Year 10, Issues 1-3

***************************************************************** *^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^ *The Cup 10.1-10.3 ­ January/February/March 2005 *The electronic publication of the David Cup, McIlroy and various *other birding competitions. * Editor-in-Chief: Jay McGowan * House Interviewer: Mark Chao * Highlights: Jay McGowan * Food Critic: Steve Fast * Bird Taste-Tester: Martin McGowan ****************************************************************** It is hard to believe it, but we are already nearly a third of the way through 2005. As you may have noticed by now, this issue covers three months instead of the customary two. We at The Cup have decided to make this publication, at least for a while, tri-monthly (or quarterly, if you prefer.) Ostensibly this is to grant more time for putative columnists to complete their respective columns, assemble more entertaining material, and generally ameliorate the entire entity, consequently bringing you a more insightful and engaging publication all around. Sure. In any case, we plan to send out updates on the totals every month. Therefore, because we will not have to wait for other components in order to publish the standings, as long as you reliable Cuppers send in your totals in a timely manner we will have more up-do-date standings than in the past few years. (Please note that by “reliable Cuppers” I am referring to ALL Cuppers rather than those Cuppers who are actually reliable, in the hopes that this modest accolade will lend motivation to some of you.) So, send in your totals. Write up your articles. Read The Cup. Or better yet, go birding. And now, The Cup 10.1-10.3 inclusive! ---------------------------- <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> January, February, March 2005 David Cup Totals Bob McGuire has taken an early lead in the Basin competition. 83, 101, 119 Bob McGuire 88, 95, 114 Tim Lenz 74, 93, 108 Steve Fast 67, 92, 107 Jay McGowan 43, 86, 107 Mike Harvey 81, --, 102 Mike Andersen 70, 77, 102 Kevin McGowan 62, 68, 98 Ken Rosenberg 56, 67, 96 Mark Chao --, 90, 90+Scott Haber 49, 66, 89 Anne Marie Johnson 47, 55, 78 Meena Haribal 38, 49, 78 Perri McGowan 76, 77, 77+Jesse Ellis 43, 53, 65 Bard Prentiss 0, 61, 61 Matt Medler 10, 58, 58+Dan Lebbin --, 48, 56 Chris Tessaglia-Hymes 51, 51+, 51+Mickey Scilingo 44, 44+, 44+Melanie Driscoll 16, 26, 44 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan 13, 17, 22 Martin (the Cat) McGowan 11, 11, 23 Frank “Pusser D. Cat” Fast 0, 0, 0 Pete Hosner 0, 0, 0 Jeff Wells [EDITOR’S NOTE: If I were the sort of person who held grudges and enjoyed making biting and sarcastic comments about people, I would probably note that this is the first time in recent memory that Jeff Wells has sent in his totals on time without several snippy reminders and dire threats. Is it not an odd coincidence that when this happened his total just “happened” (note biting and sarcastic quotation marks) to be a big, easy-to-figure-up zero? As I say, this is undoubtedly the kind of thing I would say; however, luckily for Jeff, I am not that kind of person.] [EDITOR’S NOTE 2: To be fair to the Wells’ and because the preceding note is really more her style anyway, it should be noted that I might also have mentioned that Allison Wells STILL did not send in her totals.] Jay McGowan’s 100th bird - Eastern Meadowlark Kevin McGowan’s 100th bird - Brown-headed Cowbird Bob McGuire’s 100th bird - Gyrfalcon! January, February, March 2005 McIlroy Award Totals 62, 66, 90 Ken Rosenberg 57, 60, 84 Tim Lenz --, 33, 67 Mark Chao 42, 48, 63 Jeff Gerbracht 43, 47, 62 Kevin McGowan 36, 51, 58 Jay McGowan 31, 31+,31+Melanie Driscoll 24, 24+,24+Mickey Scilingo January, February, March 2005 Evans Trophy Totals 39, 51, 71 Jay McGowan 43, 47, 68 Kevin McGowan 22, 34, 62 Steve Fast 38, 30, 51 Bard Prentiss 18, 27, 50 Perri McGowan 34, 34+,34+Mickey Scilingo 33, 33+,33+Melanie Driscoll January, February, March 2005 Yard Totals Surely there are more people out there who keep yard lists! Come on, don’t be afraid to join the fun... --, 30, 45 Nancy Dickinson 22, 25, 35 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden 26, 26+,26+Pixie Senesac 16, 17, 25 Anne Marie Johnson, Caroline January, February, March 2005 Lansing Competition Totals 40, 49, 68 Mark Chao --, 40, 55 Jay McGowan 36, 44, 54 Kevin McGowan --------------------------------------------- $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ BASIN COMPOSITE DEPOSIT By my count the totals for January, February, and March were 112, 117, and 135, respectively. Here is the whole list as of the end of March: Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, Canada Goose, CACKLING GOOSE, G. W-F GOOSE, ROSS'S GOOSE, Snow Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Am. Black Duck, Gadwall, N. Pintail, Am. Wigeon, EURASIAN WIGEON, N. Shoveler, B-w Teal, G-w Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, L-t Duck, Black Scoter, W-w Scoter, C. Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, C. Merganser, R-b Merganser, Ruddy Duck, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, C. Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, EARED GREBE, D-c Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, N. Harrier, S-s Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, N. Goshawk, R- s Hawk, R-t Hawk, R-l Hawk, Golden Eagle, Am. Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, GYRFALCON, Am. Coot, SANDHILL CRANE, Killdeer, Am. Woodcock, Wilson's Snipe, 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, N. S-w Owl, E. Screech-Owl, Belted Kingfisher, R-b Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, N. Shrike, Blue Jay, C. Raven, Am. Crow, Fish Crow, Horned Lark, Tree Swallow, Tufted Titmouse, B-c Chickadee, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, Winter Wren, G-c Kinglet, R-c Kinglet, E. Bluebird, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD, Am. Robin, N. Mockingbird, European Starling, Am. Pipit, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Cedar Waxwing, Y-r Warbler, C. Yellowthroat, N. Cardinal, E. Towhee, Am. Tree Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, E. Meadowlark, B-h Cowbird, R-w Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, C. Grackle, Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch, House Finch, C. Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Am. Goldfinch, House Sparrow. ALSO SEEN BUT NOT COUNTABLE: Trumpeter Swan LEADER’S MISS LIST Bob has missed only a few birds so far: GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, EURASIAN WIGEON, Long-tailed Duck, Black Scoter, Bonaparte's Gull, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Winter Wren, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, White- crowned Sparrow, Evening Grosbeak. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ --------------------------------------------- !-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-! JANUARY, FEBRUARY, & MARCH 2005 BASIN HIGHLIGHTS by Jay McGowan !-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-! -JANUARY- The 43rd annual Ithaca Christmas Bird Count was held, as usual, on January 1st. A total of 78 species were found, including WOOD DUCK, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, TURKEY VULTURE, BALD EAGLE, NORTHERN GOSHAWK, PEREGRINE FALCON, LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, 3 RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, and EVENING GROSBEAK. Also, new high counts were set for Fish Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, and White-breasted Nuthatch. The Montezuma Christmas Bird Count was held on January 2nd. Highlights included ICELAND, GLAUCOUS, and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS, NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, NORTHERN SHRIKE, WINTER WREN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and FIELD SPARROW. Also reported was a YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD near Noble Corner. Unfortunately details for this bird were rather sketchy and the bird was not refound. Winter finches were sparse but present this winter. The first COMMON REDPOLL was seen on Hunt Hill Road by Laura Stenzler on January 6th. Two days later it was joined by a PINE SISKIN. Siskins continued to be seen in small numbers in various locations around the area, including Hunt Hill and Summerhill. Mickey Scilingo and Melanie Driscoll had redpolls visit their feeders on Yellow Barn Road on the 15th and continued to see rather large (for the year) numbers for several weeks. Ken Rosenberg saw a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER at the Lab of O on the 7th. As in several past years, a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK spent much of the winter in the vicinity of the Lab of O. Larry and Sarah Jane Hymes found an adult CHIPPING SPARROW (with some retained alternate plumage) at their feeders