Year 2, Issue 9

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*The unofficial electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competition.

* Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells

* Basin Bird Highlights: "Inspector" Tom Nix

* Pilgrim's Progress Compiler: "Stoinking" Matt Medler

* Composite Deposit, Stat's All: Karl "Father of the Madness" David

* Evans Cup Compiler: "Bird Hard" Bard Prentiss

* The Yard Stick Compiler: Margaret "in Mansfield" Launius

* Bird Bits: Jay "Beam Hill Me Up, Scotty" McGowan

* Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer

* Stunt Coordinator: Jeff Wells

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Did you know that the new Miss America was crowned last month? We didn't

either until we read it in one of our rival publications (Newsweek).

Apparently, the event was a big deal this time around because it was the

first year two-piece bathing suits were allowed (next year, we hear

they'll let contestants' hair actually move.)

Ordinarily, we wouldn't give a hoot except it got us to thinking, why not

have a Miss David Cup contest? Just imagine it: Ken Rosenberg prancing

down the catwalk (presumably the lighthouse jetty) in a silk evening gown

teal green, naturally), and Bill Evans in that ground-breaking two-piece

tastefully accentuated by a certain pair of red suspenders.) Stephen

Davies could strut his stuff in his infamous stilettos. Oh, and think of

the talent part of the contest: Kevin McGowan swinging from lighthouse to

lighthouse on his repelling ropes with his "Miss Beam Hill" banner draped

across his chest, and Steve Kelling wading around the swan pen giving his

best Great Blue Heron imitation. And when Karl David gets that inevitable

question, "If you could do anything to make the world a better place, what

would it be?" imagine his answer: "I'd make all the world one big, happy

Basin, and everyone in it would be Cuppers."

Who, pray tell, would sponsor such an outrageous, downright ludicrous

event? Why, The Cup, of course! Who better than The Cup to bring you

John Bower's embarrassing trip-up during the McIlroy part of the

competition? Who but The Cup could describe the glorious crown slipping

off the fingers of Tom Nix and right into the hands of...? True, it

wouldn't be a live broadcast; on the other hand, the editors would be at

liberty to present the contest as they see it, as opposed to, say, the way

it really happened.

While our contestants are getting sized and fitted, we give you The Cup

2.9. May you find it a crowning achievement!

@ @ @ @ @ @

NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

@ @ @ @ @ @

WELCOME TO THE DAVID CUP CLAN: It worked! The Montezuma Muckrace sucked

another birder into the muck of the David Cup. Andy Leahy, Mucker and

Cup reader from Syracuse, has this to say about diving Peregrine-style

into the competition: "Put me down for an even 90 birds. Maybe I can

storm through the door of the 100 Club before the year is done." No

small feat, you'll see, when you read his Scrawl of Fame this month. And

remember Kurt Fox, the DC's 1996 would-be Basin dweller from Rochester?

Well... "I finally made it into the Basin. I did try to see the Western

Kingbird, but it managed to escape our detection. I did pick up an

even dozen Basin birds. I think that a nice twelve birds will put me

*WAY* ahead of Ralph Paonessa, but just behind Taylor Kelling."

A "BIT" OF AN OVERSIGHT: How pathetic! For the last eight issues--ever

since he joined The Cup staff--Bird Bits quiz master Jay McGowan has been

faithfully sending in his column and yet we've left him off the masthead!

The look on Jay's face when he pleaded with us to tell him why--it was

worse than if he'd missed a Cattle Egret! Well, maybe not, but it was

enough to make us editors feel embarrassed, inept, rotten to the core,

and certain that somehow, it had to be Bill Evans' fault. To make it up

to you, Jay, we're officially endorsing you as a Top Ten candidate...as

long as this doesn't make Allison Number Eleven.

BARD HARD: While we're at it, we're going to go ahead and put the Evans'

compiler up there on the masthead, too (hey, if we can give credit to

Jeff for acting as Dolly Grip, Rigging Gaffer, and this time around,

Stunt Coordinator, it won't kill us to recognize Bard's hard work

collecting the Dryden totals--a gig he himself initiated, by the way.

Bard, don't worry, we won't tell anyone that you always give yourself an

extra couple of Dryden birds for your effort.

THE YARD STICK: Now, before we forget and then have to offer yet another

apology, we'd like to welcome Margaret "in Mansfield" Launius to The Cup

staff. Margaret is "stick"ing it to us all this month by taking over

the duties of Yard Stick Compiler, for those Cuppers who believe they

should get more than just a house and some land for paying all those

taxes.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE...THE BASIN: Kurt Fox is a screenwriter! Well, not

really, and you'll know why when you read the far-fetched sketch for his

latest screenplay (notably, the disastrous miscasting of the Wicked

Witch). "After a bad slice of pizza and howling winds woke me in the

middle of the night, I couldn't help but think of another Cayugabirder's

comments on how the Western Kingbird location looked like Kansas. As you

know, Kansas is the setting for 'The Wizard of Oz.' I fancied the thought

that 'The Wizard of Oz' could be re-made with Cayugabirders in leading

roles. Problem is, there are just too many Basin characters and not enough

in Oz, so some are not represented. These are who I think would get the

leading roles: Mira the Bird Dog as Toto; Sammy and Taylor Kelling as

Munchkins and starring Jay McGowan as Head Munchkin; Caissa Willmer as

Glenda the Good Witch, Ralph Paonessa's Rainbow-billed Barking Duck as

Horse of a Different Color; Meena Haribal as Dorothy; Steve Kelling as

The Tin Man (rusted, off in the far woods and out of the Basin--listen

closely--he squeaks 'oil. oil' or is it 'bird... bird'?); Stephen Davies

as The Scarecrow (sorry, Stephen, a Brit accent to the Scarecrow is

fitting); Ned Brinkley as The Wizard (at first I pictured Karl David

here, but Ned seems more magical/mystical and watches [his crystal ball]

from afar). But the three fitting-est matches were: Bard Prentiss as The

Lion; Allison Wells as The Wicked Witch of the West; Bill Evans as The

(evil/nasty) Apple Tree (can't you just see him chucking apples at us as

he is 'rooted' to the end of the jetty?)" The Cup offers this suggestion:

Kurt Fox as the Joker. Oh, but that's a different movie.

"INSIDE" INFORMATION: Did you know that Kevin McGowan was filmed this

summer for the television show "Inside Edition"? Of course you didn't,

because they never ran the segment! That's right, not only did they

shelve the piece, they shelved the reporter who did the story.

Presumably, they didn't want to tarnish their sensationalist image by

running a story that might actually improve their viewers' environmental

awareness. Better to play it safe and run with the latest proof that

Elvis lives. If only they knew, Elvis was a birder (he named

"Graceland" for Grace's Warbler, didn't you know? It was on "Inside

Edition"...)

MANATEE NEWS: A few issues back, we stretched our birding theme and

ran a piece about development plans in Florida's Crystal River that would

further endanger the already endangered the West Indian Manatee. Some of

you asked for an update, so briefly, here's what's happened since you all

wrote your protest letters: the agencies who should have gotten involved

long ago finally have, and the casino ship was supposed to remain docked.

However, it still loads up with passengers and heads on out whenever it

can, defying court orders. (At one point, the ship's captain was arrested

upon arriving back to port.) Several times, the ship has gotten stranded

in the river during low tide, just as environmentalists predicted. (Ship

employees told passengers it was sabotage!) Finally, marine patrols

boats are keeping the ship in port, at least during the day. The case

will be heard in court in mid- October. If you'd like to be put on the

mailing list for up-to-the minute info about this critical situation,

email: us3229@citrus.infi.net.

CAFE AUDUBON: Does any other group of individuals drink more coffee

than Cuppers? No! So we thought you'd all want to know that this fall,

National Audubon is introducing Cafe Audubon, a certified shade grown

and organic premium coffee. All Cafe Audubon coffee is grown in the

traditional way--under the natural shade of the rainforest canopy without

the use of synthetic pesticides. Sadly, more and more coffee growers are

converting their farms to "sun" plantations, where rainforest is cut down

to make room for more coffee trees. This destroys vital habitat for

migratory songbirds, plus these "sun" farms require extensive use of

synthetic pesticides, pollute water sources, and cause erosion. So take

your mugs--and while your at it, take your coffee cups too--to local

retailers, coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels and tell them that shade

coffee is not only good for the environment, it's good for business.

And sales of Cafe Audubon will help fund National Audubon Society and

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center programs to protect wild birds and

their habitats. (No, John Bower, Jeff's salary is not generated by Cafe

Audubon. If it were, we'd have bought a full-page ad in this

publication--and sent you the bill!) For more info contact Sarah Comis

at National Audubon at 202-861-2242.

MEGAN UPDATE: Most papas are proud of their child's early steps, and

Cupper Michael Runge is no exception. Every "step"Megan takes towards

becoming a full-fledged birder just gets Michael beaming all over: "I'm

pretty sure Megan added American Goldfinch to her list this month-

-they've been frequenting the cosmos and sunflowers in our garden.

There are increasing signs of birding interest: she's learned to crawl,

and when I put her down in the middle of the lawn, she crawls toward the

garden where the goldfinches are. I'm sure it isn't the attractive

purple flowers that draw her." Nah. Cup Headquarters has cosmos growing

out on their lawn and we've yet to see a single baby crawling towards

them.

BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: The Crystal City Jazz Festival (in

Corning) was the place to be September 24th. All day. That's right!

