Year 7, Issue 2

***************************************************************** *^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^ *The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competitions. * Editor-in-Chief: Matt Medler * Basin Bird Highlights: Susan Barnett * Waxwing Poetic: Eric Banford * Head of Zymurgy: Kevin McGowan ****************************************************************** Welcome to a very special Valentine edition of The Cup! Oh sure, in the real world, Easter might be just around the corner, but in the world of The Cup, we're still somewhere back in February. And what better why to conjure up images of February than by writing about The Cup's own sweetheart? Who might that be, you ask? Perhaps the so- called guru, Bill "Silvertop" Evans? Please! Granted, long-time readers of The Cup might remember a certain "We Love Bill Evans" piece from two summers ago, but that was written by former Editor-in-Chief Ben Fambrough. Ben is a wonderful guy, but let's face it--he has terrible taste in birders. I mean, just look at his regular birding companions while he was in the Basin. No, this Valentine's Day, The Cup is quite smitten with somebody else, somebody who has brought new meaning to the expression "From Russia with love." That's right--The Cup is in love with Steve Kelling. We just can't get enough of the guy! We can almost hear the jealous whispers already. "Just because Kelling found two new species for the Cayuga Lake Basin in two months doesn't mean that he's anything special." Well, finding New York State's second-ever Long-billed Murrelet at Stewart Park in December 2001 and then following it up with a sighting of the state's third Slaty-backed Gull at the Seneca Meadows Landfill in late February certainly *is* something special, but there's so much more to Steve than that. The man is a visionary. Look at the major developments in the Ithaca birding community in the past decade--the Loon Watch, Cayugabirds-L, BasinBirds, the Ithaca June Count, and, of course, the David Cup--and guess who was a contributor, if not the key player, in all of them. Kelling. What's next from this great birding mind? DIC. That is, Digital Image Cooperative, an attempt to create a central repository for the burgeoning number of digiscope images on the Web. The man is simply ahead of his time. And did we mention that he even drives a great Swedish car!? Steve Kelling, will you be The Cup's Valentine? @ @ @ @ @ @ NEWS, CUES, and BLUES @ @ @ @ @ @ BIRDING WITH THE MANN: Did you know that the Mann is a birder? The Mann Library, that is. Perhaps due to the influence of Cayuga Bird Club bigwig, former Cupper, and librarian extraordinaire Marty Schlabach, Mann Library (a.k.a. "The Mann") is a very birdy place these days. Walking into The Mann recently, I was greeted by a poster of a classic Roger Tory Peterson "bird silhouette" plate on an easel in the entranceway. As I studied the poster, I noticed that the plover on the ground had a noticeable crest. "What a second--that's a Lapwing! And the bird up on the wire is a Bee-eater!" That's right--bird silhouettes, European-style. Around the corner, in display cases, are a number of different field guides for mammals, insects, etc. And there, in the center of the action, is the grandfather of them all, Roger Tory Peterson's original "Field Guide to The Birds." It looks a little different than what we expect from our modern field guides, but Peterson's original waterfowl plates featured in the showcase would work just fine out on Cayuga Lake today. In fact, on a few occasions now I've spied wannabe Cupper Correen Seacord studying the original Peterson on display, no doubt preparing for her sleek dive into David Cup waters. Upstairs on the third floor of the new Mann, overlooking the woods that remain between the library and Beebe Lake, there is a little "Birders' Corner," complete with a pair of Eagle binoculars and a few modern field guides. The most noteworthy bird of note during an early March "study session" in that area of The Mann was an American Crow with nesting material, but I think the spot has potential come spring migration. I saw my life Blackburnian and Nashville Warblers in this patch of woods, so I have high hopes for seeing some migrant warblers from this observation area in mid-May. How about a stunning Cape May Warbler at eye level in one of the grand old hemlocks? WELCOME TO THE CUP CLAN: The Cup is very pleased to welcome five more birders to the 2002 David Cup family: Rachel Rosenberg, Anne James- Rosenberg, Anne Marie Johnson, Tim