y-r Warbler (M), B-t Green Warbler (M),
Blackburnian Warbler (M), Pine Warbler (M), Prairie Warbler (M), Palm
Warbler (M), B-b Warbler (M), Blackpoll Warbler (M), Cerulean Warbler, B-a-w
Warbler (M), A. Redstart (M), Prothonotary Warbler (M), Worm-eating Warbler
(M), Ovenbird (M), N. Waterthrush (M), L. Waterthrush (M), Mourning Warbler
(M), C. Yellowthroat (M), Hooded Warbler (M), Wilson's Warbler (M), Canada
Warbler (M), Yellow-breasted Chat, Sc. Tanager (M), N. Cardinal (M), R-b
(M), I. Bunting (M), E. Towhee (M), A. T. Sparrow (M), C. Sparrow (M),
Sparrow (M), V. Sparrow (M), Savannah Sparrow (M), G. Sparrow (M), Henslow's
Sparrow, Fox Sparrow (M), Song Sparrow (M), Lincoln's. Sparrow (M), Swamp
Sparrow (M), W-t Sparrow (M), W-c Sparrow (M), D-e Junco (M), Lapland
Longspur, Snow Bunting, Bobolink (M), R-w Blackbird (M), E. Meadowlark (M),
R. Blackbird (M), C. Grackle (M), B-h Cowbird (M), Orchard Oriole, N. Oriole
(M), P. Finch (M), H. Finch (M), R. Crossbill, C. Redpoll (M), P. Siskin
(M), A. Goldfinch (M), E. Grosbeak (M), House Sparrow (M)
Total: 229 species (DC), 184 (Mc)
Add to Allison's list (above) the following species and you'll have the
entire list of birds seen in January, February, March, April, May, and June:
American Bittern, Great Egret, Ross' Goose, Merlin, Whimbrel, Lesser Black-
backed Gull, Barred Owl, Whip-poor-will, Olive-sided Flycatcher, White-eyed
Vireo, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Pine Grosbeak, Hoary Redpoll.
! KICKIN' TAIL! !
What better way to prove that history doesn't necessarily repeat itself
by being featured in an interview exclusively for The Cup--two months in a
row?! KICKIN' TAIL brings well-deserved honor and recognition to the Cupper
who has glassed, scoped, scanned, driven, climbed, dug, sun bathed, and
otherwise made his/her way to the top of the David Cup list.
Much to my chagrin, the editors got their grubby paws on the audio tape of
my last session with my psychotherapist, Dr. Birding N. Lovinit. Rather
than sue, I decided to go ahead and let them run it here, as a way of
proving that being the Kickin' Tail Queen is not unlike being a supermodel:
life isn't ALL glamour and glory.
DR. LOVINIT: Now, tell me how you've been doing this week.
WELLS: Well, I just found out that I'm the Kickin' Tail Leader again this
DR. LOVINIT: Congratulations. That's something to feel good about.
DR. LOVINIT: Is there some reason why you wouldn't be pleased?
WELLS: I don't know. I think I may be having trouble getting in touch with
my true feelings. I thought I'd be really happy about winning but I'm not
and I don't know why.
DR. LOVINIT: Hmm. Let me see. You must be the middle child.
DR. LOVINIT: And, have you had any dreams involving stampeding elephants and
WELLS: Well, yes...
DR. LOVINIT: What else can you tell me?
WELLS: In eighth grade, I told Heidi Pratt the answer to question nine on
our vocabulary test.
DR. LOVINIT: I see. And did you give her the correct answer?
DR. LOVINIT: Mmm hmm, just as I suspected. You're transferring your
deep-seated, long-lived guilt for helping someone cheat on a test to your
trouncing of the big boys in the David Cup race. Now that you've freely
admitted your eighth-grade wrong doing, you can focus again on your feelings
about staying in the lead.
WELLS: You're right, Doctor! I feel better already! Ha! Those poor fools
don't stand a chance, and I don't feel guilty about it in the slightest. In
fact, I feel confident that I'll be ahead next month, too. But, Doctor, if
for some reason I'm not...