All up and down Market Street, all day and into the evening the songs of

Antonio Carlos Jobim, Charlie Parker and other jazz greats were sizzling

out of bookstores, coffee houses, music stores, even jewelry stores! Live

musicians were everywhere, and don't worry, the Cupper-heavy Ithaca

Ageless Jazz Band was heating up Center Way stage at noon! Say nothing

of the Merlin that zoomed low over the open-jam stage late in the day.

Now that was some solo!

:> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :>

BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS

By Tom Nix

In geology, a "basin" is the area drained by a river and its

tributaries. How to define the north end of the Cayuga Lake Basin, then,

becomes problematic since our "river" continues on from Mud Lock at the

north end of Lake Cayuga as the Seneca River, already carrying the

outflow of Seneca Lake, and on into Lake Ontario as the Oswego River

after picking up the outflow of Onondaga and Oneida Lakes.

The "official" Basin map of the David Cup comes from a Cornell

University Agricultural Experiment Station publication titled "The Flora

To the Cayuga Lake Basin, New York" by Karl Wiegand and Arthur Eames,

issued in 1926. The Basin they describe has its southern limits at clear

boundaries between the north flowing waters and the Susquehanna

watershed. In Wiegand and Eames' words, "At the northern end, where the

lake basin fades into the great Ontario plain, an arbitrary limit has

been established.....the somewhat independent region of the West Junius

ponds is included and several miles of territory to the north of

Montezuma are also added in order that the "Flora" may cover all of the

region between Cayuga Lake and the immediate drainage area of the Lake

Ontario shore."

The Junius ponds are described as containing several of the rarest

plants in the Basin, "and many of exceptional occurrence," and we can

surmise that this is the reason for their inclusion. The side by side

acidic and calcareous bogs of the Junius area are drained to the north by

Pond Brook, and it is this stream's intersection with the Clyde River, on

its way to Montezuma, that sets the western boundary of the north Basin.

North and somewhat east of this point Black Brook flows south out of

drumlin country into the Old Erie Canal and then into the Clyde, and it

was on the edge of the Black Brook drainage, and thus on the edge of DC

territory, that Bill Evans found this year's most exciting vagrant.

While it may be true that for an aspirant to Cup glory there is no

substitute for time spent in the field, time needs to be spent in the

right places. By now the common species are all ticked, migrant songbirds

have been glimpsed through the leaves on their way north and back south.

By now most Cuppers' cars can steer themselves up the east shore, slowly

around the loop at Myers Park, speeding up route 90 past King Ferry, to

the corral at MNWR. It was left to Bill to explore the region beyond,

where he found the Basin's 5th Western Kingbird, a bird normally found

west of the Mississippi, on the 24th. According to Kaufman, a few

vagrants reach the east coast every year and some of these evidently

winter in Florida.

September started off with Davies noting some nice southbound

warblers at the jetty and good numbers of Caspian Terns. Kelling, Wells,

and the McGowans found a Red-necked Phalarope and a Lesser Black-backed

Gull among the shorebirds at Mays Point. The Cup's premier hawk watcher,

Andy Farnsworth, found Merlin cruising downtown, and observed kettles of

Broadwings numbering in the hundreds at Mt Pleasant. Oh yes, Andy also

reported most of the possible hawk species at one time or another during

the month of September right from his own porch in the heart of McIlroy

territory. An Olive-sided Flycatcher was observed at the Lab of O on the

15th and on the 21st Meena Haribal found a Sanderling at Benning Marsh.

Early in the month Bill Evans reported a fine flock of 23 Golden

Plovers in the plowed fields near Peruville. A hit or miss bird at

Montezuma through this migration season, this flock provided an

opportunity to see a variety of plumages as the birds molted into basic

gray. And ever alert to what's up, Bill noted one of the only Evening

Grosbeaks seen in the Basin this year flying over the Lab of O at

midmonth. Like the spectacular dunks of the NBA's Dominique Wilkins, a

player known as the "Human Highlight Film," Bill's finds were in and of

themselves the cream of the September Cup highlights.

(Tom Nix is a Liberal Arts grad-turned-carpenter, now a Code Inspector

for the City of Ithaca. He followed the Wells, Matt Medler and Casey

Sutton part way up to the Western Kingbird sight--they recognized his

teal green van behind them. Thing is, when Matt waved, Tom had morphed

into some stranger...but at least he waved back.)

100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

100 CLUB

100 100 100 100 100 100 100

SIGN ON THE 100 CLUB DOOR: "No new members admitted this month.

And it's your own fault."

200 200 200 200 200

2 0 0

200 200 200 200

[Sign on 200 Club door]: "WARNING: BILL EVANS INSIDE. Enter at

your own risk."

Bill Evans BIRD 200: Western Flycatcher (he thinks--and since he's the

one who found it, we'll give him the benefit of a doubt.)

WHAT HE GAVE TO GET IN: Mt. Pleasant

Andy Farnsworth's BIRD 200: "I do not know off the top of my head.

Probably some warbler since my spring was pretty screwy."

WHAT HE GAVE TO GET IN: His hand-crafted Aceto guitar

Anne Kendall-Cassella's BIRD 200: Short-billed Dowitcher

WHAT SHE GAVE TO GET IN: Her summer vacation in Belgrade, Maine

Bard Prentiss' BIRD 200: "I don't know what my 200th bird

was but it was a shore bird and it was at Mays Point or Benning Marsh."

WHAT HE GAVE TO GET IN: His hippymobile

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

by Matt Medler

Holy McGowans, Batman! Just a month after Stephen Davies assumed his

place on the David Cup throne, Jay and Kevin stormed the palace, with

Jay moving into fifth place to tie with Allison Wells, and Kevin

claiming the September crown.

1997 David Cup September Totals 1997 David Cup August Totals

231 Kevin McGowan 228 Stephen Davies

230 Steve Kelling 225 Tom Nix

229 Stephen Davies 222 Kevin McGowan

228 Tom Nix 222 Steve Kelling

227 Jay McGowan 221 Ken Rosenberg

227 Allison Wells 220 Allison Wells

224 Jeff Wells 219 Jeff Wells

223 Ken Rosenberg 217 Jay McGowan

217 John Greenly 210 John Greenly

217 Karl David 208 Chris Hymes

216 Matt Medler 207 Matt Medler

215 Chris Hymes 205 Karl David

210 Bard Prentiss 204 Meena Haribal

209 Meena Haribal 198 Anne Kendall Cassella

205 Andy Farnsworth 193 Bard Prentiss

202 Bill Evans 190 John Bower

201 Anne Kendall-Cassella 188 JR Crouse

199 JR Crouse 182 Bill Evans

198 John Bower 182 Chris Butler

187 Geo Kloppel 179 Martha Fischer

182 Chris Butler 175 Geo Kloppel

179 Martha Fischer 158 Michael Pitzrick

158 Michael Pitzrick 150 Marty Schlabach

150 Marty Schlabach 141 Margaret Launius

148 Margaret Launius 140 Anne James

140 Anne James 137 Jim Lowe

139 Jim Lowe 136 Michael Runge

136 Michael Runge 120 David McDermitt

125 David McDermitt 119+ Andy Farnsworth

111 Caissa Willmer 111 Caissa Willmer

106 James "One-day Wonder" Barry 90 Casey Sutton

92 Casey Sutton 68 Cathy Heidenreich

92 Andy Leahy 68 Diane Tessaglia

80 Cathy Heidenreich 67 Jane Sutton

68 Diane Tessaglia 64 Sarah Childs

67 Jane Sutton 61 Rob Scott

64 Sarah Childs 59 Dave Mellinger

61 Rob Scott 46 Larry Springsteen

59 Dave Mellinger* 42 Sam Kelling

46 Larry Springsteen* 40 Mira the Bird Dog

42 Sam Kelling 37 Taylor Kelling

40 Mira the Bird Dog* 5 Ralph Paonessa

37 Taylor Kelling 0 Ned Brinkley

11 Kurt Fox

5 Ralph Paonessa*

0 Ned Brinkley*

EDITORS' NOTE: Matt Medler would like the record to show that

inclusion of James Barry's totals in last month's issue was an error

on behalf of the editors, who overrode his "omission." However, since

the editors have final say, we're going to go ahead and say the mistake

was his fault.

*Currently living out-of-state but anticipate or have made a temporary

return to Basin within the 1997 David Cup year. Will pay large sums of

money to any Cupper willing to trade totals with them.

1997 McIlroy September Totals 1997 McIlroy August Totals

193 Steve Kelling 191 Steve Kelling

190 Allison Wells 186 Allison Wells

187 Stephen Davies 185 Stephen Davies

180 Jeff Wells 178 Jeff Wells

172 John Bower 161 John Bower

156 JR Crouse 156 JR Crouse

154 Bill Evans 153 Kevin McGowan

154 Kevin McGowan 148 Martha Fischer

153 Andy Farnsworth 140 Karl David

148 Martha Fischer 139 Ken Rosenberg

144 Karl David 138 Matt Medler

140 Ken Rosenberg 136 Tom Nix

138 Matt Medler 130 Jay McGowan

136 Tom Nix 128 Bill Evans

130 Jay McGowan 122 Chris Butler

122 Chris Butler 116 Anne Kendall-Casella

116 Anne Kendall-Casella 115 Michael Runge

115 Michael Runge 111 Jim Lowe

111 Jim Lowe 70 Casey Sutton

70 Casey Sutton 66 Jane Sutton

66 Jane Sutton 57 Dave Mellinger

57 Dave Mellinger* 51 Rob Scott

51 Rob Scott 50 Sarah Childs

50 Sarah Childs* 46 Larry Springsteen

46 Larry Springsteen* 40 Mira the Bird Dog

40 Mira the Bird Dog* 0 Ned Brinkley

0 Ned Brinkley* 0 Ralph Paonessa

0 Ralph Paonessa*

*Currently living out-of-state but anticipate or have made a temporary

return to Basin during the 1997 David Cup year. Will pay large sums of

money to any Cupper willing to trade totals with them.

