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Summer Days in Siouxland, Sioux City

1 Aug
A squirrel checks out a visitor as it snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer days in Siouxland just aren’t enjoyed by we humans. Visitors to a backyard looking for a morning snack enjoy the shade before the heat of the day sets in and it’s nap time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A squirrel snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A squirrel snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bird Greetings in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park

24 Jul
A Redwing Blackbird sings early in the morning at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking early in Siouxland one gets the chance to encounter and hear “the little birdies” sing or scold, depending on their mood and where one might meet them. Sometimes it might be too close to their home, especially in spring or early summer when young might be around.

A bird peeks out of a hole in a dead tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking by trees, many trees, and looking up the last place I expect to see a bird is it popping it’s head out of a hole. More likely I expect to see a bird sitting on branches and hidden. Although some species easily give away location once you hear them singing.

A cardinal sits quietly watching passersby at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Males cardinals are easy to spot within the green foliage. Although they do tend to move about, making it difficult to even grab a fleeting photo. Just a flash of red and then one needs to continue looking.

Early morning light is a bit more directional, and during the summer months bright which creates a nice contrast with the background. Backlit subjects like trees easily stand out against the darker area behind it in shade.

Morning sunlight illuminates a tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bright light almost makes it impossible to see small birds nestled in the branches, where one might mistake it for a tree limb knot and a branch silhouetted against the light. And sometimes some clever birds mimmic their surroundings, looking like a short, standing tree trunk across the water until upon closer inspection with a telephoto lens or binoculars one sees there is actually a bird there. Standing very, very still.

A Great Blue Herron stands still, almost striking a pose like a tree branch as it watches something across the small lake at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that is the fun of early morning walks. Trying to school oneself in learning the habits of these feathered creatures and and spotting them to photograph. The exercise is not a bad idea either as one walks about Bacon Creek exercising the eyeballs and legs.

But once the sun starts climbing, it’s good to heed the advice of other woodland creatures, and head toward a shady glenn to spend the rest of the day until supper time calls. Just lounging about and avoiding the day’s heat, and then starting the process over the next day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer makes its way to a shaded glenn at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Photo Choices in Siouxland, Sioux City

18 Jul
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even when “visitors” drop by in Siouxland for a visit, I find it a challenge to photograph them, especially when they are a little “flighty”. A butterfly visited a backyard earlier this summer and just when I saw it, it would leave, or move somewhere I couldn’t see it. I first noticed the little creature while reading and looking up for a moment.

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I retrieved a camera and waited, but the little guy didn’t show up and so continued reading. Then by chance casting a glance up and the creature reappeared. The choice is whether to photograph the creature’s shadow only, or show more of the actual little guy. And then decide how as it came changing positions which created different backgrounds.

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course what is seen is just the butterfly without any context. And sometimes that helps put things in perspective. And it all depends on one’s only aesthetics or tastes. Too little salt, not enough pepper? Maybe some cumin.

And then be happy with however the results turn out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

12 Jul
A Lesser Yellowlegs poses as it hunts for a meal at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a jaunt to Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is always a nice way to start one’s day. Of course that is after having a couple cups of coffee to jump start the day. I am finding one needs to be an early riser to find nature’s creatures a bit more active as they hunt for their morning and mid-morning nourishment. For the shore birds, they sometimes do this just underneath a bird blind that the preserve has put in place in numerous places along Mud Lake for visitors to enjoy the residents and passers through.

A Canada goose informs a visitor that the bird blind is currently occupied at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Redwing blackbird makes some noise on a perch at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two Lesser Yellowlegs look for food in Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I try to improve my photography of nature it’s nice, and convenient, to have willing subjects, as long as they are not too aware of one’s presence. Hence the bird blinds. I know I will not be traveling to far flung places on the earth like Africa, Peru or even the Rocky Mountains to photograph animals in the wild. But will be content with the “local wild creatures” I have nearby at preserves and parks and do the best I can to capture them in motion. Not a bad way to spend a morning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

American white pelicans slowly circle overhead at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A wood duck floats in Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Lesser Yellowlegs hunts for a meal at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An Eastern Kingfisher studies its surroundings from a tree branch overhanging Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a Walk with Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

6 Jul
A deer pauses to watch another early morning walker at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In recent months I have spent some early Siouxland mornings out walking at local nature preserves. Enjoying what I see and also the cooler temperatures that one finds as the sun barely peers over the horizon. A young self would never have guessed that I have become an early riser. Although naps later in the day are never a bad thing, either.

