Year 5, Issue 4
"Just a little drink from your loving cup,
Just a little drink and I fall down drunk."
-The Rolling Stones
Welcome to The Cup 5.4 for July (pertaining to that distant month of June). Why so late? Color me lazy. As Medler piled documents on my office desk, I yawned and chuckled to myself, " Sure, Matt, I'll get to work on that right away. Ho hum, I know I put my binoculars around here somewhere…. Why, they were right here three weeks ago." Then I became a victim of technology and the violence of nature: with only purfling and filigree left for Cup 5.4 my modem died one stormy Sunday evening as the crack of lightning rocked our house and zipped through unprotected phone lines. Darn. Two weeks and a new modem later, it still ain't right. Seems a bit ridiculous to be sending out 5.4 when 5.5 should be just around the corner. (Yeah, right). Anyway, it's here and I hope you enjoy.
THE DAVID CUP MUSIC/DANCE SCENE
Dance (and Bird) The Night Away
The corner of Fulton and State is not exactly an avian hotspot, but a few Sundays ago, it played host to an impressive collection of Cupper and non-Cupper birdwatchers and ornithologists. What event drew all the bird nerds to this unlikely spot? The Basin's first Eurasian Collared Dove, or some other mega rarity? Nope. It was Maxie's Shuck and Jive Jamboree, a benefit concert to raise money for the restoration of the State Theater.
The weather was a little gray (and chilly) at times, but the music was hot all day long, and so was the birdwatcher watching. Cup Editors Fambrough and Medler arrived on the scene early, shortly after noon, and quickly spotted former Cupper Andy Farnsworth, on hand to play with his band Mectapus (and to add to his "Stage List" of birds seen while performing on-stage). As we were catching up with Andy and comparing notes on the downtown avifauna, who should walk by but Tom Gavin, a Cornell professor who studies bird communities in Costa Rica. Our next sighting was of the Lab of O's very own André Dhondt, director of Bird Population Studies. Together with André was Cornell ecologist Dick Root, who has studied his share of birds over the years.
There was a little lull in the birderwatching for a while, but as Sunny Weather took the stage, all of a sudden Old Silvertop appeared. That's right- a Bill Evans sighting! And lo and behold, what might he be wearing but a Cup T-shirt! Ah, Mr. Evans, if only everyone could be as cool as you. Bill is back from another spring migration in Texas, but he seems to be a bit overwhelmed by the fast and furious Basin action this year (see Totals). Sunny Weather gave way to rainy weather, but that didn't keep 200 Club wannabe John Fitzpatrick from turning out to enjoy Mectapus and the rest of the Cup and Jive festivities. The person who showed the most potential as a future Cup contender, though, was Dr. Dhondt. Talk about endurance- André and his wife were still dancing away to the sounds of Sim Redmond Band and friends when the Editor-in-Chief and yours truly departed at 11 pm after a full day. (Editor's note: Andre and his wife were sighted more recently, groovin' to some Nigerian reggae at the Grassroots Festival. What a team!)
Hardcore Cuppers are undoubtedly thinking, "Forget about the music and the people. What about the birds?" Well, together, Andy, Bill, Ben, and I reached our goal of ten (count'em ten) birds: Ring-billed Gull, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Chimney Swift, American Crow, Barn Swallow, American Robin, European Starling, Common Grackle, and House Sparrow.
Remember Niall Hatch, the young Irish birder/law student who spent the 1997-1998 academic year at Cornell? While Niall never officially joined the David Cup, he's always been an honorary Cupper in my book, attending seemingly every Monday Night Seminar and Cayuga Bird Club field trip and meeting during his yearlong stay in the Basin. Following his graduation from Cornell, Niall joined Matt Sarver on an epic birding trip to Manitoba, and also managed to get in some birding out West before returning to his home in Dublin. He is currently working as a trainee lawyer with William Fry Solicitors, one of the largest commercial law firms in Ireland, and is due to qualify some time next year. Despite a heavy workload at times, Niall still manages to get out and do a little birding now and then. In fact, he just recently returned from an incredible trip that took him to South Africa, Australia, and Hong Kong. Here is an account from Niall of one of the "highlights" of this trip:
Most memorable of all, however, was the pelagic trip that I took out of the city of Wollongong. The boat goes out every month, and it is the most renowned pelagic in the world. Over the years ONE-THIRD of all of the world's seabird species have been seen from the boat, which is just a phenomenal statistic. As I think you can see from my trip list, I did pretty darn well with the tubenoses (Buller's Albatross was especially nice, as it is a real rarity in Australian waters, and a fine looking bird too boot). The boat, the "Sandra K," is a pretty small little trawler, only holding about 20 people in very cramped conditions, but this has its advantages, as the birds literally come close enough to touch.
