Year 7, Issues 7-9

***************************************************************** *^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^ * ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ * ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^ *The electronic publication of the David Cup/McIlroy competitions. * Editor-in-Chief: Matt Medler * Basin Bird Highlights: Jay McGowan * Waxwing Poetic: Eric Banford * Legal Advice: Niall Hatch ****************************************************************** Will anybody ever surpass the Basin birding year that David Cup champion-to-be Pete Hosner is having this year? When we last checked on Pete's progress, in June, he had already surpassed (with 245 species) winning David Cup totals for entire years. The addition of another species in July tied him with Matt Young's winning total of 246 in 1999. Then August arrived, and Pete really went to work, visiting Montezuma on an almost daily basis during the last part of the month. His persistence paid off, as he moved to 253 species at the end of August, passing Geo Kloppel's 2000 total of 251. The David Cup record was now his, after only eight months of birding, and the vaunted Basin record of 254 set by Ned Brinkley and Adam Byrne during the pre-David Cup years, was within easy striking distance. A share of the Basin record came quickly, as Pete found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Montezuma on September 5. 254!!! When you've seen that many birds in the Basin, new species can become rather hard to find. How long would it take Pete to hit 255 and break the Basin record? Would he have to wait until October, when Hudsonian Godwits often pass through the area, or would the record- breaking bird come in late fall, in the form of Black Scoter or Lapland Longspur? How about seeing #255 two days after #254? Better yet, how about breaking the Basin Big Year record in the process of shattering the Montezuma Muckrace Big Day record? Sounds too much like a Disney script, you say? Well, that's how it turned out. On September 7, Pete teamed with birding comrades Mike Andersen, Ryan Bakelaar, and Jesse Ellis to win the sixth annual Muckrace with a record total of 132 species. And, when Jesse picked out an eclipse male Eurasian Wigeon at Mays Point that day, the Basin record was Pete's. Wait, some old-timers might be saying. Ned Brinkley actually tallied 256 species during his Big Year, but later removed two species (Mute Swan and a night-flight Least Bittern) from his list. So, while the "official" Basin record was 254, the unofficial record was 256. No problem, Pete said. A flock of 16 Hudsonian Godwits the following weekend brought Pete to 256, and Kevin McGowan's Stewart Park Laughing Gull made for 257. Purple Gallinule(!!!) at Montezuma later in the month was icing on the cake (like that really good icing on carrot cake). Incredibly, at the end of September, Pete stood at 258 species, and he shows no signs of slowing down between now and December 31. @ @ @ @ @ @ NEWS, CUES, and BLUES @ @ @ @ @ @ WELCOME TO THE CUP FAMILY: The Cup is extremely excited to announce the arrival of a new member to the First Family of The Cup--The Wells Family. After much anticipation, Allison gave birth to Evan Jeffrey Wells on August 1, 2002, at 10:22 p.m. The not-so-little guy weighed in at 8 lb. 10 oz. and measured 20" long. With his impeccable birding pedigree, there's no telling just how good a birder Evan will become (can you say 2020 David Cup Champion?). In fact, rumor has it that at the tender age of three months, Evan has already surpassed "Papa" Wells's David Cup total for the year. DRYDEN DISAPPERANCE: Has anybody seen Ken Rosenberg in Dryden recently? Granted, as a denizen of the Lab of Ornithology's annex (a.k.a. "The Rock"), Ken currently works in the Town of Dryden, but it appears that Dr. Rosenberg's days of Dryden birding dominance are over. Why? In July, Ken, Anne, Rachel, and Olivia departed beloved Beam Hill for a new home in northeastern Ithaca, just minutes from Sapsucker Woods. Besides offering the girls a better school district, residence in Ithaca also makes Ken a favorite in the 2003 McIlroy Award race. You better pull out a McIlroy victory this year, Tim Lenz, while you still can! :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> BASIN BIRD HIGHLIGHTS Having trouble remembering the birds that you saw (or missed) in the third quarter of 2002? Fortunately, The Cup has managed to retain the expert services of Jay McGowan to bring you the highlights of late summer and early fall. Take it away, Jay! July, August and September