Johnson, and finally, The Cup's version of a September call-up in baseball, Eric Banford, who submitted a David Cup total at the very end of 2001, but who is still officially a Cup rookie this year. (More on these new Cuppers next month, when we roll out the red carpet for a more formal Cup welcome.) Eric Banford is also the man who, following in the distinctly different footsteps of Karl David and Matt Sarver, is bringing both puns and poetry back to The Cup, with his new column, "Waxwing Poetic." WAXWING POETIC Compiled by Eric Banford "In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous." - Aristotle Welcome to Waxwing Poetic, the newest addition to our beloved Basin birding newsletter. With this column, I hope to create an outlet for local writers of bird/nature related poetry, prose, short stories, and other creative writing. We’ve seen plenty of poetic posts to Cayugabirds-L; I’m hoping that this column will become a forum for our collective muses to wax poetic about the things that we love. If you would like to contribute, please send your submissions to eric.banford@cornell.edu. I will choose a few for inclusion in each edition of The Cup. For this first column, I want to share a poem by Caissa Willmer. Caissa is a sometime playwright and freelance journalist. She’s been writing about theater and other odds and ends for the Ithaca Times for over twenty years, and has had several short plays produced. She came to birding via Steve Kress's marvelous Spring Field Ornithology course, almost 20 years ago, and took it three years running! Currently, Caissa is the editor of the Cayuga Bird Club Newsletter. Enjoy! Eric Watching a Great Blue Heron Miss-a-Fish Then Get One by Caissa Willmer Stalking Lethal as a cat On legs like slender high-society arms Black kid gloves just past the elbow Torso describing a fluid horizontal line, Cat-low, Heron-high, but with the menacing addition Of a serpent neck, coiling and uncoiling, Preparing to spring. This heron, Picking its way through shallows, Errs in getting too far past a small obstruction in the swiftly running water. A passing fish is momentarily grounded there Flip, flop, The heron turns The fish arches free And then a smaller, more hapless fish is speared. The heron hesitates, Eyeing its catch held crosswise in its bill, Tosses it, tail high, Head heading gulletwards. The bird dips its beak delicately into the stream as into a finger bowl, Then dips again and sips to help the meal go down. Once more a stalking stance, recoil of neck, and then Flash of gray-blue and spiffy white. A kingfisher beats the heron to the next, sweet, silvery portion. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> February 2002 David Cup Totals 106 Kevin McGowan 103 Jay McGowan 98 Pete Hosner 95 Steve Kelling 88 Tim Lenz 84 Jesse Ellis 84 Ken Rosenberg 78 Jeff Gerbracht 78 Matt Medler 76 Dan Lebbin 75 Mike Andersen 70 Eric Banford 70 Allison Wells 68 Anne Marie Johnson 66 Jeff Wells 63 Tim Johnson 62 Meena Haribal 56 Anne James-Rosenberg 56 Jon Kloppel 40 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan 36 Rachel Rosenberg 23 Martin (the Cat) McGowan 14 Matt Williams Jay McGowan's 100th Bird: Slaty-backed Gull (But, "Don't be resentful," he says) Sign hanging on the 100 Club door: McGowans Only! February 2002 McIlroy Award Totals 60 Kevin McGowan 58 Jay McGowan 57 Jai Balakrishnan 55 Tim Lenz 43 Matt Medler 43 Ken Rosenberg 29 Allison Wells 13 Matt Williams February 2002 Evans Trophy Totals 64 Jay McGowan 64 Kevin McGowan 54 Ken Rosenberg February 2002 Yard Totals 38 Rosenberg Family 28 McGowan/Kline Family 23 Anne Marie and Tim Johnson !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! KICKIN' TAIL! ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Kickin' Tail interview is traditionally reserved for a conversation with the leader of the David Cup or McIlroy Award competitions (or, if we're really desperate for material, the top dog in the Evans Trophy race), but since we just interviewed Kevin McGowan last month, and we all really know that Jay McGowan is the mastermind behind the McGowan's winter birding success, The Cup decided to sit down for a chat with Jay this month. THE CUP: Keeping with the theme of this issue, what do you love most about Steve Kelling? Is it his ability to find rare birds, the fact that he seems to call your house first when he finds those rarities, or is it perhaps some other classic Kelling characteristic? JAY: Steve is a great guy. Need I say more? It is hard to pick one thing that I like best about him, but lately it is