Year 10, Issues 7-9

***************************************************************** *^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^ *The Cup 10.7-10.9 ­ July/August/September 2005 *The electronic publication of the David Cup, McIlroy and various *other birding competitions. * Editor-in-Chief: Jay McGowan * House Interviewer: Mark Chao * Highlighter: Bob McGuire * Food Critic: Steve Fast * Bird Taste-Tester: Martin McGowan ****************************************************************** Well, once again an apology is due my loyal and long-suffering (if the former, certainly the latter) readers. It turns out that Cornell really is as much work as they say it is. Therefore, this issue is a wee bit delayed. Never mind; here it is, in all its belated glory: The Cup 10.7-10.9! ---------------------------- <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> July, August, September 2005 David Cup Totals 234, 243, 247 Tim Lenz 233, 240, 245 Bob McGuire 228, ---, 243 Jay McGowan 224, 224, 238 Steve Fast 222, 230, 233 Dave Nutter 219, 227, 229 Mark Chao 214, ---, 229 Kevin McGowan 225, ---, --- Mike Andersen ---, 218, 222 Meena Haribal 196, ---, 222 Dan Lebbin 191, 201, 205 Anne Marie Johnson 189, ---, 205 Perri McGowan ---, 182, 182 Matt Medler 91, 98, 98 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan 58, 73, 73 Martin (the Cat) McGowan 48, 48, 48 Frank "Pusser D. Cat" Fast Dan Lebbin’s 100th bird - Purple Martin Anne Marie Johnson’s 200th bird ­ Dunlin Dan Lebbin’s 200th bird - Dickcissel July, August, September 2005 McIlroy Award Totals 180, ---, 188 Tim Lenz ---, ---, 167+Ken Rosenberg 151, 159, 162 Mark Chao 141, ---, 150 Jay McGowan 114, ---, 119 Kevin McGowan ---, ---, 135 Jeff Gerbracht July, August, September 2005 Evans Trophy Totals 175, ---, 179 Jay McGowan 162, ---, 166 Kevin McGowan 153, ---, 165 Steve Fast 144, ---, 145 Perri McGowan July, August, September 2005 Yard Totals --, --, 117 John Fitzpatrick, Ellis Hollow 98, --, 102 Nancy Dickinson 94, --, 100 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden 88, --, -- Pixie Senesac --, --, 79 Jeff Gerbracht 73, 75, 78 Anne Marie Johnson, Caroline July, August, September 2005 Lansing Competition Totals 169, 171, 172 Mark Chao 143, ---, 147 Jay McGowan 115, ---, 115+Kevin McGowan --------------------------------------------- $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ BASIN COMPOSITE DEPOSIT Here is the total list for the end of September (258 species): Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, Canada Goose, CACKLING GOOSE, Brant, 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, Surf Scoter, 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, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, D-c Cormorant, Am. Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, B-c Night-Heron, GLOSSY IBIS, Turkey Vulture, 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, C. Moorhen, Am. Coot, Virginia Rail, Sora, SANDHILL CRANE, B-b Plover, Am. Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, WHIMBREL, Ruddy Turnstone, RED KNOT, Sanderling, Dunlin, Pectoral Sandpiper, W-r Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, WESTERN SANDPIPER, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, L- b Dowitcher, S-b Dowitcher, B-b Sandpiper, Am. Woodcock, Wilson's Snipe, Wilson's Phalarope, R-n Phalarope, LITTLE GULL, Bonaparte's Gull, R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Lesser B-b Gull, Great B-b Gull, Caspian Tern, C. Tern, Forster's Tern, Black Tern, Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeon, Y-b Cuckoo, B-b Cuckoo, L-e Owl, S-e Owl, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, N. S-w Owl, E. Screech-Owl, C. Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, R-t Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, R-h Woodpecker, R-b Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, E. Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Y-b Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, E. Kingbird, N. Shrike, R-e Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, WHITE-EYED VIREO, Y-t Vireo, B-h Vireo, Blue Jay, C. Raven, Am. Crow, Fish Crow, Horned Lark, Purple Martin, N. R-w Swallow, Bank Swallow, Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Tufted Titmouse, B-c Chickadee, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Winter Wren, SEDGE WREN, Marsh Wren, G-c Kinglet, R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E. Bluebird, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD, Am. Robin, Wood Thrush, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, G-c Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, N. Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Am. Pipit, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Cedar Waxwing, N. Parula, O-c Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, B-w Warbler, G-w Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Yellow Warbler, C-s Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Cape May Warbler, B-t Blue Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Y-r Warbler, B-t Green Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, B-b Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, W-e Warbler, B-&-w Warbler, Am. Redstart, Ovenbird, N. Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Mourning Warbler, C. Yellowthroat, Wilson's Warbler, Canada Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, N. Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, DICKCISSEL, E. Towhee, Am. Tree Sparrow, Field Sparrow, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW, Chipping Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW, Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, E. Meadowlark, Bobolink, B-h Cowbird, R-w Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, C. Grackle, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch, House Finch, Red Crossbill, C. Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Am. Goldfinch, House Sparrow. ALSO SEEN BUT NOT COUNTABLE: Trumpeter Swan, Northern Bobwhite. LEADER’S MISS LIST TIM LENZ’S MISSES: Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, Whimbrel, Long-eared Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, White-eyed Vireo, Bohemian Waxwing, Orange-crowned Warbler, Evening Grosbeak, Red Crossbill. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ --------------------------------------------- !-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-! JULY, AUGUST, & SEPTEMBER 2005 BASIN HIGHLIGHTS by Bob McGuire !-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!-! As noted at the close of the last Cup Highlights (10.4-10.6 ), the harbingers of fall migration had begun to appear even before the end of June. The first few weeks of July brought reports of Solitary Sandpipers at Montezuma, both yellowlegs at Marten’s Tract, a molted Sanderling on the spit at Myers, and then Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitchers, Stilt and Least sandpipers, and Semipalmated Plovers, first at Tschache Pool and subsequently at Puddler’s Marsh (as seen from Towpath Road.) Throughout the month of July a pair of American White Pelicans was observed at the back edge of the Montezuma Mail Pool. As the summer went on, that sighting was reduced to one individual, usually seen at the end of the day at Puddler’s. The family of Sandhill Cranes (2 adults, 2 colts) was observed regularly in the bean fields at Carncross Road and seemed to have survived the attention of coyotes until fledging in August. Another group of three Sandhills were observed from time to time, usually in the Knox-Marcellus Marsh and stayed around until at least the Muckrace in early September. Soras and Virginia Rails were often seen and heard along the Wildlife Drive and occasionally at Railroad Road and Marten’s. One of the most elusive birds of the summer, Least Bittern, was sighted in the cattails, way out from the spillway and Montezuma, by Mark Chao on July 23rd and viewed briefly by a few other lucky folks. The same initial section of the Wildlife Drive was home to a pair of Glossy Ibis from early August well into September. With most of the cattails gone from the Main Pool, with Benning and Tschache drying up, and Mays Pool drained, attention for most of the summer focused on Marten’s Tract and Towpath Road. Marten’s was a reliable spot for Wilson’s Snipe, yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, dowitchers, and an occasional Stilt Sandpiper. In early August, a basic plumaged Wilson’s Phalarope was reported by Mike Andersen. At about the same time Dave Nutter reported a Piping Plover at Benning, but unfortunately this bird turned out to be a light juvenile Semipalmated. For all of August and early September, the extensive mud flats at Puddler’s Marsh contained hundreds of shorebirds, including Black- bellied Plover and