Year 7, Issues 10-12

***************************************************************** *^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^ *The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competitions. * Editor-in-Chief: Matt "Better Late Than Never" Medler * Queen of The Cup: Allison Wells * Chef Extraordinaire: Ben Fambrough * Boy Wonder: Jay McGowan * Best Boy: Jeff Wells ****************************************************************** Welcome to The Cup 7.10-7.12, the Lost Issue of The Cup! That's right, it's the issue of The Cup that you thought you'd never see, covering October to December 2002. And yes, that would make this issue more than three years overdue. Now that you're over the initial shock of receiving this, are you having a hard time remembering 2002? (I know I am.) After doing a little research, it appears that this is what was happening in late 2002: the Bush administration was busy lying to the American public about Iraq, trying to justify an impending invasion; both the Red Sox and White Sox were still looking for their first World Series titles in more than 80 years; and the second "Lord of the Rings" movie was just hitting theaters in December. Closer to home, Tim Lenz was still a runny-nosed undergrad looking to win his first McIlroy Award, Jay McGowan had short hair and no driver's license, and Pete Hosner was wrapping up the most dominant year in Basin birding history. Pete's final tally? Two hundred sixty-three species of birds identified in the Cayuga Lake Basin during 2002. To put that in perspective, not only did Pete shatter the old Basin record of 254, but he actually saw more birds by himself in one year than all Basin birders *combined* saw in 2001 (260 species) and 1998 (259 species). Pete's phenomenal effort was the undisputed highlight in a year that I view as the pinnacle of The Cup era. Pete led a group of three birders who matched or exceeded the legendary 254 total, and they were joined in the exclusive 250 Club by another two Cuppers. Just how hard is it to see 250 species in the Basin in one year? In the six Cup years preceding 2002, the 250 mark had been reached only three times. What made 2002 so special, though, was not that Pete set a new record, or that five birders topped the 250 mark. What impressed me was the depth of the birding coverage throughout the year. There were so many different birders who were actively birding, and there never seemed to a lull in the action. In fact, there was no lull in the action, as at least one new species was added to the Composite Deposit during every month of the year. A careful look at the Pilgrims' Progress shows that 18 Cuppers joined the 200 Club during year, and this total might even grow to 20 if Jeff and Allison ever send in their final totals. (I understand that Allison will be sending them right after she finishes The Cup 4.11 & 4.12.) The seventh David Cup represented a complete year of birding by an entire community, and it is for this reason that I feel obligated to document the conclusion to 2002, even three years after the fact. Plus, now I can start pestering Jay about when he is going to finish The Cup 10.10-10.12! <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> December, November, and October 2002 David Cup Totals 263, 262, 261 Pete Hosner 256, 255, 252 Mike Andersen 254, 252, 251 Matt Medler 253, 252, 250 Jay McGowan 250, ???, ??? Jesse Ellis 249, 248, 246 Kevin McGowan 238, 235, 231 Steve & Susie Fast At least 236 Meena Haribal 236, ???, ??? Ken Rosenberg 232, ???, ??? Steve Kelling 229, 228, 227 Tim Lenz 227, ???, ??? Bruce Tracey 226, ???, ??? Jeff Gerbracht 212, ???, ??? Dan Lebbin 210, 209, 208 Anne Marie Johnson 209, 209, 206 Eric Banford 208, 208, 208 Bob Fogg 204, ???, ??? Tim Johnson At least 184 Allison Wells At least 182 Jeff Wells 173, 173, 173 Jai Balakrishnan 172, 172, 172 Matt Williams At least 150 Anne James-Rosenberg 128, 127, 126 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan 94, 94, 91 Martin (the Cat) McGowan At least 45 Rachel Rosenberg Mike Andersen's 250th Bird: Lincoln's Sparrow Jay McGowan's 250th Bird: Black Scoter Matt Medler's 250th Bird: Greater White-fronted Goose Jesse Ellis's 250th Bird: Snowy Owl Tim Lenz's 200th Bird: Short-billed Dowitcher December, November, and October 2002 McIlroy Award Totals 190, 189, ??? Pete Hosner 189, 188, 187 Tim Lenz 173, 173, 173 Jai Balakrishnan 171, 169, 164 Jay McGowan 161, 155, 152 Kevin McGowan 140 Matt Medler 128 Allison Wells 127 Ken Rosenberg December, November, and October 2002 Evans Trophy Totals 193, 193, 189 Jay McGowan 190, 189, 185 Kevin McGowan 170 Ken Rosenberg 164 Pete Hosner 2002 Yard Totals 145 Steve Kelling 136 McGowan/Kline Family 100 Nancy Dickinson 91 Rosenberg Family 67 Anne Marie and Tim Johnson 61 Jesse Ellis $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ COMPOSITE DEPOSIT The Composite Deposit total in The Cup 7.7-7.9 was 264; with Christopher Thaddeus Tessaglia-Hymes's belated report of night-flight Dickcissel calls on September 29, the CD total through the end of nine months was actually 265. The final three months of the year yielded four additional species--American White Pelican, Black-legged Kittiwake, Black-headed Gull, and Snowy Owl--resulting in a final Composite Deposit for 2002 of 269. This final tally of 269 represents a new record year total for the Cup era, surpassing the 1996 total of 268 during the inaugural Cup. The Composite Deposit totals for the other five Cup years were: 267 (1997), 259 (1998), 263 (1999), 266 (2000), and 260 (2001). Here's the complete Composite Deposit for 2002: R-t Loon, Common Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, EARED GREBE, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, D-c Cormorant, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, CATTLE EGRET, Green Heron, B-c Night- Heron, GLOSSY IBIS, Turkey Vulture, Tundra Swan, Mute Swan, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED 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, EURASIAN