undoubtedly his ability to pick out rare birds. You may not know it, but Steve (with his sons Taylor and Sam) was the one who suggested the "100 in January" idea, and it was only his going out of town at the end of the month that let Kevin meet the goal and take the credit. With the Long-billed Murrelet and the Slaty-backed Gull, I think Steve Kelling deserves to win the David Cup this year. THE CUP: I received the latest Cayuga Bird Club newsletter last week, and enjoyed your article on the Slaty-backed Gull. Pete Hosner, who was still a little "disappointed" at not seeing the bird, tried to shred your article upon seeing it, but I managed to wrestle the newsletter away from him and read more about your experience with the one-day Basin wonder. In your article, you noted that Steve seems to have a thing for Siberian birds. What vagrant do you think he should discover next? I hear he's taking requests. JAY: I should hope so. It seems to me that a Brambling is in order...how about a stint of some sort? Or a Bar-tailed Godwit would do just fine. Maybe in the fall. THE CUP: OK, enough about Kelling, at least for a little while. Let's talk about your birding. You and your dad have really been lighting things up the past two months. Now how is it that it was your idea to make the big push for 100 in January, and then your father is the one to gets to revel in the Big January glory (which, we might add, is quite fleeting. Just ask Tom Nix.)? He isn't "adjusting" your totals again, is he? JAY: No, I’m afraid not. Although we did most of our January birding together, Dad got a couple of birds on me before we made our big push for 100. And, despite my efforts to boost my totals by birding Beam Hill, I couldn’t get anything that he didn’t have. So I was stuck at 98. But I am still very happy with that number. THE CUP: Your father mentioned last month that you'll be turning 16 later this year. When is the big day? JAY: July 5th. It’s so nice that everyone celebrates my birthday with fireworks! THE CUP: Yes, I hear they've been doing that for over two hundred years, just for your birthday. THE CUP: Have you started studying for your driver's permit test yet? I think Mike Andersen just got his permit, so you might be able to ask him about some of the test questions. Are you excited about getting your permit and driver's license as quickly as possible? Most people think you'll be able to drive off with the David Cup in 2003 if you have your license by then. JAY: Not as much as you might think. Although I am looking forward to being able to check Dryden Lake without having to plead with my mother, getting my permit is not a huge priority for me. But I guess I will have to start studying soon. THE CUP: Speaking of studying, I'm interested in talking with you in detail some time about your home studies. From a Cup perspective, I'm curious about how much birding freedom being home schooled gives you. If you were in the middle of a lesson, and Steve Kelling called to say that he had a Rainbow-billed Barking-Duck at Myers Point, could you convince your mother to continue the lesson after chasing the barking- duck, or would you have to finish the lesson first, and then race off to Myers? JAY: Home-schooling gives me a lot of flexibility about when I go birding. If there was a rare bird somewhere near at hand, I would be able to go and see it, provided my mother was willing to drive me there. THE CUP: How do you see the rest of the David Cup year shaping up? First, when are you going to make your move and blow past your old man? The two of you are setting the standard so far, but it's still very early in the year. Can you keep up the pace for the whole year? And who do you see as prime contenders for the David Cup throne? It pains me to say this, but I think Pete Hosner is dangerous. JAY: Do you think so? I suppose he’s a possibility. I have heard that everyone’s favorite, Steve Kelling, might make a push for the David Cup title. And if he can keep finding incredible rarities at the rate he’s going, he might have it in the bag. And as I said before, he deserves to win. But who knows? With so many new and avid Cuppers, the outcome of this year’s race is very uncertain. Remember in 1998, Geo Kloppel was in the lead. Then, from out of nowhere, someone named Matt Young entered the scene, and ended up taking the Cup! And the next year, 1999, Matt Young was in the lead at the end of every single month, without exception. Speaking of that, I was going through old issues of The Cup to see who had been in the lead each month. There have been