Frozen Under the Sun

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Photos Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

I found this lone photographer on the icy beach in South Haven near frozen Lake Michigan as the sun was beginning to set today. I also took advantage of the opportunity to capture the image below of the Lighthouse and pier that was close by. The lighthouse has been standing sentinel there since 1903.

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Lake Michigan Ice

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Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

Late this afternoon, I was pleased to spot these ice formations on Lake Michigan at Pier Cove. There was almost no wind which hasn’t happened very often during my visits to the lakeshore. The ice gently floated, swaying with the little wave activity that was present.

 

Winter Light

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Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

Along the icy shores of Lake Michigan today at Pier Cove, I captured the orange/yellow afterglow of the sunset. Three hikers are shown on the far left, providing a sense of scale to the beautiful scene. Ice, sand and free flowing lake waters mix to provide an amazing landscape, bringing pleasure to the eye…

Michigan’s Waterfall Wonders

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Photos and Story Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

Above from left- Sable Falls, Chapel Falls, Agate Falls and Munising Falls

The waterfalls of Northern Michigan stir feelings of power, renewal, wonder, tranquility and beauty as they rush forward in their never-ending journey that is part of nature’s wonder. There are many to be seen in my home state, although driving to some near the Michigan, Wisconsin border from where I live in Southwest Michigan would be the equivalent of driving past Pittsburgh, Pa. That’s about nine hours of nonstop driving over a distance of about 500 miles. However, if you take a shortcut via Muskegon’s Lake Express Car Ferry, the drive from Milwaukee is about 300 miles or 5 1hours of driving.

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Bond Falls

Two of the falls to visit in the far western Upper Peninsula are Agate Falls and Bond Falls. The pair are great to see in autumn with the colored trees accenting the beauty of whitewater spilling over dark rock formations.

Upstream from Bond Falls is an amazing palette of colors reflecting in the water before it travels further downstream where the water is less tranquil.

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The falls themselves can be viewed from the sides or straight on with any angle being an impressive sight.

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Bond Falls

And Agate Falls is no less striking with its dark slate rocks over which a constant tumult of water cascades.

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Agate Falls

For those who enjoy a nice hike, Chapel Falls near Munising might be a great place to visit. Close to the end of a hike of 1 12 miles and through a forested trail, a distinct rumble eventually turns into a roar as the forest opens into a clearing. There the 60-foot tall waterfall presents itself surrounded by trees, which are beautifully colored in the fall.

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Chapel Falls

For more easy access there are other choices in Michigan including the more modest but still beautiful Scott Falls near Au Train and Haven Falls near Lac la Belle. Both are located just off the road. Each of the falls has its own unique character.

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Scott Falls

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Haven Falls

Sable Falls near Grand Marais has a much different look than the others. With a more gentle slope over a longer area, water cascades 75 feet down several cliffs until it reaches Lake Superior.

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Sable Falls

Perhaps the most well known waterfall in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the renowned Tahquamenon Falls. Aside from the world famous Niagara Falls, Tahquamenon is the largest waterfall east of the Mississippi River at about 200 feet wide with a 50 foot drop. Its water has a distinct brown color. About a 1 12 hour drive north of the Mackinac Bridge, Tahquamenon Falls, appropriately is located in Paradise.

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Tahquamenon Falls in Winter

For those who would brave the cold and snow of winter in the Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon along with its sister waterfalls are marvelous to see in their frozen state as well. Any season is a great time to see these wonders of nature in Michigan.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

 

Perk of the Lake

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Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

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