It also has its disadvantages, because I have to say that the trip was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my entire life. Forget seasickness tablets, if they'd had cyanide tablets I would have taken them. As I said, the boat was tiny, and unfortunately the waves in the South Pacific Ocean are just the opposite. And we were stuck in the midst of them for 8 hours! Yes, you've guessed it, I was as sick as a dog. And so was everyone else. People who had gone on the trip every month for the past couple of decades said that they had never seen anything like it. I don't want to sound disgusting, but people were projectile vomiting all manner of bodily fluids all over the deck. I became totally drenched in vomit and bile and phlegm and mucus (what a pleasant image), most of which was not my own. Yet after about 2 hours I didn't care anymore. I was just crumpled up in a heap against the hull, clinging onto the railing. Then all the storage crates on the deck came loose and started flying about, inflicting not inconsiderable damage to my leg. And all the while there were fish guts and offal flying around in the air which, as you can imagine, only added to the joy of the trip. I'm proud to say that I didn't miss a single species seen that day; despite my physical state I managed to struggle to my feet, or at the very least to raise my head, every time someone saw something new flashing by the boat. Someone summed up the feeling perfectly; for the first 4 hours you're afraid that you're going to die, and for the second 4 hours you're afraid that you're not. As we headed back to the harbour the seas got REALLY rough, and I was sure the boat would capsize. I was lying up against the railings when every few minutes the boat would tip violently to one side, submerging my head and torso in the ocean. Quite a shock to the system, I can tell you, especially a very, very badly malfunctioning system. Still, at least it washed some of the other fluids off. For the last hour or so I began to feel better, and was eventually able to stand up. I was very pleased to get back onto dry land, and I assure you that I was not the only one.
Still, the birds were so outstanding that I'd probably do it again.
Written like a true Cupper!!! It looks like Niall might finally get the chance to join the David Cup fray, if only for a day, this September. He is keen on competing in the upcoming Montezuma Muckrace, and Team Matt is excited about having him join us as a fifth teammate. (In case you were wondering, the name "Niall" translates from the Irish to "Matt.") Although he is currently residing slightly out of the Cayuga Lake Basin, Niall does keep close tabs on the Ithaca birding scene, subscribing to Cayugabirds-L, and, of course, The Cup. If you remember Niall from his days at Cornell, and would like to say hi, he'd love to hear from you. Here's his e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
WE LOVE BILL EVANS
Oh yes it's true. We love Bill Evans. Bill Evans tolerates (with grace) a bit of fun at his expense in every single issue of The Cup. He is the greatest birder of all time. Bill Evans is a birding god! He towers over the rest of us. Bill, Bill, Bill. Tell us again about those nocturnal flight calls. Beckon us to Mt. Pleasant. Bill is the best thing next to sliced cheese (even melted St. Andre on crusty, toasted pain de compaigne). Bill knows how to find Dickcissel this autumn. Just ask him. It's not simply his supreme birding talent and super-knowledge; the guy can really boogie! Watching old Silvertop "get down" to the groovy sounds at the Maxie's benefit was inspiration for sure. And Bill proudly wears his Cup T-shirt when going out to boogie. Bill is probably laughing his butt off as he reads this. He is the hippest cat we know. Hooray for Bill Evans! Bill, Bill, Bill. We love Bill Evans.
(To learn how you can get your very own "We Love" tribute, contact the editors. Have your wallet ready.)
KNOW YOUR UPLAND GAME BIRDS
So you think you know your bird names? OK, so you're up on all the latest AOU changes- Northern Oriole back to Baltimore Oriole, Rufous-sided Towhee to Eastern Towhee, Solitary Vireo to Blue-headed Vireo- and most recently, Oldsquaw to Long-tailed Duck (finally!).You might even be a Eurosnob who recognizes British names like Slavonian Grebe, Goosander, and Arctic Skua for their American counterparts, Horned Grebe, Common Merganser, and Parasitic Jaeger. But, how are you when it comes to hunters' names for game birds? Would you have any idea what a hunter was talking about if he said that he had just bagged a bog sucker? Well, here's a chance to test your knowledge. Match each nickname in the right column with the appropriate name on the left (some birds have more than one nickname).