THE EVANS TROPHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Named in honor of the late Dick Evans--beloved local birder, Cayuga Bird

Club president, and friend to many--the Evans Trophy will be awarded to

Ken Rosenberg, er, to the Cupper with the highest Dryden total.

September August

195 Ken Rosenberg 191 Ken Rosenberg

186 Kevin McGowan 179 Bard Prentiss

186 Bard Prentiss 178 Kevin McGowan

178 Jay McGowan 170 Jay McGowan

127 Anne Kendall-Cassella 126 Anne Kendall-Cassella

117 Matt Medler 117 Matt Medler

Kevin McGowan's Lansing total: September: 152 August: 149

THE YARD STICK ----------------------------

By Margaret Launius

A total of 10 Yardbirders got their totals in under the wire and with

short notice for this edition! Keep those totals coming to me, Margaret

Launius at launius@epix.net for next months tally!

129 John Bower, Enfield, NY

127 Kevin & Jay McGowan, Dryden, NY

102 John Greenly, Ludlowville, NY

75 Jim Kimball, Geneseo, NY

74 Margaret Launius, Mansfield, PA

72 Jeff and Allison Wells, Ithaca, NY

69 Sara Jane & Larry Hymes, Ithaca, NY

68 Darlene & John Morabito, Auburn, NY

67 Nari Mistry Family, Ithaca, NY

43 Cathy Heidenreich, Lyons, NY

LEADER'S LIST LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

By Karl David

Before giving you the new leader's list, recall that I had to make an

educated guess at Stephen Davies' list last month. I made two (2) errors.

For those of us who prize precision, we need to remove Sora and Acadian

Flycatcher from his list and replace them with Brant and Golden-winged

Warbler.

Now to Kevin's list. Not to brag, but with hotshot young son Jay pushing

him, Kevin's eventual emergence as King of the Hill (for now) was no

surprise to me! Here you have it:

C Loon, P-b, Horned & R-n grebes, D-c Cormorant, Am & Least bitterns,

G B Heron, Great & Cattle egrets, Green Heron, B-c Night-Heron, Tundra

& Mute swans, Snow & Canada geese, Wood Duck, G-w Teal, Am B Duck,

Mallard, N Pintail, B-w Teal, No Shoveler, Gadwall, Am Wigeon,

Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, G & L scaup, Oldsquaw, W-w Scoter,

Com Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded, Com & R-b mergansers, Ruddy Duck, TV,

Osprey, Bald Eagle, N Harrier, S-s & Cooper's hawks, N Goshawk,

R-s, B-w, R-t & R-l hawks, Golden Eagle, Am Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine

Falcon, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Va Rail, Sora, Com

Moorhen, Am Coot, B-b, Am Golden & Semipalmated plovers, Killdeer,

Am Avocet, G & L yellowlegs, Solitary, Spotted & Upland sandpipers,

R Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated, Least, W-r, Baird's & Pectoral

sandpipers, Dunlin, Stilt Sandpiper, S-b & L-b dowitchers, Co Snipe, Am

Woodcock, R-n Phalarope, Bonaparte's, R-b, Herring, Thayer's, Iceland,

L B-b, Glaucous & G B-b gulls, Caspian, Forster's & Black terns, Rock &

Mourning doves, B-b Cuckoo, E Screech-Owl, G Horned, Barred, S-e &

N S-w owls, Co Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, R-t Hummingbird, B Kingfisher,

R-h & R-b woodpeckers, Y-b sapsucker, Downy & Hairy woodpeckers,

N Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian, Alder,

Willow & Least flycatchers, E Phoebe, G Crested Flycatcher, W & E

kingbirds, Horned Lark, Purple Martin, Tree, N R-w, Bank, Cliff & Barn

swallows, Blue Jay, Am & Fish crows, Co Raven, B-c Chickadee, Tufted

Titmouse, R-b & W-b nuthatches, Brown Creeper, Carolina, House, Winter,

Sedge & Marsh wrens, G-c & R-c kinglets, B-g Gnatcatcher, E Bluebird,

Veery, G-c, Swainson's, Hermit & Wood thrushes, Am Robin, G Catbird,

N Mockingbird, B Thrasher, Am Pipit, C Waxwing, Eur Starling, W-e, B-h,

Y-t, Warbling, Philadelphia & R-e vireos, B-w, G-w, Tennessee & Nashville

warblers, Northern Parula, Yellow, C-s, Magnolia, Cape May, B-t Blue,

Y-r, B-t Green, Blackburnian, Pine, Prairie, Palm, B-b, Blackpoll,

Cerulean & B-and-w warblers, Am Redstart (breaks the streak!),

Prothonotary Warbler, Ovenbird, N & La waterthrushes, Mourning Warbler,

Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, Wilson's & Canada warblers, Scarlet

Tanager, N Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, E Towhee, Am Tree,

Chipping, field, Vesper, Savannah, Grasshopper, Henslow's, Fox, song,

Lincoln's, Swamp, W-t & W-c sparrows, D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow

Bunting, Bobolink, R-w Blackbird, E Meadowlark, Y-h & Rusty blackbirds,

Com Grackle, B-h Cowbird, Orchard & Baltimore orioles, Purple & House

finches, Pine Siskin, Am Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

Kevin's total: 231

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

FATHER KARL'S COMPOSITE DEPOSIT

I promised Kevin I wouldn't draw undue attention to the incredibly

embarrassing bird he's still missing, so please don't read the

following list of birds seen only by others too carefully:

R-t Loon, Am White Pelican, Snowy Egret, G W-f & Ross's geese, Brant,

Eurasian Wigeon, Barrow's Goldeneye, Black Vulture, Western & B-b

sandpipers, Wilson's Phalarope, Laughing & Little gulls, COMMON TERN,

Y-b Cuckoo, Snowy & L-e owls, Whip-poor-will, O-s & Y-b flycatchers,

Northern Shrike, W-e & Ky warblers, Common Redpoll, Evening Grosbeak.

Grand Total: 257 species.

(Karl David teaches mathematics at Wells College in Aurora and is spending

a sabbatical year at Cornell. Rumor has it he owns stock in McDonald's.)

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

! KICKIN' TAIL! !

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What better way to prove you use your fatherly influence over your highly

competitive son than by being featured in an interview exclusively for The

Cup? Kickin' Tail brings well deserved honor and recognition to the

Cupper who has glassed, scoped, scanned, driven, climbed, dug, crowed, or

otherwise made his/her way to the top of the David Cup list. There was

some speculation a few months back about dark-horse favorites, and guess

whose name didn't come up? This month's Kickin' Tail Leader Kevin

McGowan's! (Maybe this particular dark horse was misidentified as a

crow...with wing tags.)

THE CUP: "Here are our September totals. We're doing okay, despite my

perennial problems with fall." Kevin, your quote, sent in with your

totals, suggests you have no business Kickin' Tail this month or any

month in fall. How do you reconcile this inconsistency?

McGOWAN: I always have trouble in the fall. I think I run out of gas

after the excitement of spring migration and the effort of my research

through the summer. I can keep up the momentum for the shorebirds, but

those fall landbirds always elude me. I don't know how Bill Evans gets

so excited.

THE CUP: They're the only birds around when he's actually in town.

McGOWAN: The same warblers you stopped paying attention to in the

summer now elicit exclamations of joy from the excited fall birders, but

not me.

THE CUP: What these birders are only excited about is the chance to

"clean up" the gazillion birds they missed in spring so they'll have a

respectable David Cup score when it's all said and done. Face it, who

are these "excited fall birders?" Bill Evans. Enough said.

McGOWAN: Spring migration is this flood after the drought of winter.

Fall is just a bit more excitement after all the singing stops.

THE CUP: What were some of the key birds that put you ahead?

McGOWAN: Fortunately, I got Lincoln's Sparrow in the spring (although

I've had a few this fall, too), and I did get Philadelphia Vireo this

fall, both of which I've been missing a lot lately. But I still missed

Olive-sided Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, two of my constant

misses.

THE CUP: Ouch.

McGOWAN: Orange-crowned Warbler and Connecticut are still to

make an appearance, but I haven't been trying very hard (but I have been

out there). I might point out that last year I had 232 species at the

end of September, almost exactly the same as this year. The big

difference is that I was in 6th place last year, behind the leader at

247.

THE CUP: And you're bragging about this?

McGOWAN: Despite the fact that it seems like a duller year than last,

it really isn't. We've had nearly the same number of rarities this year

as last, and our combined total (as figured by Karl) is actually higher

this year. It's just that no one is putting in the huge effort of 1996

to see everything.

THE CUP: Haven't you seen Bill Evans lately? And Karl? He's got that

look again. Say nothing of your own son! (The pesky little...)

McGOWAN: I cannot compete for the really big year. I have a family and a

job, and despite my son's interest, I cannot spend the time in the field

that it takes for a really big year.

THE CUP: Kevin, don't go there. Don't be lured by the deadly bait of

excuse. You're doing fine, just fine. Now here, take your last pill.

Feeling better yet?

McGOWAN: This year things are a bit more manageable and I can compete.

THE CUP: 'at a boy, Kev! You know, Tom missed a fair number of rarities

these last few months--the avocet, the Cattle Egret, the Western Kingbird-

-provoking you to speculate that a bunch of us are pretty much even in

that arena now. You said that you believe the winner will therefore be

the person with the most "3"s, on your difficulty-rating scale. What do

you think are the most important birds this year that fit into that

category? More importantly, do you have them all?

