Wonders of New England Wildlife
Instructor: Bill Gette
4 Tuesdays, January 10, 17, February 21, 284:00–5:15
In two of his presentations, Bill takes you first on a tour of Cape Ann to the Merrimack River and then a tour of Machias Seal Island and Eastern Maine. Two other sessions focus on birds: the winter raptors and then the ducks of New England.
Cape Ann to Merrimack River (01/10/23)
Essex County, Massachusetts, from Cape Ann to the Merrimack River is beautiful any time of year. But in winter, there’s something very special about this little corner of the world.
During his PowerPoint lecture, Bill Gette will take you on a photographic excursion from the rocky headlands of Cape Ann, through historic Essex, to the expansive saltmarshes of the Plum Island Estuary and the barrier island beaches at the mouth of the Merrimack River. He will show you beautiful scenery and an incredible variety of wildlife that not only survives but prospers during our harsh New England winters. Bill will share maps so you can plan a winter adventure on your own, and he’ll show you examples of the wildlife typical of each location on our virtual itinerary, including harlequin duck, long-tailed duck, snowy owl, Lapland longspur, white-winged crossbill, and many more.
Winter Raptors - Birds at the Top of the Food Web (01/17/23)
Some of the most sought-after birds in New England are the many species of winter raptors (hawks, eagles, and owls). Some of these amazing birds are permanent residents in our area. Others move south from their northern breeding grounds during the late fall and winter to hunt over area forests, fields, and salt marshes.
Bill will describe the different feeding strategies employed by the various species and review the many aids to field identification. Did you know that female raptors are bigger than their male counterparts? Did you know that some species of owls hunt in the daytime?
Ducks of New England Lecture (02/21/23)
New England birdwatchers are blessed by the number and variety of ducks they can see in area wetlands, lakes and ponds, and coastal waters. Some species are year-round residents, while others only pass through our region during spring and fall migrations. Still others are strictly winter visitors that migrate from their northern breeding areas to our relatively milder climate.
Bill will show his photographs, review aids to field identification, discuss each duck’s habitat preference and behavioral characteristics, and recommend places where birdwatchers can go to see these magnificent birds.
Machias Seal Island and Eastern Maine (02/28/23)
Bill has led field trips to Machias Seal Island and eastern Maine for over 25 years. Machias Seal Island, located 10 miles off the Maine coast, is claimed and administered by the Canadian government. This barren island is the most important seabird nesting colony along the Maine coast. Here, clownlike Atlantic puffins, razorbills, and Arctic terns nest by the hundreds.
Until his retirement in 2016, Bill Gette was the Sanctuary Director of Massachusetts Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center. In 1997 he established the Joppa Flats Bird Banding Station in Newburyport. As of 2019 his staff and volunteers had analyzed and banded over forty thousand birds.
In 2004 Bill established the Birder’s Certificate Program, which continues today. The program is a college-level ornithology course, designed to provide an in-depth learning experience for birders and naturalists and to train field trip leaders. The certificate program includes eleven all-day sessions with half-day lectures, fields trips, assessments, and independent study projects.
Since his retirement, Bill has led natural history travel programs for the Audubon Society (e.g., Galapagos Islands, Big Bend National Park, New Mexico, Alaska); conducted numerous workshops; and has continued as an instructor for the Birders Certificate Program at the Joppa Flats Education Center.