American Golden Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Bairds, Western, and White-rumped sandpipers, Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones, and Red-necked Phalarope. For a while a pair of juvenile Peregrines hunted the area, churning the shorebird flocks constantly. On August 19th, Mike Andersen reported a group of fly-over Whimbrels, and then on the 23rd, Brian Sullivan reported 18 more. Back in town, Sapsucker Woods was one of the best places to be. Woodcocks were encountered on numerous occasions along the North Wilson Trail. The shallow western pond provided habitat for Least, Solitary, and Spotted sandpipers and a Lesser Yellowlegs for Town of Ithaca Cuppers. There were also multiple reports of Yellow-throated Vireos there throughout the summer. Beam Hill and the nearby Baldwin Preserve were some of the best places to go for breeding warblers, including Mourning, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Canada, Magnolia, Hooded, Ovenbird, Prairie, and Louisiana Waterthrush. The spit at Myers continued to produce a few good birds, including an early Baird’s Sandpiper (July 6th), Cliff Swallow, Ruddy Turnstone, Black-bellied Plover, and fly-over Whimbrel (September 13th - John Greenly). Then, as the ducks began to return in mid-September, a Eurasian Widgeon was spotted by Gary Chapin (September 17th) in a large flock of Americans in the Main Pool. That bird, or possibly another, was observed by others over the course of the next week, both there and across the Drive in the newly-flooded shorebird area. As the month of September came to an end, warblers gave way to sparrows. Lincoln’s Sparrows were seen in several locations, including the Lab and Dryden Lake. On the last day of the month Tim Lenz and Glen Seeholzer found the first Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow of the year at Hog Hole, in exactly the same spot as last year. A Nelson’s was reported there, off and on, for first few weeks of October, but that’s getting ahead of the story. --------------------------------------------- !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! KICKIN' TAIL! ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In previous issues of The Cup, we have learned that David Cup leader Tim Lenz has many talents besides picking out gannets and scoters on the lake. He programs computers. He dives. He plays piano. But did you know that Tim speaks Chinese? No classroom instruction, just some work with his diving coach and with Mark Chao, has given Tim command of a lot of useful phrases, and a pretty decent accent too. So we now bring you a Cup first -- a Kickin' Tail interview in Mandarin. THE CUP: Tim, ni hao. TIM: Ni hao. THE CUP: Jintian ni zuo shenma? TIM: Jintian wo kan niao. Wo meitian kan niao. Wo hen xihuan kan niao. THE CUP: Ni dao nar qu? Ni yao kan shenma? TIM: Wo dao Hog Hole qu, houlai dao Stewart Park qu. Xiage libai, wo zai Hog Hole zhaodao yi ge Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Wo hen gaoxing, Ken Rosenberg hai mei kanguo zhei zhong niao! Ha ha ha! THE CUP: Hen you yisi. Keshi, keneng Ken Rosenberg xianzai dao East Shore Park zhao Parasitic Jaeger. TIM: Shi ma!?!? Zaogao! Zaogao! Wo kan shoubiao. Yijing wan le. Zaijian! THE CUP: Zaijian! --------------------------------------------- Dave Nutter, long an active Ithaca birder, has finally joined the David Cup in 2005. Here he joins Cup interviewer Mark Chao for a conversation. THE CUP: Before this year, I got the feeling that you consciously avoided competitive listing. Is this perception valid? DAVE: Yeah. To me a simple list is like only looking at the titles on a bookshelf. I want to read the books. THE CUP: Who or what prompted you to start counting Basin species this year? DAVE: I heard on the radio about a runner whose New Year's resolution wasn't to run a certain number of miles per day or to compete in some number of races, but simply to put on the running shoes on every day, go outside, see what happened, and be okay with it. It sounded like she was pretty happy, so I adapted it. I've long kept binoculars with me whenever I go out and often brought the scope along to work, and I would write bird lists from special trips or outings. I decided to do that for this whole year: keep the optics with me, and note what species I found each day. I've always enjoyed reacquainting myself with the various species each year -- it's important to me to