in Ithaca on January 7th. One of the best birds of the month was just outside the Basin. A male VARIED THRUSH was found by Arnold Talentino in his yard in downtown Cortland on January 7th. This bird stayed until the 8th. A GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was seen on Montezuma on the 8th. The EARED GREBE was seen on January 9th and remained until at least late March, during which time it was joined by a second individual. Red- necked Grebes were seen occasionally in early February. Tim Lenz found a Richardson’s CACKLING GOOSE at Stewart Park on January 9th. NORTHERN SHRIKES were quite numerous this winter. A sometimes- cooperative individual haunted the northeast corner of the Ithaca airport, and another (or possibly the same) was seen occasionally near the Lab of O. Another was seen intermittently on Mount Pleasant Road and several others were reported from many other locations. SNOW BUNTINGS were also fairly abundant this winter. One flock near Center Road in Genoa included at least three LAPLAND LONGSPURS, and another longspur was seen with the large flock of buntings on Cornell Lane in Cortland County. SHORT-EARED OWLS were seen reliably near Rafferty Road in Ledyard in late January and for most of February and March. -FEBRUARY- PEREGRINE FALCONS were seen sporadically in January, but in early February one individual began to spend much of its time on the ice off Stewart Park. In early March it was joined for a time by a second Peregrine. Neither individual was reported after mid-March. White-winged gulls were numerous around Seneca Falls and Geneva in February. Multiple individuals of GLAUCOUS, ICELAND, and LESSER BLACK- BACKED were reported, as well as a possible THAYER’S at Van Cleef Lake on the 19th. On February 24th, Kevin McGowan found a BOHEMIAN WAXWING in with a flock of Cedars on the Cornell Plantations near Mundy Wildflower Garden. Two Bohemians were seen nearby on the following day but none were reported subsequently. On February 27th, a group of birders circling the lake found an adult gray-phase GYRFALCON (first spotted by Dan Lebbin) along the lake shore in the town of Varick on the west side of Cayuga Lake. Nearby at Dean’s Cove, a CACKLING GOOSE was seen accompanying a large flock of Canadas. The next day the Gyrfalcon was relocated in Aurora (on the opposite side of the lake.) It was not reported after that, however. -MARCH- On March 6th, Brian Sullivan found an immature male MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD (the first ever for the Basin) on Quarry Road near the intersection with Ellis Hollow Road. This bird was fairly cooperative for a large number of people that afternoon. It was refound nearby the next morning, but was seen only briefly and never again. GOLDEN EAGLES were seen in many locations in mid to late March, especially Mount Pleasant. Many RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS and a few NORTHERN GOSHAWKS, as well as other more common raptors were also seen migrating over. Ken Rosenberg saw a probable ROSS’S GOOSE in a flock of Snow Geese migrating overhead from his yard in Ithaca on March 19th. One or more ROSS’S GEESE were seen near Cayuga in a huge flock of Snow Geese on March 26th. On March 27th, Bob Guthrie found a male EURASIAN WIGEON in the Knox-Marcellus Marsh off East Road near Montezuma. This bird was not seen for a few days but was relocated at the same location on April 1st. On the 31st the SANDHILL CRANES returned to Carncross Road north of Montezuma. --------------------------------------------- :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P :-P --------------------------------------------- Local Dining Cold Spots by Steve Fast --------------------------------------------- :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( A couple of the cuppers, those who actually eat food, have noticed that my wife & I do enjoy a good diner meal. We are not picky; 90% of our meals are "good". However, there are several local places that we now avoid like bad mule meat. I feel it only fair to give details of our/my experiences and let you gourmands judge. Ziffy's Diner: As I sometimes work downtown, this, when it opened, seemed convivial and convenient. My first meal was a burger of some sort. Looked good on the plate. First bite and I got jaw-whiplash. The taste was akin to wet cardboard, and, while I got thru it, it took a week of flossing to get the gristle out from between my teeth. I vowed never to return. Some