Year 4, Issue 3

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

*Editors: Allison Wells, Jeff Wells

*Basin Bird Highlights, Leader's List, Composite Deposit:

* "Thoreau" Geo Kloppel

* Pilgrim's Progress: "Stoinking" Matt Medler

* Evans Cup: "Bird Hard" Bard Prentiss

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

* Bird Brain Correspondent: "Downtown" Caissa Willmer

* Mobile Phone Supervisor: Jeff Wells

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Oh, that crazy World Series of Birding, that mind-boggling

24-hour tick-athon in the Garden State of New Jersey. Sure, it rakes

in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the birds. Fifty-odd (you ain't

kiddin') teams compete, some from as far away as Britain (re: "Brits on

Bikes," ha!) There's the camaraderie, the media exposure, yadda, yadda,

yadda. Whoopee. La-ti-da.

oesn't it make it you want to tear up your David Cup checklist and

go home?

Well, then drive thru and smell the golden arches! The World Series

may make some pretty lofty headlines, but when you boil it all down,

whatcha got is fast food! 223 species in one day? Heck, McDonald's can

make an entire "mean" in 1.48 minutes. Wouldn't you rather have a

romantic, candlelight dinner? THAT's the David Cup. Okay, maybe it's more

like an old-fashioned, home-cooked meal. And yeah, maybe the potatoes get

a tad overbaked. But think of the love and care that goes into making that

meal-just for you!

Now, pull up a chair, the table is set, enjoy the feast of another

issue of The Cup. Just remember to put on your bib; there's bound to be a

little drivel, er dribble.

@ @ @ @ @ @

NEWS, CUES, and BLUES

@ @ @ @ @ @

WELCOME TO THE CUP CLAN: What do all of the new Kloppel names in

the Pilgrim's Progress mean? It means Jon Kloppel, frere to Geo, is biding for

the Family Time Prize. That's right, he's brought daughter Rachel and son

Aaron into the funny farm. Of course, until he's recruits the family pets,

the McGowans may take home the coveted award yet again. Wait a minute,

"Ramona" Kloppel. David "Kitty" Cup. Watch out, McGowans!

Wait, here comes another family strolling for the Family Time Prize:

It's the Mingles! How did Terry and Brian convince young un' Jeremy to

join the big birding hurrah? They told him he could dress like a rapper, if

he wanted o long as he didn't dye his hair blue. Can't risk anyone one

mistaking him for a Blue Bunting.

STRAIGHT FLUSH?: Congratulations to Ken Rosenberg, who may have the only

Basin record for a "flushed WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW." Cup spies

reported Ken's Cayugabirds news-flash post to us, and we've been wondering

ever since what such a bird would look like. A bit red in the face,

contrasting with the black and white crown? In other words, a little like

Ken when he reads this note.

WATCH WARBLERS: Don't forget to put your warbler sightings to

use for science and conservation! Get them into the Warbler Watch

database at http://birdsource.cornell.edu. Enjoy the maps while

you're there-a great return on your investment of a little time.

SAPPING AROUND NEW JERSEY: Despite our attempt to sound

like curmudgeons in the intro, we're pleased to congratulate the

Cornell Lab/Swarovski Sapsuckers in their WSB showing. The

team - made up entirely of Cuppers -- identified 220 bird species,

shattering their previous high set a few years ago of 204. They brought

home, for the second year in a row, the prestigious Stearns Trophy for

out-of-state-team victory and placed second overall, their highest

placing ever, behind a New Jersey team who made it to 223. With

pledges weighing in at $543.85 per species, that's an awesome

$119,647.00. To read more about the team's highlights, visit the

Lab's web site at http://birds.cornell.edu. Be sure to check out the

link that'll show you an image of the magnificent Stearns Trophy,

featuring the Lab's own highly paid models! And it's also not too late

to pledge. (607) 254-2473 if you'd like to show your support. If

you've already pledged, thanks! Here's to WSB 2000!

BIRD CUP BLUES AND ALL THAT JAZZ: There was some new

band, alt rock we think, that had the name "bird" in the their title.

We tore the blurb out of Entertainment Weekly (the most impressive

news mag available these days, after The Cup), but e lost it.

Be assured, we had something clever planned, some witty tie-in.