WIGEON, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Redhead, R-n Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, L-t Duck, Black Scoter, 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, B-w Hawk, R-t Hawk, R-l Hawk, Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, R-n Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, KING RAIL, Virginia Rail, Sora, PURPLE GALLINULE, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Sandhill Crane, B-b Plover, American Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, AMERICAN AVOCET, G Yellowlegs, L Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Upland Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, MARBLED GODWIT, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, W-r Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, PURPLE SANDPIPER, Dunlin, Stilt Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, S-b Dowitcher, L-b Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, American Woodcock, Wilson's Phalarope, R-n Phalarope, LAUGHING GULL, LITTLE GULL, BLACK-HEADED GULL, Bonaparte's Gull, R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser B- b Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great B-b Gull, BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, SLATY- BACKED GULL, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Black Tern, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, B-b Cuckoo, Y-b Cuckoo, E Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, SNOWY OWL, Barred Owl, L-e Owl, S-e Owl, N Saw-whet Owl, Common Nighthawk, Whip-poor-will, Chimney Swift, R-t Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, R-h Woodpecker, R-b Woodpecker, Y-b Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, N Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, O-s Flycatcher, E Wood-Pewee, Y-b Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, E Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, E Kingbird, N Shrike, WHITE-EYED VIREO, Y-t Vireo, B-h Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, R-e Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Common Raven, Horned Lark, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, N R-w Swallow, Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, B-c Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, R-b Nuthatch, W-b Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, G-c Kinglet, R-c Kinglet, B-g Gnatcatcher, E Bluebird, Veery, G-c Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, N Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, American Pipit, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, Cedar Waxwing, B-w Warbler, G-w Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, O-c Warbler, Nashville Warbler, N Parula, Yellow Warbler, C-s Warbler, Magnolia, Cape May Warbler, B-t Blue Warbler, Y-r Warbler, B-t Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Palm Warbler, B-b Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, B-and-w Warbler, American Redstart, W-e Warbler, Ovenbird, N Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, CONNECTICUT WARBLER, Mourning Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Canada Warbler, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, Scarlet Tanager, WESTERN TANAGER, E Towhee, American Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Henslow's Sparrow, NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, W-t Sparrow, W-c Sparrow, D-e Junco, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, N Cardinal, R-b Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, DICKCISSEL, Bobolink, R-w Blackbird, E Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird, Common Grackle, B-h Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Pine Grosbeak, Purple Finch, House Finch, W-w Crossbill, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak, House Sparrow. LEADER'S MISS LIST CATTLE EGRET, AMERICAN AVOCET, BLACK-HEADED GULL, SLATY-BACKED GULL, DICKCISSEL, and WESTERN TANAGER. Amazingly, Pete only missed six of the 269 species seen/heard in the Basin in 2002. This represents a "ticking percentage" of 97.8%, which is truly incredible. Since Pete was so efficient (and lucky) in seeing everything else in the Basin, it's worth noting how these six species eluded him. Cattle Egret, Black-headed Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, and Western Tanager were all less-than-one-day wonders, gone within hours of their discoveries (and in the case of the Black-headed Gull, not identified until after the fact). American Avocet, which had been mentioned and looked for all summer, had the audacity to appear at Montezuma while Pete was home in Michigan. Finally, Dickcissel was not even observed by a living person, instead being detected by a sound recorder. This last species raises the obvious question: Pete, why weren't you lurking outside of the Tessaglia-Hymes residence on the night of September 29!?! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! KICKIN' TAIL! ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE CUP: Congratulations (slightly belatedly) on your amazing 2002 David Cup year! Do you remember anything about 2002 in general, let alone about The Cup? PETE: Actually, I don’t remember a whole lot from 2002 that wasn’t related to The Cup, as you remember I didn’t really do much else. I think I took some classes as well. THE CUP: Ah yes, there were a few of those grueling Natural Resources classes, weren't there? THE CUP: Two sixty-three! Even though I was there with you to see a good portion of those birds, that number still seems a bit unbelievable when I say it or write it. When you started thinking about doing a really big David Cup year, did you ever imagine that you would top 260? Or even the hallowed Basin record of 254? PETE: That’s 264 with Cackling Goose split, remember. But who’s counting? I never pondered what a top number would be, I just wanted to pick a good year for rarities and see what I could. 