establish that we still share the planet -- and I wondered how many I might come upon, since I've never counted before. At first I figured on keeping it casual or typical, noting what I saw or heard without going out of my way, but that was a failure. I wasn't able to be an impassionate uninvolved observer. I enjoy it too much, which affected my observation effort. Maybe next year I can separate out the purely casual birds list. When I wrote down my birds I became acutely aware of what wasn't on the list. One thing that made me reluctant to sign up is that I might become a junkie, a "problem birder". It's hard for me to judge how close to the line I've gone, or even which side. As for making an official Cup entry, I blame Bob McGuire. THE CUP: Can you share a few highlights of your birding in the Basin so far in 2005? DAVE: Well, I could, but there's well over 600 of them. I decided to keep a separate list of what was important to me -- different plumages, behaviors, and identifications by sound, not just a single tick for each species name. The official list doesn't reflect what birding is to me. Even biologically it doesn't make sense to just have one check for a species when you need both males and females to keep the species going, and that means breeding plumages, and juvenile plumages, and songs and courtship and feeding, et cetera. Back to the question. I think the biggest deal for me was finding first one and then two Peregrine Falcons on the Stewart Park ice shelf late this winter, usually at dawn and often having caught a meal by the time I could discern them. To me these birds, possibly a pair, represent the success of the reintroduction program started here in the 1970s and the ban of some of the worst pesticides. THE CUP: Are you willing to compare a couple of lowlights? What's worse, seeing a Piping Plover but having everyone else miss it, or dipping so far on a Eurasian Wigeon that you've been trying a few times to see? DAVE: The Piping Plover was great -- odd, cute, novel, and a good look. I tried to get the word out. I hung out for over an hour, and it was still there when I left. I wish others had seen it, but I did what I could. I still haven't seen whether the other fellow's photos were any good, which is frustrating, because I'd like it to be a confirmed record. I've just learned (19 October) through Matt Medler that Gerard Phillips and David Wheeler saw and photographed the plover I reported on 22 August as a Piping Plover. Gerard is of the opinion that the bird was a "an unusually pale looking SPPL [Semipalmated Plover]", adding in his analysis "It certainly was the lightest breast band I've ever seen on a SPPL." I hope that Matt can arrange for the photos to be added to the Cayuga Birds web page. I think my observations were good, and that the bird looked far more like Sibley's non-breeding or juvenile Piping Plover than any Semipalmated Plover shown, so my ID was understandable even if ultimately incorrect (I'm curious what others think of the photos). It was an interesting bird, and I'm still learning from it, so overall I feel good even if a bit surprised and disappointed that perhaps I didn't make contact with the imperiled species there. Finding a bird you don't expect is almost all positive. What I dislike is chasing and not finding birds which others have reported. Then I just feel inadequate, as if I'm either lacking the skills, or the knowledge, or the perceptivity, or the equipment, or the patience, or the flexible schedule and timeliness, or the right birding buddies. The frustration of chasing is another reason I was reluctant to join this listing group. I don't think I'm very good at either finding great birds of my own or tracking down other people's. It's mainly bumbling doggedness and a lot of help which has gotten me to this point. But even when I miss a bird I'm chasing, I usually see something interesting. I'm trying to develop a good zen attitude about the birds I seek. The problem is I'm not confident that they really exist. It's not that I doubt other observers necessarily, but I don't have faith that the bird which at the moment is not being observed still exists in a physical sense to be re-found. They sort of pop in and out of existence like certain sub-atomic particles. I'm developing a theory of quantum birding to account for this. Some people say you have to put in your time to find a rare bird. I guess a bird would not be rare