Although we lost the blurb, at least we've accomplished our

original purpose in the first place: filling up this space.

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

BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS

By

Geo Kloppel

Now that the woods are well leafed-out and the warblers have all returned,

it's an effort to think back to distant March. Recalling that month's most

exciting birds ought to be pleasant exercise, though.

On March 1, Matt Young spotted two BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in a large flock of

Cedar Waxwings on the TC3 "game preserve." They were not found again, but

Cuppers pressed ahead, and the subsequent most winning birds of March were

observed by many. The first of these were the ROSS' GEESE. Sightings of the

diminutive Chen among feeding Snow Geese began on March 11 in the greater

Montezuma area, and continued through the month. On the 20th, Kevin and Jay

McGowan found a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE along Cornell Lane south of

Dryden. Two WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were seen on the 26th north of Aurora.

Also seen during the month were OLDSQUAW and RUDDY DUCK. February's

first-winter GLAUCOUS GULL, ICELAND GULLS and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS

continued to be seen well into March.

My vote for March's happiest surprise goes to the pair of RED CROSSBILLS

found atop Summer Hill on the 24th by Chris T. Hymes. Chris' optimism was

not quenched by the apparent absence of winter finches in our region, and

for that he has his reward! In the week or so following his discovery a

handful of birders managed to find the birds. When you consider how large

the Summerhill State Forest is, that seems an impressive feat, but Matt

Sarver's experience, which we all shared vicariously, may help to explain

it: he found the crossbills deliberately visiting Salt Road to pick up grit

right before his shoes! Putting aside some closely extralimital Pine

Siskins (Keuka Park) and Evening Grosbeaks (Tioga County), those crossbills

have been the principal echoes of the previous winter's celebrated finch

irruption.

A LONG-EARED OWL turned up dead in Danby, the first "record" for the year,

though a live bird would have been preferred. The finder was not a Cupper,

so we were not obliged to revisit the old question of when a dead bird may

be counted, happily! A few more SHORT-EARED OWLS, NORTHERN SHRIKES and

LAPLAND LONGSPURS were seen during March, even while the likes of

RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, GOLDEN EAGLE, MERLIN, AM. WOODCOCK, PECTORAL

SANDPIPER, TREE SWALLOW, E. PHOEBE, AM. PIPIT, RUSTY BLACKBIRD, E.

MEADOWLARK and FOX SPARROW were moving in from the south. A pair of

NORTHERN BOBWHITES were seen on the 30th of March in the Town of Enfield.

I was out of the Basin the first weekend of April and missed a major

fall-out, which included RED-NECKED GREBE, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, OLDSQUAW,

RUDDY DUCKS, and CASPIAN TERN at Dryden Lake, more OLDSQUAW at Jennings

Pond and Montezuma, plus many BONAPARTE'S GULLS at Stewart Park and

elsewhere. Later in the month two SURF SCOTERS and yet more OLDSQUAW were

seen at Dryden Lake, and numbers of RED-NECKED GREBES, BONAPARTE'S GULLS,

FORSTER'S TERNS and COMMON TERNS dropped in at various dates and locations.

BLACK TERN and COMMON MOORHEN returned to Tschache Marsh, where Meena

Haribal also saw BLACK SCOTERS overhead. Jon Kloppel viewed a

spring-migrant RED-THROATED LOON at very close range near the north end of

Cayuga Lake, and a few days later several of the Matts spotted another one

at the south end! But the biggest find of April was not seen by any

Cuppers. It was a SANDHILL CRANE, watched at leisure by a group of birders

on an Eaton Birding Society outing near the Greater Montezuma Wetland

Project Headquarters on Morgan Road opposite Howland Island.

Scattered RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, BROAD-WINGED HAWKS and GOLDEN EAGLES were

seen during the month, plus a few more departing SHORT-EARED OWLS. At least

one MERLIN and one PEREGRINE FALCON were reported. Several Cuppers heard a

LONG-EARED OWL calling near Neimi and Hanshaw Roads in the Town of Dryden.