1. American Woodcock A. Bob
2. Common Snipe B. Bog Sucker
3. Gray Partridge C. Cotton Top
4. Northern Bobwhite D. Gobbler
5. Ruffed Grouse E. The Jack
6. Scaled Quail F. Old Ruff
7. Wild Turkey G. The Hun
8. Bill Evans H. Timber Doodle
I. Wood Chicken
To find out how you did, check out "The Compact Book of Upland Game Birds," published by the same people who brought us "The Compact Book of Small Game and Varmints," or scroll down to TRIVIA TIME to see the answers. No peeking!
Latent literary genius and Cupper Matt Sarver shares his thoughts on birds and poetry in a new Cup column. He writes, "What could be more appropriate for the renaissance men and women of the illustrious David Cup competition?"
By Matt Sarver
It's deep summer now, and the oft-cherished images of this time of year must certainly include porch swings, lemonade, an old banjo, and the sweet whistled notes of a whip-poor-will from somewhere on the back forty. But sadly, breeding whips have all but faded into the haze of nostalgia throughout our area. Long ago the subject of tales of witchcraft and devilry, and more recently a symbol (in song and literature) of the summer countryside, the whip-poor-will is invariably the topic of bird-related questions posed to me by older country folk back in southwestern Pennsylvania. "Where did the whip-poor-wills go? When I was young, I used to hear them here all the time!" It is no stretch to imagine a day in the not-so-distant future when these wonderful birds will once more be the stuff of lore and legend; though this time it will be due not to our ignorance, but to the birds' absence.
With this in mind, it is appropriate to revisit a poem that describes the bird in all its mystery, a poem that samples the legend, but ultimately dispels it in favor of recognition of familiarity. Many of you are no doubt familiar with the poet, famous for such passionately disturbed, almost macabre works as "Daddy," "Ariel" and "Lady Lazarus," and remembered for the unfortunate circumstances surrounding her death. I am referring, of course to Sylvia Plath, arguably one of the most brilliant, and most troubled poetic minds of the last century. The poem "Goatsucker" is one of her lesser-known works, written in 1959, four years before her death.
Old goatherds swear how all night long they hear
The warning whirr and burring of the bird
Who wakes with darkness and till dawn works hard
Vampiring dry of milk each great goat udder.
Moon full, moon dark, the chary dairy farmer
Dreams that his fattest cattle dwindle, fevered
By claw-cuts of the Goatsucker, alias Devil-bird,
Its eye, flashlit, a chip of ruby fire.
So fables say the Goatsucker moves, masked from men's sight
In an ebony air, on wings of witch cloth,
Well-named, ill-famed a knavish fly-by-night,
Yet it never milked any goat, nor dealt cow death
And shadows only - cave-mouth bristle beset &endash;
Cockchafers and the wan, green luna moth.
The most striking aspect of this poem is the careful labor with which Plath builds the folkloric image, (including the spell-casting sounds of "fattest cattle dwindle," and "warning whirr and burring") only to deconstruct myth with a brief, straightforward statement of fact. It is a method of description which dispels myth without disregarding it. The bird is clearly respected, indeed one might say exonerated, but its identity remains linked to the darkness with which it is both physically and metaphorically associated.
As a sort of response to Plath's poem, I recently penned a more or less unfinished poem, from the perspective of the prey item mentioned in the last line &endash; another mystical, nocturnal being (though, I apologize, not exactly a bird).
"Cave-mouth bristle beset" - not yet:
You keep your night-dance to yourself.
Your "wan green" is moonless gray,
And moonlit, white. Light wing-word flutter
Streamer-tailed, all crepe, plumose
Antennae, tiny and fine black diamond
Eyes (dark bowers of rivulet, the loins
of poplar-lined ridges), silently ornamenting
The rose-cane's droop, or bizarre
Alien to the warm wall of
The garage-light glow.
From beneath - eyes and beak:
The delicate pastel mask of a lady
in fancy dress.
