Invasive Species

For several years I’ve been observing, documenting and appreciating nature and the environment in Michigan. During those years, I’ve discovered some of the subjects I’ve photographed and written about are in fact invasive species.

Phragmites

field

Photos Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

Some non-native species in Michigan can become established. At times they pose health risks to people and can cause economic harm or damage to eco-systems. One such example I’ve found in wetland areas of Michigan is an invasive grass called Phragmites australis.

This aggressive wetland grass outcompetes native grasses and effectively displaces local animals. A few of the other negative impacts from this grass include increased dangers of fire, elimination of natural feeding grounds and refuge for animals as well as an impact on open views that make recreational activities more difficult. ( They can grow to a height of over 19 feet in dense configurations ).

Mute Swans

Swan1

BabySwans

Another subject I have photographed that I later found to be an invasive species are Mute Swans. Originally brought to the Americas by Europeans in the mid 1800’s because of their beauty, these birds have quickly taken over wetland areas from native swan species as well as other waterfowl while increasing their numbers from 10 to 20 percent each year.

One example of their affecting another species directly can be shown with how they prevent native Michigan Trumpeter Swans from breeding. Both prefer the same habitats, but the Mute Swans nest three weeks earlier than the Trumpeters. Once nesting begins, the Trumpeters are prevented from entering the area by the Mute Swans. They also tend to be aggressive toward humans at times when they are guarding their territory and have been said to be the most aggressive waterfowl species in the world.

Purple Loosestrife

Purple_Loosestrife

Another picturesque invasive species, purple loosestrife ( Lythrum salicaria ), has taken over many wetland areas throughout the United States and Canada. Since the early 1800’s when brought from Europe, this plant has suppressed native vegetation and changed the ecology of wetland areas as a result. There are programs introducing biological control through the use of the plant’s natural enemies, such as leaf-eating beetles, which help to keep the growth somewhat in check.

As I continue to explore and enjoy nature in Michigan, I’ll endeavor to be more aware of what I may find. Although these are often beautiful photographic subjects, they can also be destructive and disruptive to native species.

Nature’s Frozen Sculptures

Ice_Formation

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

I found these “ice ornaments” on a Southwest Michigan creek today. They formed from an overhanging ice sheet above the cold flowing waters. Beauty is all around us if we take the time to look :)

Winter Lake

WinterLake

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

Lake Michigan looked quite a bit different this afternoon from when I photographed it yesterday. It is always an interesting subject that I enjoy photographing in any number of lighting conditions. Even without ice formations, I had a feeling of winter with this view.

Home on the Dune

DuneHomeShore

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

I found this home sitting on the top of a Lake Michigan dune today just before sunset. The golden light from the sun illuminated the dune grass which rose above the blue waters of the big lake in Southwest, Michigan.

Blue-Sky, Red-Tailed

RedTailed

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

Today was a blue sky winter day in Southwest, Michigan. I spotted this Red-Tailed hawk as it was perched and scanning the surroundings for prey. It is unusual for the area to be snow free this time of year, but it will be arriving at some point soon I’m sure.

Changing Sky

BarnHeaven

Photos Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

The sunset was amazing tonight in Southwest, Michigan. The colors intensified and changed during and after the sun went below the horizon. I was in an agricultural area and found the barn pictured above made for an interesting subject in the foreground.

MichiganSunset

For the next image I found this tangle of trees to look interesting as they stood starkly against the blazing sky…

RedSun

For the final image I combined a man made element of some farm architecture with a grouping of trees as the sky turned a more deep red color.

Luminous Green

wave

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

The waves of Lake Michigan themselves can make for a great photographic subject. Each is unique and ever changing. In this case I caught the sun backlighting the wave, revealing luminous shades of green at the wave’s peak.