unless you didn't find it almost all the time, which is what I've been doing with that Eurasian Wigeon. But great birders find great birds more often than mere mortals. Sometimes it seems like a great birder's birding force can cause a great bird to pop into existence, like Ken Rosenberg pulling jaegers or cranes out of thin air. Or a group of hot birders can cause a hot bird to materialize, such as the group that found the Gyrfalcon this spring, or the time there were so many birders trying to see the Long-billed Murrelet, and the Northern Gannet appeared. THE CUP: How long have you been driving a cab for a living? How did you enter this line of work? DAVE: Since my son, Brendan (now 11), was an infant. My wife, Laurie Hart, is a musician (she plays fiddle in various styles), so I was looking for work with flexible enough hours that I could take over childcare when she has gigs or rehearsals or when she's teaching. THE CUP: What are some of the top bird sightings you've had while on duty? DAVE: There's generally a lull in business between taking people to the airport for the early flights and when people get up and go places voluntarily. I often spend that time at Stewart Park scanning the lake, so the Peregrines were taxi-birds, and there were Bald Eagles there several times, too. Once a Bald Eagle flew into my scope view and landed close by on the ice with a large fish. A few years ago there was a crossbill invasion, and they were often in the large spruce in front of Talbot's at Community Corners. I enjoyed showing them to some customers from Ecology House. Another time I had to explain to a customer why I was pulling over in the middle of nowhere: a Golden Eagle was flying over fairly low. But it's not just big birds and raptors that I find from the taxi. I was very pleased to hear my year Tennessee Warbler and see my year Swainson's Thrush from the taxi this spring. THE CUP: Tell us about your pursuits in music and dance. DAVE: I enjoyed square-dancing when I was in grade-school, and I started contra-dancing when I came to Ithaca. While living alone in a yurt I found a pennywhistle and taught myself some Irish and contra- dance tunes. I bought a fiddle from a fellow apple-picker who had given up on it, and taught myself to more-or-less play it. There was a network of amateur musicians I jammed with. I met Laurie at a contra-dance. She was a classically trained violinist who had quit Eastman School of Music and was just starting to play fiddle music after a complete hiatus of a year or two. We've shared a lot of tunes. My technique has improved a lot but my fingers aren't very fast. What's best for me is when I play Swedish tunes and Laurie improvises harmony. She makes me sound great (to me, anyway). She's the professional, with a fantastic repertoire and gorgeous tone and expression. I don't dance as much as I used to. I think the decline started when I was dancing carrying Brendan in a baby sling and he threw up in the middle of a swing. The music-birding connections include a bicycle tour of Ireland (fulmars nesting on the Cliffs of Moher, and shorebirds on the coast of Donegal) financed by busking, and a summer in Scandinavia on a Fulbright scholarship. Laurie studied traditional dance music, and I chauffeured her and birded, my favorite sites being a seabird colony on a Norwegian coastal island, and some great birding on some islands in the Baltic owned by Finland. THE CUP: Is the contra-dancing somehow the reason for your long beard? Or do the dancing and the beard have a common origin, or no relation at all? DAVE: Testosterone? THE CUP: Do you have a sense of what you might look like without the beard? DAVE: No, I looked pretty different before the beard. Since then I've gained a little weight, lost a lot of hair, added some wrinkles, broken my nose, and started wearing glasses. The relevant question, though, is how the beard affects my birding. I wonder if birds are more scared of me on account of it. Maybe I look more like a predator. THE CUP: What is in your CD player now? DAVE: Probably a reference on bird songs. I don't use the CD much. I get my music live at home, but sometimes in the winter when birds are quiet and it's too cold to drive with the windows down I bring Laurie's CDs with me to listen to in the taxi. She has 4 now, playing Scandinavian, French Canadian, Celtic, and various other kinds of music. "Fiddlespel" and her latest, "Cobbler's Dream / Rêve