Year 7, Issue 3

***************************************************************** *^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^ *The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competitions. * Editor-in-Chief: Matt Medler * Mr. Medler's Personal Chauffeur: Pete Hosner * Copy Editor: Susan Barnett * Coach: Matt Williams * Waxwing Poetic: Eric Banford ****************************************************************** What is the best type of birdwatching? Does the David Cup champion, by virtue of having seen the most birds in one year, have a claim to being the richest birder? Or is he the poorest, since in the pursuit of the almighty total, he has not stopped to really look at the birds he has seen? Does the person who pauses and takes extra time to watch a Black-capped Chickadee practice a morally superior form of birdwatching? Or is that person missing out, by not seeing the splendors that other birds have to offer? Questions like these have been floating in the air recently, and reminded me of a classic caffeine-inspired essay written by the great David L. Ross, Jr. in 1997. This piece, I believe, will provide some answers to the above questions. On second thought, it might leave some readers asking even more questions, but for me, at least, it makes everything perfectly clear. On Aesthetics and Listing: My Two Cents By Dave Ross Aesthetics and listing? The thrill, fun, challenge, game, sport, endeavor, maybe, but the aesthetics of listing? One might view listing as an advanced stage of that at-times debilitating affliction known as birding--yet another symptom, along with compulsive book buying ("Should I get that copy of the Birds of New Guinea?") and the neurotic freaking out mid-conversation with the unafflicted as a bird flies by in the distance, and the seemingly psychotic chasing of birds with binoculars for 24 hours in New Jersey, armed with little more than a pad and pencil. What about standing outside in the winter for countless hours waiting for waxwings to return for a photo, or crouching near a particular curving vine in a tropical rainforest waiting for something called, of all things, a "manakin"--oh wait, maybe that counts as work! I've a close friend who, along with his total life list, has a list for any state he has been in. Typical of the breed, he knows off the top of his head when and where a bird is new to each of the respective lists. He has a television list which includes all and any species not seen on a nature documentary, and a mute list--yes, and a list of those species he's seen defecate! This same individual who casually reduced his first and only look at Ruddy Crake somewhere roadside in Mexico as bird number 1000 before we even got back into the truck, can romanticize about a Merlin or even a Sharpie playing the winds in an October sky. This is after serving as the "counter" at Cape May Point. Should we call this birder's birding poorer or richer than those who do not bother with numbers? While such emphasis on numbers might appear cumbersome or distracting to some of us, so might chasing birds with microphones and lenses to others. Come to think of it, perhaps my friend enjoyed his lifer Ruddy Crake even more than I did mine. Personally, I've a mental list of any coffee mug I've used in the Lab of Ornithology kitchen. While I do not have the exact mug total etched in my memory (it would be easier if there was a checklist), I know darn well when there's a new mug to have a cup out of! I figure I enjoy my coffee as much as the next person--come to think of it, perhaps just a little more when it's a new mug. Could this listing behavior be merely an extension of a repressed nature in the hunter-gatherer turned 9-5 office-human? The office- humans' way of bringing the kill home to the tribe and parading it around for the hungry to admire? And perhaps admire we should. Fess up: how many of us wish we'd been the one to bring that carcass (in this case rare bird sighting) back to the communal fire. Which brings us back to the aesthetics of listing and perhaps the concept of cyber-carcasses. The birder's list then perhaps should not be viewed so cynically by the less infected as something synthetic and far removed from the organisms themselves, but more along the odor on a dog that rubs its neck and face in something ripe and then struts it back to the pack as a way of conveying information or a story. What could be more aesthetic than that? And those of you that cannot appreciate that fine smell, simply are not dogs and probably will never be. (Dave Ross is a sound recordist, artist, and genius. He is currently teaching physical science (and other wisdom) to eighth graders in Durham, North Carolina.) @ @ @ @ @ @ NEWS, CUES, and BLUES @ @ @ @ @ @ WELCOME TO THE CUP CLAN: As promised last month, we're rolling out the red carpet for a complete