Fat-bodied, slim-legged, ornate
wing-eyed kite of the wood lot.
You dance when
you should glide.
© 2000 Matt Sarver
NEXT MONTH: More on the fascinating Whip-poor-will, with poetry by Donald Hall, Dylan Thomas, a 19th-century song, and more! Look for more dusk songsters in upcoming months, as we will focus on thrushes, solitude, and the self in the works of Keats, Hardy, Whitman, etc. Until next time, keep your bins 'round your neck, and your pen in your pocket!
Few people are aware that Jimi Hendrix was an avid birder. One of his most well known songs is about the extinction of a North American bird species. Name the song and the bird.
How's your Quebecois? There is a bird they call "Fou-de-Bassan," literally "fools of the basin." Can you guess this bird's common name?
While you ponder these trivia questions, see how well you did with Medler's Game Bird Quiz. Here are the answers.
1. American Woodcock = Bog Sucker (B), Timber Doodle (H)
2. Common Snipe = The Jack (E)
3. Gray Partridge = The Hun (G)
4. Northern Bobwhite = Bob (A)
5. Ruffed Grouse = Old Ruff (F), Wood Chicken (I)
6. Scaled Quail = Cotton Top (C)
7. Wild Turkey = Gobbler (D)
Answers to the other trivia questions: The Hendrix classic Little Wing is about the extinction of the Great Auk. He used the English translation of the bird's Inuit name, Isarukitsck, which means little wing. "Fou-de-Bassan" is the Quebecois for Northern Gannet.
!!!!!!!!!! HIGHLIGHTS !!!!!!!!!!
Our Highlights editor called in sick this month. Never mind that he's living out of state. We wish him speedy recovery. Please come back soon, Mr. Williams. Save me from this daunting task!
Were there any highlights? Were there any lights at all? Perhaps I'm in the dark. I suppose a few "blockheads" were out gathering atlas data (talk about squares!). Take a moment to ponder that highlights need not be rarities, unusual or unusually good finds. May I rhapsodize about Black Terns? One sunny June afternoon a few of us watched six or seven of these beauties fish Tschache Pool. Observing their slow flight on steady wing beats, the subtle change in hues as the gray darkened and lightened under the angle of the sun, the graceful dips to Tschache's glassy surface as we watched them at close range. Now that's a highlight. Of course, I suppose one might mention the breeding plumage Sanderlings at Myer's and points north. Or both bitterns at Montezuma's Main Pool. Or even the return of that stoinker, the Red-headed Woodpecker, missing last year from our hollowed ground. Or even the Baird's, which I claim to have seen on the flats off Van Dyne-Spoor. Hey, what did you expect?
(Hey Fambrough--What did we expect? How about a complete understanding of the word "highlight?" While admiring the subtle beauty of Black Terns at Tschache, did you happen to forget about the second Loggerhead Shrike of the season? Now there's a highlight!)
Knock, knock. Howdy, howdy. Meena was the only Cupper to join this month. Good for her and shame on the rest of you. Now 10 of us are playing in the party room.
Allison's 200th bird: HA HA HA HA HA!