McGOWAN: In my list of difficulty codes for Basin birds, the 3's are

those that are predictable each year but are difficult to find. Every

fierce competitor should have all of the 1's and 2's, but will probably

miss some 3's. (Incidently, if you get all of the predictable ones, you'll

come up with 237 species right there). Last year I predicted (correctly,

I might add) that the leaders would have most of the 3's and the

difference would be in the number of the harder 4's and 5's (those things

not seen every year). Karl had a couple of things that made the

difference, like American Avocet, Pine Grosbeak, and Hoary Redpoll.

THE CUP: Must you remind us?

McGOWAN: This year, we're all bunched up in the 4's and 5's sightings,

with no one having a clear edge. Tom had the best positioning, but he

has fallen down miserably in getting those late good birds. So, it set

me to thinking that perhaps the proportion of 3's seen will be the key.

Of those, only three have yet to be reported: Black Scoter, Surf Scoter,

and Connecticut Warbler. I am missing 9 that have been seen by others,

but several of those (Long-eared Owl, Northern Shrike, Brant, Red-

throated Loon) are still possible. A few, though, like Yellow-bellied

and Olive-sided Flycatchers and Yellow-billed Cuckoo are gone.

THE CUP: Good heavens! That doesn't mean Jay missed them, too, does

it? (Does it? Does it!)

McGOWAN: Of course, I still need to mop up my last #2: Common Tern.

THE CUP: How are you able to get quality birding time in AND keep your

persistent Cupper son behind you? What might it take for you to

"accidentally" forgot to take him birding with you in the next few months

(name your price!)

McGOWAN: Jay's excitement with birding and the time we have spent

together have definitely been the highlight of this otherwise difficult

year. Needless to say, we have been having a great time! Of course,

it's not all roses. There has been some added stress this year in having

to find these birds, not just for myself, but for my non-driving birding

buddy as well. When I walked up to Stephen Davies on the lighthouse

jetty and he told me he had an avocet, my first reaction was "Wow!

Where?" But the second one was "Shoot, I can't stay here and look at it,

I've got to go get Jay!"

THE CUP: Next time, call us and we'll go get him. (Ha, ha, ha.)

McGOWAN: It was a life bird for him; one we had missed down at

Jamaica Bay shortly before that. So, that added a couple of extra hours to

my day. And if you've ever looked at the face of an excited child trying

to hide the extreme disappointment of not being able to locate some odd

bird that was "just right there a second ago," you know that this isn't

something to take lightly.

THE CUP: Yes, we've seen that look on Matt Medler's face. Of course,

just as often, the look's on all our faces, since Matt is a notorious bad

luck charm. Just ask James Barry, the poor guy.

McGOWAN: Shoot, I'VE wanted to cry sometimes when we've missed something.

As you're aware, birding has built-in frustrations that can break

even adults. I had a good birding friend a number of years ago just

finally give up the sport completely after one too many disappointments.

THE CUP: I thought we agreed not to bring that up about Tom Nix?

McGOWAN: Jay and I have been extremely lucky this year finding rarities,

far more successful than I've ever been before. What would be the price

to leave him at home more often? You don't have enough money!

THE CUP: True, we're still waiting for some bottomless endowment. If it

happens to the Smithsonian, it's sure to happen to The Cup, you know?

Speaking of endowments, living on Beam Hill has been instrumental in your

Kickin' Tail this month--you must have suspected this would happen when

you bought your house. But how were you able to convince Kim that this

was where the family should settle?

McGOWAN: Living above Dryden Lake is good for birding and we've had

a nice bunch of birds on the hill, too. We looked at a lot of places

before deciding on this one. I can't say that being in the Basin was a

necessity, but it was a factor in the decisions (albeit way behind most

of the other, normal criteria).

THE CUP: Righhht.

McGOWAN: Kim was more flexible in this respect than I.

THE CUP: Any interesting new findings regarding your crow work? How

has it helped you in the DC this time around? You didn't "relocate" last

year's Marbled Godwit, we noticed.

McGOWAN: This was a crow season to forget. My mother's death in the

middle of it made it, by definition, the worst one ever. The crows

themselves were doing interesting things, including a bunch of tagged

ones becoming breeders (females usually wait 3 years before breeding,

males 5). But, except for the excitement of having a television crew

filming me once ("Inside Edition," anyone seen it?), it was mostly a down

season.

THE CUP: Yeah, we saw it. There was that great scene with that woman in

the phone booth being attacked by all those angry birds--oh, wait. That

was a film by some hack named Hitchcock.

McGOWAN: As you can tell, it didn't help my Ithaca list much this year.

Other than Golden Eagles over Cayuga Heights (twice!), I didn't turn up

all that much. It still got me out and about, though, so some of the

regulars came quickly.

THE CUP: What was the last article you read?

McGOWAN: Peter Dodson's column in the American Paleontologist about

being a Christian and still being able to be a good scientist.

THE CUP: Sounds like a good article for that Cornell science professor-

-you know, the who walks into his classroom the first day and declares,

"There is no God"? It was good fodder for Allison's former writing

students--it always got them in a tizzy. What do you predict the winning

total will be, and will it be yours?

McGOWAN: Could be me. October might tell. I don't think we'll get out

of the low 240's this year, so let's go for 244. I should point out that

this is still a pretty impressive total, and especially impressive is

the number of people we have over 200 already. Last year a certain young

competitor got 208 species and felt almost embarrassed that he was so far

behind the leaders. I had to point out to him that NO ONE should be

ashamed of 208 species! That's an incredible total, especially for

someone who doesn't even drive yet. I think some people can be so caught

up in this amazing competition that they lose sight of reality.

THE CUP: What do you mean, "lose sight of reality?" The David Cup IS

reality...isn't it?

JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ

BIRDBITS

By Jay McGowan

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Welcome to Birdbits! Here is a chance to test your knowledge of the

world of birds. September is the peak of fall migration, so migration is

this month's theme. Answers next month (Or, if you pay me ten dollars,

I'll tell you them now.)

1. Which bird migrates the farthest?

2. Almost all birds that breed in North America winter in North or South

America or the Caribbean, but one land bird winters in Africa. What is it?

3. What falcon times its breeding so it coincides with fall migration so

that it can feed migrating birds to its young?

4. What South American bird periodically turns up in New York because it

gets turned around when trying to go home to Argentina from Venezuela?

5. What North American hawk has the longest migration?

6. What three relatively common New York birds breed in the southern

hemisphere and winter in New York in their winter and our summer?

7. Most of the spotted thrushes winter in Central and South America.

Which one winters in the U.S.?

8. What occasional visitor to the Basin breeds in the high arctic and

usually winters in the Great Plains but sometimes turns up at feeders here?

9. Which bird's name means "Wandering Thrush"?

10. What bird (besides Peregrine Falcon) has peregrinus in the name?

BONUS: Why do birds fly south for the winter?

ANSWERS TO LAST MONTH'S BIRDBITS:

1. How could you tell an American Golden-Plover from a Black-bellied

Plover if all you could see was their feet? Black-bellies have a very

small hallux (a hind toe) and Golden-Plovers don't. That means Black-

bellies have four toes and Golden-Plovers only have three on each foot.

2. Which North American shorebirds have black bellies in breeding

plumage? Northern Jacana, Eurasian Dotterel, Black-bellied Plover,

American Golden-Plover, Pacific Golden-Plover, Eurasian Golden-Plover,

Spotted Redshank, Dunlin, and Ruff (sometimes).

3. What is the scientific name for the Spoonbill Sandpiper?

Eurynorhychus pygmeus.

4. Which of the peeps (the small sandpipers) have webbing between their

toes? Semipalmated Sandpiper and Western Sandpiper.

5. What shorebird is supposed to clean the teeth of crocodiles? The

Egyptian Plover of tropical Africa. It is not a real plover, but a

courser, a member of a family we don't have in North America.

6. Curlews' bills curve down. Godwits' bills curve up. Which shorebirds'

bills curve to the side? Wrybills. This odd shorebird lives only in New

Zealand. Its bill is adapted to extract prey from under rocks.

7. Flamingos have the longest legs relative to their size of any bird.

What is second? Stilts.

8. What North American shorebird has the longest bill? Long-billed Curlew

has the longest bill of the regularly occurring shorebirds, but the Far

Eastern Curlew that occasionally shows up in Alaska has an even longer

bill.

9. What is peculiar about the egg tooth of an American Woodcock chick?

Woodcock chicks have two egg teeth, the second of which is located on the

tip of the lower mandible.

10. What does Dromas ardeola eat? Dromas ardeola (the Crab Plover) eats

almost exclusively crabs. The Crab Plover is a large Black-and-White

shorebird with a very large bill and breeds on the India coastline of the

persian gulf and Arabian peninsula.

(Jay McGowan, age eleven, is home-schooled. If he catches this month's

Kickin' Tail leader, he will likely be grounded.)

492x837-48576+5764.679/4905%8677-34566.578+0486940

STAT'S ALL, FOLKS

By Karl David

6879403+58673.6978/4857694~58674%x98458.6059679+697

Only one person, Michael Runge, took a stab at the calculation I

outlined last month. At least, he was the only one willing to show it to

me. The method I proposed to calculate the probability of seeing at least

one each of the two bitterns, rails and cuckoos was the "brute force"

method of enumerating every case: the easiest to understand, but the most

tedious to carry out. Michael, with training in slick combinatorial

techniques, figured out a shortcut, as there generally is in such cases.