270 is doable, with a lot of effort. If Mike Harvey had a car, he’d probably already have done it. THE CUP: What are some highlights that you still remember from that year? For me, I remember a lot of the birds, but the thing that really stands out in my mind still is the camaraderie that year. I was always amused when people seemed so surprised to see four birders packed into my car or your car at Montezuma. In my mind, you, Jesse, Mike, and I were like a birding team. We obviously didn't bird together all the time, since you ended up with the highest total (darn you!), but it was rare when there wasn't at least two of us together on an outing. PETE: I really don’t think there was a single bird that I alone saw. It helps to have more eyes out there, and other folks to keep you out when the weather is harsh. I guess a lot of the memorable birds for me were ones that almost got away, like when I was almost sure I had a Glossy Ibis fly over when I was driving out of the Wegman's parking lot, and then having one show up at Montezuma the next day. Or the anonymous report of White Pelicans at Myers. The next day there was a strong north wind, so we went up to Monty to look for them, and Matt Victoria called when we were about five minutes away saying he was there and he had them. Then there was the Slaty-backed fiasco, when Andersen almost got us thrown in jail at the Seneca Falls Dump. THE CUP: This seems like the perfect segue into an Academy Awards-type acceptance speech. Is there anybody you might like to thank--perhaps Dominic Sherony? Or Steve Kelling? Or maybe Ryan Bakelaar? The person who pointed out that first chickadee to you? This is your chance to thank anybody and everybody who has aided in your development as a birder. PETE: I never would have gotten Green Heron for the year if it wasn’t for Dominic. THE CUP: That can be a difficult bird. You're fortunate that you bumped into a real heron/bittern expert. PETE: I guess the previously mentioned folks helped me out more than anybody--Andersen, Medler, and Jesse. Of course the cell phone frenzy helped a lot as well. THE CUP: Since you left the Basin for good in 2004, you've been on ornithological expeditions to Borneo, done field work across the American West, and spent months at a time in both Peru and Ecuador. You've seen literally hundreds and hundreds of birds, including several undescribed species in South America. It all sounds very impressive, but can any of it compare to seeing that Purple Gallinule at Montezuma from the roof of my Ford Tempo? PETE: No, not really. The only other bird I’ve needed to stand on a roof to see was Gray Partridge in Ontario, but that was from the top of my parents' Volvo. At this point I remember the stories more than the birds themselves from the Big Year, and traveling around as well. A lot of it is the places and trouble you get yourself into out in the world just to see birds. THE CUP: Speaking of the trusty Tempo, I'm afraid that it now resides in a space in the Big Parking Lot in the Sky. Is the Little Bandit still going, or is it permanently parked too? PETE: It's still going strong, 205,000 miles at this point. I really want to get it to 264,000 before it's done. For some reason that sounds like a good number to shoot for. THE CUP: That does sound like a good number. It would be even better if you could hit 264 somewhere along the Montezuma auto loop, perhaps on a future Muckrace, maybe at night...in reverse. THE CUP: Have you followed The Cup closely in recent years? If so, what are your thoughts? Do you see anybody topping your record any time soon? Jay has been quietly excellent the past four years, reaching 250 each year and becoming the second repeat winner, but even he maxed out at 256. PETE: I think it is really a matter of effort and luck. There are plenty of people in the Basin that have the skill to hit 270, it's just a matter of spending the time. Jay needs to schedule his classes with birding time in mind, and possibly transfer to Natural Resources like the rest of us to eliminate that pesky need for studying. THE CUP: Since this is The Cup, I am contractually obligated to give you a hard time at least once in this interview, so here it is. While you saw a whole lotta birds in the Basin in 2002, there was just one thing missing from your list--a new addition to the Basin checklist, a bird that people will talk about years from now. Sure, the King Rail was nice, but I wouldn't categorize it as a CMF. I hate to make you feel bad (well, maybe I don't), but since your big year, there has been a slew of new species added to the Basin list: Wilson's Storm-Petrel, White-faced Ibis, Cave Swallow, Black Guillemot, Mountain Bluebird, and Pomarine Jaeger. Heck, even Curtis "I chase other people's rarities" Marantz was part of a group that found the Pomarine Jaeger. Any comment? PETE: What's a CMF? Perhaps you need to elaborate on that. THE CUP: What?! You haven't come across that term during any of your world travels? It's a British acronym: CMF = Really Good Bird. PETE: I don’t know how I managed to not find any new species or even previously recorded CMFs in the Basin, but it's not limited to that one year either. I guess I am better at finding birds that are supposed to be there. THE CUP: Well, we did find the Piping Plover in 2001. No less an authority than Bill "Silvertop" Evans deemed that the "Bird of the Century" for the Basin. THE CUP: Now, you are the only person to ever achieve the Triple Crown of Basin birding--winning the David Cup, Muckrace, and McIlroy Award all in the same year. How does winning each of these events compare? PETE: I felt bad about that because I wanted Tim to win the McIlroy. THE CUP: Sure you did. PETE: He’s done ok since though. THE CUP: Yes he has. He is definitely the poster child for The Birding Club. PETE: Clearly the highlight is the Muckrace. If I got a free bottle of terrible wine for winning the David Cup I would reconsider. THE CUP: I had forgotten about your high standards in such matters. THE CUP: OK, this is it--your last Kickin' Tail question ever. Do you have anything you'd like to add? PETE: Is there a world Big Year record, and would someone sponsor me? THE CUP: Maybe you should talk to Matt "Big Spender" Sarver about that. He's