"...churning and burning they yearn for the cup..." (Cake)
June 2000 David Cup Totals
231 Geo Kloppel
224 Ben Fambrough
223 Tom Nix
219 Matt Williams
215 Chris Tessaglia-Hymes
212 Matt Medler
211 Kevin McGowan
208 Jay McGowan
207 Chris Butler
207 Meena Haribal
197 Ken Rosenberg
195 Jeff Wells
190 Allison Wells
187 Matt Young
178 Bard Prentiss
178 Melanie Uhlir
167 Anne Kendall
165 John Fitzpatrick
148 Marty Schlabach
147 Nancy Dickinson
122 Jon Kloppel
122 Jim Lowe
122 Tringa McGowan
99 Catherine Sandell
78 Swift the Cat
75 Perri McGowan
0 Bill Evans
June 2000 McIlroy Award Totals
151 Chris Butler
143 Kevin McGowan
133 Jay McGowan
122 Ken Rosenberg
122 Allison Wells
117 Matt Williams
110 Jeff Wells
109 Jim Lowe
0 Bill Evans
June 2000 Evans Trophy Totals
194 Ken Rosenberg
167 Kevin McGowan
164 Jay McGowan
155 Bard Prentiss
130 John Fitzpatrick
124 Ken Rosenberg
118 McGowan/Kline Family
97 Geo Kloppel and Pat Lia
91 Nancy Dickinson
68 Tom Fredericks and family
59 Melanie Uhlir
44 Jeff and Allison Wells
36 Melanie Uhlir
22 Allison Wells
146 Matt Williams
134 Kevin McGowan
COMPOSITE DEPOSIT AND LEADER'S LIST
After a lengthy vacation, the Composite Deposit and Leader's List are back, in a slightly different format than in the past. The return of these beloved lists also marks a momentous event in the history of The Cup--our first foray onto that new-fangled World Wide Web. To view what's been seen and heard in the Basin this year, as well as what (if anything) our leader hasn't seen, click on the following link:
THE CUP TALKS TO MCILROY LEADER CHRIS BUTLER
Back in the old days of The Cup, the McIlroy Award seemed to hold a place of honor approaching, if not equal to, that of the David Cup. Whether or not this had something to do with the fact that the former editor (and perennial McIlroy leader) couldn't quite keep pace with the Basin Big Boys, we don't know; we do know, however, that the competition has fallen on hard times recently. Even so, we would like to recognize the McIlroy Award and its current leader, at least for one month (if for no other reason than to interview somebody besides Geo).
The Cup: Glad you can join us for an interview. First of all, who the heck are you???
Butler: The name is Bond. James Bond. I am a secret agent for Her Majesty's government. My job is to routinely foil nefarious deeds in order to protect the free world. I also write field guides to Caribbean birds on the side. However, in order to protect my secret identity, I hide behind the mild-mannered persona of Chris Butler, a recent Cornell graduate.
The Cup: Chris, I can't help you, but we might find someone in social services. Weren't you the guy who confirmed the Armitage Loggerhead Shrike right after it was first discovered?
Butler: Yes. After first discovering it, I slammed on the brakes and put the car in reverse in order to go back and confirm it.
The Cup: Have you ever done any bird art?
Butler: Why, yes, funny you should ask that. One day in kindergarten, the teacher gave us a page full of birds to color in. I knew that Blue Jays were blue, and Cardinals were red, but what color were Goldfinches?
The Cup: You figured out Blue Jay, but not Goldfinch?
Butler: The teacher explained that Goldfinches were yellow, which seemed like a boring color to me. So I colored them pink with purple polka dots. Walking back from the bus that gray afternoon…
The Cup: (nice, keeping with the color theme)
Butler: …I flushed a flock of goldfinches from the hedgerow at the edge of the yard. As they flew off over the house, there was a break in the clouds, and the sun made those goldfinches glow like miniature suns. It was a beautiful sight, and it made a deep impression on my young mind. I decided then and there that I wanted to study birds for the rest of my life (as long as it didn't conflict with my secret agent lifestyle!)
The Cup: What a sweet story.
Butler: Now would be a good time to ask me my favorite color.
The Cup: I wasn't planning on it.
Butler: It's Blue.
The Cup: Blue like the blue of….
The Cup: Nevermind. So you decided to dedicate your life to birds?
Butler: Ultimately, I hope to become a professor of ornithology somewhere. I have discovered that I really enjoy both research and teaching. I was a Teaching Assistant for Field Biology last fall and helped TA the Conservation of Birds class this spring. It was very exciting to watch the metaphorical light bulb go on over a student's head once they grasped a concept, and it was a constant challenge to answer their questions. I think that I learned more from teaching Field Biology than when I took it! Being a professor of ornithology would enable me to combine the best of both worlds - I could combine my love for research with my love for teaching.
The Cup: We've noticed your infrequent posts. They seem to carry a sort of blasé attitude about birds. You mention almost off hand about, say, Golden Eagle in Dryden or Virginia Rail and Sora at the airport ponds. What's up with that? Are you really so good that these birds are incidental?