DR. LOVINIT: Yes?
WELLS: I may need an extra session. Can you give me a birder discount?
?? ??????????????????????? PIONEER PRIZE
The editors of The Cup, through statistically significant birding polls and
by snooping through Cupper diaries, have determined that recognition is in
order for the Cupper who has braved wind, rain, ice, and snow in a quest for
new David Cup birds for us all to enjoy. Equally weighty in this award
category is prompt notification to other Cuppers of said sightings, be it
via e-mail, phone line, dramatic hand signals, or bathroom graffiti.
We, the editors of The Cup, hereby bestow June's Pioneer Prize to Chris
Hymes. Chris put the little town of West Danby on the birding map by
turning up not one pair of breeding Worm-eating Warblers in the area but
four! Having hiked ("bellied-up," seems a more accurate term) the almost
impossibly steep slopes of the Biosphere Preserve ourselves, we appreciate
the determination (and foolhardiness requisite for any true pioneer) Chris
embodied in order to locate those birds. Further, he generously ensured
that any who wanted to accompany him on his survey had that opportunity,
even though it meant single-handedly hauling Scott Mardis up on a pulley and
clearing a big enough splotch for Steve Kelling to land his hang glider.
Chris, your (second!) David Cup Pioneer Pencil awaits!
: > : > : > : > : > :
> : >
: > : > : > : > : > :
> : >
There was rugged competition this month, with breeding Worm-eating Warblers
in West Danby, breeding Orchard Orioles at Sheldrake, Myer's Point, and
Salmon Creek, breeding Acadian Flycatchers near Salmon Creek, a brilliant
sparkle from a Prothonotary Warbler, and an improbable summer visit from an
Iceland Gull. But the bird Cuppers had to work their butts off most for was
the Prothonotary Warbler. The singing bird, found by Allison and Jeff
Wells, hung out in the Cajun swamp wannabee of Stewart Park. The thing that
made this bird a dandy was that it was a McIlroy Can't Missum. The male of
the species, which is what everybody saw besides me, is yellow-orange with
blue-gray wings. The female appears similar but duller. Fortunately for
me, I still heard its song, although it was disappointing not to see the
bird. The song is a ringing sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet. The flight song
resembles a canary's song, and the call is a metallic "chip." Prothonotary
Warblers lay 6 white eggs with purple spots. The most common nesting spot
is a hole in a tree or stump, but they will also nest in a mailbox or
birdhouse. They breed as far south as central Florida, as far north as
southern Michigan, as far west as central Texas, and as far east as the east
coast. The wintering range is the tropics of Central America and northern
(Casey Sutton, who initiated and writes this column on his own, will be a
seventh grader this fall at DeWitt Middle School. He has a mean 3-point
shot and made 9 out of 10 foul shots during basketball camp in June.)
SCRAWL OF FAME
I have always wondered what it would be like to be a Cupper. Now that I
will be spending a few weeks in Ithaca, I actually get to find out. I want
to tell you what it is like, whether you want to hear it or not (I am trying
to keep this piece in traditional Cup fashion). First of all, I want to say
that whenever my grandmother is around, keep your precious David Cup
anythings out of her reach. She tried to keep me from the honors of The Cup
by shrinking to minimal size my David Cup T. However, after many minutes of
stretching, it is nearly back to its original size. Who knows what she will
do to my bird lists when I get back to Maine?
Back to the program. I wanted to be a Cupper because I have always found
birds interesting, and since nobody in Maine has thought long enough to
start something like this, all us bird admirers have to suffer. Plus the
fact that my aunt and uncle (to you it's Allison and Jeff) wouldn't take no
for a suitable answer, I must do this. Besides, I DID, after all, spend
hours birding as a little kid, so who knows? Maybe I'll remember three
It feels kind of weird just being thrown into this big thing all of a
sudden, in almost the middle of the month. I know that I probably won't
even make the 100 Club. But I already have how many? Let me see. 1-2-3?