A deer feeds on corn leaves in a field near Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A deer enjoys a little corn leaf snack in a planted field that borders the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in South Sioux City, South Dakota, Thursday, June 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a couple of different occasions walking at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve I found a deer eating corn stalk leaves in a field that abuts the preserve. Someone said with lack of recent rain in late spring and early summer the deer probably find the corn leaves tastier than the dry grass they encounter. And I can’t swear to it, but on two different walks I spied a deer in the same location munching away, thinking he/she must have found a new breakfast spot to get the day started.

A deer stands still in a shaded area as it makes its way across a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in South Sioux City, South Dakota, Thursday, June 10, 2021. Weather forecasters predict a heat index of 100 with severe storms to move into the area overnight into Friday. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s fun to see the creatures in their habitat, and fun as well to be able to photograph them without them being one or two miles in the distance. Standing and watching and not being in a hurry, the deer generally continued their browsing and eventually moved on into deeper shade areas to await the still rising sun and temperatures that were sure to follow. Other creatures were also enjoying the morning cool temps greeting the new day in song, and then some prefer their water element to stay cool on yet another steamy, summer’s days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Eastern Kingbird sits on a barbed wire fence in the shade at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in South Sioux City, South Dakota, Thursday, June 10, 2021. Weather forecaster predict a heat index of 100 degrees Thursday with severe storms overnight into Friday. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two turtles sun themselves on a log sticking out of Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Look, Seek and Scamper in Siouxland, Sioux City

2 Jul
Reaching his goal, the squirrel grabs a peanut in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy visits from my backyard friends. I leave little treats for them and watch their antics as they work to acquire a snack or future meal. Sometimes they sit and eat away, other times they scurry off to bury their find and then return again for more of the same. Each time being cautious, taking no chances and hoping for another reward for their effort.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A squirrel does a little reconnaissance in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A squirrel makes his way stealthily as he does a little reconnaissance in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Making a getaway the squirrel runs an obstacle course to deter anyone following in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Keeping up With Nature in Siouxland, Sioux City

24 Jun
A squirrel runs along a fence line in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While photographing nature in Siouxland I am not always the quickest to respond to the little critters as they make their way in nature. Zigging, zagging, while I sometimes do the opposite, my brain responds slowly and my shutter finger apparently even more slowly giving me at times, “interesting” photos. Many times I think, “If the little guy had just waited a second longer before moving and running off.” But alas, I find myself with “remnants” of an image and sometimes, just peanut shells to show where my subject has just been.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying Early Morning Siouxland, rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

22 Jun
Two Canadian geese take off from a pond near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though I do like to sleep in when possible, I also like getting out early to drive about rural Siouxland looking for nature, or other aspects of life when the “world” is still relatively quiet. Critters can be surprisingly forgiving when they see a visitor passing through their neighborhood, and probably wonder what the heck is that person doing up so early.

An Eastern Kingbird sits on a barbed wire fence near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two Redwing Blackbirds sit on fence posts in a field near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The light in early morning is so sweet to photograph in and creates interesting scenes via its angle to the earth’s rotation. Such early morning light becomes better as the seasons moves into fall, in that one doesn’t have to rise so early, but the light itself changes, a little softer, but still direct. Plus, one can always take a nap later to recoup that lost sleep, but one can never regain the time lost or the possibility of images that could be photographed, but never seen to start with.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A brown thrasher peeks through some brush in a field near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Those Lazy Days of Summer in Siouxland, mostly Summer, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

18 Jun
A sleepy lion fights to keep its eyes open for a noon time nap at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I visited the Henry Doorly Zoo south of Siouxland this past spring. Although temperature wise it could have been considered summer by normal standards. The big cats were lazing about in the sun after having eaten earlier that morning. Looking at them a nap sounded good. The zoo sprawls over a fair distance and I must admit, some days I am feeling rather tired. But it’s fascinating watching the animals and then watching the people watching the animals.

An Asian tiger walks across its compound at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a look at the Asian tiger during a public school spring break at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In April it was already shorts and tee shirt weather. The animals staying in the shade except when tempted out, ignoring the humans straining to get a look as they admire the big cats and other animals. I want to visit the zoo again this summer, but already weather forecasters are predicting heat indexes of 100 or better, and the Siouxland area has had numerous 90 degree weather days already, without much rain. Like the big cats, I don’t feel overly energetic on these days, and driving an hour to see them in 90 degree or higher temps isn’t as inviting as it might once have been.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Neighborly Chat in Siouxland, Emerson, NE

10 Jun
Two neighbors chat one afternoon in Emerson, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice when visiting places in Siouxland to find neighbors taking the time to chat with one another while about and about. A cordial interaction is always a pleasure to see even as the residents check out the visitors to see what they are up to.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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