Such shortcuts are of tremendous practical value. They save time

and, when machines are involved, money. To compare, recall that in this

situation 6 probabilities had to be multiplied to get the probability of

each of the 27 distinct outcomes. Hence my method would require 5

multiplications (not 6 ...think about it!) for the probability of each of

the 27 cases, hence 27 X 5 =135 multiplications. The resulting 27 numbers

would then have to be added up to get the final probability, resulting in

a total of 135 + 26 = 161 operations.

By contrast, the shortcut Michael found required just 17

multiplications and 6 additions or subtractions [a clue as to how he did

it!], for a total of only 17 + 6 = 23 operations. That's just 23/161 = 14%

of the work for the other method! If you're curious how he did it, e-mail

me and I'll tell you. To throw some jargon your way, he used something

called the inclusion-exclusion principle. It's all done with Venn diagrams

of the appropriate sets, if you remember those from your school math daze.

To get back to the birds, it was practically a foregone conclusion

that after writing the article, I would see one of the missing birds. I

didn't think it would be the same day, but in fact it was: I saw an

American Bittern at Montezuma. Several days later, the Cayuga Bird Club

field trip I led there saw a Virginia Rail.

Oh, I forgot to tell you the probability Michael came up with: 85%.

So, that means in effect I have an 85% chance of seeing a cuckoo now,

thus completing the destined triumvirate, right? Wrong! We're now in the

exceedingly slippery and confusing realm of CONDITIONAL probability:

the probability of fulfilling some prophecy AFTER some of the events have

already happened (or not). For example, what's the probability of getting

10 consecutive heads on a repeated coin toss, IF you've already gotten 9

straight? That's (literally) a big "if"; the answer is 50%. This is

definitely not to be confused with the probability of getting 10 straight

heads, which is about one in a thousand. In our birding scenario, the

probability has already dropped to practically 0, since the likelihood of

seeing a cuckoo after October 1 is practically nil.

Next month: "The Triumph and Tragedy of Never-missed Birds on

Year Lists," or "Black-throated Blue Warbler, We Hardly Knew Ye."

(Did we mention Karl David is a mathematics professor?)

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SCRAWL OF FAME

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EDITORS' NOTE: We were fortunate to receive two exquisite Scrawls of

Fame this month, and since they're both timely, we're going to run them

both and say we didn't.

"Tails from the Old West"

by Karl David

As Kevin McGowan put it, the patch of habitat that the recent Western

Kingbird was found in looked just like a square mile of Kansas transported

to New York State. Luckily for us, a bit of Kansas avifauna also made itself

right at home there recently, and decided to stay for a while. This is its

story (at least from our point of view!).

Bill Evans is the most openly optimistic birder among us. Who hasn't

gone out with him and heard him exclaim at the outset, "It feels like

there's gotta be a rarity out there today!" Well, late this September, he

was finally as good as his word. Out checking his listening stations in the

far northwestern reaches of the Cayuga Lake Basin, he spotted a kingbird on

the wire. This was interesting because he hadn't seen one in about two

weeks. But when he stopped to look, he quickly realized this was more than

just a late Eastern Kingbird...it was a Western Kingbird...or at least one

of the several yellow-bellied western kingbirds. He got on his cell phone

and, working his way through a succession of unanswered phone numbers,

finally got Steve Kelling at the Lab of O and began describing the bird to

him as he was watching it. It soon became clear that it was indeed a

Western Kingbird. Steve posted it on Cayugabirds, setting several

interesting sets of wheels in motion.

Steve and wife Sue drove up the same evening and found it. Their report

indicated that the bird appeared to be within the Basin, an important

consideration for the David Cup competition. It seemed to be this revelation

that set off a slightly delayed reaction of chasing the bird. Your faithful

correspondent went up the evening of the next day, but was frustrated by a

fairly steady rain. A lone Syracuse birder was there too, but eventually gave

up. I was hungry so I drove the five miles or so to Lyons to stoke up [yes,

McDonald's ... I SWEAR I seldom eat there EXCEPT on birding junkets].

Then I returned, to find Jeff and Allison Wells back at the kingbird spot.

Their long faces indicated they'd had no luck either. The bird was probably a

one-day wonder, we decided. We were so disappointed, in fact, that we

killed the time by sourly speculating that the spot probably wasn't in the

Basin after all, from the lay of the land, and by wondering what Bill was

doing up there in the first place. Were he and Cathy Heidenreich, a

Cayugabirder from those parts, having a secret assignation, ostensibly to

look for a recently reported Whimbrel? It was a juicy rumor worth starting,

we decided.

The next day I posted a message essentially saying "Don't bother, the

bird is gone." But Bill wasn't so easily convinced. The day after that,

knowing that Cathy Heidenreich was out of town and thus unlikely to

embarrass him by showing up, he decided to take Annette Finney up to look

for the bird. And darn if it wasn't right back at the same spot again! Some

guys (and girls, in this case) have all the luck.

Bill spread the word, and you knew that a lot of people would be out

looking for the bird the next day (Sunday). I was there by 10:30 A.M.,

cursing my bad meteorological luck. It wasn't raining this time, but it was

very windy. Still, that wind was from the south, so maybe the bird hadn't

left, but was hunkered down somewhere out of sight. Soon Tom Nix and

Bard Prentiss showed up, and we stood around until noon, with no luck.

Again we wondered whether this spot was really in the Basin anyway. What

a bunch of sore losers we are!

We dispersed, Tom and Bard heading one way, me another ... namely

right back to that infamous eating establishment in Lyons mentioned earlier.

Well greased, I returned to the scene of the crime ... what else to do on a

rather nice, if windy, Sunday? It was deja vu all over again ... there

were the long-faced Wellses again. The misery was more spread out this

time, though, as they had Matt Medler and Casey Sutton with them. We drove

a loop of roads to the south, since that was the direction in which the

bird had last been seen flying, but it was a desperation move, and we knew

it. One final commiseration session by our idling cars, and we headed back

for Ithaca, my car following theirs. But just as we were about to turn back

onto the highway south, their car stopped and turned around. What was up? I

almost kept going, but decided to follow them anyway. They turned onto a

road we hadn't traversed and stopped after about fifty yards. We were still

in sight of the original site, so I scanned the open fields and power lines

in that direction. Suddenly the others were all pouring out of their car

and pointing in the opposite direction, shouting "There it is! There it

is!" Not fifty feet from our cars was the Western Kingbird, peering down

at us from the telephone wires along the road.

This is what had happened: riding shotgun, Allison had spotted a distant

bird out of the corner of her eye just as Jeff was preparing to turn onto the

highway. The bird was flying back in the direction we'd come, and Allison

felt the profile was sufficiently close to a kingbird's to warrant one last

check. Who knows if the bird she saw actually was the bird on the wire, but

that hardly matters. Something called us back, and the story had an

incredibly happy ending. I was so excited I kissed Allison on the cheek,

and when we left she promised never to wash it again (right cheek, Allison,

in case you've already forgotten).

Of course, I felt awful for Tom and Bard. Leaving that morning, they had

in fact turned onto that very road, and scanned the area we found it in! What

rotten luck. But, as I'm sure they'd be the first to tell you, that's all

part of the game, and we all know next time the roles will probably be

reversed.

It's hard to describe the welter of emotions I, and presumably the

others, felt while we watched this bird. A perfectly ho-hum experience in

say Kansas was transformed here into magic. We watched the bird, which

seemed almost to enjoy performing for us, sally forth to snatch two very fat,

juicy-looking bugs and bring them back to its perch. After beating them

against the wire, the bird appeared to toss them into the air before

swallowing them, like a show-off popping M&M's into his mouth [Sexist

choice of personal pronoun there? You make the call.].

And finally, speaking of conflicting emotions, consider the roller

coaster Kevin and Jay McGowan must have felt they were on as they drove up to

look for the bird later that day. En route, they first encountered Bard

Prentiss at a stop sign, learning from him that the bird hadn't been seen.

Nonetheless, they kept going, and in Aurora I spotted and hailed them,

having just posted the updated news from my office computer. So I was able

to give them the new location, and they were able to just drive right up to

the bird!

(Karl David is...ah, never mind, you already know.)

Scrawl of Fame--cont'd

"On the Importance of Being Last"

By Andy Leahy

Let me just start by acknowledging--freely and openly, without shame,

without remorse--that my team came in Last Place at the first-ever

Montezuma Muckrace held way back on Sept. 6.

My teammates--all card-carrying members of the Onondaga Audubon

Society--blamed me exclusively. They said it was me and my--how shall I

say this?--relaxed approach to birding that took us out of the running.

Basically, by 9 a.m., I was accused of being "A 10-Bird Handicap." By the

time we turned in our list, they were laying a full 20 birds on my head.

Technically, I was captain of the group. I probably spent a whole hour

just putting the team together. Shanghaiing recruits, the endless phone

calls, the paperwork, travel coordination, etc. And yet all my pleas for

something as simple as a sit-down, diner-style food break were scoffed at.

"You didn't bring a lunch?"

I'm not actually bitter about the experience, though, because--see,

from the standpoint of spreading the contagion of birding--I think Last

Place is a very important place indeed. Let me explain.

One of my main jobs with Onondaga Audubon these past few years has

been coordinating the group's annual Birdathon, a third-Saturday-in-May

birding contest which you could say is kind of like New Jersey's World

Series of Birding, except Bush League. Or kind of like the David Cup,

except one day. According to the organization's oral history, the event has

gone on as a low-key Big Run since at least 1955, which I think is an

incredibly long time.

For most of those years, though, it never went beyond ten or twelve

teams consisting of the usual suspects. Now Onondaga Audubon's Big Run has

become a Birdathon--voluntarily encumbering itself with a fund-raising

element--and so there's been a much greater organizational incentive to

expand participation.

