Thursday, August 16, 2012

On August 16th, 2012, the 58th day of summer, the cattails are being challenged by purple loosestrife. On the day of the Least Bittern, find a peaceful, secure place in nature for the remaining 35 days of summer.


Purple loosestrife amazes me. I have witnessed the rapid spread of
loosestrife through a marsh that spreads out before my picture
windows. Today, I reviewed the loosestrife, and I see two plants have
taken up root in Cress Creek. The water is six inches deep at this
point. I have just taken notice of them in the last week, and the
plants are well established and flowering. I have heard that the ever
flowering loosestrife has millions of seeds on a single plant, two to
three million in a single season. Bees are drawn to the loosestrife's
abundant honey, unwittingly assisting the invasion. One force of
loosestrife plants has the appearance of charging into a bank of
cattails, cattails that make the marsh work by providing food and
cover. I can imagine the marsh turning all purple by the upcoming

The Least Bittern lives, literally, between the blades of the cattails
and choses cattail marshes in which to live. An experienced bird
watcher in Muskegon has not seen a Least Bittern, yet she loves the
song of the Least Bittern. She has heard the song on Lake Muskegon
near the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, a reserve along the final
reaches of the Muskegon River. She has heard them up the river near
Maple Island, visiting a cattail rich area called Lane's Landing.
Hearing a Least Bittern happens more often than seeing one for the
bittern knows how to freeze in place and sway as if it were a reed.
The bittern is a slender bird that can compress its breadth to a span
of three inches. The woman who told me about the bittern has also
learned how to count frogs in the reclaimed, re-mediated lands on the
south shores of Lake Muskegon. She visits with her coding sheet,
listens for species and codes the intensity of the calls she hears.
She's been trained to recognize all the frog songs by ear, and this
counting by ear will be her volunteer task for at least three to four
years. I haven't heard the song of the Least Bittern, but her
testimonial made the noble bird very real to my imagination. I see why
it's time to bring in the beetles that eat the loosestrife.

Purple Loosestrife is a least wanted plant:

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