months later, a friend offered to "treat" me there, insisting that it was OK, improved and all that. So I went. Ordered the old standby that almost nobody can ruin--hot roastbeef sandwich. Again it looked good. I should have simply watched it, hoping to absorb nutrients thru my eyes. But, knife and fork poised, I went at it. Then went at it again, and again. It defied the knife. So I took a peek under the top layer of bread. Under was a great mass of connective tissue. I tried to separate the slivers of meat from it and after a time had a pile of inedibles that looked larger than the original sandwich. I showed the heap to the waitress, but she just shrugged as if this was the normal state of cookery there. Finis. Queen Diner: Susie & I , with one of our daughters, tried this place ONCE. I don't remember what I had, so it wasn't particularly memorable. But I noticed that my daughter, after eating a couple small pieces of grilled chicken breast, began to pick at her food. This was not unusual, but I asked how things were and she appeared to be getting ill. Said her meat was raw. I analyzed, and so it was. We called the waitress, who had not a clue, but called the manager/owner. She looked at it, agreed it was raw, and offered to cook it. We declined. She said she would "make it right", so we did not expect any charge when later we went to pay. Wrong. She had listed the original number of chicken pieces, subtracted the raw ones from this, calculated a percentage (a quivering ratio?), and reduced the listed price by that amount. We were so intrigued by this method of screwing the public that we paid up and walked out, never to return. Country Diner in Cayuga: We have stopped here several times and the food has been mediocre to good; i.e. standard diner fare. Our last trip was memorable however. We were chewing away on something or other when a large man came in. A local. A regular. He ordered a cup of coffee, drank it in 5 seconds, and proceeded to "entertain" the owner/cook and all patrons with a literally non-stop barrage of loud opinions, off-color jokes, gossip, etc. A little of this and you can quickly lose interest in eating, which we did. However, the owner, instead of quietly ignoring him or showing him the door, joined in wholeheartedly and essentially stopped cooking and forgot about 6 other people, none of whom looked like they were enjoying this diatribe duet. We had to walk around the counter to get coffee refills, drank them quickly, and left. I have more, but this should have taken the edge off your appetite for now. J. Beard --------------------------------------------- !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! KICKIN' TAIL! ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Cup, once again ably represented by Mark Chao, interviews February and March leader and first-time Cupper Bob McGuire: THE CUP: Bob, your run of birding over the first three months of 2005 has been truly remarkable. Congratulations on your roaring start, and on your decisive early claim on the Cup lead! BOB: Thank you. THE CUP: Your appearance as the Cup frontrunner probably leaves some of our readers asking, "Where did this guy come from?" But actually, you've been in the area as long as almost anyone in our birding community. You grew up here, right? BOB: Yes, I grew up on the corner of State and Cornell Street. Went to Belle Sherman Elementary and the (old) Dewitt Junior High School. THE CUP: What was your trajectory from your early years in Ithaca, ultimately leading to your returning and settling here? BOB: Growing up here as a kid was not a lot of fun - tough to get anywhere on a 3-speed bike with all the hills. So I got out of town as soon as I could, went to college, lived in Czechoslovakia and Austria (where I taught English), and then came back to this area as an adult. What a difference! Such a beautiful place. So much to do. I have lived here for the past 30 years. THE CUP: How did you get involved in the Basin birding scene, and what do you like most about it? BOB: My wife Judy first got me hooked on birding. I started birding semi-seriously five years ago when Judy introduced me to Steve Kress' SFO course. In SFO I met some of the area's most engaging and dedicated birders. And some of that enthusiasm must have rubbed off. Since then I have found myself drawn deeper and deeper into the realm of birding. Even so, I still consider myself a novice, rookie, a greenhorn. All of these, by the way, are good