Oh, no. I forgot, it's four. Well, gotta go to where the bird calls. I'll
see YOU in the David Cup races.
(Sarah Childs will be in the eighth grade at Winthrop Middle School in
Winthrop, Maine, in the fall. Despite what her aunt and uncle say, she
insists that she will not go on any roller coasters this summer.)
If you have an opinion about the art, science, and/or esthetics of
birding-related topics, write it up for the Scrawl of Fame.
< COACH'S CORNER <
< < < <
You're no doubt wondering why we waited till now to bring Karl David into
the coaching game. He is, after all, the "David" in David Cup. Well, with
July being possibly the hottest month of the year temperature-wise and one
of the coolest bird-wise, we knew Cuppers would need a coach who could
sympathize with them, someone who's been there before and can lend a
nurturing hand, a coach who's not afraid to say, "Mardis, how could you have
missed that Wilson's Warbler at Mundy?! The bird practically flew up your
COACH DAVID: June 30...back to the locker room for a short halftime breather
before Coach yells at you for all your mistakes in the first half and
fire you up for the second by screaming platitudinous exhortations
just inches from your ear: "Mardis, how could you have missed that
Wilson's Warbler at Mundy? The bird practically flew up your nose! And you,
Rosenberg! Maybe you think your fly-by Whimbrel at dusk will help you
renegotiate your contract, but what good does it do for the rest of the
team? Nix--Tom, Tom, Tom ... walking up the steps of City Hall with your
head down, just as a Merlin was approaching! What's with you guys?" Blah,
Yes, the opening of the second half is a tough time in the
competition, believe me. Last year, after more or less finishing my spring
clean-up on June 10 with Acadian Flycatcher, my next yearbird
was an overdue back-ordered Sora on June 30, and then nothing
whatsoever until Great Egret finally showed up at Montezuma on July
31. So, what should you do this month to avoid total frustration?
Well, it depends on what you need. If there's still a missing
warbler or two that's known to be around, go for it. If a blank on
your checklist besides a rail or bittern still grates, try driving
the auto tour route at Montezuma very slowly and very early. As the
month progresses, these birds tend more and more to be sitting out in
the open, as the stress and strain of raising young begins to lift
for them. But don't bother in the heat of midday, the place is
generally stultifyingly dead then.
Another thing you can do is explore new areas under the guise of going
for a walk or a jog, perhaps with a nonbirding spouse, partner or
friend, someone who feels like you've been sorely neglecting them
because of the competition. You'll score needed points with them,
but you'll be carrying your binoculars "just in case" and will have
your ears open. After all, if your normal rounds haven't yielded up
a Sedge Wren or Dickcissel yet, they probably won't, so your only
chance is to go somewhere you haven't been.
As I suggested above, most of us still need Great Egret, and its
arrival usually heralds the beginning of fall migration. The
earliest I've had it is July 6, an unforgettable sight, as three
birds flew across the Thruway at Montezuma, backlit by the lightning
flashes of an approaching thunderstorm. However, that was
exceptional. The last week of July (and alas, sometimes the first week
of August) is more typical. This is a nice bird to
start the fall with since it's big, spectacular and hard to miss if
Shorebirds also begin arriving in July. Here, it depends on what you
still need. Leasts and the Yellowlegs tend to show up first, often
as early as the Fourth of July. The year Ned, Adam, Bill and I found
that year's Prothonotary Warbler at a nest on Armitage Road, we had
Lesser Yellowlegs as well, and it wasn't even quite the end of June yet.
Pectorals and Short-billed Dowitchers also show up sometime in July.