Shorebird species during April included GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS,

PECTORAL, SPOTTED and SOLITARY SANDPIPER, DUNLIN, AM WOODCOCK and COMMON

SNIPE, plus a fly-over UPLAND SANDPIPER seen by the McGowans, who also

discovered the BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON that lingered at Dryden Lake for a

number of days. AMERICAN BITTERN appeared at Montezuma and, more

surprisingly, at Jennings Pond, where it may yet remain! GREEN HERON and

VIRGINIA RAIL returned to their summer haunts. Rather large numbers of

breeding-plumage LAPLAND LONGSPURS were seen by many over the course of a

few days on the Savannah Mucklands, once again confirming the speculative

optimism of Chris Tessaglia Hymes.

The expected sparrows showed up, as did the earliest warblers: YELLOW-RUMPED,

PINE, PALM, YELLOW, BLACK-THROATED GREEN and BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLERS,

LOUISIANA and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES. April also brought the first

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, BLUE-HEADED and WARBLING VIREOS, all the rest of

our swallows, CHIMNEY SWIFT, HOUSE WREN, BROWN THRASHER, E. KINGBIRD, LEAST

FLYCATCHER, ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK and BOBOLINK. Our appetites for the

wealth that flows in during May were thoroughly aroused.

(Geo Kloppel makes and repairs violin bows. That is, when he's

not birding. In other words, he seldom makes and repairs violin bows.)

100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

100 CLUB

100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

Matt Sarver's BIRD 100: Long-eared Owl

Matt Medler's BIRD 100: Eastern Meadowlark

Ken Rosenberg's BIRD 100: Field Sparrow

Jon Kloppel'S BIRD 100: Ruddy Duck

Matt Williams' BIRD 100: Swamp Sparrow

Steve Kelling'S BIRD 100: Virginia Rail

Meena Haribal's BIRD 100: refused to share this top-secret info

Bard Prentiss BIRD 100: ditto

Rachel Kloppel's BIRD 100: American Woodcock

Anne Kendall's BIRD 100: Pine Warbler

Allison Wells' BIRD 100: Eastern Meadowlark

Jeff Wells' BIRD 100: House Sparrow (answered by his wife, because Jeff is

currently out of town)

Terry Mingle's BIRD 100: Blue-headed Vireo

Pat Lia's BIRD 100: Palm Warbler

Catherine Sandell's BIRD 100: Yellow-rumped Warbler

Jeremy Mingle's BIRD 100: Baltimore Oriole

200 200 200 200 200

2 0 0

200 200 200 200

HA! WISHFUL THINKING!

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

April 1999 David Cup Totals

157 Matt Young

145 Geo Kloppel

145 Matt Medler

144 Jay McGowan

143 Kevin McGowan

139 Matt Sarver

138 Chris Tessaglia-Hymes

133 Ken Rosenberg

131 Jon Kloppel

129 Matt Williams

126 Steve Kelling

125 Meena Haribal

119 Bard Prentiss

116 Rachel Kloppel

115 Anne Kendall

111 Allison Wells

110 Terry Mingle

110 Jeff Wells

107 Pat Lia

103 Catherine Sandell

101 Jeremy Mingle

100 Chris Butler

95 Marty Schlabach

94 Tringa "Bird Dog" McGowan

91 Aaron Kloppel

91 Jim Lowe

90 Tom Nix

86 Taylor Kelling

85 Sam Kelling

82 Melanie Uhlir

80 Kim Kline

79 Bill Evans

79 Ben Taft

78 Nancy Dickinson

69 Perri McGowan

67 Brian Mingle

63 Andy Farnsworth

57 Martha Fischer

45 Carol Bloomgarden

45 Anne James

43 Swift McGowan (David "Kitty" Cup)

30 Teddy Wells (David "Kitty" Cup)

26 Mimi Wells (David "Kitty" Cup)

25 Romona Kloppel (David Kitty Cup)

21 Rob Scott

0 Ralph Paonessa

March 1999 McIlroy Award Totals

97 Kevin McGowan

93 Jay McGowan

82 Jim Lowe

82 Allison Wells

75 Jeff Wells

73 Ken Rosenberg

66 Bill Evans

55 Matt Medler

53 Martha Fischer

37 Chris Butler

March 1999 Evans Trophy Totals

140 Matt Young

127 Ken Rosenberg

121 Kevin McGowan

118 Jay McGowan

97 Bard Prentiss

72 Allison Wells

72 Jeff Wells

Lansing Listers

83 Kevin McGowan

52 (???) Jay McGowan (Hey, Matt, did you drop this ball!)