By Jay McGowan JULY July was, as always, a slow month for birding in the Cayuga Lake Basin, but there were still a few birds seen. In early July, a few shorebirds were seen at Montezuma, mostly yellowlegs. On July 12, Ken Rosenberg had two Common and two Caspian Terns at Myers Point. The same day, Matt Medler had an adult winter Bonaparte’s Gull, as well as a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls, off Stewart Park. On July 14, more shorebirds appeared at Montezuma, including Pectoral and Semipalmated Sandpipers. In late July more shorebirds started to come through. Least, Semipalmated, Pectoral and Stilt Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and Short-billed Dowitchers were all seen at Montezuma. Black-crowned Night-Herons, Black, Common, and Caspian Terns, and a fairly large number of common dabbling ducks were also present at Montezuma. Although not in the Basin, still of note was an immature Brown Pelican reported from Sodus Point on Lake Ontario on July 21. It was seen again on the 24th and 25th at Sodus Point. The pelican was relocated on the 27th at Sandy Pond, farther north, and seemed to be wandering up and down the Lake Ontario shore. Back in the Basin, Meena Haribal found a Ruddy Turnstone at Myers Point on July 26, and it continued to be seen as late as July 29. AUGUST In early August, Least Bitterns started to be seen at Montezuma, in addition to the common shorebirds and some apparently resident Redheads. Caspian Terns were seen in great numbers in various places, with more than 50 being reported at Stewart Park, and at least 25 individuals seen at one time at Myers Point. Also at Myers, Kevin McGowan found a Sanderling and a Pectoral Sandpiper on the spit there on August 14. The Sanderling stayed until at least the 17th, when it was joined by another individual. A Black-bellied Plover and several other common shorebirds were also seen there. On August 15, Bernie Carr posted that there were three American Avocets at May's Point. Although this is somewhat unclear, it seems that the avocets had been present for a few days before they were reported to Cayugabirds-L. They were not present, however, the following morning. To make up for missing the avocets, Pete Hosner visited Montezuma approximately every evening from mid-August until mid-September. He (and others) found a juvenile Wilson's Phalarope at May's Point on August 17. On the 20th, Pete reported two Wilson's Phalaropes. Two Wilson's were seen from then until mid-September. Also on the 20th, Pete Hosner had the first Baird's Sandpiper of the year, at Montezuma. In the next few days, American Golden-Plover, Long-billed Dowitcher, and many of the more common shorebirds were seen at Montezuma. On August 23, Mark Chao found an Olive-sided Flycatcher in Sapsucker Woods. It was still there on the 25th. Fall warbler migration began, with Blue-winged, Nashville, Tennessee, Pine, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Hooded, and Wilson’s Warblers seen, along with Philadelphia and other vireos. On the evening of August 26, Dan Lebbin found a male CONNECTICUT WARBLER along a trail in Sapsucker Woods. It was not seen later that evening, but Pete Hosner, Mike Andersen, and Eric Banford relocated the bird early the next morning. Birders who tried for it later that morning failed to find it, and it was not seen again. Other birds of interest in Sapsucker Woods included various warblers and vireos, Solitary Sandpiper, and a Merlin. Back at Montezuma on August 24, eight or more Least Bitterns were seen from the corral at May's Point, as well as several Common Nighthawks. On August 27, Pete Hosner found a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope at May's Point, in addition to the two Wilson's Phalaropes and other shorebirds. On August 31, Pete Hosner and Mike Andersen led a well- attended shorebird workshop at Montezuma. Most of the same shorebirds were seen then, plus White-rumped Sandpiper. On August 31, Jesse Ellis had a scaup species, probably Greater, off of Stewart Park. SEPTEMBER In early September, many species of warbler were reported, including both Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes; other migrant passerines of note included Philadelphia Vireos and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. On September 5, Pete Hosner found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at May's Point, as well as most of the other common shorebirds. A Buff-breasted was seen again on the 11th. September 7 was the 6th annual Montezuma Muckrace at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge Wetlands