And though the data is perforce spotty because of the bird's rarity,
there's some indication that late July is as likely a time as any to
In any event, if you spend most of the month resting, with a few
judicious trips to M.N.W.R. or Myer's Point for shorebirds, you
should pick up a year bird or two ... just enough to get you psyched
for the great shorebird bonanza of August and September. Here's
hoping for an early drawdown at the Refuge. See you then, at the
(Karl David teaches mathematics at Wells College and is widely known as the
Father of the Madness. He can often be seen wandering Star Stanton road,
demanding repeatedly, "Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?" late into
mmmmmmmmmmmmmm McILROY MUSINGS mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Ode to Allison
There once was a woman from Ithaca
Who was one hell of a tickeruh
She counted them all
then said "What a ball!"
Until her spouse cried, "I'm sick a' hurh."
[Poet's note: imagine last line with a Long Island accent]
(If Allison is ahead next month, be forewarned that I will be soliciting
limericks on this dastardly subject. I may even give a personalized David
Cup Pencil to the limerick I like best--don't tell Allison! You don't even
have to be a Cupper, merely a Cup subscriber, to enter.)
BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH
The David Cup glass ceiling was blown to bits when Allison Wells kicked it
in as Leader. Now we're using that same glass to showcase another femme
fatale, Meena Haribal.
Although Meena's been a birder for eighteen years, it's nothing short of a
miracle that Meena Haribal is a Cupper today. You see, she doesn't know how
she got interested in birds. "As far as I know none of my family members
were or are interested in birds." Gasp! "Maybe it was innate genetic
inheritance from some distant ancestor." That's better. "Also I remember
reading a phantom comic when I was in school and in that a professor and his
student go into Denkali jungles to search for some extinct animal. I felt
at that time I should also go to these places and look for wildlife."
She has certainly done that. Although Meena is from India (home to about
2000 species and subspecies of birds), she has by no means confined her
birding to that country. England, France, Nepal, and Costa Rica are among
the other places Meena has visited with her bins. Obviously, she's spent
considerable time birding in the U. S as well (she says she particularly
enjoyed birding in Texas and Florida, though we have no idea why, what with
the Basin right here in Upstate New York.)
Birds aren't the only wildlife she pursues. Meena is a bug watcher by
profession. "I study how they (mostly butterflies) recognize their host and
how they decide on which plants to lay their eggs. I correlate this with
the chemistry of the plant." Meena admits that she is fortunate to combine
her hobby with her profession. "My butterflies wake up as late as around
10am and sleep by late afternoon, like 4;30pm, so all the remaining time I
It was this work that brought Meena to Ithaca (Cornell University), and she
has adjusted very well. "Ithaca to me is like my dream place, where my
professional and personal interests are being fulfilled. But," she says, "I
miss my country, the bugs and the birds. Whenever anybody visits here from
India, I tell them to say hi to my bugs and birds!"
Birding here in Ithaca, she says, is very different than in India. "There
were no heavy competitions in India, although [birders there] are interested
in seeing rare birds and reporting them. It was more leisurely. Besides,
we do not have good guides and bird call tapes, so we have to learn them
ourselves in the field. I was fortunate, for I belonged to Bombay Natural
History Society and my gurus were all expert in the field of natural
history. Also, we have one of the best collections of Indian birds in the
whole world, so if I had questions regarding ID, I would just go to the
curator and he would show me all possible birds and plumages. That's how I
learned about variations in birds and habits, etc."
She's been fostering this same thirst for birding knowledge here in Ithaca,
and one way was by signing up for the David Cup. "I thought it would be a
good way to get to bird with some experts, so I could learn from them. I
also thought it would be fun and would get me out birding." So far, so
good, though she laments that she has not seen Common Redpoll yet in the
Basin. She would also like to see Henslow Sparrow, which, as yet, she has
Just the same, she has an impressive life list totaling more than 1000
birds. Of all the birds of the world that she has seen, Atlantic Puffin is
at the top of the list of favorites. "The first book on birds that I read
was Birds of Britain by Francis Pitt--I read the whole book in two days. I
loved the part on puffins. That night, in fact, I dreamed that lots of
puffins were sitting along my college campus road." About three years ago,
she says, during her trip to England, she made a special trip to Bempton
Cliffs to see puffins, which left a memorable enough impression on her that
she now would like to travel both U.S. coasts to see puffins.