only 13 different people at the top since 1996. Geo Kloppel had the most leads with 15. Next was Matt Young, with 14. Tom Nix had 11 (mostly Januaries) and both Kevin McGowan and Matt Williams had 8. It is interesting to note that a certain Cup editor has only been in the lead once, despite being one of the major Cuppers in the David Cup all of its 6 years. But then, I haven’t been in the lead even once, so maybe I shouldn’t criticize him. THE CUP: No, you probably shouldn't, especially if you want to have this interview continue. Or perhaps you'd like to become the new Cup whipping boy. We're still accepting applications, you know. THE CUP: We're a little short on funds here at The Cup these days, so we can't hire a full-time coach for the Coach's Corner. Could you provide some April advice for all those rookie Cuppers out there, so that they might stand a chance against Tringa the Dog and Martin the Cat? I hear that Tim Lenz is having nightmares about getting beat out by Tringa. JAY: Well, the real secret to spring is just to be outside. In the winter and summer, you can go and chase other people’s birds and occasionally find something, but in the spring it doesn’t work to just go after reports. You just have to get out a LOT. Otherwise, in the words of Tringa, "Woof." But seriously, I think quantity is the key to April success. That and knowing good places to spend your time. THE CUP: Speaking of your pets, inquiring Cuppers want to know: how do you arrive at their totals? You don't just make them up, like Jesse Ellis does with his, do you? JAY: Of course not! We count only things that they actually see (such as a flock of turkeys crossing the driveway), things that they are looking at and could see, and things that they hear. Both Tringa and Martin are very good ear birders. THE CUP: Since you're not actually in the lead this month, I'm not going to ask you the traditional first-time leader questions. I'm sure that I'll be asking you them soon enough. But, I do have two more questions for you. If you were to add a modifier to your name and become a different species of Corvid, what would it be? Blue, Green, Brown, Azure-winged, White-throated Magpie-, Gray, Siberian...? JAY: Probably Florida Scrub-. My father was working with Scrub-Jays in Florida when I was born. I was (sort of) named for them. THE CUP: Is your sister Perri's middle name "soreus" by any chance? THE CUP: Oh, one final thing. Can you do us all a big favor and beat Ken Rosenberg for the Evans Trophy this year? JAY: I would very much like to. Ken is getting too complacent about his Dryden superiority. Have a good spring! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ COMPOSITE DEPOSIT Five new species of birds were seen in February, bringing the Composite Deposit total to 125 species for the year. Last year at the end of February, only 110 species had been detected by birders, with just three new species being added during the year's shortest month. Here is the list of all 125 species seen in the Cayuga Lake Basin in 2002: Common Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, EARED GREBE, D-c Cormorant, American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Tundra Swan, Mute Swan, Greater W-f Goose, Snow Goose, Brant, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, G-w Teal, American Black Duck, Mallard, N Pintail, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, L-t Duck, Surf Scoter, W-w Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, R-b Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Bald Eagle, N Harrier, S-s Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, N Goshawk, R-s Hawk, R-t Hawk, R-l Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, American Coot, Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, Dunlin, Common Snipe, American Woodcock, R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser B-b Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great B-b Gull, SLATY-BACKED GULL, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, E Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, L-e Owl, S-e Owl, N Saw-whet Owl, Belted Kingfisher, R-b Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, N Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, N Shrike, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Common Raven, Horned Lark, B-c Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, Winter Wren, G-c Kinglet, E Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, N Mockingbird, European Starling, American Pipit, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Cedar