always throwing around money. THE CUP: Congratulations again. It was a great year! :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS For this, my final installment of The Cup, I've decided to go with a different approach for the Highlights section. Birders' highlights are being presented "in their own words," straight from Cayugabirds posts. My hope is that this approach with help "bring the readers back" to those long-gone days of late 2002. (Either that, or I'm just lazy and don't want to go to the effort of a long, painstakingly-written summary.) This is a belated report. I finally got the sounds from the VHS recording I made on the 29th digitized for further analysis on the computer. While doing a rough run-through tonight, I discovered several (4) flight calls of one (or more) DICKCISSEL(s) - Chris Tessaglia-Hymes, Oct. 2 This morning I went to Hog Hole to search for birds like Winter Wren, Northern Harrier, etc. No luck with those, but I did see a tern fly down the inlet (most likely a COMMON TERN; had a brief look and it was pretty far away). The highlight of the trip, however, was seeing 500+ BRANTS fly over Stewart Park towards Ithaca. They circled once as if they were going to land, but then they just kept going. Now I'm going to sit at home for a while and dry off... - Tim Lenz, Oct. 3 John Greenly just called to say that a friend reported seeing two WHITE PELICANS at Myer's Point at 5:00 this evening, Thursday 3 October 2002. John went down and did not find them. Perhaps they have made their way to Stewart Park. - Jay McGowan, for John Greenly, for Mary Walters (who submitted an accepted NYSARC report, with photos), Oct. 3 We saw the Purple Gallinule this afternoon, and watched it for about 30 minutes. We were parked about 10 yards north of signpost #1. It appeared through the reeds, then went north, while feeding, and then south. After about 15 minutes, it darted back to the inside of the reeds. In a few minutes we saw it south of us, just where the reeds start growing on the pool side. It continued walking and feeding, going south. We were about 6 feet from the bird, when it was feeding between the reeds and the road. It will probably continue to be seen between the road the the reeds, as long as there is sufficient water there. - Joe and Carol Slattery, Oct. 3 Hey, There were 5 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS on Dryden Lake this a.m. - Steve Fast, Oct. 4 [Editor's Note: this marked the first of many sightings of all three scoters and Long-tailed Duck in October, November, and December.] Late in the afternoon I decided to go look for the AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS at May's Point Pool. I arrived around 5:00 PM and they were standing among the gulls. Also at May's Point were both YELLOWLEGS, DUNLIN, PECTORAL SANDPIPER, 4 adult DOWITCHERS, 4 STILT SANDPIPERS, and the EURASIAN WIGEON. - Gary Chapin, Oct. 5 I went up to Montezuma to try for Purple Gallinule and the White Pelicans. As I was driving slowly along the wildlife drive looking into the cattails I saw a few Swamp Sparrows and then a sparrow that was very different, a NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW. The head had extensive orange buff and the rest was clear gray down the nape. The chest and flanks were also orange buff and were streaked. I've never seen a Nelson's before and wasn't expecting to see one anytime soon. But looking through my guides, that is the only thing it could have been. The bird was in the cattails about 100 yds. past the #1 marker on the drive. I didn't see the gallinule but others there did see it. The 2 WHITE PELICANS were still present at May's Point Pool. There was also a flock of Snow Geese that flew over May' Point. - Mark Dettling, Oct. 6 This morning I saw a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW while to my eBird census at my house. I had very good views of the bird in good light and at about 15 ft. I had excellent views of the head. The bird had a very noticeable white crown strip, pronounced whitish supercillium, a dark eye-line, pale lores, dark buff auricular, dark moustache, white malar stripe, gray nape, buffy flanks. The rump was buffy brown and the vent was white. I also had many American Pipits flying overhead, and Yellow- rumped Warblers and American Robins were in abundance. - Steve Kelling, Oct. 7 At May's Point Pool in the Montezuma NWR on 10/07/02: 1-Hudsonian Godwit juvenile [from 4:50 PM to 5:20 PM when I left for home] 2-White Pelicans [from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM then they returned at 4:45 PM and stayed till I left at 5:20 PM] - Tim Capone, Oct. 7 Subject: NELSON'S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW: Marten's Tract - Chris Tessaglia-Hymes, for Matt Victoria, Oct. 10 At 1pm I got my lunch break, but with all the movement and chips I saw and heard, I decided not to eat. I walked around the property [at Mackenzie-Childs], staying at the edges of the Goldenrod fields and shrubby patches. HUGE numbers of WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were everywhere! Mixed in were W. CROWNED, CHIPPING, SONG, SWAMP and a single LINCOLN'S. Warblers were represented by 100's of YELLOW- RUMPED WARBLERS, but also by 6 PALM WARBLERS. Other great finds were 7 EASTERN TOWHEES, 2 YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS, a COOPERS HAWK with a full crop and a BROWN CREEPER. The Bird of the Break was undoubtedly a first fall WHITE-EYED VIREO that was foraging with several RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS. Wow!!! What a way to spend a lunch break! - Matt Victoria, Oct. 11 I didn't have very much time for birding, but I did see some great birds. While we were watching the duck-banding near the main pool observation tower, a flock of 200-300 SNOW GEESE flew over our heads trumpeting -- near the front of the flock was a very small white goose, which I identified as a ROSS'S GOOSE. (I have much experience picking out Ross's among flocks of Snows in Louisiana and California, and although some individuals or hybrids may be