Butler: I wish! The truth of the matter is that life as a secret agent quickly deadens you to the exciting things in life. After preventing a nuclear holocaust for the second time that week, hearing a Virginia Rail at the airport ponds is interesting but not necessarily a cause for widespread celebration. In addition, the case of senioritis I developed over the last year might have had some effect too. Although I am always very psyched about finding interesting birds, I sometimes have trouble communicating that excitement to others. Finally, I think that most of the birds that I reported this spring were not actually that uncommon. I typically see one or two Golden Eagles each year and the rails can usually be found in areas with sufficient cattail cover. There's a lot of excellent birders in the Basin who turn up some really good stuff (e.g. King Eider, Western Meadowlark, Dickcissel, etc.) and I am unsure if people really want to hear about my less-exciting birds. Kristie (my girlfriend) is the driving force behind my posts. Whenever I see something interesting, she urges me to post it. If it weren't for her, my posts would be a lot more infrequent!
The Cup: Good for her! Well, yadda, yadda, yadda...you're McIlroy leader for a month or two. Not much competition this year, huh? Were you even trying or did it just work out that way?
Butler: Early in the year, Kristie and I sat down with maps of the Ithaca area, and planned how to tick the most birds this year. No factor was left out of our consideration, and we put together a list of which birds should be present at which times. No, I'm just kidding. It just sort of happened. Since Allison Wells moved out of the area, somebody else had to be in the front and I guess that person was me.
The Cup: Your're doing pretty well for not even trying. How does it feel to be leading a second rate birding competition?
Butler: It feels GREAT! I'm Number One! Go Team Go! Yahoo!
The Cup: Rumor has it that Bill Evans is going to make a McIlroy rush when he gets back. Comments?
Butler: Finally! Some competition! He's a pretty good birder for an old guy, and that should make this into a real McCompetition.
The Cup: You'll be back for a short time, I understand? Think you can tick enough species to hold the McIlroy lead for the year?
Butler: Yup, I'll be back on July 17th and will remain in Ithaca till early October.
As to whether or not I can tick enough species. I don't know. I missed the last half of spring migration and the start of summer, which are the best times to add birds in a hurry. I might be able to, but it's kind of iffy.
The Cup: Will you be around for the Muckrace?
Butler: I'm not sure. I'm going to be the best man at a friend's wedding back in Oregon on September 9th, and I don't know if I'll be back in time for the Muckrace. I'd love to do it again this year though. It's a lot of fun.
The Cup: Whatcha been doing up there in Minnesota?
Butler: Battling hordes of ravenous insects, extricating myself from deep, gooey bogs, and trying not to freeze to death. Oh, and seeing lots of neat boreal birds. The Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota has been conducting 1600+ point counts each year for the past ten years in northern Minnesota. The six people on the crew would each go to a different area, re-find the points, and then visit the points early next morning to count all the birds they could find in a ten minute period. Then we would move on to another area. The field season was a bit of a blur, as we would stay in a different hotel nearly every night. It was a lot of fun though. There were a lot of neat mammals in addition to neat birds - I saw Gray Wolf (and heard them on my point counts), Moose, Pine Marten, Fisher, and Black Bear. The terrain was also pretty interesting. I'm used to seeing deciduous forest in the lowlands and coniferous forest at higher elevations. However, Minnesota is very flat, and so the forests were determine more by soil composition than by elevation. It was interesting to go from a mixed Sugar Maple/Basswood forest into a Black Spruce/Tamarack forest without first ascending a mountain.
The Cup: Got any life birds? How does birding there compare to birding in the basin?
Butler: Well, most of the forests that we were in were similar to those found in upstate New York with Ovenbirds and Red-eyed Vireos predominating. However, nearly a fifth of the forests we sampled were bogs, with all the associated boreal birds. I found several Boreal Chickadees, Black-backed Woodpeckers, Gray Jays, two singing Connecticut Warblers, and loads of Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I also found two Spruce Grouse, one of which had chicks. Finally, towards the end of the season, White-winged Crossbills started moving into the area. During my last morning of the field season, I counted fifteen of them. Five were adult males singing from the tops of the trees! A good way to end the field season. I found four lifers this summer. I got my life Golden-winged Warbler (a bird that had proved maddeningly elusive in the Basin) in a clear-cut in northern Minnesota, my life Sharp-tailed Grouse in the Moquah Barrens of northern Wisconsin (near Minnesota), my life LeConte's Sparrow singing along an unmarked dirt road near McGregor, MN, and my life Spruce Grouse in the Superior National Forest near the Canadian border. Overall, the birds seemed to be somewhat more patchy in their distribution in northern Minnesota than they are in New York. However, once you found a patch that the birds liked, there were so many that it was difficult to count them all.