44 Matt Williams

Etna Challenge

59 Allison Wells

0 Matt Young

Yard Stickers

80 Kelling Family, Caroline, NY

79 McGowan/Kline Family, Dryden, NY

79 Rosenberg/James Family, Dryden, NY

67 Geo Kloppel, West Danby, NY

59 Wells Family, Etna, NY

47 Nancy Dickinson, Mecklenberg, NY

46 Jeff Holbrook, Canton, NY

41 Fredericks Family, Van Etten, NY

33 Carol Bloomgarden, Etna, NY

Office Report

56 Ken Rosenberg & friends, Green Trailer, Lab of O

46 Steve Kelling & friends, Tan Trailer, Lab of O

26 Melanie Uhlir ("Tan Trailer," Lab of O)

22 Allison Wells (main building, Lab of O)

3 Matt Medler (windowless cave of LNS, Lab of O)

LEADER'S LIST LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

By Geo Kloppel

No surprise here: Matt Young was well in the lead at the end of May. He

wasn't quite sure what-all was supposed to be on his list, so at the

absolute ultimate last minute before publishing time he sent me a list of

153 species and invited me to suggest 4 more in order to make up the 157 he

expected. Then he went out birding, I guess! I came up with 5 birds which I

believe he MUST have seen before May 1st, and I've placed them in

parentheses within his list, resulting in a total of 158. I'm sure Matt

will explain the discrepancy when he finds a little more time to update his

records!

C & R-t Loon,P-b,R-n & H Grebe,D-c Cormorant,Great Blue & Green Heron,B-c

Night Heron,T & M Swan,Snow Goose,ROSS'GOOSE,C Goose,W Duck,G-w & B-w

Teal,Am Black Duck,Mallard,N Pintail,N Shoveler,Gadwall,Am

Wigeon,Canvasback,Redhead,R-n Duck,G & L Scaup,KING EIDER,L-t Duck,Surf &

W-w Scoter,C Goldeneye,Bufflehead,H,C & Rb Merganser,Ruddy Duck,(T

Vulture),Osprey,Bald Eagle,N Harrier,Sharp-shinned,Cooper's & N

Goshawk,B-w,R-s,R-t,& R-l Hawk,Golden Eagle,Am Kestrel,R Grouse,W

Turkey,R-n Pheasant,V-Rail,Am Coot,(Killdeer),G & L Yellowlegs,Sol,Pect &

Spotted Sandpiper,Dunlin,C Snipe,A. Woodcock,Bonaparte's,R-b,H,I,LB-b,G &

GB-b Gull,Casp,Common & Forster's Tern,R & M Dove,E-Screech,G-H,Barred,S-e

& S-w Owl,Ch Swift,B Kingfisher,R-b,D,H & P Woodpecker,N Flicker,Y-Bellied

Sapsucker,L Flycatcher,E Phoebe,H Lark,Tree,N.R-w,Bank,Cliff & Barn

Swallow,B Jay,Am & F Crow,Common Raven,B-c Chickadee,T Titmouse,R-b & W-b

Nuthatch,B Creeper,Carolina,H,M & W Wren,G-c & R-c Kinglet,B-G

Gnatcatcher,E Bluebird,H Thrush,A Robin,N Mockingbird,(Brown Thrasher),(Am

Pipit),BOHEMIAN & C Waxwing,N Shrike,E Starling,B-h Vireo,Yellow,Y-r,B-t

Green,Pine,Palm,& B & w Warbler,L & N Waterthrush,N Cardinal,E Towhee,Am

Tree,Chip,F,V,Sav,Fox,Song,Swamp,& W-t Sparrow,D-e Junco,L Longspur,S

Bunting,E Meadowlark,R-W,Rusty Blackbird,YELLOW HEADED BLACKBIRD,C

Grackle,B-h Cowbird,H Finch,(Purple Finch),Red Crossbill,Am Goldfinch,House

Sparrow

COMPOSITE DEPOSIT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT CT

A few birds had escaped Matt's roving eye. There was a Long-eared Owl found

dead in Danby, which I won't include in the composite total, and then there

were the following 17 species:

American Bittern,Greater White-fronted Goose,Black Scoter,Peregrine

Falcon,Merlin,Common Moorhen,Sandhill Crane,Upland Sandpiper,Thayer's

Gull,Black Tern,Purple Martin,Warbling Vireo,C Yellowthroat,Rose-breasted

Grosbeak,Bobolink,Baltimore Oriole,Evening Grosbeak

Composite total as of 4/30/99: 175 live birds (plus one dead L-e Owl)

(You already know Geo. )

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

< COACH'S CORNER <

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

< <

< <

< < < <

Whatcha gonna do when you forget to tap a coach for the prestigious

Coach's Column and you're too tired to write it yourself because

you put together everything else because your spouse is leaving town?

If that spouse is in the masthead, you get him to write spew something

over breakfast the morning of his departure. Aw, shucks, he's glad to

help, because he's Jeff Wells, and he's swell. The editor would marry

him if she weren't married to him already.

COACH WELLS: I'm giving this Coach's Column a name, because

I want to emphasize what the David Cup is all about in the upcoming

months. "Pushing the Limits," it's as simple as that. Actually, it's

as "simple" as finding these key species:

Clay-colored Sparrow: A species that breeds in relatively large

numbers within about 200 miles northeast of the Basin, Clay-colored

Sparrows very likely occur as sporadic, occasional breeders or

solitary singing males within the Basin. In the western tier of NY,

they have occasionally been found in Christmas tree plantations.

Along with this habitat, check fields that have a mix of open grass

and clumps of shrubs and Listerine for the easy-to-identify song: a

series of usually three low buzzes, "bizz-bizz-bizzz."

Western Meadowlark: This is another species that regularly

occurs sporadically throughout the northeast U.S. Western NY,

being closer to the regular breeding range, would seem even more

likely to have an occasional bird. Check lots of very large

grassy fields, listening for its distinctive, bubbly song and the

characteristic "chuck" call note.

Dickcissel: As recently as 1992, territorial singing Dickcissels

occurred in the Basin (South Lansing) and the species has bred

or attempted to breed in western NY. Again, check large, grassy

fields, especially ones that have been fallow for a few years

and that have scattered old stems for singing perches. The fields

near Ledyard Road in King Ferry are potentially good locations.

As always, learn the song well and listen carefully as the song

can be as easy to overlook as the Henslow's Sparrow simple song.

Others: Cattle Egret, Glossy & White-faced ibis, Yellow Rail,

Sedge Wren, Kentucky Warbler, Le Conte's Sparrow.

Hit the books, and then the field!

(Jeff Wells is director of bird conservation for National Audubon of

of New York State. He is sadly missed when out of town for his job

...especially when it's time to put out The Cup.)

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

! KICKIN' TAIL! !

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

What better way to prove birding hasn't completely worn you out 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, or final-exammed

his/her way to the top of the David Cup list. Any guesses who's on

first thing by the end of April?

THE CUP: Greetings, Mighty Matt. We'll keep this brief, we don't want

to be held responsible if you don't break the Basin record this year! First,

ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? You've got a good chance of breaking the

David Cup record, if merely by willing the birds into the Basin. And you

run off to help scout for the Sapsuckers in New Jersey? And what was

your motive by including Matt Medler in this little soiree?

YOUNG: I must move on and at least try to make my birdwatching into

Something productive, so I'm moving out of the Basin come August, so

I can go back to school full-time. The record will have to be broken by

Someone else - Saaarver!!

THE CUP: I guess one Matt's the same as the next. Just different hair,

that's all.

YOUNG: I went to NJ because I felt it was a great chance to

get out of the Basin -

THE CUP: Blasphemy!

YOUNG: --and do some real birding. Medler's the only one who

could possibly put up with me on such an adventure.

THE CUP: Sure. We couldn't help but notice some slippage in

Medler's total since you convinced him to run off with you. Now

Sarver's taken over his slot. Yeah, purely coincidental. Anyone on

Cayugabirds lately is keenly aware of your uncontrollable

urge for "time in the field." Why was it so important for you to break

200 by May 10?