Meena spends about three or four weekday hours per week birding, and has
been known to spend whole weekends birding during migration. Of course,
some of this time is also spent studying her beloved butterflies, which
means she's not a TOTAL birdbrain. But, hey, she's close enough for us.
Because birders suffer so many unique trials and tribulations--and with the
added strain of intense competition brought on by the David Cup/McIlroy
Award--The Cup has graciously provided Cuppers with a kind, sensitive and
intuitive columnist, Dear Tick, to answer even the most profound questions,
Last month there was mention of the Wells' niece becoming a temporary Cupper
when she comes for her summer visit. This got me thinking. In baseball,
there are pinch hitters--players who go to bat for other players for various
reasons. Can't we have pinch Cuppers? For example, when this temporary
Cupper returns to her homeland, can someone pinch-bird for her here in the
--Batter Up in Ithaca
Dear Batter Up:
Baseball players make millions of dollars--even pinch hitters. Is this
temporary Cupper prepared to pay a fellow Cupper big bucks to pinch bird?
Then there is the matter of arbitration. Is the would-be pinch Cupper a
free agent? Is s/he willing to go on strike, even if it means giving up an
entire birding season and disappointing the millions who "watch" the
competitions via The Cup? Who, pray tell, will draw up the contracts?
Cuppers--even the ever dutiful Jim Lowe--can't be expected to give up
valuable birding time bogged down in the "wherefores" and "therefores" of
vast legal documents. As self-appointed David Cup Commissioner, given the
havoc the baseball strike caused the entire nation a few years back, I'm
ruling against your petition for pinch birders.
I think the rows of shoes, owls and bins [at the bottom of the David Cup
wearing mine as I type this] prophesize that the winner will be the one who
wears out six sets of shoes trekking around the Basin. The winner shall
search and find all eight species of owls (which are, of course, Great
Horned, Screech, Barred, Saw-whet, Long-Eared, Short-Eared, Snowy and Barn).
The winner owns three pairs of bins: for the home (feeder), for the office
(lunch hour musings) and for the car. Am I right? Do I get more David Cup
pencils for solving this hieroglyphic mystery?
--Rumenating in Rochester
No, you're wrong. You may try again, but you should know that it will cost
you one tick for every wrong guess from here on in. As for getting more
David Cup pencils, I believe it was Alice, sitting at the Madhatter's tea
party, who said, "I can't very well have more tea when I haven't had any at
all." Now spit out that cud and move on to greener pastures--it's not too
late to earn yourself a David Cup pencil.
Do we have to pay any late fee for sending in totals late?
--Penniless near Penny
Yes, you do have to pay, but not in cash. You pay by having to live with
the guilt of having held up production of The Cup. But let me say this: if
the Domino's delivery boy arrives at your door with twelve large pizzas with
extra cheese and anchovies, I had nothing to do with it.
I was out birding a few months ago with some fellow Cuppers. We were in hot
pursuit of a Lincoln's Sparrow. At one point, two of my pals and I finally
tracked it down and had tickable views of the bird. But one of the Cuppers
was on the other side of some brush so his/her view was obstructed.
However, s/he could clearly see the bird's reflection in some water in front
of the brush. S/he saw the buffy breast, the grayish face, the fine breast
streaks--everything the rest of us were seeing, only his/her view was a
reflection instead of the bird itself. Can s/he tick it?
--Reflecting in Romulus
I'm sorry, no. In fact, I'm inclined to tell you all to erase your tick,
too. I'm very suspicious that the narcissistic Lincoln's Sparrow wasn't a
bird at all but rather, Fabio in disguise, trying to cash in on a little
David Cup adoration. Next time you see a bird admiring itself in puddles
the way this one apparently did, don't be so quick to assume it's the real
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!! Or, at least in the
McIlroy Award boundaries. About two months ago there was a "big stink"
about the boundaries when a certain participant was able to tick off
a couple of shorebirds due to "peculiarities" in the actual boundaries.
