I spent an afternoon this weekend driving a bit through the local countryside and discovered a distinct beauty the area offers. With the rich greens of the grasses, mixed with wide vistas and beautiful clouds, there were many opportunities to capture serene moments. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
The royal blue of the Eastern Bluebird is always a pleasure to see this time of year. Their sweet songs and vibrant colors are a welcome sign of Spring. You may notice birdhouse boxes in many parks and backyards built for them which has helped to boost their population over recent decades. This has followed a long decline due to loss of habitat.
Photos Copyright Jeffrey Foltice
Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan begins this weekend. Visitors are drawn to the area’s main attraction – approximately 4.5 million tulip bulbs! They are located throughout the city. You can see a few I’ve photographed below. If you visit the area, be prepared to see parades, dutch dancers in wooden shoes, and lots of smiles 🙂
Learn more at http://www.tuliptime.com/
I recently created this video showing some of the work I’ve done. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
I’m pleased to introduce you to author Debra Toor.
I was intrigued when Debra asked for permission to use one of the photos I had posted here on photonatureblog.com of a turkey vulture for her book cover. I had taken the photo in Saugatuck, Michigan of the bird as it was eating a fish. Debra’s recently published book, “Survival Secrets of Turkey Vultures” had some wonderful and interesting information about this subject.
“The publication of a book that tells the story of turkey vultures and creates connections for readers has been emotionally rewarding. This book is a tribute to vultures. It is critical for readers to connect with vultures locally and globally. In recent years, vultures have vaulted into prominence. Population declines of vulture species in Asia and Africa have drawn attention to their valuable ecosystem services: Purifying ecosystems and preventing the spread of diseases,” she said.
Debra spent three years researching and writing this book, interviewing biologists and ornithologists in both Canada and the United States. In addition she collected data from peer-reviewed journals and researched the work of nature photographers who have documented turkey vultures in their native habitats.
Debra has always had an interest in nature-
“A few years ago, I was conducting a farm harvest tour for students. The farmer pointed to three soaring vultures. He revealed that these vultures would soon begin their journey south, but would return to the area in early spring. I started to wonder about the vultures. What motivated these birds to migrate to Canada? I began to explore books, journals, and online bird sites. I was hooked.”
“The next time you see a vulture, observe their behavior. Spread the word about these helpful scavengers.”
Celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day. It is held annually on September 6. Stay tuned for event ideas and learning activities at http://www.ecostoriesbydebtoor.com/
The mother of three lives with her husband in Ontario, Canada.
For more information:
Readers can explore turkey vultures by reading the book. It includes fun learning activities.
From the publisher: Guardian Angel Publishers
Digital format: $5.00
Softcover: $10.95 + $4.95 S&H
Hardcover: $15.95 + $5.95 S&H
Softcover: $9.86 + S&H
Hardcover: $17.95 + S&H
The website is also packed with captivating photos, vulture facts, and much more.
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.
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…
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 1⁄2 hours of driving.
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.
The falls themselves can be viewed from the sides or straight on with any angle being an impressive sight.
And Agate Falls is no less striking with its dark slate rocks over which a constant tumult of water cascades.
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 1⁄2 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.
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.
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.
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 1⁄2 hour drive north of the Mackinac Bridge, Tahquamenon Falls, appropriately is located in Paradise.
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.
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.
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 ).
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.
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.