introduction to the newest, youngest, and cutest (sorry, Allison) member of the Cupper family, Rachel Rosenberg. Here's what mom Anne James-Rosenberg shared with us: Rachel Hannah Rosenberg is in 1st grade at Dryden Elementary. She has been getting more and more into watching the birds at our feeders and in the yard, and recently decided she would join me in keeping a Basin year list. Her favorite birds this year have been the Bohemian Waxwings and the spectacular flock of Snow Geese we saw on the west side of Cayuga Lake in early March. She likes going for family bird walks--or drives, as we did last Sunday with Ken taking us on a tour of the best spots in the Dryden area. Her favorite places to look at birds are Dryden Lake (has a playground and nice walking path) and Montezuma. Rachel is an avid artist, drawing something most of her spare time. After (or during) a bird trip she enjoys drawing the birds she has seen, sometimes using Sibley to fill in the details. Welcome Rachel, and welcome back, Anne. It's great to have you joining the Cup fun! These two stories just in from Cup intern Allison Wells: Cup Gets "Scooped" Again: At a recent event at New York City's Waldorf-Astoria hotel, movie giant Mel Gibson was honored by the Association of Moving Images. Among his many awards (including a movie-screen size image of the actor's graffiti-covered face): Gibson's costar in the semi-flop Ransom, Gary Sinise, presented Gibson with "the cup"--hardly the elegant chunk of wood of our own beloved Cup, but rather the athletic kind presented a few years back by the tasteless Bill Evans to then-Cup editor Allison Wells (who could possibly have guessed that Bill Evans could be a trend-setter?). The report said that Sinise's presentation brought a tear to Gibson's eye as he mumbled with shame and regret, "Damn, I forgot to turn in my David Cup totals again." Matt, please remember to add Mel to your e- mail reminder list. Ostrich Burgers Are Out: You can all rest easy again. According to the best magazine in the birding business, Entertainment Weekly, Ostrich burgers are out. Those of you hoping to eat one of these onto your Basin list are out of luck. WAXWING POETIC "The Earth has music for those who listen." - William Shakespeare Welcome to the second addition of Waxwing Poetic. This month we feature Anne Marie Johnson, who works at the Lab of Ornithology on Project Feeder Watch. For as long as she can remember, Anne Marie has enjoyed trudging around in the woods looking for interesting plants, reptiles, insects, and birds. And for nearly as long, she's been writing poems (she had to learn how to write first!). In addition to one of her poems appearing in a prior issue of this highly respected publication, some of her poems have also been published in Avocet, a nature journal in California. To contribute to this column, please send your submissions to eric.banford@cornell.edu. Bird! Eric Pine Siskins' Winter Blessing by Anne Marie Johnson Every morning they come, a dozen or two, tiny creatures, impeccably dressed in tidy brown streaks, the men accessorized in yellow. Sometimes calmly eating, other times ferociously fighting for perches, flashing yellow splashes beneath their wings. This year, this winter these tiny, simple birds, with their buzz-accented chatter, chose to visit these pines, this feeder, each day bringing with them a blessing for those on the other side of the glass. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> March 2002 David Cup Totals 121 Pete Hosner 119 Jay McGowan 117 Kevin McGowan 107 Mike Andersen 106 Jesse Ellis 104 Meena Haribal 103 Tim Lenz 103 Ken Rosenberg 102 Jeff Gerbracht 98 Matt Medler 95 Steve Kelling 94 Eric Banford 93 Bruce Tracey 92 Anne Marie Johnson 88 Tim Johnson 81 Allison Wells 77 Jeff Wells 76 Dan Lebbin 67 Anne James-Rosenberg 56 Jon Kloppel 52 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan 45 Rachel Rosenberg 30 Martin (the Cat) McGowan 14 Matt Williams Jeff Gerbrachts's 100th Bird: Bonaparte's Gull Ken Rosenberg's 100th Bird: A Foxey Fox Sparrow March 2002 McIlroy Award Totals 81 Jai Balakrishnan 78 Jay McGowan 78 Kevin McGowan 76 Tim Lenz 73 Pete Hosner 61 Ken Rosenberg 57 Matt Medler 37 Allison Wells 13 Matt Williams 0 Jeff Wells March 2002 Evans Trophy Totals 98 Jay McGowan 97 Kevin McGowan 88 Ken Rosenberg 83 Pete Hosner March 2002 Yard Totals 57 McGowan/Kline Family 54 Rosenberg Family 45 Nancy Dickinson 28 Anne Marie and Tim Johnson Tompkins County Life Lists 268 Kevin McGowan 266 Ken Rosenberg 258 Jay McGowan 248 Matt Medler 213 Pete Hosner 209 Jai Balakrishnan !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! KICKIN' TAIL! ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This month we welcome first-time Cup leader Pete Hosner to the Kickin' Tail hot seat. In addition to being voted most likely to win the 2002 David Cup, Pete now has the added claim to fame of being the recordholder for the all-time high March David Cup total. [A collective "Ooooh!" is in order here.] THE CUP: It's about time you got here. What took you so long? PETE: Well, it’s a year-long competition. Since I didn’t try for the January big month, I didn’t have much incentive to track down birds like Swamp Sparrow during the winter. THE CUP: Was that your idea of a Kickin' Tail jab? You'll have to do better than that, little rookie. THE CUP: Now that you're at the top of the David Cup mountain, do you have any intentions of relinquishing the lead, or should we plan on ten riveting interviews between the two of us? PETE: We shall see. Last year was proof that anyone can be in the lead for April--all you have to do is get a bunch of good migrants on the 30th. I really think the David Cup race is very close this year. There are many lurkers who have seen a lot of good birds but don’t have a high total because they didn’t tick off, say...White-throated Sparrow or Ruddy Duck until this month. THE CUP: Hmm. Who could be missing those species? THE CUP: As those guests who enjoyed your scrumptious fondue at the Cupper Supper might be able to attest, you fancy yourself to be a bit of a cook/chef. What has been your recipe for David Cup success so far this year? Not only are you Kickin' Tail after three months, but you are now the holder of the all-time record total for March. I'm sure that feat will be appreciated by your fellow Cuppers for a good day or two. PETE: The only way to win the David Cup is to get out and bird as much as possible. My class schedule this year has been quite "relaxed," which has allowed me to get out and put in the time needed to see some good birds. THE CUP: There's been some commentary recently about the high levels of testosterone found in certain birding circles here in Ithaca. You're a rather manly man. Can you think of any activity that could be more masculine or testosterone-driven than "hard core" birding? The "World's Strongest Man" competition on ESPN came to mind at first. But at least in my mind, those guys look like the original 98-pound weaklings compared with hulking Ithaca birders like Mike Andersen, Ken Rosenberg, and yours truly. PETE: I don’t know. Some of those butterflywatchers and wildflower guys are pretty tough. I saw some in Mundy the other day chewing on glass shards for kicks. THE CUP: I know what you mean. You should have seen Sarver and Williams when they were really on top of their butterflies and wildflowers. They looked like Hans and Franz. THE CUP: While we're on the topic of manly birders, I have a question for you. You don't actually *enjoy* any of the birds that you see or hear, do you? The trumpeting calls of Sandhill Cranes, the aerial acrobatics of Peregrine Falcons, the subtly beautiful plumage of an American Bittern, the sky dance of American Woodcock, and, of course, the unmistakable song of a Veery--none of these things actually mean anything to you, do they? You just tick them off and move onto the next bird, right? I hope so, because otherwise, I'm afraid that we would have to refuse you admission into the elite group of fanatical, hard-core male birders. PETE: Of course not. I don’t watch birds because I enjoy them; I watch them because I can brag about them to my friends. You should have seen how much respect I got in middle school for seeing more birds than anyone else. THE CUP: Darn! So that's what I should have done to be cool in high school. If only I'd known... THE CUP: Theoretically speaking, of course, if you were to truly appreciate any of the birds you've seen so far this year, what would be some of your favorites? PETE: The three Golden Eagle day at Mt Pleasant were amazing. It was great to finally see Sandhill Crane in the Basin--I miss those guys. They breed in the marsh behind my house every year; I certainly took that for granted. It's been about three years since I’ve seen a White- front, and in Feb/March I saw five. The Saw-whets at Geo’s provided great looks for the second year in a row. Of course, I have to mention the Bohemians even though most of them showed up in April (they are easy to pick out in flight after all, right Kevin?), and we can’t forget about the Pine Grosbeaks already. THE CUP: Are there any birds in particular that you're really hoping to find in the Basin during the rest of the year? I know that you've mentioned checking Myers Point, the Hawthorn Orchard, and every other southern Basin hotspot during the month of May. How about turning up a beautiful breeding-plumaged Red Knot at Myers? PETE: There are quite a few. I would love to find a rare shorebird--a Knot, or a Willet, or even a Ruff (it would be a lifer for me--or songbird this fall. What could be better that Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on Rafferty Road? A rare bird on