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.

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.

Sharp Eye

owl

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

Great Horned Owls seem to prefer hunting from elevated areas that overlook fields. They can hear and see their prey more easily from such an unobstructed vantage point. This one I photographed in Southwest Michigan near such a field.

Sky Dragon

DragonFire1a

 

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

The interaction of light and shadow along with the glow of the sun to me gave the appearance of a dragon in the sky, complete with fire about to emerge from its mouth.

 

 

Frozen Falls

Upper Tahquamenon_1

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

Winter has arrived early in Michigan and much of the U.S. this year. This is one of my favorite winter shots I took a while back of a partially frozen waterfall (Tahquamenon Falls) in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Perk of the Lake

LighthouseSunset

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

One of the perks of living near Lake Michigan are the beautiful sunsets and lighthouse views :)

Scenic Michigan

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Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

I caught this pair of ducks floating along as the sun’s reflection formed in the water along with the vibrant colors at dusk in Muskegon County, Michigan.

Lake Superior Shore

SlateBeach

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

I photographed this shoreline area of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The rocky shelf like surface of the shore gives the appearance of waves in the stone.

Mountain View

MountainView

 

Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

I took this photo in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during Fall color. The Porcupine Mountains are a great place to enjoy spectacular views anytime of year, but Autumn is my favorite.