du Cordonnier" are my favorites. I sometimes bring CDs by her friends in Quebec such as "Les Frères Labri" or "Ojnab" or "Tuq". THE CUP: How do you like your Toyota Prius? What kind of fuel economy do you get? DAVE: It's a great birding car. When it's in electric mode it's vibration-free and practically silent -- perfect for listening and scoping. I used it on the Muckrace, and it worked pretty well. I think my teammates wanted me to drive faster, and they might have preferred larger windows when they were climbing out to look over the roof on the wildlife drive. It's a compact car, which is basic to fuel economy, so you don't get as high a view as in an SUV, and the low clearance makes cutting through the mucklands more interesting, but I think it's worth going with the Prius. I wish it was a convertible so I could see overhead birds more easily, but that's the problem with most cars. A dashboard display calculates both the long-term average fuel economy and the current miles-per-gallon in real time, which acts as a bio- feedback mechanism, at least if you're compulsive about it like me. My dad has a newer model Prius but he only gets 40 mpg because he still drives like all the other fairly aggressive drivers in the DC suburbs. For awhile this summer I had the average for a couple thousand miles up to 58.0 mpg. This requires being really light on the gas pedal, so I prefer to drive at 35 mph on back roads where I won't bother other drivers. I think it's around 50 mpg now. Climbing Ithaca's hills is rough on fuel economy, though you can gain it back coming down if you try. Short trips are hard, and going 65 kills it. Almost all of that applies to any vehicle. The burned fuel is another reason I was reluctant to get into listing. But since I've had a hybrid car I can either be smug or rationalize that it's more okay to take off and go birding in a more fuel-efficient car. This year I've done a lot of the latter. THE CUP: What's your favorite sparrow species? DAVE: Over all? Le Conte's Sparrow. I only ever saw one, but it was the first state record in Maryland, I think back in 1975. Another kid and I found it on the Ocean City Christmas Bird Count, and we had to report and describe it to Chandler Robbins, author of the Golden Guide, who was the compiler. A couple days later I went back as part of the group which captured, photographed, and banded it, confirming our ID. It was handsome, as well as rare for there. But lots of sparrows are beautiful, such as adult White-crowned Sparrows, which look tall and dignified, with a white cross atop the head, or more subtle sparrows like Swamp, or Clay-colored. Note: This interview was before Mike Harvey turned up a Le Conte's Sparrow locally. THE CUP: Your favorite shorebird? DAVE: Buff-breasted Sandpiper, again on account of a fortuitous sighting, this time at Myers Point in the early 1980s. It's a very pretty bird, and I also get a sophomoric pleasure from the name. Actually there are a lot of runners-up. Ruddy Turnstones are always fun. THE CUP: Your most coveted bird species not yet seen in the Basin? DAVE: There must be about 25 now. THE CUP: What bird species do you feel is underrated, and why? DAVE: WHAT?!?! Somebody's underrating birds? Lemme at 'em! THE CUP: What is the strangest thing that you've ever seen a bird doing? DAVE: I've gotten pretty accepting of bird behavior, and I can usually make some sense of it. But I'd say that the American White Pelican feeding the other day was very odd looking. I suppose practically anything a pelican does looks odd though. Another candidate is from the National Zoo in Washington, DC. I don't know if they still have the exhibit, but when I was a kid they used to have Red-billed Oxpeckers (small African birds which glean ectoparasites from large mammals) kept in an aviary whose front consisted of a series of thin vertical wires maybe half an inch apart. It was against the rules, of course, but you could lean over the railing and stick your fingertips between the wires. The Oxpeckers would fly right up, perch on your fingers, and gently peck all around under your fingernails. It tickled. And watching Hooded Mergansers swallow live crayfishes gives me the willies. THE CUP: What is your favorite color? DAVE: Indigo, as in Bunting. THE CUP: Sapsucker Woods or Stewart Park? DAVE: Tough call. As a taxi driver I'd have to vote for Stewart Park, because the radio reception is better, I can stay in the