Waxwing, Y-r Warbler, E Towhee, American Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, N Cardinal, R-w Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, Common Grackle, B-h Cowbird, Pine Grosbeak, Purple Finch, House Finch, W-w Crossbill, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak, House Sparrow. LEADER'S MISS LIST Kevin managed to pick up six new species in February, but there are still 19 species that he is looking to tick off his Basin checklist: Red-necked Grebe, American Bittern, Greater White-fronted Goose, Brant, Wood Duck, Merlin, Ring-necked Pheasant, Lesser Yellowlegs, Common Snipe, American Woodcock, Long-eared Owl, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, Eastern Towhee, White-crowned Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird, Purple Finch. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< < COACH'S CORNER < < <<<<<<<<<<<<<< < < < < < < < < In today's world of high-tech Cupping, it's not enough for a Cup Coach to be armed simply with a whistle (yes, that is a whistle above, courtesy of Allison Wells). As part of my never-ending quest to provide active Cuppers with the best coaching advice available at 11 pm the night before The Cup's strict deadline, I have acquired a powerful new tool: Bill Ostrander's database of bird sightings from The Kingbird's Region 3 (which includes most of the Basin). Bill has kindly provided me with a copy of the spreadsheet that he has created by scouring Cayugabirds over the past 3+ years, and even though this is going to make me sound like a computer geek, I'm really excited about the database. Are you wondering when and where to look for Little Gull this spring? I present to you now some key species to look for in late March and April, *after* receiving this issue of The Cup. I like to call them "Birds on the Horizon." RED-NECKED GREBE: While there have been a few reports of this big grebe this winter, April is definitely the prime-time viewing period for this gorgeous waterbird. Reports of Red-necked Grebes from the past three springs are scattered throughout the month, with reports ranging from April 1 to April 29. (And, for good measure, Kevin and Jay McGowan had three birds on May 1, 2000.) So where should you go to look for this bird? Red-necked Grebes can be spied from any major vantage point (Stewart Park, Myers Point, Long Point SP) along Cayuga Lake, but the classic spot for seeing this bird is at Dryden Lake, as part of a "Dryden Lake Effect." So are you mumbling to yourself, "What the @#$%! is the Dryden Lake Effect?" I'm no meteorologist, but here's my explanation: an evening in April begins with favorable conditions for migration, so waterbirds like Red-necked Grebe fly northward. But, at some point in the night, a cold front moves into the area, knocking birds out of the sky, and onto the nearest available body of water. In practical terms, this means that you should check Dryden Lake on cold, rainy, miserable mornings. You could well be rewarded with great looks at a stunning Red-necked Grebe in breeding plumage. LONG-TAILED DUCK: A pair of Long-tailed Ducks that touched down on Dryden Lake on March 16 provided a sneak preview of things to come there in April. Long-tailed Duck is another classic Dryden Lake Effect bird, but unlike Red-necked Grebe and Surf and White-winged Scoters (two other Dryden Lake Effect birds), which tend to linger at Dryden Lake for an entire day, it has been my experience that Long-tailed Ducks will often land on Dryden Lake early in the morning, but then be gone later in the afternoon. While Bill Ostrander's database includes Long-tailed Duck records from throughout April (and even one from early May), most of the reports are clustered in the first half of the month. Dryden Lake often provides the best conditions for viewing this beautiful "stoinker," but as might be expected, these birds can also be found on Cayuga Lake. Last year on April 1, Matt Williams, Jessica Eberhard, Kyle Harms and I spotted a group of 58 Long-tailed Ducks in a variety of plumages out in the middle of Cayuga Lake. (No foolin'.) COMMON TERN and FORSTER'S TERN: Despite its name, Common Tern is not an especially common bird in the Cayuga Lake Basin, nor is its relative, Forster's Tern. And, to make matters worse for Cuppers, these species tend to be "here one minute and gone the next" birds. Charlie Smith's Average Arrival Dates list gives the average arrival of Common Tern as May 4, and there are in fact many May records of this bird in recent years. (Late May records are suggestive of