territory this summer like a Kentucky Warbler or a chat would be great too. With all the time I will be spending out and about, I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed. THE CUP: Can you tell us a little about your recent spring break trip to Costa Rica? What did you think of being in the Neotropics for the first time? What did you see? PETE: Costa Rica was great. It only took me one trip for me to realize that I need to do tropical ornithology in grad school. Probably our best bird was actually getting to see Spectacled Antipitta. It seems that everyone I have talked to has been to the tropics several times and never been able to see an antpitta. THE CUP: Yes, I didn't quite manage to see any antpittas while I was in Brazil last year. But that's the type of bird where *hearing* it is the key part of the experience. PETE: We saw some great Costa Rican/Panamanian endemics in Carrara like Baird’s Trogon, Orange-collared Manakin, Fire-billed Araçari, and Blue-throated Goldentail. Of course, seeing all the postcard birds like oucans, Scarlet Macaw, Resplendent Quetzal, Three-wattled Bellbird, Black-and-white Owl, Long-tailed Manakin, and Violet Sabrewing was neat. I actually got a job offer to guide at Carrara during the summer, so in 2003 after I graduate hopefully some Cuppers can come down and visit me. THE CUP: That could probably be arranged. THE CUP: Now it's on to the obligatory first-time leader questions. I know that obligatory is a big word for you, as a mere Cornell undergrad, and a Natural Resources major at that. It just means that I have to ask these questions. What is your favorite color? PETE: Blue or green, although on a bird I like purple because there are so few birds with purple in the plumage. THE CUP: What is in your CD changer at the moment? Any non-bird CDs? PETE: In my car I have the Stokes’ CD for brushing up on songs of arriving migrants. In my stereo I have the 3-disc Springsteen Live album. No one rocks like the Boss! THE CUP: Reply-to-all or reply-to-sender? PETE: To: CAYUGABIRDS-L@cornell.edu Subject: Re: Weekend Birds Well Matt, do you want to go birding next weekend? I think we need to hit Seneca Falls for Upland Sandpipers. Don’t you love Upland Sandpipers? Last year we got to see them sit on the posts and hear them sing. Pete’s Treats is open now, we could go there afterwards. Thanks for having us all over for slides the other night. I like your new place. Is the woman situation getting any better for you, or are you still content with sitting under a hemlock on the Ag Quad looking at freshman girls? Don’t worry, you’ll find the right woman. Then again, you could always "shift gears" and head over to Renwick some night. -Pete To: CAYUGABIRDS-L@cornell.edu Subject: Re: Weekend Birds Oops, I’m sorry I sent that to the whole list. Sorry I posted all that embarrassing personal stuff Matt! -Pete THE CUP: I'll chalk that up as a vote for "Reply-to-sender." As for girls on the Ag Quad, I don't know what you were looking at, but the women that I saw were *at least* juniors. THE CUP: OK, we've wasted enough birding time on this enthralling interview. See you again next month? PETE: That should be easy to answer. There is no way you're getting this issue out before the end of the month, so why don’t you look at the April totals? THE CUP: I'll be sure to look at the April totals *after* this issue comes out. And if you somehow manage to still be in the lead, remind me to run that "Waggin' Tail" interview with Tringa McGowan that I've been considering. Maybe then I'll get some intelligent responses to my questions. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ COMPOSITE DEPOSIT On the eve of April Fool's Day, Cuppers and non-Cuppers together had combined to detect 143 species of "avians" (as the Ithaca Journal refers to them) in the Cayuga Lake Basin. Here's the list: R-t Loon, 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, ROSS'S GOOSE, Brant, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, G-w Teal, American Black Duck, Mallard, N Pintail, B-w Teal, N Shoveler, 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, Osprey, Bald Eagle, N Harrier, S- s Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, N Goshawk, R-s Hawk, R-t Hawk, R-l Hawk, Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, American Coot, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, G Yellowlegs, L Yellowlegs, Dunlin, Common Snipe, American Woodcock, Bonaparte's Gull, 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, E Phoebe, 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, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, B-c Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, Winter Wren, Marsh 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, Pine Warbler, E Towhee, American Tree Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, N Cardinal, R-w Blackbird, E Meadowlark, 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 We're not sure what Pete was doing in March, because he somehow managed to miss 22 species found by other birders by the end of the month: Red-throated Loon, American Bittern, Brant, Ruffed Grouse, Sandhill Crane, Greater Yellowlegs, Common Snipe, Bonaparte's Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Barred Owl, Long-eared Owl, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Barn Swallow, Marsh Wren, Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Lapland Longspur. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< < COACH'S CORNER < < <<<<<<<<<<<<<< < < < < < < < < After two-months of low-budget advice from the Editor-in-Chief, we've finally gotten serious about Coach's Corner this month, turning to 2001 David Cup co-champion Matt Williams. Coach's Corner - Cupper Strategies for April & early May 2002 By Matt Williams Even as I write this in mid-April, spring migration is definitely underway and the warblers, spring shorebirds and other migrants will be coming through in full force very shortly. In addition, a springtime rarity is definitely possible and should never be ruled out, especially with the coverage that the Basin is getting this year. Think along the lines of Ruff, Wigeon, Whimbrel, Kentucky Warbler, and Western Meadowlark sightings of recent years. However, before I get started on those birds that are yet to arrive, I would suggest that you be sure that you've seen everything that's about to leave. It may be getting late but try to find lingering redpolls, siskins, and grosbeaks if you haven't done so already. You certainly can't count on them for next winter. Shrikes are unreliable so your best bet is to see one to take some pressure off next fall. If the Eared Grebe hasn't left Aurora, go visit the Wells College Boathouse a few times until you find it. It might not be back. A birder's performance in the spring can make or break his or her David Cup chances. Spring is when the transient Cape Mays, Tennessees, Blackpolls, Bay-breasteds and Philly Vireos move through. Check Mundy Wildflower Garden, Green Hills and Ithaca City cemeteries, the Hawthorn Orchard (Chris Hymes's not-so-secret spot) and other good migrant traps. While these species and others come back through in the fall, they're not as pretty and they aren't as noisy. So, regardless of your busy schedule and/or late-night partying, get yourselves out of bed, Cuppers!!! It's worth it. The only excuse for not getting up early is listening to a late-night thrush flight to tick off Swainson's and Gray-cheekeds. A 'round-the-lake trip is never a bad idea in the spring (or any time, for that matter). Migrant waterfowl and shorebirds have a tendency to show up at places like Myers, Long Point, and Montezuma. Howland Island has the potential for Red-headed Woodpecker and who knows what else. And last, but definitely not least is the Dryden Lake effect. If any of the local Drydenites post a Red-necked Grebe or a flock of scoters, get over there ASAP. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not go to class or to work or to bed. Go to Dryden Lake that day or your chances of seeing those birds are severely diminished...unless you want to drive around the big lake every day during migration. Finally, just for those who want a more species-specific approach, here's a list of challenging spring species to be on the lookout for: Western Grebe - OK, this may be a stretch but there's currently one at Plum Island, MA and there was one off of Staten Island, NY this year...they're bound to head west sometime so keep an eye out. Black Vulture - Observe range expansion as it happens and find a short- tailed, black-headed vulture among all those the Turkeys at Myers. And, no, I'm not talking about the fishermen or the hunters. Sora - Check the airport ponds or the Ellis Hollow Marsh where they were heard last year. Brush up on your frog sounds too, they can be confusing (and interesting in their own right). Wilson's Phalarope - Mid to late May is the time to hit Montezuma for this species. Flooded fields, Benning or "The New" marsh up at Montezuma may be good. Never assume they're all yellowlegs! Little Gull - When the Bonaparte's move through, be sure to check through for this species. Stewart Park, Myers, and Montezuma have been good in past years. Common & Forster's Tern - Stewart Park, Myers and Dryden Lake are all good, close places to check for these guys. If a few Commons hang around MNWR and possibly breed, that's great but if not, you've got to keep an eye out for both. And, heck, why not brush up on the tern ID skills so you can pick out an Arctic. Whip-poor-will- Cayuga Heights seems to attract this species during migration every spring. It also could be worthwhile to do an owl/Whip prowl up the east side