Complex. The total number of species reported was 177 (including 20 species of waterfowl, 19 shorebirds, and 23 warblers). The winning team, "Malar Stripe," was composed of Pete Hosner, Mike Andersen, Jesse Ellis, and Ryan Bakelaar; they tallied 132 species, a new high for the Muckrace. The second-place team, "The Beasts of Birding," featuring Bob Fogg, Matts Williams and Sarver, and Niall Hatch, totaled 129 species (also breaking the previous Muckrace record). Some of the highlights of the competition included: an eclipse male EURASIAN WIGEON at May's Point, found by Jesse Ellis of Malar Stripe (this bird stuck around until at least September 22); Sandhill Crane; Wilson’s Phalarope; Long-eared Owl and WHIP-POOR-WILL (both found by The Beasts of Birding on Howland Island); Red-headed Woodpecker; Olive-sided Flycatcher; and a Golden-winged Warbler on a trail at Esker Brook. On September 15, Pete Hosner, Matt Medler, and Mike Andersen had 16 Hudsonian Godwits at Montezuma. There was one godwit remaining the next morning, and all the godwits appeared to have departed completely by that evening. Other shorebirds at Montezuma included Sanderling, White-rumped and Baird’s Sandpipers, and both dowitchers. Also, up to around 75 Great Egrets were seen at one time at May's Point. Kevin McGowan found an adult nonbreeding LAUGHING GULL on the dock at Stewart Park on the morning of September 18. Not only did it stay the afternoon, it was seen [by seemingly everybody but Ryan "I Need Laughing Gull for my Basin List" Bakelaar] as late as September 22. On September 20, Mary Clark and Donna Trumble, volunteer workers at Montezuma NWR, reported seeing an immature PURPLE GALLINULE walking on the lily pads on the wildlife drive at Montezuma. It was seen by one person that evening and by many observers in the next few days. The Purple Gallinule stuck around for a long time, and was last reported on October 20. This bird turned out to be the first of at least three Purple Gallinules seen in New York State this fall. On the morning of September 22, Kevin and Jay McGowan found a probable female WESTERN TANAGER in Freeville while on a crow census. The bird was flycatching in a dead tree on the corner of Sheldon and Boneplain Roads. It was not seen again by others who looked for it later that day. Chris Tessaglia-Hymes and Joe Brin reported a Red-necked Phalarope in the Savannah Mucklands on September 21, and the same day Matt Victoria reported another (or possibly the same) Red-necked Phalarope from May's Point. Red-necked Phalaropes were seen until at least September 25. Night migration peaked in the middle of the month, with thousands of thrushes (Hermit, Wood, Veery, Gray-cheeked, and Swainson’s), grosbeaks, warblers, sparrows, and various other night-migrants. Also, in the middle of the night on September 29, Chris Tessaglia-Hymes recorded one or more flyover Dickcissels passing over his home in Etna. Towards the latter half of the month, migrant warblers continued to be seen. Northern Parula, Mourning, Hooded, Pine, and Blue-winged Warblers were all reported. On September 28, Jesse Ellis had a Rusty Blackbird at Hog Hole in Ithaca, and on September 29, Chris Tessaglia- Hymes had (among other warblers) a late Yellow Warbler by the marina at Myers Point. The same day, Laura Stenzler found an early female Surf Scoter at Myers Point. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< PILGRIMS' PROGRESS >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> September, August, and July 2002 David Cup Totals 258, 253, 246 Pete Hosner 249, 243, 235 Mike Andersen 247, 240, 233 Matt Medler 245, 239, 229 Jay McGowan 243, 236, 224 Jesse Ellis 241, 235, 226 Kevin McGowan 236, 233, 220 Meena Haribal 226, ???, ??? Steve & Susie Fast 222, 217, 209 Bruce Tracey 219, 208, 194 Jeff Gerbracht 218, 212, 197 Tim Lenz ???, ???, 208 Bob Fogg ???, ???, 206 Ken Rosenberg 206, 203, 181 Anne Marie Johnson 205, 197, 196 Dan Lebbin ???, ???, 202 Steve Kelling 202, 199, 179 Tim Johnson 200, 198, 183 Eric Banford ???, ???, 184 Allison Wells ???, ???, 182 Jeff Wells 172, 102, 102 Matt Williams ???, ???, 150 Anne James-Rosenberg 124, 120, 118 Tringa (the Dog) McGowan 97, 86, 85 Martin (the Cat) McGowan ???, ???, 45 Rachel Rosenberg Eric Banford's 200th Bird: Winter Wren Anne Marie Johnson's 200th Bird: Stilt Sandpiper September, August, and July 2002 McIlroy Award Totals 180, 178, ??? Pete Hosner 176, 173, 163 Tim Lenz 173, 173, 173 Jai Balakrishnan 160, 154 Jay McGowan 148, 147 Kevin McGowan 140 Matt Medler 128 Allison Wells 127 Ken Rosenberg September, August, and July 2002 Evans Trophy