colloquial translations of the Czech word "bazant" (pronounced "bazhant"). The literal meaning of the word is "pheasant" -- kind of appropriate! It's hard to say what I like MOST about birding in the basin. The basin offers a wonderful diversity of habitat, hence variety of birds. The lake really makes winter birding rewarding. But more than that, it's the large collection of delightful, odd characters that bird here. The range of experience and their willingness to share their knowledge is what makes this place so special. THE CUP: How did you go from being a "bazant" to being the Cup leader entering the back stretch? BOB: On New Year's Eve I had no intention of birding for the Cup, much less ever leading in ticks. But, hey, Judy and I had a good Christmas Bird Count in the Snyder Hill area. And then I found a few good birds the next day during the Montezuma count. And so I thought, this will be the year to get the ball rolling. With encouragement from Matt Medler and Chris T-Hymes, I looked into first-arrival dates, must-find winter birds, and started birding the lake. And Tim Lenz was a great inspiration. I always expected to be trying to catch up to him. When I found myself in the same ballpark with him, it really turned the heat up! Since I run my own shop, I could take a few hours off here and there to chase something good. The only thing that really suffered was my skiing - I only got to Greek Peak once all winter. Steve Fast has also been a good influence. He's taught me that no job or client is so important that it can't wait until I've done my birding. THE CUP: I wonder if Tim feels the same way now that Steve Kelling is his boss. BOB: An interesting side line: I have moved this year from being a student of SFO to actually leading groups (of beginners). Last weekend my group and I ran into Steve and Susie Fast at the Mucklands. I told Steve I was there with an SFO group. Steve asked, "And who's the leader?" So I guess I don't look much like a leader after all. Oh well. My original goal, to get good looks at 220 birds for the year, still stands. For me to finish in the top 10, I have to be on the ball and find something like 20 life birds! Don't put any money on me for top spot this year. I'm just thankful for the great sightings I've had. It's been a ball so far! THE CUP: What have been the highlights of your year so far? BOB: First, I have to list the life birds I've seen this winter: Gyrfalcon, Mountain Bluebird, Northern Goshawk, Lapland Longspur, Rusty Blackbird. (Rusty Blackbird? You have to remember that I have only been doing this for five years. I still have a lot of holes to fill.) But then it has been the great looks at some more or less common birds. Like learning to pick out for myself the white-winged gulls and getting good photos of them. Or the mornings at Stewart Park watching the Peregrine feeding out on the ice. THE CUP: You mentioned having your own shop. Cuppers past and present have had all kinds of interesting jobs -- we've had a chef, a violin- bow craftsman, a teddy-bear marketing professional, a physicist or two, and others (even some ornithologists). But you may have the most unusual job of all -- you build audiokinetic machine sculptures, in which balls roll, bounce, and ride through fanciful twisted tracks. [Note to readers: if you haven't already, check out Bob's incredible ball machine at the Sciencenter on First Street -- or at Logan Airport in Boston, or any of dozens of hospitals, office buildings, and other public spaces worldwide.] How did you get into this line of work? BOB: While teaching remedial reading in Odessa, NY, I met a fellow who was building ball machine sculptures. I started out helping him with the welding, and soon had a good side business. After awhile it became too difficult to teach AND run a business, so I bailed from teaching and never looked back. One of the best things about the ball machine business is the installation trips. Not only have I visited Korea, Guam, Singapore, Mexico and Canada, but I have also had several recent trips to the Lower Rio Grande Valley and southern Florida, both great birding spots. So now I choose my projects as much for the birding as for the client. THE CUP: How much has competing for the Cup affected your motivation to bird? BOB: Wow! It's driven me off the deep end. I've gone birding this winter in weather I wouldn't even ski in. My alarm clock has advanced by at least an hour, just to have some time to look around in