possible breeding in the Montezuma area.) But, it is also being seen regularly in April. Here are the dates of Common Tern reports from the past three Aprils: April 12, April 14, April 18, and April 21-23, with reports coming from Dryden Lake, Stewart Park, and Myers Point. Forster's Terns are being seen in roughly the same time window as Common Terns, with April reports of Forster's for the past three years ranging from April 8 to April 26. And, while there are a few May (and even June) records of Forster's Tern in recent years, the vast majority of reports come from April. As I mentioned above, these two species are tough birds to pin down. When they are seen at Dryden Lake, it often seems to be right at first light. After that, your best bet for seeing them is at Stewart Park, Myers Point, or Montezuma. LITTLE GULL: You didn't think I was going to forget my tease bird, did you? When Karl David was still in the Basin, birding and occasionally teaching math at Wells College, he used to always look for this species from Long Point State Park during the last week of April, in amongst the large numbers of Bonaparte's Gulls moving up the lake. During the past three springs, reports of Little Gull have ranged from an early date of April 5 (in 2000) to a late date of May 6 (in 1999). The only other spring reports have come on April 15, 2001, and May 5, 2001. Last year's April 15 report came from Karl's old haunt, Long Point SP, and the other sightings were from Stewart Park, Myers Point, and Montezuma. If you come across a large number of Bonaparte's Gulls this April, scan through the birds carefully, and look for that little one with the dark underwing. If you have a question about the best time and place to spot other hard-to-see Basin birds, feel free to e-mail me. And, if you are excited about the potential that a Basin birding database has to offer, be sure to enter your new sightings into BasinBirds at http://woodpecker.ornith.cornell.edu/BasinBirds/ If Cuppers consistently report their sightings to BasinBirds, it will quickly become *the* definitive source for information on the distribution and abundance of birds in our beloved Basin. :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS By Susan Barnett Big news first: throughout the month of February, folks saw occasional Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Glaucous Gulls, and Iceland Gulls. Then, on February 23, a Slaty-backed Gull was located at the Seneca Falls Landfill (much more about this discovery elsewhere in the Cup). Many Cuppers followed for a last, long look around the place and chats with various landfill personnel. Winter finches persisted: a Hoary Redpoll in Caroline [just out of the Basin], Pine Grosbeaks on Beam Hill and on Keith Lane in Dryden. Evening Grosbeaks, White-winged Crossbills, Purple Finches, Pine Siskins, and Redpolls. Rural winter specialties continued: Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Shrikes (on Etna Road and at the Ellis Hollow Creek Road/Turkey Hill Road spot), and Short-eared Owls. They overlapped with harbingers of spring: Turkey Vultures, Red-winged Blackbirds, Rusty Blackbird, Common Grackles, Killdeer, Fox Sparrows and White-crowned Sparrows, and a lone American Woodcock. On the lake: Common Mergansers, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, White-winged Scoters, Horned Grebes, Redheads, Common Goldeneye, Canvasback, Gadwall, Bufflehead, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Ringneck, Tundra Swans, Snow Geese, Red-breasted Mergansers, Northern Pintail, American Coots, Ruddy Ducks, Common Loon, Wood Duck, Red-necked Grebe, Greater White-fronted Goose. Birders at Stewart Park participated vicariously in picnics, watching a squirrel wrestle a French loaf, Bald Eagles devouring an icebound Canada Goose, and a Merlin eating a Cedar Waxwing. Cooper's and Sharp- shinned Hawks were frequently seen on the Cornell campus and in downtown Ithaca. Northern Goshawks turned up over Route 13 and at Summerhill. An American Pipit lingered at Myers, a lone Dunlin flew along the shore at Stewart Park, a roadside Common Snipe popped up in Varna. Ravens all over the place, including one heard from the Commons! And on to March... """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" SCRAWL OF FAME """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" Tompkins County Listing by Matt Medler As a participant in the New York State Breeding Bird Atlas project, I recently received a complimentary copy of the January 2002 "New York Birders," a publication of The Federation