Totals 186, 178, 175 Jay McGowan 182, 176, 175 Kevin McGowan 170 Ken Rosenberg 164 Pete Hosner September 2002 Yard Totals 140 Steve Kelling 127 McGowan/Kline Family 95 Nancy Dickinson 91 Rosenberg Family 64 Anne Marie and Tim Johnson 61 Jesse Ellis $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ COMPOSITE DEPOSIT There have been a whole lot of changes in the Composite Deposit since the last issue of The Cup at the end of June. Expected "Fall Only" shorebirds like American Golden-Plover, Hudsonian Godwit, Baird's Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, and Red-necked Phalarope were all added to the list in August or September, as were hoped-for and sought-after species like Eurasian Wigeon, American Avocet, Laughing Gull, and Connecticut Warbler. Then there were the surprises, and what surprises they were: Purple Gallinule and Western Tanager! Adding these thirteen species to June's Composite Deposit of 252 would bring the year's total to 265, but we also have a subtraction. After much deliberation, and an exhaustive study involving Cornell undergraduates running in front of headlights while flapping owl wings, we have decided to remove Snowy Owl from the Composite Deposit. Thus, the Composite Deposit total stands at 264 at the end of September. Finally, we have a name change to note. The American Ornithologists' Union has recognized the North American form of Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) as a distinct species, Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata). That Wilson guy sure is good--he just keeps racking up new species! Here's the complete Composite Deposit: R-t Loon, Common Loon, P-b Grebe, Horned Grebe, R-n Grebe, EARED GREBE, 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, Bonaparte's Gull, R-b Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Lesser B-b Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great B-b Gull, 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, 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, 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, Black Scoter, AMERICAN AVOCET, SLATY-BACKED GULL, WESTERN TANAGER, and Lapland Longspur. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ! KICKIN' TAIL! ! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE CUP: Congratulations, Pete! Not only have you broken the hallowed record of 254 birds in the Basin in one year, you've downright shattered it, tallying 258 birds...by the end of September! How did you do it? I have three possible explanations, all of the supernatural variety: 1. You went to the Basin's birding crossroads (the intersection of Route 89 and Routes 5/20), got down on your knees, and sold your soul to the devil, in exchange for Purple Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Whip- poor-will, Yellow-breasted Chat, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Connecticut Warbler, and Purple Gallinule. (Not a bad deal, we might add.) 2. You have some type of telepathic connection with fellow Michigan native (by the way, what is somebody from Michigan called? A Michiganer? Or is it Michiganite?) Adam Byrne, who channeled his prodigious birding powers to you. 3. You joined Dionne Warwick's "Psychic Friends Network," which gave you the "vision" to predict when and where rare birds would appear. Am I on track with any of these theories? They all seem to make sense to me. PETE: I actually tried to sell my soul after the murrelet showed up last December, but all I found was this guy from the Montezuma Winery trying to get me to go in and buy some wine. I thought this wine salesman may have been the dark lord himself, so I went in. I choked down some chardonnay, and woke up the next day in my car on the wildlife drive. I didn't remember signing a flaming contract in blood or anything like that, but that afternoon back in Ithaca, the gannet showed up. Do the Cup clergy have any comment on this? THE CUP: Hmm. We'll have to talk with Cup Shaman Matt Sarver to see if there's any hope of saving your soul. Personally, I think you're toast. I hope you've enjoyed the ride. THE CUP: At the end of September, you're at 258 species. With Halloween just around the corner, temperatures dropping, and fierce north winds coming down the lake, it's now time for two more "should get" species: Black Scoter and Lapland Longspur. Those two birds should definitely push you to the 260 plateau, if you haven't already reached it with a surprise species or two. With sounds of "The Limbo" in the air, the question is: "How high can you go?" PETE: Well, after we won the Muckrace, Ryan Bakelaar