As it happens, that's been a tough process. There's a lot of theories

you could throw out for this, and I've heard them all. Time, time, who's

got time anymore? Not that many birders out there. Some folks are turned

off by competition. But if you really panned through all these lightweight

excuses and got down to one single nugget of truth, I think mainly it's

because people are afraid of coming in Last Place.

This very human fear, this terrific reluctance, this may not be a

recruitment problem for the Boston Marathon, but--for whatever reason--

the sport of birding suffers from it. If, in fact, the problem is truly

this simple, then the solution should be equally simple: Just arrange it

so Last Place comes in as low as possible every time.

I say there's a substantial legion of vicariously participating, casual

bird enthusiasts out there--following the monthly tally of The Cup, or

Onondaga Audubon's annual Birdathon round-up, or the Muckrace stats, or

what have you. And I say the last threads of these folks' resistance to

actually getting out there in person can be broken with nothing more than

absolutely terrible showings by at least one--preferably several--pioneers.

The worse, the better.

In fact, if anything, I'm ashamed my Onondaga Audubon team did as well

as it did in the Muckrace. If we just put in a little less time, a tad less

effort, I'm convinced we could have single-handedly doubled recruitment for

next Fall's event at Montezuma.

SHAMELESS PLUG: P.S --Onondaga Audubon's next Birdathon will be

held between midnight and midnight, Saturday, May 16, 1998--all within the

out-of-basin confines of Kingbird reporting Region 5. There is, however,

precedent for participation by Cuppers: Father Karl himself came aboard last

year and had "a ton of fun birding new areas with new people." Drop Leahy

a line at maleahy@syr.edu for details.

(Andy Leahy, formerly a newspaper reporter, is currently Veep for Onondaga

Audubon and makes a living as an abstractor in Syracuse, where he has a

house, a wife, and a 5-year-old girl who hates birding. He's working

on his second career as an advertising exec for birding competitions

everywhere.)

(If you have an opinion--or insider information--about the art, science,

and/or esthetics of birding or birding-related topics, write it up for the

Scrawl of Fame.)

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

< COACH'S CORNER <

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Despite previous self-effacements that fall is not his most productive

bird-seeing time, this month's Coach is also Kickin' Tail. Although we'd like

to brag that it's merely the realization of a strong prediction (what, Kevin

McGowan? Kickin' Tail? In September? Ha! Ha...ha...um...) truth is, the

timing was just our good fortune--and yours. Here's why:

COACH MCGOWAN: October is the last gasp. This could be your last

chance to get new year birds. Unless you are missing some fairly easy stuff,

or something really neat turns up later, you won't add much after this. So,

that said, what are you going to do to make the most of it? First, on the

personal side: What are you missing? If you need a couple of shorebirds,

some are still to be found at Montezuma through the middle of the month.

But, be aware that many things (like Short-billed Dowitcher) are gone. Do

you need flycatchers (like me)? Fuhgettaboudit! They're history. Warblers?

Most are gone; the ones to look for now are Connecticut and Orange-

crowned. But, you'd better hurry. We've got only another week or so

before it's too late for them, too. Do you need sparrows? Better luck here.

Most expected sparrows are still around, along, probably, with some rarities

(like Nelson's Sharp-tailed, LeConte's, and Clay-colored). The bad news is

that they're so sneaky now you may never find them. I'll bet there's still a

Henslow's Sparrow in the Basin right now, but I'll also bet you don't find

it! Weedy fields are well worth walking through. There's lots of habitat

out there. Definitely make like the Steve's and check out Hog's Hole.

That's where the action will be. Patience, persistence, and pure out and

out luck are what you need to turn up a couple of neat sparrows at this point.

How about hawks? Are you still missing Broad-winged Hawk? Que

lastima! They're gone! But, if Golden Eagle is still a hole on your list,

this is the month for you. Go check out Mount Pleasant on days with north

winds. Red-tailed Hawk migration peaks this month, and Golden Eagles will

pass through, too. A whole lot of hawks will be going by this month, and a

very, very few might be something different. Pennsylvania just reported a

Swainson's Hawk flying by. Maybe it went over Mt. Pleasant first. We'll

never know these things unless you go up and check it out.

Do you need winter finches? Don't we all! It shows signs of being a

finch winter, but they're not here yet. A few Evening Grosbeaks have flown

over, and more are to be watched for. White-winged Crossbills are being

reported to our northeast (and even one at Hawk Mountain to our south), so

watch for them, especially at spruces with heavy cone loads. But they just

might wait a while before making their appearance, if they appear at all.

Same for siskins and redpolls. A few should show up soon, if they're

coming, but any bulk will be a bit later. Still, October is the month to

become aware of the possibilities. Longspurs will be seen before the end

of the month, if people look for them. Listen to the tapes of flight notes

of the finches and try to be out where you can hear these daytime migrants

flying over. And keep those thistle feeders filled!

Are you missing any waterfowl? If so, then the season for you is just

heating up. The Loon Watch is officially under way, and although few loons

have passed by yet, it's starting. Watch the last half of this month for

the first of the scoters, Oldsquaw, and Brant. Early morning at Taughannock

SP with Bob Meade is a great way to pick up interesting migrants. Or, head

down to Stewart Park and join the jolly junta on the jetty for gulls, loons,

and who knows what. (And the walk out to the lighthouse is one of the best

places to look for Orange-crowned and Connecticut warblers.)

So, play the odds and fill in your gaps. Give Montezuma a couple more

tries. Watch the lake, and take a couple of lunch breaks at Mt. Pleasant.

If you feel like a stroll, pick a nice weedy field. Go wander the festival

grounds at Hog's Hole. And don't take down your hummingbird feeders yet.

Any hummingbird that turns up this month is worth a close look. A few

western hummers are turning up at feeders in the east, so watch for

something different, especially something a bit rufous. I'm hoping for some

interesting feeder visitor this winter. Something like a Harris's Sparrow

or Varied Thrush. We haven't had anything like that for quite a while, so

we're due. Keep those feeders full and don't forget to watch them every now

and then. And get outside and bird! Let me repeat myself: get outside,

get outside! There seems to have been a lull in the action over the last

month, so we need to turn it up a notch. Those of you without a newborn

baby don't have acceptable excuses. Get out there and try to find

something. This can be the most beautiful time of the year in upstate New

York, so try to appreciate it. Either use your being outside as an excuse

to bird, or use your birding as an excuse to be outside. Remember, it only

gets darker and colder after this.

(Kevin McGowan is Associate Curator of Birds & Mammals at the Cornell

Vertebrate Collections. He does not have a newborn baby...)

mmmmm

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm McILROY MUSINGS mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

mmmmm

Just when we were about to send a flailing fistful of questions off to

Steve Kelling for being in the lead--AGAIN--this month, The Cup's mailboxes

were AGAIN inundated with Frequently Asked Questions for our pitiful

runner-up, Allison Wells. Here are just the FAQs:

ANONYMOUS: Steve is so mild-mannered, hardly the competitive

type. How come he keeps winning every month?

WELLS: Don't let his generosity as a birder fool you. He's highly

competitive. Just ask his former high school football rivals, particularly

those with missing teeth.

ANONYMOUS: Do you think you'll be able to stay ahead of Stephen Davies?

WELLS: No problem. Stephen, you see, lives on the wrong side of Freese

Road--the Dryden side--so his great yard birds like Orchard Oriole are

useless to his McIlroy list. Also, although his superbly poetic prose

would lead you to believe his urgency to find birds at the jetty, I know

for a fact that he goes down there just to catch up on his sleep. I've set

up scope at Stewart Park and seen him leaning Rip van Winkle-style against

the lighthouse, his head nodding rhythmically up and down like he's some kind

of yes man for some Basin big wig (given his Bird Brain column, presumably

Bill Evans.)

ANONYMOUS: Will your 200-bird McIlroy record be broken this year?

WELLS: Probably. I didn't work too hard towards the end of last year. I

really wanted to end on the magic number of 200 (which was, by the way,

Laughing Gull.) I wanted to be able to break my own record this year. I

thought it would look impressive. Had I known then what I know now,

though--that Steve Kelling was going to enter the McIlroy this year,

and with a vengeance I may have actually tried for things like McRuffed

Grouse and McHorned Lark. You can believe I tried this year, though I'm

still missing the McGrouse.

ANONYMOUS: Any bad McMisses this year?

WELLS: Grouse is definitely doable in Ithaca, just ask the Steves. And I'm

still missing Common Tern for both McIlroy and David Cup. Kevin and I are

going to drown our sorrows in his home brew for our most pathetic miss-to-

date. Anyone out there need to join us?

ANONYMOUS: What's been your favorite place to bird in McIlroy

territory this year (even though it hasn't helped you much)?

WELLS: My favorite McIlroy birding spot has always been Allen Treman

Park/Hog Hole. That quickly became one of Jeff's and my regular haunts

when we came to Cornell as grad students nine years ago (don't worry,

we're not STILL grad students!) Some among us plod out to the lighthouse

for their birding meditations, but being from Maine, when I go to a

lighthouse, I expect to smell salty air and see gannets and guillemots.