intermediate in size, this one was not). I'm sure they will post, but I passed the McGowan/Kelling van on the main drive, and they had just seen the PURPLE GALLINULE very close to the road. A brief scan at May's Point produced the single HUDSONIAN GODWIT that had been there, plus a PEREGRINE and a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL -- thanks to Meena and Matt Victoria for getting me on these birds so quickly. We returned to May's Point later in the afternoon, and I re- found the GODWIT and the GULL. I also counted at least 40 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS (a very large count for New York state), and with them were at least 8 STILT SANDPIPERS (a large count for so late). There were also about 15 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, and a few DUNLIN. - Ken "I identify Ross's Geese in flight" Rosenberg, Oct. 12 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL [at Montezuma NWR] - 3 - (2 adult basic and 1 3rd winter) if you're interested in a description, please see my next post! - Mike Andersen, Jesse Ellis, Dan Lebbin, and Matt Medler, Oct. 15 I saw the PURPLE GALLINULE today (SAT.) late morning. It was asleep mostly, seen in the channel to the west of the the auto-loop at its start. It was almost directly beneath that dead snag that stands tall there. - Steve Fast, Oct. 19 [Editor's Note: this was the last report of the Purple Gallinule.] 1 GOLDEN EAGLE- while trying to relocate my weird peep, all of the shorebirds flew at Benning. I looked up hoping for a peregrine, but all I saw was an eagle. I thought to myself, that would be great if it was a golden. I raised my bins, and low and behold, it was! A gorgeous immature bird, with lots of white on the upperwing, underwing, and tail. - Pete Hosner, Oct. 20 About 20 minutes after Pete left me at Mays Pool, I saw the aforementioned GOLDEN EAGLE. It was somewhat harassed by 2 crows, then landed in a tree at the east end of Mays Pool. Over that wooded area an immature BALD EAGLE then appeared. As I watched it the golden decamped. Soon followed another immature BALD EAGLE, this one much scruffier than the first. Later while talking with 2 duck hunters, an ADULT BALD EAGLE soared over. I gave one of the hunters a look at it thru my scope while he was telling me at his mom's place in Nova Scotia they are very common. Soon after this and just before the rain, another immature GOLDEN EAGLE passed by. This one had the bright white band at the base of the upper tail, no white spots on the upper wing surface(unlike the first), while the white lower tail band and under wing spots were quite muted. As the rains hit, another birder pointed out a flock of 8+ AMERICAN PIPITS had just landed on the mudflat. -Steve Fast, Oct. 20 Just received a call from Meena Haribal. She's at Mays Point Pool at Montezuma, looking at a Greater White-fronted Goose out amongst the thousands of Canadas. Good luck! - Jesse Ellis, for Meena Haribal, Oct. 20 From the Montezuma refuge visitor's center, we heard the familiar sound of Tundra Swans. We counted 175 from the tower. Pete spotted a drake EURASIAN WIGEON from the tower off to the west loosely associating with other dablers and _Aythya_ species. After ten minutes it tooked off like a bat out of hell and flew due west accompanied by two other American Wigeon. - Pete Hosner, Mike Andersen, and Jessie Barry, Nov. 2 From the tower overlooking the main pool at Montezuma, Jesse Ellis picked out a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE in the same spot we saw a drake Eurasian Wigeon last week (looking west). The goose stayed put, however, unlike the wigeon. Mays had an incredible number of birds with many thousands of Canada Geese and 836 TUNDRA SWANS. - Mike Andersen, Jesse Ellis, and Pete Hosner, Nov. 9 Allison, Evan, and I went for a walk at Dryden Lake today and we were surprised to see a Great Egret (apparently the same one mentioned already by Jay) feeding in the cattail marsh near the trail roughly near the midpoint. Actually, Evan wasn't that surprised as he was snoozing by then. - Jeff Wells, Nov. 10 [Editor's Note: this bird was reported as late as Nov. 22.] I and several others (sorry I didn't catch all the names) braved the mild south winds this morning at Taughannock SP. There was one COMMON LOON on the water. Other birds of note were a singing CAROLINA WREN and two flyby EVENING GROSBEAKS. - Jesse Ellis, Nov. 12 Jay and I (and my daughter Perri) were doing a quick check of Dryden Lake at 13:00 today (16 Nov 02, Saturday). The beloved "Dryden Lake Effect" was in place on this gray, snowy day, and a large number of ducks were on the lake. As part of a semi-consistent census of the lake that I am putting into eBird, I was counting the Ring-billed Gulls floating in the middle of the lake. I noticed one individual that had a darker mantle and darker wing tips. It just didn't look right, and I put Jay onto it with the other scope. My first impression was Laughing Gull because of the darker mantle and longer winged look, but the bird had markings on the back of the head, so I switched to Franklin's Gull as a possibility. Jay remarked on the spot behind the eye about the same time I realized that the dark mark on the neck wasn't a partial hood but rather a dark line/smudge at the base of the neck. Those two characters, plus the rounded head (not the pin-headed look of a Bonaparte's or Black-headed) made me decide on immature BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE. We solidified the identification, and then (with Perri's help as a runner to the car; thank her next time you see her Pete) we called all the numbers logged into my cell phone. The bird was preening actively and showed us the dark line across the wing, the dark nape mark, and dark tail tip. Jay got some decent, but far from good photographs (good relative to the distance and heat distortion) while we watched the bird. It was drifting amongst the Ring-bills, but seemed to be the most nervous of the bunch. I was afraid that it would leave before anyone else got there, and sure enough when it