told me that I better not match his Basin life list (265) in one year. Now I love disappointing Ryan as much as anyone, so I would love to hit 265. I think this is the highest number possible (it would take three to four completely unexpected birds). My prediction at this point is 263-- picking up American White Pelican (which will show up at MNWR), Lapland Longspur, Black Scoter, Snowy Owl, and two unexpected surprises. THE CUP: Thanks for mentioning the Muckrace--I almost forgot about it. I asked Ryan to write an account of Team Malar Stripe's dominating, record-breaking performance, but being the humble guy that he is, he didn't quite feel comfortable detailing how you completely destroyed the so-called "The Beasts of Birding," composed of Matt Sarver, Matt Williams, Bob Fogg, and Niall Hatch. Tell us all about your victory. PETE: Well, under normal circumstances I too would be humble. However, about half an hour after the Muckrace began, my team was listening to a Barred Owl call from Armitage Rd, when a beat up car spewing noxious fumes pulled up. A cocky Matt Sarver stuck his head out the window and "dogmatically" stated "we got the owls in the first five minutes." We said nothing, and were not impressed either, because we also already had the owls. From that point on, "it was on" and the birding was at a level of intensity rarely seen. We had 18 species before first light. We covered eight miles of Howland Island on foot before leaving at 11:30 a.m. In 15 minutes we had every shorebird (except one) at Mays Point, and found an eclipse Eurasian Wigeon. After that it was on to Towpath Road, a great spot that the other birders seemed to have missed. This spot had the only Black-bellied Plover and Snow Goose on the Muckrace. We drove around to pick up random field birds like Bluebird, Kestrel, and Savannah Sparrow before heading back to Mays for sunset. This is what really put us ahead. While "The Beasts of Birding" were looking through their scopes after we pointed out the Eurasian Wigeon to them (and everyone else), three species flew over their heads (Redhead, Merlin, and Common Nighthawk) that would have tied them with us--if they had had the sense to keep watch of the sky. Was that cocky enough? THE CUP: Speaking of "winning," who do you think is going to win the battle for second place in this year's David Cup (and surpass all previous winning David Cup totals in the process)? Mike Andersen has a few birds on me, but as a rookie Cupper, I think he's finally hit the wall in this grueling competition. You've noticed signs of fatigue in him, haven't you? PETE: Definitely. Perhaps he has gotten mono from one of his many floozies. Speaking of illness, you look a little pale, Medler. Are you ok? Is there something you aren't telling us? You never complain if anything is wrong. THE CUP: I'm doing just great. Nothing that a little nitroglycerin can't fix. THE CUP: Getting back to more pressing issues, Jay McGowan is right near the top of the David Cup again this year, but I think he has essentially run out of new birds to see. How do you like his chances for next year? Do you think The Cup is his for the taking, or is he still a year away? PETE: If Jay has his license by spring, I think all the Basin birders are toast. His schedule is even more flexible than mine. When I was in high school, we had to write reports on history and study like that. I hear Jay gets credit for writing NYSARC reports. Does digiscoping count as art credit for home-schooled students? THE CUP: I think it fulfills the technology requirement that we have here in New York State. THE CUP: What are your birding plans for next year? After winning The Cup and demolishing the Basin record, there's really not anything left for you to prove. Except, maybe, that this year wasn't a fluke. I mean, anybody can get lucky for one year. And let's face it--some of your birds this year were gift-wrapped (and believe me, I know all about gift-wrapped birds): Bohemian Waxwings so thick on campus that you had to beat them off with a stick, a Whip-poor-will in the Hawthorns that people flagged with a little orange ribbon around its neck, a Laughing Gull at Stewart Park that scored enough free food handouts to make Matt Sarver proud, and a Purple Gallinule that has apparently decided that Montezuma will make a nice place to spend the winter. Can you say "gimmes?" PETE: I actually worked hard for those birds. I spent days at Keith Lane before getting the original Bohemian Waxwing in January. When I got to the Hawthorns to look for the Whip-poor-will there was no one there (and I only had 20 