the morning before going to the shop. As a result of the effort, first to find good winter birds, then to try and stay ahead, I have had more great bird experiences in three months than in any previous "normal" year. THE CUP: What do you most hope to see over the next nine months? BOB: That's simple: every bird that Tim sees. That way, if he's still missing the Goshawk, I win! Seriously, I will need at least twenty of what for me will be life birds if I am to stay competitive. Those are the ones I am looking forward to finding. THE CUP: Uh-oh...by mentioning only Tim, you may just have provided "bulletin board material" for other Cup contenders, including two-time defending champ Jay McGowan. Do you really think that you can beat these guys? BOB: No. But that's not the point. The point is getting out there, learning what to look for, when to look for them, and where to look. It's all about being in the right ballpark. That's what I'm working on this year. That's the value of the Cup competition for me. THE CUP: Well said. Now for a lighting closing round of questions...your favorite perching bird? BOB: Eastern Bluebird, for its familiar twittering song on the fence post behind the house, followed closely by Red-winged Blackbird (whose call in the fields behind the house signals the end of winter) and Eastern Phoebe (whose call signals the start of spring). THE CUP: Your favorite wading bird? BOB: Tricolored Heron (goofy foraging method). THE CUP: Your favorite raptor? BOB: Sharpy/Cooper's (I love trying to tell them apart). THE CUP: Your favorite local restaurant? BOB: ABC Cafe (best vegetable tempura in town). THE CUP: Your favorite musician or musical group? BOB: Natalie McMaster (awesome Cape Breton fiddler). THE CUP: Name two of your favorite visual artists, and tell us why you admire their work. BOB: Andy Goldsworthy (his audacious use of natural materials. Note: He worked in my shop for two weeks last spring while putting together a major piece for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.) F. Hundertwasser (odd-ball Austrian painter, sculptor. For his use of color and line) THE CUP: Which would you rather have, an invitation to collaborate with Hundertwasser or 25 life birds in the Basin in 2005? BOB: 25 life birds, of course. If I could do that, I'd win! THE CUP: Then let's shut this interview down and let you get out in the field again! Good luck! --------------------------------------------- ----------------- “CUP...QUOTES” ----------------- How marvelous the varied thrush Posed jauntily on winter bush Putting American robin to shame Though some rufous markings appear the same. --Caissa Willmer After leaving Susie in McLean, I headed for a walk thru the McIlroy Preserve at Lake Como. --Steve Fast This is the easiest report I have had to do: I am currently at 0 species for the Basin but at perhaps 43 virtual species that I've gleaned from the Cayugabirds listserve including all the more unusual species. --Jeff Wells We started at the south end, near East Shore Park. Quite a few Common Mergansers and goldeneye, but we couldn’t find anything different (especially not with Steve “bad karma” Fast standing right beside us.) --Jay McGowan Among the hundreds of CANADA GEESE was a single dark form SNOW GOOSE, the kind well-adapted to our old urban snow. --Dave Nutter Upon reaching home after buying a cake at Wegman's this afternoon, I was very pleasantly surprised to find a group of 6 Common Redpolls in a (poplar?) tree outside of my front door (to bring my tally to a whopping 12 species for the year.) If my wife were a birder, it would have made up for forgetting her birthday this morning. --John Baur On an otherwise quiet trip, Steve Fast and I found a total of 31 Horned Grebes (and one Red-necked Grebe) at locations in Aurora Bay and off the Aurora Bluffs. The Eared Grebe stayed submerged the whole time, and so we were unable to confirm its presence. --Bob McGuire The recent bluebird excitement calls to mind a Chinese proverb: "Qing chu yu lan" -- "Aquamarine [qing] surpasses blue [lan]," or as my mom has said, "The bluest blue is bluer than blue." Actually, the proverb is not about bird colors; people say this in reference to an apprentice whose skills grow to exceed the master's. --Mark Chao ...Anyway, I'm pretty hungry, and I believe I covered all of the highlights so this post is going to end now. --Tim Lenz --------------------------------------------------------- May Your Cup Runneth Over, - Jay