Allen Treman offers pretty much the same vantage point as the lighthouse,

plus you have the added chance of getting some incoming rare

sparrow -Dickcissel, Clay-colored--to light in the brush beside you. We've

had some fabulous birds there over the years--Ross's Goose (the Stewart

Park one a few years back was first seen off here), Laughing Gull,

Forster's Tern (both found on the breakwater from here) Short-eared Owl,

Sedge Wren, Connecticut Warbler, (Nelson's) Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Henslow's

Sparrow. Steve Kress had Red-headed Woodpecker there once. I love the walk

out--the spanse of field laying before you, with the vast reach of the lake

beyond. It's spiritual without the risk of boat exhaust causing you to

hallucinate something like, say, a jaegar. And there's always the sense

that the next step could flush up a Western Meadowlark. Of course, our car

getting busted into last year has tainted our affection for the place a

little (even though the cops caught the *$^%&%s.) Until a better excuse

comes along, I'll use that as my reason for why I haven't gone down there

as much this year. I'll also use that as my excuse for why I'm not ahead

of Steve.

ANONYMOUS: Who do you think will place higher in the McIlroy, Bill

Evans or John Bower?

WELLS: You can't keep letting your cowardice spook you out of the

Basin if you're going to score well; such is the case with Bill Evans. On

the other hand, you have to be able to identify more than Song Sparrows,

and I have it from a reliable source that John Bower does not fall into

this elite category of birders. If Michael Runge had had the guts to

actually enter his infant into the competition, I'd say she'd outpace both

of them.

ANONYMOUS: Aren't you getting sick of coming in second place every

month?

WELLS: Aren't you getting sick of coming in behind me every month?

====================================================

BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH

By Caissa Willmer

====================================================

Stephen Davies

This month's bird brain has a Welsh lilt and a Welsh way with language

and image. He finds birding strongly connected to his general sense of

well being. "When I'm out birding and my senses are all tuned in to my

surroundings," he says, "I feel alive and in tune with myself." He's been

one of the most prolific contributors to the CayugaBirds ListServ, and one

suspects that birding is both a vocation and an avocation. He's Stephen

John Davies, currently a graduate student in the College of Veterinary

Science, and as he puts it, "I'm a vet by training but now I think of

myself as more of a biologist. I study parasites that cause diseases of

humans in the tropics ('those nasty guys that swim up your penis and make

you REALLY sick,' according to Bill Evans.)"

I plied Stephen with the usual questions, and it turns out

that he knows,

almost to the minute and the hour, when (and how) he got turned on to

birding:

"I started birding on 14th January, 1982. I was an avid (some say anal)

note-taker and record-keeper, even at the tender age of twelve, so I can

easily pinpoint the exact moment in time when this whole obsession got

started. It was a rather atypical child's Christmas in Wales--we were hit

by a severe winter storm on the 13th (coincidence?) and were snowbound

for several days at our family home high up on the mountains overlooking

Pontypridd. (By the way, did you know Pontypridd was also the birthplace

of world-renowned entertainer and fellow Welshman Tom Jones? He grew

up just down the street from me.) Anyway, to overcome the boredom, I

started feeding the birds in the back yard.I borrowed my dad's extremely

heavy and very fuzzy 10x50 binoculars and never looked back. My fate

was sealed when, after only four days of birding, I experienced the thrill

of finding a Brambling coming to breadcrumbs I'd strewn on the garage roof.

Not a particularly rare bird in Wales, but definitely a 'good' bird. It

sent my pulse racing and I've been birding feverishly ever since.

"I soon discovered the joys of birding Kenfig Pool and Dunes

National Nature Reserve (it was just a Local Nature Reserve in those days)

--THE local hotspot. This reserve hosted the UK's first Little Whimbrel

(closest extant relative of the mythical Eskimo Curlew) in the early

eighties, and while this bird occurred 'before my time,' the stories that

surrounded its discovery had a profound influence on me during my

formative birding years. To this day, the Numenius genus holds a special

place in my heart and I dream of encountering all of its members before my

time on this planet is up.

"Now many say Wales is not the hottest birding venue in the UK--and

they're right. We're not inundated with vagrants like such places as the

Scillies, Norfolk, or Shetland. But one thing we do have a lot of is gulls.

Welsh birders are, therefore, larophiles by default. I spent many a bleak

winter's day roaming the refuse tips and abandoned docklands of Cardiff on

my bike, scope strapped to my back. It was a dangerous environment, but

the prizes were immense--Little, Black-headed, Common, Lesser

Black-backed, Ring-billed, Bonapartes, Glaucous, Iceland, Yellow-legged--

they were all out there, and my young soulmates and I risked life and limb

in their pursuit. We froze in the icy winds that whistled in off the bay,

we were chased by dogs, threatened, shot at, etc., but I look on it now as a

kind of training period. It was a tough town, and we grew up fast into

tough, determined birders, ready to take on the challenges that lay ahead.

Little did I know that those experiences back then would equip me so well

for birding the David Cup?! (Incidentally, did you know that world-

renowned entertainer and fellow Welshperson Shirley Bassey grew up in

Cardiff's docklands?)"

I asked to what extent birding colored his life, and he came back with...

"It's more a question of how does the rest of my life affect my

birding! I try not to let the day-to-day practicalities of earning a living

affect my birding too much. But inevitably, one ends up having to make

compromises. I initially trained as a vet, and managed to land a practice

in prime birding habitat--Norfolk, on the east coast of England, of all

places! I tried to capitalize on my position--calling the local RBAs every

hour on practice phones, racing off after this, that, and the other in my

practice-supplied Subaru on practice gas. I scored on some of the biggest

birds of the year--Lesser Crested Tern, Oriental Pratincole--but I soon

realized that working a 70-hour week and spending the rest of the time on

call was not compatible with spending real QT in the field. I needed a

change of direction, and a new continent to expand my life list. It soon

became clear what I needed-grad school at Cornell."

I asked him the inevitable questions about listing, and he said...

"I think all birders enjoy listing, even if they don't admit it. I enjoy

listing to an extent, and I've certainly kept more lists this year than at

any other time in recent years, thanks to the David Cup and McIlroy Award.

The lists closest to my heart are Life, British, and Western Palearctic and,

more recently, ABA area. I enjoy listing to the extent that it can improve

my birding. I feel my birding skills improve as I strive to familiarize

myself with a bigger and bigger selection of species. But the key word

here is 'familiarize.' Listing doesn't do you any good if the minute

you've seen one bird you're off in search of the next. You have to learn

the birds on your life list. I'm still trying to learn every detail about

the birds on mine, and I expect life isn't long enough to really 'get

there.' But trying to truly 'know' the birds you see every day is the best

way to prepare yourself for finding and identifying the unusual. And let's

face it, I think most birders would agree that the satisfaction of finding

a rare and exciting bird outweighs the satisfaction of a big list."

And true to his word, when I asked Stephen to speak about a memorable

birding experience in the Basin, his answer hinged on that question of

familiarizing himself:

"I guess the event that most sticks in my mind is 18th September,

1996, when Bill Evans and I observed a jaeger on migration from the end of

the white lighthouse jetty. The bird was poorly seen--we were able to

determine very little about its plumage--and while we are both fairly

familiar with the three jaeger species and have some skua experience, we

were unable to identify the bird to species. We both felt that size and

jizz suggested Parasitic, the jaeger I am most familiar with from British

seawatches, where this species is common. Still, we could not be certain,

and we were happy to let the record slide. Despite the inconclusive nature

of this observation, however, it remains an outstanding experience in my

mind, and I think Bill will agree with me on this. The purposeful

progression of this bird down the east side of the lake was awesome and

inspirational. For me, this event was also significant for another reason.

Bill and I had been hammering the jetty pretty hard that fall, looking for

the real 'bad boy,' and I'd already learned a lot from Bill--he's a

phenomenal birder, and I doubt if anyone could fail to learn something from

him. I was particularly impressed with his eye for migration. In fact, it

was almost distressing to be around him--he was so in tune with what was

going on, he knew exactly what to look for and where to look for it. It

was like a sixth sense, like he could sense the birds moving overhead. He

was constantly scanning the skies, while I felt like my senses were

truncated, cut off at ground level. I definitely felt inspired by Bill, and

I resolved to improve, to stretch my senses to the maximum and tune in.

The appearance of the jaeger simply served to etch those sentiments in stone-

-it was like a 'road to Damascus' experience, an affirmation of what I was

thinking, of what I thought was the way forward, the way to improve."

I asked if he had some more birding tales to tell, and he said, "Plenty,

but I'm not sure if your readers would appreciate them! I don't feel I've

birded the U.S. long enough to be able to relate anything truly meaningful or

scandalous about the birding scene here. I guess everyone who's been to

Texas has a Brownsville dump (a.k.a. Mexican Crow Sanctuary) story to

tell, so here's mine: The day we were there, a howling gale was blasting up

from Mexico. It reminded me of Cardiff, but it was warmer and the trash

smelt different. I sat in our rented Camry, the wheels sinking in the mud

and fetid dust billowing in the open window (sorry Hertz). I scanned the

monumental piles of refuse for signs of life while Katherine, my girlfriend,

sat patiently in the passenger seat. I'd promised her an ice cream if she

agreed to spend a couple of hours at the landfill with me. (Birders visiting

Brownsville with significant others take note: the ice cream ploy

worked--Katherine is now my fianc .) Suddenly, a small-looking crow

soared into view some distance away, riding the stiff wind. It danced in and

out of the rubble, dodging the flying debris thrown up by the wind--a master

of its environment, like the Common Ravens we'd watched high up in

the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend days earlier. But the bird was a fair way

off--size and shape were hard to determine. Was this a Mexican Crow or a

Chihuahuan Raven? I had no experience with either species. I watched,

mesmerized, following through binoculars its every move. Then, suddenly,

and without warning, everything disappeared. The crow, the dust, the

refuse, the dump were all gone. It was as if a sudden snowstorm had

descended on the Rio Grande valley, which seemed unlikely. But the effect

was the same--total white-out. I squinted desperately through the white

haze, searching frantically for the crow. The stench intensified, and I

felt like I was suffocating, fighting for air. Finally, I lowered my

binocs--to find a white plastic garbage bag, with some interesting brown

stains on it, plastered up against my objective lenses and face. I forced

myself to remember the discipline I'd learned birding the Cardiff

docklands. I stifled the urge to puke, and I carefully peeled the bag off

my face. It

took me a few minutes to recover my composure and spit the bits of grit out

of my mouth, by which time the crow was long gone. Then we laughed.

