Hidden Wonders

It is no secret that I am passionate about wetlands. I love everything about them. I especially love photographing them…especially wetlands with large, towering Cumulus clouds gracefully traversing the horizon. This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to do just that…photograph a picturesque wetland located just outside of Traverse City.

Getting a Little Lost

After a tranquil visit to Brown Bridge Quiet Area, my wife and I headed out to Mayfield Pond. I was hoping to photograph the Cumulus clouds continuing to gain in height. However, we could not locate the park the pond was located within. Instead, we decided to drive further down Blair Townhall Road, just in case we had not driven far enough (the parking lot could be just around the next corner after all…).

Ten minutes or so passed before I decided to locate an area to turn around. But just I did, I looked out the drivers side window, and as I did, my heart skipped a beat. Was that a Fen wetland I saw framed with lovely white puffy Cumulus clouds? Yes! Within moments, I had set up my Nikon D-5000 on the tripod. My graduated neutral density filter mounted and ready.

What is Fen?

Fens, as defined by the EPA, are “…peat-forming wetlands that receive nutrients from sources other than precipitation: usually from upslope sources through drainage from surrounding mineral soils and from groundwater movement.” This wetland certainly fit the bill. Across the dirt road, a stream flowed quietly through a drain pipe, directly into the wetland.

Fens provide homes and hunting grounds for numerous species. (copyright The Wilderness Journal 2018)

Minnows darted cautiously in and out of the pipe while myriad dragonflies–including Twelve Spotted Skimmers and Common Whitetails– jockeyed for prime perching posts. Bullfrogs could be heard in the near distance. Song birds fluttered their wings joyfully around the perimeter of the wetland, likely on the hunt for food. I would not have been surprised to see a Heron or two stalking unsuspecting  prey. Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems, hosting a wide range of species.

Hidden Wonders: Ours to Protect

Unfortunately, Fens are becoming increasingly hard to find. Therefore, it is more important than ever to preserve and protect remaining Fens (and other types of wetlands). Even the actions of one individual can make a difference. Just what can one person do?

  1. Volunteer time to preservation efforts
  2. Attend local meetings where input is welcome
  3. Write to elected officials
  4. Vote
  5. Advocate the value of wetlands (socially, economically, environmentally)

If one voice can move mountains, imagine what a chorus could do? After all, the photographic efforts of Ansel Adams played a role in securing Yosemite as a national park.

-Adam K.


*Want to learn more about wetlands? Visit the link below:



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