vehicle with the scope and still listen for calls, and it's still close enough to where the dispatcher expects me to be that I usually won't be inordinately late picking up the next fare. Especially in the winter there's stuff on the lake that you just won't find at Sapsucker. But you, Mark, and of course the many Lab of O folks, have demonstrated what fine land-birding there is at Sapsucker Woods the other three seasons. I've played hooky more than once after dropping off a customer at the airport in order to spend more time out of the cab at Sapsucker Woods than I have at Stewart Park. And if I lived closer to Sapsucker Woods I'm sure I'd spend more time there, so it's a split vote. THE CUP: GreenStar or Ithaca Farmers' Market? DAVE: The Farmers' Market wins hands down when it's happening. First there's the canoe ride there from my house. You can still keep half an eye and half an ear out for birds while shopping and shmoozing. There's Warbling Vireos in the Weeping Willows as well as kids climbing over the water. There's sure to be interesting music -- Laurie sometimes brings her Swedish nyckelharpa (sort of a cross between a mountain dulcimer and a typewriter). There's good food for eating there and to take home, and you meet the makers. There's also plain old entertainment. On the final day of the market season they have the Rutabaga Curling Contest. Brendan and I went last year. It was December 18th, and we had to do some serious ice-breaking and sledging with the canoe, but we had a good time. We snagged a couple stray rutabagas... unfortunately I found I'm not fond of them. The only drawback to the Farmers' Market is that winter eventually shuts it down. I don't go to the market religiously like some people do, but I do enjoy it. I eat far more food from GreenStar, but my heart is at the Farmers' Market. If getting food was my over-riding goal, though, I'd be an angler, not a birder. THE CUP: Any parting thoughts for our readers? DAVE: I just want to thank all the birders who've shared their sightings or even pointed out birds to me. I haven't sorted out the number of first or only sightings of mine this year that I'd have to attribute to others' skill and generosity, but I think it's pretty substantial. So thanks, all of you. -------------------------------------------- CLASSIC CUP COLUMNS -------------------------------------------- Here is an interesting poem by Geo Kloppel which served as the highlights section for August 1998. Though its references to specific birds are not exactly relevant, the verse is timeless. ---------- BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS - By Geo Kloppel I received notice of the suspension by editorial fiat of the July issue of The Cup just as I was concluding that I needed to cook up some serious filler for that month's Basin Bird Highlights. This is hardly the case for August, so I guess I'll thank the editors for saving me the trouble, though it was obvious enough what THEY were cooking up. Later, thinking about what fine Cayuga Birds they must have missed while playing hookey, I realized that here was a fit, almost Homeric subject for verse. Actually I only did this in order to taunt them, but now it seems that I've been conscripted to write this month's Composite Deposit and Leader's List, too! Probably the draft is just an ill-concealed attempt to betray the sham behind my quiet, self-effacing personality, by obliging me to blow my own trumpet about still being the leader. Anyway, with school string-programs starting up everywhere, I'm so busy that I don't have time to author something more prosy, so I suppose this poem'll just have to be circulated as the Highlights! (The proper tune to accompany this is "Stick To The Creature") "STICK TO THE BASIN!" To the editors: It's tempting to dish you for dumping last issue, Oh didn't we miss you, Cup-editors dear! So now in the Highlights you're lined-up in my sights, and YOU know that by rights you should have been here. Oh yes, you defected, you cannot dispute, You might have elected to telecommute. So here's my submission, display some contrition: enlarge my commission, cause I'm destitute! CHORUS: So stick to the Basin, the best birds for chasin' are those that are gracin' our home-turf this year. You went to the sea-coast, where you longed to be most, deserted your e-post for some salty pier! Let's start with a few words about all those new birds our keen Cuppers skewered