drifted next to an adult Herring Gull, the larger gull tried to grab the kittiwake by the neck and it flew up with a number of Ring-billed Gulls at 13:43. They all flew to the SW and disappeared out of sight. We figured that the Ring- bills landed in the corn fields over by Purvis Road, but that the kittiwake thought that was a stupid idea and circled back to the lake. Pete Hosner (the luckiest person in the Cayuga Lake basin) arrived about 15 minutes later and spotted the kittiwake circling back over the lake. It did not land, and drifted out of sight to the NW just as the other contingent of avid birders arrived (and missed it). In flight the dark "M" mark was quite apparent, along with the dark tip to the tail and white trailing edge to the wing. It had a faster wingbeat and more buoyant flight than the Ring-bills. I got one through-the-binoculars flying photograph. On the lake it was just slightly smaller than the Ring-bills, with a darker mantle, similarly rounded head, and all-dark bill. It had a prominent dark spot behind the dark eye, and a dark line where the neck met the back. It showed a thick dark line in the back half of the folded wing. The wingtips had no white in them. When scratching, it showed its black legs. - Kevin, Jay, and Perri McGowan, Nov. 16 Just got a call from Jesse Ellis, who got a call from Tim Lenz. Tim made a rare foray out of the Town of Ithaca this morning, and was rewarded with two PURPLE SANDPIPERS at Myers. Makes me wonder if I missed them yesterday afternoon. Anyway, hurry up there if you're interested in seeing them. Knowing Tim, I wouldn't be surprised if he tries to "shoo" them southward, to the Red Lighthouse Jetty. (Just kidding.) - Matt Medler, for Jesse Ellis, for Tim Lenz, Nov. 17 Dan Lebbin, Matt Medler, Pete Hosner and I, as well as Ken Rosenburg and Chris TH all refound Tim Lenz's TWO PURPLE SANDPIPERS at Myers point. They were feeding with 7 Dunlin, as well as a single WHITE- RUMPED SANDPIPER and a single PECTORAL SANDPIPER. From Myers we saw 6 or 7 Bonaparte's Gulls fly by, as well as 13 RED-THROATED LOONS on the water. 4 SNOW BUNTINGS flew in while we were there too. A few BLACK SCOTERS were north of Myers out on the lake. From the Marina on the south side we found a large raft of Scaup back up in the bay, several Pied-billed Grebes, another raft of 16 BLACK SCOTERS, 5 COMMON LOONS including one with a broken lower mandible (same bird as has been repeatedly reported in other years?), lots of Bufflehead, Hooded Mergs, and Coots. We then went down to Stewart Park, and found 2 BRANT flying in, 100-150 Bufflehead, 10 BONAPARTE'S GULLS on the water, Hooded Mergs, Common Mergs, Gadwall, A. Wigeon, Mallard, Black Duck, 3 Common Goldeneye (by way of Tim), and 60 odd Scoters way out in the water. Chris TH got a better look at them from a different vantage point and said they were 2/3 Blacks, and 1/3 White-winged Scoters (did I get that right?). He also had a raft of 21 Red-throated Loons. There were probably other waterfowl I'm forgetting... A great morning. I now hereby officially prod Ken to report what he had at Myers prior to Tim finding the PURPLE SANDPIPERS. - Jesse Ellis, Nov. 17 O.K. Here are a few more details to fill in for Sunday morning's great birding. I headed to Myer's Pt early for my own closer-to-home loon watch -- I counted there from 7 am till just after 9. Hunters were already set up on the north side of the creek mouth, and a pair of fisherman came and went from the main spit, so it was truly a multiple- use event. I'll start with the morning's highlight: at about 8:40, I spotted a BONAPARTE'S GULL way our over the lake, and I got my scope on it (I was scoping from underneath the shelter near the tennis court, so it wasn't that bad for viewing). There were at least 3 BONAPARTE'S circling out over the middle of the lake, and I noticed that one gull looked slightly larger and seemingly showed a dark underwing as it circled. I thought of Little Gull, and then, because of the size, Black-headed Gull -- but when I zoomed in on the bird, I could see the strong upper- wing pattern of dark leading primaries, continuing across the wing in the dark "W" pattern, plus a clear black smudge on the nape of the neck and black-tipped square tail. Realizing that this was a first-year BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, I followed it in the scope for about a minute before the group of gulls disappeared behind some trees, continuing to circle towards the south. I realize anything is possible, but it's hard for me to believe that this bird seemingly migrating down the middle of Cayuga Lake was the same individual that dropped into Dryden Lake on Saturday. Almost as unusual was the loon flight I observed earlier in the morning. After seeing a group of 6 COMMON LOONS low over the water shortly after I arrived, I then counted several small flocks of loons, totalling 53 birds, heading down the lake between 8 and 8:30 -- the problem is, they were ALL RED-THROATED LOONS; pure flocks without even a single Common mixed in. I watched these birds very carefully, scoping and counting each group, noting the smaller size, whiter neck and head, smaller, upturned bills on every bird (I was looking for Pacific Loon). One group of 17 RTLOs came down and settled on the lake, and scattered individuals were seen all morning in various directions off Myer's Point. Red-throated is usually a rare-but- regular species this time of year, most often as single birds in large migrating flocks of Common Loons. So the question is: why were these birds missed at the Taughannock Loon Watch? Why didn't I see any of the Commons that were reported migrating? Could it be that for some reason, Red-throateds were moving down the center or East side of the lake and are more difficult to see from Taughannock? Or was this just a freak event? During the entire time I was at Myer's, I watched a group of 6 DUNLIN on the rocky spit that formed on the north side of the creek mouth, at times walking very close to the hunters' blind and decoys. I was hoping that other shorebird species that might