Interestingly, everyone on the crew was very excited at the prospect of discovering a singing Black-throated Blue Warbler. They are a very local species in northern Minnesota. In contrast, Mourning Warblers (which are pretty local in the Basin) were very common.
The Cup: Aren't you going to Oxford in the fall? You'll be with all those European birders. Have you been before?
Butler: Yup. I'll be headed over to Oxford on October 6th, to begin work on my doctorate. I'm going to be studying puffins under Dr. Christopher Perrins. The Atlantic Puffin population is increasing off of northern England, remaining stable off of the middle part of England, and decreasing off of southern England and France. There has been some speculation that there may have been a change in the ocean currents, shifting the colder water (with the preferred prey species) closer to shore off of northern England, and moving further offshore by southern England. I'd like to try to determine if this is the case, and if so, what it might mean for puffin conservation in England. I visited Oxford last fall for an interview, and was really impressed with the campus. It's a really beautiful place with a strong sense of history. Parts of the town date back to the eighth century, which is pretty sobering, considering that our country is only a couple of centuries old. The people that I met there all seemed very nice and were extremely polite, although I didn't meet any of the local birders.
The Cup: We hope you have a great time. Anything you'd like to add while you've got the spotlight?
Butler: Yes, two things. One of the guys that I worked with this summer spent a field season working on the Po'ouli in Hawaii in 1997. The Po'ouli was just discovered in 1972, and the population of this endemic species is now down to just three individuals. Unfortunately, the remaining male and the two females all occupy separate territories, and so it doesn't look like there will be any baby Po'oulis produced anytime soon. Anyway, this appears to be the only picture taken of this species, and I'll be putting it up on my Birds of the World website towards the end of this week. If anyone's interested, take a look at: http://www.es.cornell.edu/winkler/botw/birds.html Click on "Families", and then scroll down till you see "Drepanididae" (Hawaiian Honeycreepers). The Po'ouli picture should be up there. On a lighter note, the second thing that I wanted to add was how much I've enjoyed the David Cup and the McIlroy Cup competition over the past three years. These competitions have gotten me to go birding far more often than I might have done otherwise. In the process, I've seen a lot of neat birds and met a lot of fascinating people, and I'll really miss both when I head overseas this fall.
The Cup: Amen, brother. We'll miss you. Get those David Cup ticks before October 6th. Thanks a bunch for stopping by.
"I got to thinking about how many warbler species breed in the vicinity of West Danby. I came up with the following list of 19 known regulars:"
"As for Myers, the White-rumped Sandpiper there was incredibly cooperative, actually approaching us to within a distance of 5-8 yards. There can't be a better place to really see and enjoy shorebirds than at Myers!"
"I ran up to Myer's point this evening to see if anything else had turned up in this wind. Although, by the time I got there it was almost dark, it was easy to see the two terns on the gravel bar at the town park. I was only able to stare at them for about twenty seconds before they decided that they didn't like the looks of me, and took off."
"I have three different pairs of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks coming to my feeder all day long (sometimes all at once!). Somewhere in the woods nearby are three different nests with young getting fat on sunflower seeds. Makes me feel like I'm in the business of growing grosbeaks!"
"I was watering my Fushia this morning. I had paused to let the bit of water sink in and a male Hummer came by to sip from the flowers, not 10 inches away from my face."
"One person had a telescope which once set to some particular star, say Polaris, then with help of laptop computer, you can track any star. You just point your mouse to the star you want to see and there it follows that star. No actually he did have to do corrections. Any thanks goes to Mike for having this wonderful set up and I could look at these. So I was thinking how about something like that in birding. You can tell computer that you want to see say a Bobolink. Some how computer, takes you to that spot with help of satellites and cameras where Bobolinks are and then you can simply zoom in on Bobolink on your
screen sitting in front of your computer. Won't that be fun? No I guess not, I would be out with my 10X."
FAREWELL FRIEND: The Cup bids farewell to longtime Cupper Anne Kendall. By this time she is down in Florida ticking new species for her life list. Take care, Anne.
<><><><><><> EDITORS' CORNER <><><><><><>
Editor-in-chief and Food and Beverage Director: Ben Fambrough
Senior and Contributing Editor: Matt Medler
Contributing Editor (on leave): Matt Williams
Literary Critic: Matt Sarver
Editor Emeritus: Allison Wells