And I'm glad to report all ended well. We set off in the direction of the

first crow sighting and after some more searching, we left the landfill

having enjoyed fine views of both Mexican Crow and Chihuahuan Raven.

And all for the price of an ice cream and a slap in the face by a grimy

plastic bag. Sounded like a good deal to me! If you're birding

Brownsville, the dump is a must. Ah, I can smell it still."

The man tells a good story, doesn't he? I would have liked to ply

him for more, but Allison and Jeff have to put some limits on the amount of

material we offer in The Cup. I will add his final words, however, because

Stephen Davies is not only a fine raconteur, he's a very gracious man as

well:

"Thanks for listening to my garbled banter. And thanks to you and the

rest of The Cup team for continuing to supply the Basin birding community

with a first-rate source of news, views, scandal, and inspiration.

I can hardly make it from one edition of The Cup to the next."

And I, for one, would like to thank him in return for the liveliness and

substance of his "banter," not only here, but over the last year or more on

CayugaBirds.

(Caissa Willmer is a senior staff writer for the Cornell Office of

Development. She's also theater critic for Ithaca Times. Her "nets" are

already strung in waiting for the next Bird Brain. [see Cup Quotes])

BIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRD

BIRD VERSE

VERSEVERSEVERSEVERSEVERSEVERSE

(your birdverse here)

@#$$%#%$^!(*$)%^@>(#?@<$&%^@(

DEAR TICK

@#%$^!)$(%*&^>$*%?<!>*%^#*%(*&

Because birders suffer so many unique trials and tribulations, The Cup has

graciously provided Cuppers with a kind, sensitive and intuitive columnist,

Dear Tick, to answer even the most profound questions, like these...

DEAR TICK:

Someone said in a Coach's Corner that to succeed in this competition, you've

got to think like a bird. Well, maybe we should extend that to counting

like a bird, too--i.e., in base 8, since (most) birds have 8, not 10, toes.

I've done the math and my totals in base 8 are higher than anybody's in

base 10. Unless any of those ahead of me can correctly convert their totals

to base 8, I declare myself the leader.

--Not Behind the Eight Ball in Aurora

Dear Not Behind the Eight Ball:

You're teetering dangerously close to plagiarizing a statistics column I read

on a regular basis--I forget the name of the publication (seems like it has

the word "Cup" in the title) but it's astute, I assure you. Until you can

come up with a more original way to scam your way to David Cup victory, I'm

afraid you'll have to stick with the ticks you actually earn. Anything

else would be too debasing.

DEAR TICK:

Way back during spring migration, I clearly remember kicking up a few

Solitary Vireos at the city cemetery, and I duly ticked them off on my DC

and MA lists. Then, a few days ago, I was birding the jetty when I kicked

up a couple more Solitary Vireos, but I understand that during their brief

breeding season further north, they mutated into a different species,

Blue-headed Vireo. I suppose I can also add this to my DC and MA lists

now, right? Having been extra-Basin for most of the month, I need all the

ticks I can get.

--Splitter in Ithaca

Dear Splitter:

Of course you can add Blue-headed Vireo to your list. However, I have bad

news about the Solitary: it no longer exists. Sadly, it has gone the way

of the Rufous-sided Towhee, Slate-colored Junco, and numerous other ill-fated

species. On the other hand, if you're looking for a good two-for-one deal,

try aisle nine at Wegman's. Of course, some people would argue that

macaroni and birds are two totally different things. But hey, who are they

to argue with Yankee Doodle?

(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at jw32@cornell.edu)

""""""""" CUP QUOTES """"""""

"I'm in White Hall, on the Arts Quad [Cornell] this year, so this week I've

been in the habit of taking the 5-minute walk down to City Cemetery between

my 8:00 and 11:15 classes and seeing what's there. It's been warblerless,

but each time I see at least one good' bird...Today, it was an Olive-sided

Flycatcher...Cuppers may remember that, ironically, I missed Olive-sided

Flycatcher last year for the first time since I started birding the Basin.

Ironic because I achieved my highest total number of species ever last year."

--Karl David

"I didn't get my copy of The Cup. They are hilarious and I look forward to

reading them. Maybe in a few years when my daughter is in college and I

have loads of free time (and am a better birder), I think about competing

too."

--Linda Buttel

"Sadly, I did get The Cup and Bill Evans' regretably inflammatory comments.

Now I'm going to have to really kick his butt in the McIlroy competition."

--John Bower

"All the birders around Ithaca sure seem to have some great ideas for

contests and having fun birding! I'd love to see a copy of The Cup for fun,

ideas and information!"

--Alan Anderson

"Yet another month with no change in numbers. Actually got out birding a

day. I was forced to. I led a bird club field trip. Maybe I will now get

back to more regular birding. And then again, maybe not. But I sure enjoy

reading The Cup. It's always a treat."

--Marty Schlabach

"We started in pouring rain, (we would have ditched it if Niaal, an Irish

birder new toCornell had not come with his scope) wondering whether we

should go or not. Once we left Ithaca, rain tapered and by the time we

reached MNWR it was quite dry though cloudy. In the western sky we did

see at times the sun's rays."

--Meena Haribal

"My McIlroy is the same as last month, but I can't remember my exact

total (I lost the list) and my mom has done something with the previous

issues of The Cup. Can you please tell me my total? Thanks."

--Casey Sutton

"Casey, you're grounded for losing your list AND my precious back issues

of The Cup!"

--Jane Sutton [words put into mouth by Cup editors]

"You people astound me! How do you find the time to be avian-savvy,

witty, diverse, AND then write about it all! The Cup's a WONDERFUL read.

Thank you."

--Ann Mathieson

"I heard my first screech owl of the year, in my yard last night, as the

moon rose over Mecklenburg."

--Nancy W Dickinson

"Last night I aimed my scope at the moon at 9pm and saw 63 birds fly in

front of it in half an hour! Broke my record for moon watching. Most of

the birds were little guys (sparrows and warblers?), about 10 appeared to

be thrushes, one was probably a hummer, but my favorite was a big, slow

flyer. I'd guess it was a green heron or bittern."

--John Bower

"Greatly enjoyed The Cup; always do! Many thanks!!!

--Randy Little

"Guess what!? I saw a Whimbrel at Seneca Lake Park! I spent a LOT

of time getting all the info Kevin and Steve suggested I should try to note

when I see a new bird and was so proud of myself--then when I called one

of the local birders the first question he asked (I had my list ready!) was

did you get a picture?'!"

--Cathy Heidenreich

"I promised myself that on the very day after the latest Cup appeared, I

would net my next Bird Brain and have her/him cuffed, ringed, measured,

weighed, examined for fatty tissue, and whatall WEEKS in advance."

--Caissa Willmer

"Reading Allison's post about their adventure in finding the WK this

morning I feel a little better about our own mis-adventure last evening,

9/30. Inspired by earlier postings and still flush with the excitement of

adding the Sabine's Gull to my life list, I gently encouraged (read dragged)

my hubby off for the quick (4 hour) roundtrip up to see the WK.

Unfortunately, we did not relocate. Another intrepid birder (I think it

was Stephen Davies) was already there but also having no luck. We birded

all around the area from about 5:15 to 6:30. The local farmer came over

and chatted w/us and said they hadn't had this much excitement in a long

time! Another couple stopped by and told us they saw the bird right there

on that wire' yesterday afternoon. Heavy sigh! Oh well, arriving back

home at 9 pm, sans bird or dinner, I nominated us both for the Outstanding

Effort award and settled down to watch the incredible Yankee comeback.

Unfortunately, being a native Californian, I am not a Yankee Fan!"

--Margaret Launius

"I have been suppressing my temptation to go and see this Western

Kingbird, but every time I see a posting (especially from fellow Cuppers) I

feel like going. So, now if someone is planning to go..."

--Meena Haribal

"Three of us, Linda, Tina and myself, took a pilgrimage to Pilgrim's Port

road, off Klipple road for elusive Western King bird. We started from

Ithaca around four pm., reached Klipple area just when light was perfect,

lots of insects in the air. We scanned all wires, pylons and any twig

sticking out...We did not see the bird, but we did see someone who had

seen this bird on Monday evening. Unfortunately, we did not shake hands

with them therefore, so we can't count the bird."

--Meena Haribal

"Here are our September totals. We're doing okay, despite my perennial

problems with fall. Jay is still breathing down my neck; even closer now!

A quick perusal of the overall list of 4's' and 5's' on my difficulty list

shows a rather tight bunch of contenders for the overall title (including

us). By this time last year I had figured it was Karl or Steve who would

win. This year, I don't know. Tom was of course the overall leader

throughout the year, but he has missed an unacceptable number of difficult

birds. I have had to guess on everyone else's lists, of course, but a bunch

of us have now caught up to him in overall rarities seen. In fact, we're so

tightly bunched in the rarities department now that, contrary to my usual

predictions, the winner might be the one who did best with the 3's'

(predictable every year, but difficult) instead of the harder ones. But,

you'd better keep on top of any October rarities!"

--Kevin McGowan

May Your Cup Runneth Over,

Allison and Jeff