be in the area would find this flock and join them (I was certainly thinking Purple). None had by the time I left, but apparently Tim Lenz arrived shorly thereafter and witnessed the new shorebirds coming in from the north side of the point after some hunters fired their guns. I got the message (after running into Pete Hosner at East Shore) and headed back up to Myer's to join the group of birders admiring the 2 PURPLE SANDPIPERS and other remarkable (for November) shorebirds. What a great sight! The only other birds not specifically mentioned by others are 2 male LONG-TAILED DUCKS flying north past Myer's, and 3-4 PIPITS on the spit early in the morning. - Ken Rosenberg, Nov. 17 After speaking with Jesse Ellis and various other birders this evening, doing research in field guides, and then looking at images on-line, I am fairly confident that Jesse and I did see an adult winter BLACK- HEADED GULL from East Shore Park in Ithaca at approximately 9 am on Monday, 18 November 2002. Here are my recollections of the situation and the bird: I was using a Kowa 20-60x scope to scan the water on the west side of Cayuga Lake for possible scoters, so I believe I had the scope at 30- 40x. I looked away from the scope for some reason, and when I looked back, there was a gull in the scope, flying north, into a fairly stiff north wind. My first impression, based on the pattern of the upperparts--light gray mantle and wings, a few white primaries forming a white triangle at the leading edge of the outer wing, and a black trailing edge to the primaries--made me think adult winter Bonaparte's Gull. For whatever reason, I encouraged Jesse to get on the bird, and once he did, he quickly noted that the bird had dark underwings. This made us consider Little Gull, and indeed, the darkness of the underwing was reminiscent of the coloration of the one adult winter Little Gull I have seen. However, as Jesse also quickly pointed out, the bird we were watching had a white triangle on the leading edge of the underwing, something that Little Gull does not have. This white triangle on the underwing contrasted sharply with the overall dark appearance (what I would describe as "dark gray") of the rest of the underwing. While we had Little Gull on my mind, I commented that I thought that the bird was much too big for a Little Gull, and that it actually seemed bigger to me than a Bonaparte's Gull. (I realize that judging the size of a lone bird is a difficult task, but these were my impressions of the bird's size). I also thought that the bird's flight was stronger and more direct than the typically bouncy, tern-like flight of Bonaparte's Gull. At the time, as we tried to rationalize a default identification of Bonaparte's Gull, I thought that the bird's flying into the stiff north wind might straighten out its flight (if it were in fact a Bonaparte's), although now I wonder about this idea. It seems to me now that a Bonaparte's flying into a stiff north wind might experience quite erratic flight. At any rate, the bird was quite distant from us, and flying away from us to the north, so I was unable to get any feel for details like leg color or bill color. The bird had a white head, and to be honest, I don't specifically remember noting the black ear-spot to be expected on both Bonaparte's and Black- headed. I don't know if this was an oversight in my observations, or if such a spot was just not visible due to the distance from which we were viewing the bird. Finally, the tail was all white. When we arrived back at my apartment, we quickly checked the Sibley Guide. After seeing Sibley's depiction on p. 209 of an adult nonbreeding Black-headed Gull with dark primaries, but whitish underwing coverts and secondaries, Jesse ruled out Black-headed Gull as a possibility, and we just "let it go" at the time. While speaking with Ben Fambrough this evening, he mentioned a Black-headed Gull in the Cleveland area, and this spurred me to look at my "Gulls" (second edition), by Peter Grant. A look at the photographs in Grant, specifically #19, suggested to me that Sibley's depiction might be inaccurate. A look at the European Collins Bird Guide, by Mullarney, Svensson, Zetterstrom, and Grant includes a vignette on p. 171 comparing winter adults of Bonaparte's Gull and Black-headed Gull; Black-headed is depicted as having a dark gray underwing (including the underwing coverts) that becomes almost blackish in the primaries immediately adjacent to the white outermost primaries. The National Geographic "Field Guide to the Birds of North America" (second edition) shows Black-headed Gull with dark gray primaries, but white underwing coverts. Jesse and I strongly welcome comments (either on-list or privately) of our report. And, we hope that people will get out to Stewart Park, East Shore, and Myers, in the hopes of getting longer, more detailed looks of this bird. - Matt Medler, Nov. 19 Nine cold observers were on hand this morning to observe the first major Loon flight of the year. 1664 Loons were counted with 941 seen in periods 1-4 and 727 during the remaining periods. 2746 Loons have been counted so far this year which is by far the lowest number counted by this time during the 10 years of the count. - Bob Meade, Nov. 23 There is a first winter Glaucous Gull at Stewart Park. It was on the ice near the tennis courts. Amazing looks, only about 30 yards away. Should be another hour of light left to look for it. - Pete Hosner, Dec. 12 There was a SNOWY OWL this afternoon on the south side of RT 31 at the Savannah Mucklands in Northern Cayuga county. The bird was very distant and a scope was required to make a positive ID (e.g. not just a shimmering blob of snow) but the bird was best viewed from the "potatoes building." The bird had a vested appearance, being white down the center of the belly and on the upper-breast. The head appeared all white but for a few bars to the nuchal area/back of the head. - Gerard Phillips, Dec. 18 I unfortunately skipped Stewart Park this morning on my way out of town this morning, but saw those 2 loons from East Shore. At the