minutes to find it because I had an exam that afternoon). THE CUP: Nobody at the Hawthorns, in mid-May?! I find that hard to believe. Just out of curiosity, when you were a little kid, would you go to the playground and then suddenly all the other kids would leave, because they had to, um, study? Anyway, as you were saying... PETE: Were you at the Hawthorns? Did you see the Whip? Oh, I’m sorry. PETE: It took me three tries to see the gallinule. The Laughing Gull was easy though. As for next year, I will not be competitive for The Cup; I plan on spending bird time digiscoping, skinning, and learning how to record bird songs. THE CUP: Those are all admirable pursuits, but this is *The Cup* we're talking about. If you're in the Basin, you should be Cupping! THE CUP: Much to our chagrin, we still find you in the lead for the McIlroy Award. Tim Lenz is out there birding in the Town of Ithaca every day, braving the brisk winds of Cayuga Lake, the "doggie mementos" of Hog Hole, and pesticide-laden, carcinogenic powerline cuts, and yet, you're still ahead of him this month. It's just not right. How is this happening? PETE: Tim should make sure he checked House Sparrow, Starling, and Ring-billed Gull. I always forget those. THE CUP: We've also noticed that every time that Tim seems to overtake you in the McIlroy competition, you remember a few other birds that you've "forgotten." THE CUP: We understand that you left the Basin over Cornell's fall break to visit your beloved Katie out at Stanford. That was very sweet of you, but don't you know that when you hear the words "fall break," your mind should be thinking "Basin Sabine's Gull?" [See October 2000.] Plus, you missed the first day of the Friends of the Library Book Sale, although we hear that the McGowan boys cleared out the bird section in short order. That Jay can be a real bruiser when you're standing between him and an autographed copy of Roger Tory Peterson's "A Field Guide to the Birds." PETE: It was my first trip to California, and I picked up 23 new birds, while scoring relationship points as well. Usually I lose relationship points when I bird (e.g., skipping a dinner date while looking for the murrelet the first day). THE CUP: OK, it's hard to argue with that combination of new birds and relationship points. If only those could have been new Basin birds... :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> WAXWING POETIC "I arise every morning torn between the desire to save the world and the desire to savor the world. It makes it hard to plan the day." - E. B. White Well, I have run the gamut of volunteer contributors, so my turn is here. I got hooked on birds when I took birdwatching merit badge at scout camp, and have been parting the underbrush ever since. Family trips to Maine and Florida fueled my passion. I have kept journals forever, and enjoy writing poetry and songs. In 2000, the chance to marry my profession of computers with my passion for birds was too much to resist, and thus my life at the Lab of O began! And here we are... If you do any nature writing (poetry, prose, the back of napkins), and you would like to share (don’t be shy!), please send your contributions to eric.banford@cornell.edu. Bird! Eric Spellview by Eric Banford Not a peep nor call just the hushed whisper of feathers on wind. I raise my eyes and that familiar bob begins. Rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and.. my head follows that undulating contour that goldfinch conspire. It rolls as the hills, as a wave, as my mind. Joyous in cahoots I follow until at last the spellview is broken. Blink. Sigh. Return. :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> :> "Cup Quotes" Last night, Aleta and I went to Myers Point Town Park to use the playground and to see if any birds might be around. - Chris Tessaglia-Hymes We started the day at Stewrat Park when it's cool. I counted 25 CASPIAN TERNS, and 5 GREAT BLUE HERONS. From there we headed to Charlies Diner in Dryden for a plateful of excellent BLUEBERRY PANCAKES. - Steve and Susie Fast At Montezuma we expected great concentrations of shorebirds, pursuant to the advice we've had about cold fronts and north winds. In the ditch about 100 yards in on the right from the start of the auto loop we found 5 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, 2 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS, and 1 KILLDEER. The new "wetland" next door had 1 KILLDEER. Benning Marsh showed 10 CASPIAN TERNS, 15 KILLDEER, some geese, 3 ducks, and 1 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER. OOOOOOOOH! MAYS POINT POOL had the