YOUNG: I just thought it would be cool to do it before the 10th, I didn't

succeed. I did end up seeing an Indigo Bunting on the 11th, before the

NJ trip, for #200.

THE CUP: Congratulation. Enlighten us, now. What is the significance

of the name "Matt," i.e., what's your theory as to why the Basin has a

proportionately high number of them? And in your opinion, is this a

blessing or a curse?

YOUNG: It's a definite blessing, we all actually get along quite well, which

makes it even more special. I guess Ithaca was prime for an "irruption"

of Matts.

THE CUP: And it's still irrupting. Case in point, Jeff's new employee,

Matt Victoria. Watch out! Now the obligatory "what are your glaring

omissions?" question.

YOUNG: I can't really think of many.

THE CUP: Well, excuuuuuuuse us!

YOUNG: Maybe the two common falcons and the Long-

eared Owl that Sarver found behind my house- yeah, right.

THE CUP: Ouch. How is Jess holding up during all of this crazy birding

turmoil of yours?

YOUNG: She's a saint! She understands my need for time in the

Field, which isn't always easy to find.

THE CUP: Huh? Well, listen, don't move. The Basin needs you!

YOUNG: I wish I didn't have to, but I will still be in striking

distance - 25 minutes away. I'm going to miss everyone a lot. I've

learned a tremendous amount of info from everyone, and I really

appreciate everyone for that.

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

SCRAWL OF FAME

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

NADDA

(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.)

mmmmm

mmmmmmmmmmmm McILROY MUSINGS mmmmmmmmmmm

mmmmm

Since we didn't get totals (eh-hem) in time to know who's

deserving of this space, we're going to wing-it. Get it?

Uggh.

WHAT WE WOULD DO IF ALLISON WELLS WERE LEADING: Congratulate

her and give her a coveted interview.

WHAT WE WOULD *LIKE* TO DO IF ALLISON WELLS WERE LEADING: Place

a a lea of native plants around her neck and hope a small

flock of unusual migrants finds it.

WHAT WE WOULD DO IF KEVIN MCGOWAN WERE LEADING: Congratulat him

and give him a coveted interview.

WHAT WE WOULD *LIKE* TO DO IF KEVIN MCGOWAN WERE LEADING:

Send him on a wild crow chase - to Lansing.

WHAT WE WOULD DO IF MARTHA FISCHER WERE LEADING: Congratulate her

and give her a coveted interview.

WHAT WE WOULD *LIKE* TO DO IF MARTHA FISCHER WERE LEADING:

Close down Larch Meadows

WHAT WE WOULD DO IF JAY MCGOWAN WERE LEADING: Congratulate him and

give him a coveted interview.

WHAT WE WOULD *LIKE* TO DO IF JAY MCGOWAN WERE LEADING: Hold Tringa

hostage until he promises never to bird in McIlroy territory again.

WHAT WE WOULD DO IF BILL EVANS WERE LEADING: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

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

BIRD BRAIN OF THE MONTH

By Caissa Willmer

This month's Bird Brain is the fourth of the continually proliferating

Matts: Matthew J. Williams, to be formal and precise. He is from Sunderland,

Massachusetts, a small town north of Amherst in Western Mass. "My family's

(grandparents' and uncle's) farm," he relates, "is located in that town and

has been for nearly two centuries, so I guess I am 'rooted' there. The family

house is on the edge of a field in a very out-of-the-way location, so it

was very good bird habitat. My parents, James and Patricia Williams,

definitely fostered, if not initiated my interest in birds. They took me

outdoors in the woods around my house and got me fascinated with everything

I saw. My grandmother Agnes Williams took me for nature walks in the woods

and my other grandmother Jane Gifford provided me with my first bird

book, the basic and small Golden book of common eastern birds. Other avid

naturalists/family friends including Larry and Helen Stowe and Gretchen

Whitman (Gretty) were even greater influences on my interest in nature and

birding. They taught me a great deal and fueled my desire to learn about

birds.

"I remember an early morning bird hike that Gretty led, I was the

youngest in the group by at least 25 years. I vividly recall seeing an

American Woodcock, a Black-and-white Warbler plus many more.