The participant made the mistake of bragging about this to Cayugabirds-l.
There followed a storm of postings and complaints, several lame excuses
from the McIlroy Boundary Committee. Now, everything has pretty much
settled down. But there are disturbing parallels between what has
happened here and the standard operating procedure of most governments. I
hate to be a conspiracy monger, but if you follow me through the "looking
glass" for a few minutes, I'm sure you'll understand the depth of the
The McIlroy Boundry Committee, to my knowledge, consists of two
amiable Lab of O researchers that everyone thinks of as pretty decent
human beings. As far as most of us know, these guys would never have
some hidden agenda or make decisions in an arbitrary manner (much less
engage in cronyism, etc.). This is why the excuses offered to the list
were so readily accepted--the odd boundaries, which were finally be-
coming public knowledge, would work in favor of "everyone". Well, DT,
they've been playing us for fools! The only reason that the boundaries
are now public knowledge is that the Cupper who made the shorebird coup
was crazy enough to brag about it in public. This is often the downfall
of those who try to take advantage of the rest of us. I recently came into
possession of a "smoking gun". It seems that back in 1991, one of the MBC
members and a certain cup participant worked together on a Fish Crow
As usual, there was a paper trail to follow... I have a photocopy of a
article with their names on it! That past relationship, in and of itself, is
certainly no breach of ethics. However, the co-author just so happens to be
the one who benefited from the boundry irregularities! Why wasn't this close
past relation-ship acknowledged? What were they trying to hide? Just what
else are they
hiding? If this comes out in the open, what do you bet that the second
MBC member, let's call him "Slim", takes the heat? The abusers of the
system always have a "patsy" to take the fall! DT, I know this is
opening up a
can of worms, but if anyone can get to the bottom of Boundarygate, you can.
I just hope they haven't gotten to you yet...
--"Oliver S." in Hollywood
P.S. That's not my real name!
Dear "Oliver S.":
Sure it's not your real name. You think I don't know who you are? Huh!
You're right, I am in the know about this whole McIlroy conspiracy, but if
you think I'm going to spill the beans in the pages of The Cup so you can
go and make yourself another little movie, well, don't get the cameras
rolling just yet. Unless, of course, you're willing to fork over big money
for the rights, and I don't mean the spare change you paid for "JFK". If
you get you're wallet walkin', then maybe I'll do some talkin'.
(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup, care of Jeff's e-mail.)
""""""""" CUP QUOTES """"""""
"This is THE BEST CUP EVER--it runneth over..."
(after perusing The Cup 1.5)
"While Jay and I were doing our Lansing portion of the Christmas in June
count, we found a singing Yellow-breasted Chat on Cherry Road
northwest of the airport...Unfortunately, 3 subsequent visists (2 in late
afternoon, 1 this morning) were entirely chat-less."
"[My total] would have been higher but...a polar bear ate my list. Yeah,
that's right, a great, big polar bear."
"All is sweetness and light again, as I heard the Salmon Creek Acadian
Flycatcher yesterday afternoon, just before Chris Hymes showed up to
also log it in."
"I'm up to a whopping 74 birds for my David Cup list as of the end of June.
But watch out, Allison! I've got 19 new species for July already. I'm
gaining on you!"
"To confirm the rumor: The lonely male Prothonotary Warbler was still
easily heard and seen along the swampy inlet next to the 8th tee on Newman
Golf Course as of Saturday (6/8) at 5 pm."
"A walk in search of the Prothonotary Warbler at the North end of the
Newman Golf Course produced no ProWar; however, we did get to see an
adult Black-crowned Night-heron in hot pursuit by an adult male
"I always see my first Bobolinks (still calling like R2D2 as of last
at the fields near Monkey Run..."
"David Cup total: 222 (sigh)."