of New York State Bird Clubs. In addition to a column by Federation President Tim Baird, in which he shared his musings on what motivates telemarketers, terrorists, and birders, the newsletter contained "New York Bird List Reports 2000," compiled by Berna Lincoln. This annual feature details the New York life lists, 2000 New York annual lists, regional lists, and county life lists of any birder who makes the effort to send his/her totals to the Federation. I immediately turned to the Tompkins County section, to see who had the highest total for our home county. Since Cuppers haven't traditionally placed any emphasis on county listing, I wasn't surprised to find that a Cupper wasn't at the top of the list (and, as it turns out, no Cuppers submitted a total). And, I have to say that I was not especially surprised to see who submitted the highest Tompkins County total: John Gregoire. Many of you Basin newcomers are undoubtedly asking, "Who?" So you've never heard of John Gregoire, never seen his name on Cayugabirds, never met him at a Cayuga Bird Club meeting, and most importantly, never seen him out birding? Exactly. I've been birding rather actively in the Basin since 1994, and have never bumped into him once in all those years. You might think that I, or any other Cupper, for that matter, would occasionally encounter somebody who submitted a Tompkins County life list of 266 and a Seneca County list of 275. In case you hadn't guessed by this point, I don't believe Mr. Gregoire's submitted totals for a minute. But, seeing his reported total of 266 (which doesn't require any form of verification) did get me to wondering what a realistic total might be for somebody who has birded actively in Tompkins County over a number of years. For those of you who don't have an image of the DeLorme Gazetteer burned into your heads, Tompkins County includes all of the major birding hotspots in the southern Basin: Myers Point, Salmon Creek, Stewart Park, Hog Hole, Sapsucker Woods, Dryden Lake, Mt. Pleasant, Ken Rosenberg's yard, Hammond Hill, West Danby, and Taughannock Falls State Park. I just added up my Tompkins County list, and with a distraction or two during the counting process (yes, I still keep my checklist on a piece of paper), I came up with a grand total of 246 species. That figure includes a number of rarities seen during my Basin birding career, such as Cattle Egret, Greater White-fronted Goose, King Eider, Piping Plover, American Avocet, Upland Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Baird's Sandpiper, Franklin's Gull, Long-billed Murrelet, Western Kingbird, Sedge Wren, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Western Meadowlark. But, at the same time, I still have a few birds missing from my Tompkins County list that it seems like I should have seen at some point in the past eight years: Peregrine Falcon, Ring-necked Pheasant, Common Moorhen, Little Gull, Black Tern, and Orange-crowned Warbler. Adding these six birds to my total of 246 brings us to 252. Finally, there are various Tompkins County rarities that I am aware of from the past decade, but which I failed to see: Eared Grebe, American White Pelican, Anhinga, Least Bittern, Snowy Egret, Black Vulture, Sandhill Crane, Whimbrel, Red-necked Phalarope, Laughing Gull, Thayer's Gull, Glaucous Gull, Sabine's Gull, Snowy Owl, Whip-poor-will, Bicknell's Thrush, Loggerhead Shrike, Yellow-throated Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, Dickcissel, Clay-colored Sparrow, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, and Hoary Redpoll. Those 25 birds bring our grand total up to 277 species, and I probably missed a few species, so it seems like the absolute maximum on a Tompkins County list from the past ten years or so would be around 280. While I am not suggesting that Cuppers start actively keeping county lists like those crazy California birders, I would be very interested in seeing what kinds of Tompkins County totals veteran Cuppers like Ken Rosenberg, Kevin McGowan, Allison Wells, Bill Evans and company can put together. The next time I put out a call for regular totals (whenever that might be), I'll make a special one-time call for Tompkins County life totals. We'll forget about New York Birders, John Gregoire, and 266, and find out who the reigning Tompkins County king (or queen) really is! "CUP QUOTES" The ice is back at Stewart Park finally, and so are the gulls. Still no Iceland or Glaucous, but I did manage to find another adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at around 11:00 this morning. - Tim