"Another early experience was going to see a Great Grey Owl that

had appeared up in Hadley, near my home. My parents piled me and my

brothers in the car and on the edge of a grassy field, we joined the crowd

that was observing this wonderful bird."

In addition to those early birding experiences, Matt cherishes the

memories of his trip to Florida last May. "Despite the fact that many of the

birds had headed north (presumably to avoid the heat)," he says, "I was

able to see many of the southern egrets, herons, and shorebirds that I

hadn't been able to see in western New England." And he's looking

forward to many such trips in the future.

Matt is a junior at Cornell, studying Ag & Bio Engineering (ABEN),

which means that he's had two-and-a-half years to bird the Basin, but he

was a bit hampered by lack of adequate transportation. "I made a few trips

up to Sapsucker Woods on my bike in the past few years," he explains, "but

it wasn't until this year, with a car, that I've been able to get off

campus and

bird. It also wasn't until this past fall that I heard about the Cayugabirds

mailing list. I certainly wish I had found it sooner. I guess I missed it

because it isn't exactly a 'Cornell' club and wasn't on any lists of

activities."

It must be stated here, that Matt was interviewed way back in

February, well before all the spring excitement, to which he has

contributed in such large measure, so that when he was asked about his

favorite birding experiences in the Basin, he had to hark back to the fall.

"My first trip up to Montezuma last fall was very amazing to me.

While I did not see any excessively rare birds, the magnitude of Canada

Geese, Snow Geese, and other waterfowl passing through that area was

just impressive. I had never seen such great numbers of birds. Even

the huge flocks of starlings were impressive to me."

And then he made contact with the other Matts. "On Sunday, January

31, 1999, I decided that it was a nice day to get out for some birding.

After checking out Stewart Park, I continued northward to Myers Point.

From the park area I saw Chris Tessaglia-Hymes (whom I didn't know at the

time) by the marina motioning me over to take a look through his scope at

what initially appeared to be a Blue-winged Teal, but was actually a backlit

Greater Scaup. Soon after, I met the three other Matts (Medler, Sarver,

Young), who were a bit frantic looking for the teal because all they saw was

the scaup.

"They were headed up to Summer Hill, and I was going to follow them

in my car, but they shifted the scopes, and made room for me. It was nice

to finally be able to put faces on people who frequently posted to the list

and to meet fellow bird enthusiasts. We saw at least 30 different species

that day, and after that I was essentially hooked on Basin birding."

And then he was asked a standard question for this column: To what

extent does birding influence the routine of your day-to-day life?

"Birding has been latent in me for a number of years. I always

have loved to ID and take note of the birds that I see while doing other

things, but only recently (late last semester and this semester) have I

actually found myself making trips to places specifically to see birds.

With the exception of my trip to Florida, which was planned as a vacation,

not as a birding trip, the farthest I have traveled specifically for birds

was Binghamton, when I went to see the Anna's Hummingbird. Luckily, it was

there, and I went home with a lifer and not simply two hours of driving. I

will probably be going further this spring."

Matt came to Ithaca in the fall of 1996 as "an undecided freshman in

the Engineering school. I knew I loved science and technology, but I also

knew that I had a deep need to be doing something that dealt with nature in

some way. Surprisingly, I was able to fulfill both of these by affiliating

with the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department in the

fall of my Sophomore year. I am still exploring options for after

graduation. I am considering grad school or maybe working for an

Environmental Engineering or consulting firm, or perhaps the EPA, DEC,

FWS or some other government or non-profit agency. So basically, I am

undecided about my future career plans.

As for birding, I know it will remain a large part of my life, no

matter what. It has been with me for so long, and I am very happy that there

are others in the area to share the enjoyment with. Also, I would like to

mention that I was lucky enough to find a work study job at the Lab of

Ornithology helping Laura and Margaret with Project Feederwatch.

"Finally, I would like to thank anyone who had anything to do with

dubbing me 'Bird Brain of the Month.'"

(Caissa Willmer is a Senior Staff Writer for the Cornell Office of

Development and theater critic for the Ithaca Times.)

BIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRDBIRD

BIRD VERSE

VERSEVERSEVERSEVERSEVERSEVERSE

YOUR BIRD VERSE 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:

One of my cobirders is morally opposed to using tapes to draw in birds

(rails, for example). What if he's with a bunch of birders and we use

tapes and we get a Sora calling back and he hears it because he's standing

there with us. Does Mr. No Tape get to count the bird? He wouldn't have

heard it if hadn't been with us, using the tape.

--It Matt-ers at Montezuma

Dear It Matt-ers:

Put it this way: You're eating a sandwich and you inadvertently drop

some crumbs on the table. Mr. Purist could, theoretically, eat those crumbs,

even though he didn't make the sandwich, but it wouldn't taste very

good if he did. By all rights, it should make him quite ill.

(Send your questions for Dear Tick to The Cup at jw32@cornell.edu)

""""""""" CUP QUOTES """"""""

"My 1999 Basin bird list total is still zero. But, hey, it's early! And, since

reading in Cayugabirds about all the Yard Birds that Ken Rosenberg is tallying

with his 60X scope from his bathroom window, I'm talking to some people at

Caltech who might be able to get me some 'unofficial' time with the Hubble

Telescope pointed down on the Cayuga Basin. (The average citizen is really not

supposed to do this, but these guys -- freshman computer hackers all -- are

GOOD.) 'I'll be seeing you, Ken!' Now I just have to find a field guide

that discusses ID'ing from above ..."

--Ralph Paonessa

"Total (which I guess is a David Cup total) for the end of April was 82.

My office list total for the end of April was 26. (I don't hang out the

window by my toes the way Steve Kelling does.)"

--Melanie Uhlir

"Stepped out of the house this morning to hear and then see a Great Crested

Flycatcher. Not a bad welcome to May!"

--Marty Schlabach

"Matt, Matt, Matt Williams and I took a cruise up to Summer Hill."

--Matt

"We need some new kind of raptor to contain this Matt population explosion

before these guys start jumping off the cliff at Aurora Bay!"

--Bill Evans

"I think they must be a flock of Matts, or perhaps Matt-Matts."

--Linda A. Clougherty

"There was a Winter Wren yesterday late afternoon on the west end of the

big pond in Sapsucker Woods. I'd not have seen it if it wasn't for a more

prompt than usual walk home en route to free ice cream at Ban & Jerry's.

Sorry, no flying saucers. Oh, and there's a Swamp Sparrow in the same area

of the Woods this morning too. Aside from that, it was a slow day for

birding in the woods.

--Wesley Hochachka

"I had a chance to really study the bird (a very lucky chance indeed as

usually you see MERLIN fly by as if it were late for something important).

I was able to see the faint moustache stripe (indicating it was of the Taiga

race), dark breast barring, and a black tail with thin buffy bands

(indicating it was either a female or immature). Then it suddenly flew

and I was able to see the checkered underwing. (I realized why it flew

away when I looked up to see Sam running from the pond as fast as

he could claiming he saw a UFO). About 20 minutes later the

MERLIN was back in the tree. h, and it wasn't a UFO afterall,

just a plane."

--Steve Kelling

"Tennessee Warbler: A drive-by singer on West Hill along Bundy Road, just

in some scrubby stuff. I heard a snatch of song as we sped by at 55, then

>backed up to confirm. Man, if I could only repeat that feat in the World

Series next week!"

--Kevin McGowan

"Come commiserate with fellow birders about warbler neck and other

avian-induced aches and pains tonight at the Cayuga Bird Club meeting--and

hear a most important talk relating to birds and conservation."

--Margaret Barker

"It's raining today. It often is when Jay and I decide to go birding."

--Kim Kline

"Where is everyone getting all these warblers? My guess is I was just too

early on a cold morning, and the sun hadn't had a chance to really warm

the area yet. Either that or I'm just cursed of late...ask Medler and

Young about that..."

--Matt Sarver

"Remember, it's peek migration time, SO GET OUT AND ENJOY THE BIRDS!!

It was a 24 warbler week for me, and with the right attitude and a good neck,

you too can see these lovely jewels from the tropics!"

--Matt Young

"In spite of the easy Worm-eater, I haven't been able to hit 20 West Danby

Warblers in one day yet; 19 yesterday, but today I'm stuck at just 17...

must be a poor year!"

--Geo Kloppel

May Your Cup Runneth Over

Allison and Jeff

Editors