"As the weather was wonderful, I decided to take a walk along South Monkey
Run from Varna side. It seemed to me amazingly quieter than last year...
But best of all was a find of very tattered female Pieris virginiensis
butterfly. I could catch it with my hand to look at the markings. It is a
rare butterfly in Ithaca area found only in few patches. Hope a viable
population exists in Monkey run."
"Although none of our views were quite crippling, many were painful and
some were partially debilitating."
"Use my totals from May...Who has time for birding? Certainly not me, it's
"I might be able to drag a sharp-eyed grown daughter along to help me
"I enjoy 'The Cup' even though I am not a participant. It makes me smile
and it adds a bit of lightness to something which sometimes seems heavily
competitive. Nice work."
"It was a nice, humble breeze through the Basin--tally another 34 birds to
my Basin list. Sound impressive? No, I haven't had a visit to the
Basin since early May and that 34 included things like E. Kingbird,
E.Towhee (yes, Casey is right, the name is now 'blah') and Chipping
"We had to work fairly hard for the few additions we got. Jay is
disappointed he didn't make the 200 Club this month, but he'll just have to
wait on the shorebirds. He did manage to pick up a life birds in June and
is closing in fast on the magic 300 (he's at 291). So not a total wasteland
of a month after all."
"What with positive feedback being the one and only coin in the volunteer's
realm, I just wanted to tell you two how much I've (remotely, enviously,
voyeuristically) enjoyed reading about the David/McIlroy goings-on via your
"I have no total update. I'm out of the Basin for the summer."
"I second Ned's thoughts on The Cup. And congratulations to Allison Wells
with an outstanding month of May - does this woman do anything but bird?
With 225 species in the Basin at the end of May, there's no doubt in my mind
that Ned and Adam's record of 255 species will be broken. With Karl David
and Tom Nix hot on her heels at 220 and 219 species respectively, followed
closely by Jeff, Steve Kelling and Bard Prentiss, the competition is fierce
indeed. With so many more people intently birding, there is greater
potential for turning up those rarities that will be needed to exceed 255.
Go get 'em! We observers are enjoying this as much as the participants--
and seeing some birds we might not have seen otherwise as well."
"My June totals were David 124 and McIlroy 111. You'll never catch me now!"
"We go to zee birds, and zee birds, zay come to us."
"Well, I guess I'm too late to be quoted in this month's issue of The Cup
(PHEW!), but I do happen to remember the bird--Hermit Thrush. At the
time I thought it was pretty exciting, but of course by now, 100 species
seems like chicken feed. I guess migration makes you greedy..."
"My favorite bird was the one I called the 'phantom-of-the-opera bird'
"Last night while taking a breather from playing volleyball at Lansing
Middle School, I stepped outside and noticed numerous chimney swifts flying
around--and down into--the chimney of the school. I don't know who it was
that recently mentioned the lack of swifts at Belle Sherman School;
obviously the swifts have 'graduated' and have now 'fledged' to a school of
--Sara Jane Hymes
"This is all very interesting, but can you explain to me a little more
being a Cupper?"
--Susan Winkler (Jeff Wells' sister)
"Anyone who is a runner or competes in other individual (as
opposed to team) sports knows that if you're faster in the most recent race
than you were in the last one, then you're winning. And I guess that's how
I feel about the David/McIlroy competition. It's given me something to
work toward, and consequently, I've been out birding more often and just
plain ol' paying more and better attention to birds I see and hear. The
competitive side of me is embarrassed to admit that at the end of May, I was
behind the Cup leaders by some fifty (eeeesshhh) species. But dang, I sure
have learned a lot, and I'm actually quite pleased with my Basin Bird List.
So, I want to take this opportunity to encourage you 'observers' to
jump into the David Cup and/or McIlroy Award 'competitions.' Yea, it's June,
but you can be assured that you *will* tick a greater number of species
during the next 6 months than will the hottest competitor out there. And
besides, it's fun."
May Your Cup Runneth Over,
Allison and Jeff