Aurora Bluffs I found 2 nice female WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, 2 Horned Grebes from the boathouse, and 1 EARED GREBE with them. I headed up to the Mucklands where I failed to find the Snowy Owl. Frankly, I don't believe this bird exists. I did see 2 clumps of snow and an all-white ROCK DOVE. Also I heard a call note that sounded like a SONG SPARROW but never got good looks at it. There were 30 or so Horned Larks in the fields too. The lake in the town of Seneca Falls (sorry don't know the name) had one "darker juvenile" GLAUCOUS GULL, as pictured in Sibley. - Tim Lenz, Dec. 21 :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> A New Basin Species...Already on the Basin Check-list Upon stepping out of the shower on a dreary November afternoon, Pete Hosner was greeted by not one, not two, not three, but five voicemail messages that all said the same thing: "BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE AT DRYDEN LAKE!" Why the excitement? This message that I originally posted to Cayugabirds-L on November 21 helps provide the answer: When Kevin McGowan called me on Saturday to tell me of the Black- legged Kittiwake that Jay and he found at Dryden Lake, I knew immediately that it was an exceptional find for the Cayuga Lake Basin, as it is listed as "Accidental" on Charlie Smith's "Check-list of the Birds of the Cayuga Lake Basin" and I have never heard talk of any sightings from the Basin. After doing some research on the subject, I am even more impressed by their find. Their kittiwake sighting is arguably the first valid record ever for the Basin, and is certainly the first fully-documented Basin record. John Bull's "Birds of New York State" (1974) includes only one upstate inland (i.e., away from the Great Lakes) record of Black-legged Kittiwake--an immature photographed by P. Trail on Seneca Lake at Geneva, on December 31, 1968. The new "Bull's Birds of New York State" (1998), edited by Emanuel Levine, mentions one additional record, of one bird at Iroquois NWR on February 21, 1981. Why, then, is Black-legged Kittiwake on the Basin checklist? To answer that question, I visited the Rare and Manuscript Collection at Cornell University's Kroch Library to review the late Dorothy W. McIlroy's notes on birds in the Cayuga Lake Basin. Here is the information from McIlroy's Black-legged Kittiwake note cards: 1/1/61 n. end Cay. L. John Morse & Enn Katkes ? SHS question, not mentioned in Bull [12/26/36 seminar report - 1, no details, no observer listed] In 1930-40 Seminar records this species is checked on the 10/26/36 seminar list, No comment, no indication of locality make me suspect that it was a mistake for another species (DWM). Bull mentions no Cayuga Lake Basin record. The Jan. 4, 1854 specimen mentioned in Eaton (1910) Vol. I, p. 121 was taken at Auburn, not in the basin. Reed & Wright (1909) p. 411 - specimen reported by W. Hopkins in 1854. Based on this information, I would argue that the previous inclusion of Black-legged Kittiwake on the Basin checklist was questionable, at best. But, with Jay and Kevin's sighting, supported by a thorough description and digital photographs, the species now rightfully belongs on the checklist. :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> "Cup Quotes" After reading Tim's post, I decided to head out to Sapsucker Woods on Tuesday afternoon to enjoy the beautiful weather (and maybe to look around for the Lincoln's Sparrow that he and Mark saw). - Matt Medler Allison and Evan and I had our lunch at Stewart Park today (10/9). We spotted a female-plumaged Surf Scoter off the west side, at one point near the jetty then later further out. Allison was able to add it to her "Birds Seen While Nursing List" which also includes the Laughing Gull from a few weeks ago. Allison also had the unusual experience on Monday of spotting the reflection of an adult Bald Eagle in dishwater in the sink then looking up to watch it soaring over our house! - Jeff Wells Subject: Scoterrific! All three species of scoters can be seen from East Shore Park/Stewart Park this morning, in calm winds and great light. - Tim Lenz Hello Birders, Just thought I'd give you the heads-up on Steve's incident at Wegman's, late this afternoon. Not being a big-store fan, Steve parked our car at the far end of the lot and waited there while I zipped in to do a little grocery shopping. When I returned there were 2 men talking with Steve, who was showing them his scope. I figured they were asking about birds. Wrong! The 2 had received a report from a customer that a suspicious person was out in the lot with a tripod, maybe taking pictures. The men did not identify themselves as store security. A clue that they came from Wegman's: one wore a white apron. Incensed, I phoned the store when we got home. The manager apologized for not identifying himself to Steve, however, he said he was doing his job in investigating Steve. "These days you can't be too careful." I asked if they figured he might be a sniper. "Yes." Steve does not have a camera attachment on his scope -- if any of you do, and decide to bird in Wegman's lot--oh, yes and IF YOU HAVE A BEARD--you will probably be interrogated. The good news is that the bird he was watching, with scope pointed 'way up, was a PEREGRINE FALCON. And for that, Steve is pleased. - Sue Fast As everyone knows, there is no such thing as a "bad birding time". That's like "extra beer" or "bad sex". They just don't exist. - Eric Banford Subject: Snowy Owls DO exist! On my way back to Ithaca today from Mayville, NY I stopped at the Mucklands again to search for this mythical bird. In a 360 degree scan of the Mucklands, initially facing north, I found the SNOWY OWL a bit to the southwest of the potato building. Magnificent! At first it had its back to me but then it turned and stared at me, so I knew I wasn't hallucinating. Back in Ithaca, I checked Stewart Park, hoping those two Iceland Gulls would still be around. No luck there, but the Snowy Owl was a great way to end a fantastic year of Basin birding! - Tim Lenz May Your Cup Runneth Over, Matt