of the lake on a few evenings. Now is the time. Loggerhead Shrike- A former Basin breeder that occasionally comes back to visit. Check those telephone wires. Prothonotary Warbler- Used to be pretty reliable along Armitage and probably breeds somewhere in the North Basin. Canoe trips may be a good idea if you want to find this species. Clay-colored Sparrow- there were a few that were amazingly close to the Basin last year. Finger Lakes National Forest and Rafferty Rd. might be good spots. (Matt Williams currently resides in Sunderland, Massachusetts, although his heart is obviously still somewhere in the Cayuga Lake Basin. Come May, he will be teaching Matt Sarver the finer points of power-line cut birding in western Massachusetts.) :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS March highlights...hmm...does anybody remember March? Any highlights come to mind? The Seneca Falls landfill was undoubtedly *the* place to be in February, with the all-too-brief sighting of the Slaty-backed Gull there, along with Glaucous, Iceland, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. But, at the start of March, the action shifted to another part of the Town of Seneca Falls--the lakeshore just north of Canoga. There, Cuppers were witness to an amazing congregation of Snow Geese along the water's edge, with one birder making a conservative estimate of 10,000 geese. Of course, with that many Snow Geese gathered in one spot, there just *had* to be a Ross's Goose in their midst, and sure enough, there was one...and another one...and maybe even another one (or was it a hybrid?). And, to add even more species diversity to the group, a Greater White-fronted Goose put in at least a one-day appearance with the massive flock of Snows. Elsewhere on the lake, Bruce Tracey hit the "Podiceps trifecta" on March 7 at the Aurora Boathouse, where he saw one Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena), one Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), and three or four Horned Grebes (Podiceps auritus). Not bad, Bruce, but could you work on Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)? Later in the month, Pete Hosner and Mike Andersen spotted not one, but *two* Eared Grebes from the same lookout. Also seen from Aurora throughout March were three White- winged Scoters, which must have wintered at this spot. While Cayuga Lake remained an extremely productive spot throughout the month, with a plethora of waterbirds seen on its waters, Cuppers' attentions turned next to Mt. Pleasant. Over a two-day span there (March 8-9), birders were treated to up-close looks of five different Golden Eagles, an adult Bald Eagle, and some of the first migrant Red- shouldered Hawks of the season. Later in the month, a few Cuppers would also be lucky enough to spot Northern Goshawks from the windswept "peak" of Mt. Pleasant. Other localities in the Town of Dryden provided more material for the highlight reel. At the base of Hammond Hill State Forest, Marie McRae's feeders played host to upwards of eight Fox Sparrows, along with a flock of Evening Grosbeaks (some of the only birds of the season). Pine Grosbeaks were reported at Keith Lane into mid-March, and reports of feeder Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls (from Dryden and elsewhere) trickled in throughout the month. Providing definitive proof of global warming, the famed Dryden Lake effect took place early this year, with Long-tailed Ducks taking brief respites there on the 16th and 25th. Jay McGowan added a new chapter to the Dryden tradition of quality yard-birding by detecting four high- flying Sandhill Cranes over Beam Hill on March 29. Finally, there were two other noteworthy sightings from the end of March-- on the 27th, Jesse Ellis picked out a Bohemian Waxwing from a flock of Cedar Waxwings along the East Ithaca Recreation Way, and on the very last day of the month, Fred Bertram also spied a Bohemian, this time at the north end of Cayuga Lake. Could this possibly be a sign of things to come??? "CUP QUOTES" WHAT are "Northern Shoeless"? Are we talking about Northern Shovelers, or maybe Boobies who've lost their blue boots? - Caissa Willmer Yeah, yeah, I'm an idiot. - Pete Hosner I had a very birdy 20 minute stop at Robert Treman State Park this morning.... EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were checking out nest boxes, JUNCOS were trilling and a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was pretty close to singing a White-throated Sparrow song. - Mike Powers What a glorious morning to walk the hillside. The White-throats are back to singing about Sam Peabody. Heck, all the birds are singing about something... - Nancy Dickinson We just had 3 GOLDEN EAGLES at Mt. Pleasant. The first was at about 12:30 (5 minutes after Laura left), the next at 12:50, and then one at 1:00. Also seen were1 RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, 1 Cooper's Hawk, several Red-tailed Hawks, and a Rough-legged Hawk or two. The local Red-tails were displaying due south of the observatory, and a Northern Harrier was working the fields to the northeast. A pretty nice lunch hour! - Kevin McGowan At around 12:40, Jesse Ellis showed up and we taunted him about the eagle that we had seen earlier and told him that as the winds had picked up it is unlikely that he'll find another eagle. Not dissuaded by our words he decided to stick around for a while. When Meena and myself decided to leave, Jesse found an adult GOLDEN EAGLE flying low and very close to the observatory. - Jai Balakrishnan We went back into Renwick to look at the Great Horned Owl tuft sticking out of the nest... - Pete Hosner I may even go out on a limb and say there could be upwards of a half million [black]birds gathering at the refuge at dusk. Maybe a full million..... who really knows?..... it's A LOT! - Mike Andersen Today at Benning Marsh at MNWR my parents and I had the pleasure of watching an immature Peregrine Falcon attack an American Wideon. The Peregrine grabbed the left wing of the Wigeon while in flight, and they both plowed into the marsh. The wigeon was stunned, and before the Peregrine could finish it off it made it into a small pool connected to the main pool in the marsh by a small channel. The Peregrine sat on the mud next to the channel to block its escape, several times it flew up and hovered above the wigeon, but the wigeon kept on flapping its wings, so that the Peregrine couldn't get another blow. Eventually the Wigeon made it to safety in the large pool in benning marsh, after a stand off of about 15 minutes. The wigeon could still fly, although the white wing patch was covered in red. Amazing behavior! - Pete Hosner Rachel and I experienced a slow ziggy-zaggy flyover Raven today at about 1:00 at the corner of Case Road and Seneca Road on the Northern fringe of the Hector National Forest. It crooned out a nice "croak" for us too. - Jon Kloppel Where associated Turkey Vultures make no flaps for minutes on end, Black Vultures can't seem to not flap for more than 20-30 seconds or so. Keep looking up. - Kevin McGowan We had five or six [Fox Sparrows] under the feeders this morning franticly doing the sparrow shuffle, chest deep in little craters in the snow. - Tom Fredericks But, I find that no one is ever so certain of their identification as a novice! - Kevin McGowan Subject: Re: Debate is good for us... I agree wholeheartedly, as long as you all understand that I am right and you are wrong. - Martha Fischer I just wanted to thank Dave N., Matt W., Karen A.C., Kevin M., and Matt M. for their kindness, patience, knowledge, and restraint in replying to Dick Wood's recent postings about biologists, "messed up weather", and "Richard's Veery". I was thinking that a paper bag, straight jacket or a net were in order. I think I'm old enough to be your grandfather, Dick. We share a lot in common besides our nickname. We both love birding; we have, I think, a similar academic beginning in the physical sciences; and our spouse's nicknames even rhyme...Lil and Jill. I like all scientists, but biologists are my favorites, for they are able to, more than the rest of us scientists, say "I just don't know, we may never know." Dick, I don't think that your "messed up weather" is anything unusual this year in the northeast. Dick, where are you from? Hawaii? The northwest coast? Perhaps the west coast of Europe? It's gotta be somewhere where the weather doesn't change much. The only thing normal about the weather here is that it changes a lot. As to this "Global Warming" mantra of some: The last I knew, about 5,000 scientists believed in it, but 17,000 scientists didn't. I think the jury is still out and will be for some time. As to your Veery posting: Back in 1974 or '75 a VEERY was reported on the CBC for Geneva, NY, by a member of the Eaton Ornithological Society, which my wife and I belonged to. Yes, it was a very rare sighting. Was he believed?... Yes, he was. Because, he was, I dare say, the best, most experienced birder in the Finger Lakes at that time. Everyone on this list knows and believes by now that you think you heard a VEERY this past winter. You've certainly said it enough times! Dick, nobody believes or is going to believe, based on what you have reported in the past or probably what you say in the future, that there actually was a VEERY in T. Falls on that day. And, yes, that is because you are quite new to birding. It just ain't gonna happen. Give it a rest, for the sake of all of us! Just go ahead and check or keep the check for VEERY on your Life List. I don't really care! And, for cripes sakes, just drop that Dr. Wood bit, if you don't like it! Been where you are. - Dick Jorgensen May Your Cup Runneth Over, Matt