Lenz Mike Andersen and I went around the lake this afternoon, and thank goodness, the ice has returned. ...A ludicrous number of Gulls were on the ice visible from the west side of the lake south of Cayuga Lake State Park. We had and adult Lesser Black-backed, a distant young Glaucous Gull, and a nice adult Iceland Gull. Most of the birds were right in the middle of the lake, we only got good looks at about 10% of them. This is the year to find a really rare gull up there, I encourage everyone to get out there and look for it. - Pete Hosner Steve phoned and asked me to report that a slaty-backed gull is currently at the Seneca landfill and can be spotted near the gull roost pool. - Sue Kelling (the mate) We also saw the other usual Summerhillians such as, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES (a few at the shack on Salt Rd.), BROWN CREEPERS, and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS. - Matt Young As I was scanning the lake towards the light house jetty, a DUNLIN came into view and flew around for a while and then finally towards the inlet. An adult COOPER'S HAWK was perched on a bare tree in the swan pen. Its bright red eyes were shining in the sunlight as I had scopeful looks at this delighful bird. - Jai Balakrishnan I'm sorry to not have posted this sooner. On Saturday I saw a hoary redpoll in my yard in Caroline. - Steve Kelling Another live post from the Lab of O's "Rock" window on Rt. 13 -- an immature NORTHERN GOSHAWK is cruising west towards the NYSEG building, having just crossed over the highway next to us at 2:55 pm. - Ken Rosenberg The other bird of note was what I have started thinking of as a "Fogg's Gull," coined after the small-billed, light-headed young Herring Gull that Bob photographed at the Seneca Landfill. - Jesse Ellis Subject: complete compost corvus I went out to the Steveson Rd compost piles for lunch today (I brought my own) to add an inland Fish Crow for the Great Backyard Bird count. I found 5 FISH CROWS amongst the 260 or so AMERICAN CROWS. Eventually I observed two COMMON RAVENS come soaring in toward the piles from the east (presumably the Mt. Pleasant pair). - Kevin McGowan I was going to apologize for this sort-of-late post, but hey -- I was awarded the "slow post" award at Saturday's Cupper Supper, in spite of my improved behavior. So where's the incentive? - Ken Rosenberg At about 1 pm, I drove past the "shrike spot" on Turkey Hill Road and amazingly, the NORTHERN SHRIKE was perched in a bush right next to the road -- adjacent to the field about 200 yards south of the corner with Ellis Hollow Creek Rd. It obligingly let me sneak out of the car and set up my scope -- I was in digi-scope heaven. - Ken Rosenberg Subject: better late than never...Ithaca June Count - Steve Kelling Other highlight: a bootleg copy of an Eastern Meadowlark, being played by a Starling. - Jesse Ellis From the bluffs near Aurora, we located 4 White-winged Scoters; they were quite nice enough to show their whites in the wings once a while to a keen observer. - Meena Haribal Even though the Slaty-backed wasn't at the landfill this morning, a GLAUCOUS GULL and 3 ICELAND GULLS were pretty good consolation prizes. - Tim Lenz Today at Tsacke (no idea how to spell it) Pool at Montezuma Bob Fogg, Jesse Ellis, and Mike Andersen had 4 Greater White Fronted Geese in with the Canadas. - Pete Hosner And lastly, "Thanks Meena" for a well-scouted CBC field trip yesterday. Still haven't figured out how she got all those Short-eared Owls at Rafferty Road to fly, just as we got out of the car! - Bob McGuire Next day, Sunday, we were strolling our yard and heard WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS - we found four in a tamarack tree in our neighbor's house across the road. At the same time, we heard a singing COMMON REDPOLL in the yard of another neighbor's house. The crossbills flew into Laurie Ray's yard, also across the road from us, in a big spruce, and had grown to 6, and were gracious enough to give us great views. They even hung around so Ken Rosenberg and family could swing by for them. - Allison Wells I stepped outside with the dog at 6:05 this morning, and there was a woodcock peenting in the yard. We tiptoed up the hill a bit, and enjoyed three cycles of the skydance before the dawn chorus drowned it out. Happy Spring! - Nancy Dickinson On the way to work, Greg Delisle and I swung up Mekeel Road hoping for some Snow Geese. Instead, we got Redpolls--a flock of 70-80 in the field near the [@#!*] cell tower. - Susan Barnett May Your Cup Runneth Over, Matt