sometime in July. I flagged all their writings with yellow highlightings, remarkable sightings were in short supply. It's plain July offered us nothing too prime. It all neatly fits in this recycled rhyme: "We tallied some breeders, filled hummingbird feeders, kept tabs on the leaders and bided our time." CHORUS: So stick to the Basin, the best birds for chasin' are those that are gracin' our shorelines this year. You went to see puffins? No time to draft rough-ins? The Cup rated sluffin', it's perfectly clear! As August unloaded, the cold fronts foreboded that we'd be commoded with listables choice. Sandpiper-additions made great-expeditions and short Myers-missions both cause to rejoice. Beside misty mudflats The Cup-lists evolved as each morning's fogbank was newly dissolved. Matt Young strove to topple his rival Geo Kloppel. It's sure he won't stop till the race is resolved. CHORUS: So stick to the Basin, the best birds for chasin' are rare ones that somewhere near home must be hid. The marks of Matt's tires were all over Myers while you peered at flyers off Point Pemaquid. Now here my averred aim shall be no dull word game, To rhyme every bird name would be too extreme! My duty's to list ’em, cause you might've missed em, but I will not twist em to fit the rhyme-scheme. With rhyming the warblers, why, yes I could cope, but what would I do with Wil-SON'S Phala-ROPE? In poetic slurry a MERLIN's no worry but FRANKLIN'S GULL surely would lead me to grope! SANDERLINGS, AVOCETS, WHIMBRELS and GREAT EGRETS, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS and GOLDEN ones too, DOWITCHERS multiple, TURNSTONES and LITTLE GULL, STILT PIPERS, PEREGRINES, NIGHTHAWKS on cue! Some WESTERN and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS were found. The SEMI-PALMATED and LEAST ones abound! And when we weren't starin' at BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON, we nabbed a few BAIRD'S by their looks and their sound. CHORUS: So stick to the Basin, the best birds for chasin' come visit us here while you're off on the brine. Oh you can vacation all over the nation but your Basin-ration is sure to decline. You'll scarce need reminding the consummate finding of August's unwinding was up in the north. To know a Eurasian without hesitation demands cultivation - the Irish stepped forth. That CURLEW SANDPIPER dropped out of the skies To prove Gerard Phillips has some pair of eyes! Although he's no Cupper, you'd think at the Supper he ought to be up for some kind of a prize. CHORUS: Yes stick to the Basin, the best birds for chasin' may come and then go like a flash in the pan. So if you MUST wander far-off away yonder, Oh don't stay too long, come back quick as you can! The taunt in my song is admittedly strong, yes, but don't get me wrong, it's delightful you're back! Despite all the chaff, oh we owe you a laugh - "ho!" You've given the staff so much more time for slack. And if you would like to vacation again, submit a request first, and I'll tell you when. (I guess I should clue you, the dates offered you two will hinge on what's due through the Basin just then!) CHORUS: So stick to the Basin, the best birds for chasin' are apt to arrive in the late-summer shine. Yes, Maine can be jolly in August by golly, but travel is folly - the Cup's on the line! -------------------------------------------------- ----------------- “CUP...QUOTES” ----------------- Nothing Extraordinary. Nary a Veery -- Very eerie. --Mark Chao **LEAST BITTERN** This was such a major big deal that there was considerable discussion what celebratory dance we should do. --Dave Nutter I watched a juvenile Virginal Rail feed in reeds for about 15 minutes or so. ... --Meena Haribal At Towpath Rd. I counted only 1500 Green-winged Teal, which made me very sleepy. After a quick nap on the hood of my car, I looked around for warblers. --Tim Lenz This morning, at 0600, Susie and I were awakened by an intriguing bird serenade. Like a tuba, a GREAT HORNED OWL sang the stanzas, a SCREECH OWL then wailed the chorus, the accompaniment handled by a KILLDEER, from above. While this was not a rousing rendition of "The Old Folks at Home", it WAS done with feeling. --Steve Fast Has anyone seen Tim Lenz? --Mike Andersen We lost Tim. --Jay McGowan He’s been misplaced. --Mike Harvey Whose day was it to watch him? --Kevin McGowan --------------------------------------------------------- May Your Cup Runneth Over, - Jay