distinction of presenting even FEWER shorebirds than Benning. - Steve and Susie Fast I apologize for changing the subject a bit... but these emails remind me of a question I just can't seem to answer. That is, if carrots are so good for the eyes, how come I see so many dead rabbits on the highway? - Steve Kelling Three American Avocets were at May's Point pool on Thursday evening (7:30 pm). - Bernie Carr Stopped by Myers Point at noon today, unfortunately, the dogs outnumbered the birds on the point. Dogs: 3 (2 Black Labs and 1 Neapolitan Mastiff) Birds: 2 (Killdeer and Sanderling) - Jeff Gerbracht I used to really be into the Care Bears. - Matt Sarver Has anyone else noticed that the male of the pair of grey domestics that have been there for a while (with goslings) got cuckolded? The offspring of the grey domestic pair appear to actually be hybrids with a Canada Goose! They're pretty funky looking... - Jesse Ellis The shorebird habitat is looking better each day! - Pete Hosner I am familiar with the species. - Pete Hosner, to Dominic Sherony, following Dominic's description of an American Bittern (as a Green Heron flew by) I saw a male Connecticut Warbler in Sapsucker Woods today at 6:05pm. It was skulking in a bush with red berries on the right side of the first marsh overlook off the trail as you emerge from the woods. It responded to pishing. Also, there was a juvenile racoon with an injured hindleg on the trail. - Dan Lebbin Yesterday I posted my sighting quickly because I had milk sitting in my car for over an hour and wanted to get home, plus I was supposed to meet my room mate (who I missed by 5 minutes). - Dan Lebbin Other interesting sightings were on Woodchuck who came running straight to me scared the hell out of me. I wondered why he did that, only looking around I found he had no choice but to go past me to his hiding ground. - Meena Haribal Go! Get up there and watch for hawks! - Kevin McGowan Also, I flushed a weird bird from the marsh on Bluegrass Lane. It was black, small, fat, and gave a strange nasal callnote. - Tim Lenz I know this is a bit late, but I thought I'd keep the info flowing. The BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER was still present at Mays Point Pool when Dan Lebbin and I left at 7:30 tonight. The light was great and we got knee-jellifying looks at this bird, even though it was across the pool. - Jesse Ellis There were seven American Kestrels hunting from the wires along the dirt road to the radio towers on Mt Pleasant Road about 5:00 pm today. Another at the observatory brings the total to eight (WOW - give her a prize for arithmetic!!). - Marie Read I refuse to count a Mallard-Black Duck hybrid [as a Black Duck] for the Muckrace! - Ryan Bakelaar If wimping out means getting to Montezuma from Ithaca by 7:00 am, then call me a wimp. The Valiant and I made the trek this morning in search of the flock of Godwits... - Jesse Ellis Nights like last night make me really want to study Bill Evan's Nocturnal Flight Call CD. - Steve Kelling Kevin just called to say that he has a winter-plumaged LAUGHING GULL sitting on the dock at Stewart Park. - Jay McGowan It [the Laughing Gull] seemed to enjoy the Southwest Sourdough bread we fed it from the Ithaca Bakery. - Pete Hosner A report came in today of an immature Purple Gallinule on the main drive at Montezuma (tan head, no white stripe, greenish wings). It has not yet been confirmed, but it sounds good and is not unexpected. - Kevin McGowan Getting rained off work and having nothing better to do, I thought I would try to find some birdies. - Steve Fast This morning Jay and I saw a probable WESTERN TANAGER female outside of Freeville... - Kevin McGowan Subject: MNWR Purple Gallinule...you can't hide from a Ford Tempo! At 6:50, the sun was setting, and our hopes were fading. We drove down the canal one last time, with Mike sitting on the roof of the car. At 7:00pm, 100 ft. past marker two (this is farther down than it has been reported in the past), Mike called out that he had the bird. We all climbed up on the roof, and we all got decent views of the bird (although the lighting wasn't great, it was better than before sunset). I got out my scope and had a brief scope view, and we watched the bird actively forage for 10 minutes before it disappeared. The bird kept grabbing lily pads with its bill and turning them over to look for invertebrates. Matt's car survived with only minor denting. - Pete Hosner This morning I went to the Jetty Woods, Mundy Wildflower Garden, and then Freese Rd. There were birds everywhere!! - Tim Lenz May Your Cup Runneth Over, Matt