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Making Friends in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

5 May
A horse looks toward a visitor in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021, possible hoping for a little snack. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always look forward to meeting new “folk” when driving about Siouxland. One particular day I felt bad that I didn’t pack a carrot lunch with me to snack on as a couple of locals would surely have enjoyed me sharing that I met while driving some backroads.

It was a nice day and they seemed to be enjoying themselves on a hillside on a pleasant, finally, spring day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two horses eye a visitor in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ah the Little Birdies, Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa

3 May
A great blue heron looks for a landing spot in a marshy area at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while driving about Siouxland I will “duck” into an area I am familiar with never really knowing what I might find. The Lewis and Clark State Park is a nice place to eat a sack lunch which I did recently. And then driving into the park proper saw a little show with some American Coots and a great blue heron.

Nature always surprises sometimes, and being quiet, patient and observant, one might even get lucky.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A great blue heron lands in a grassy marsh area at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An American coot squawks while it and its brethren eat grass at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A flock of American coots fan out and eat grass at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A flock of American coots fan out and eat grass at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
American coots float in the lake at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging Out in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

29 Apr
An immature Red Tailed Hawk navigates a landing on a high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While cruising about Siouxland on a weekend with somewhat warmer temps and winds, I noticed I wasn’t alone in just enjoying a day in the country. Animals seem to do that as well sometimes. I noticed a young Red Tailed hawk riding some thermals over a gravel road in rural Plymouth County. Soaring, diving, soaring again and occasionally coming to a rest.

An immature Red Tailed hawk flies by a possible high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An immature Red Tailed Hawk takes in its surroundings from a high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a break and watching for its next snack possibly or watching the ever so casual visitor drive by underneath its high perch. Some days should just be enjoyed for the moment, warmer weather, sunshine and a lazy day feeling. However, for this young bird and others I somehow think most days are not lazy. But it was fun watching it seemingly enjoy its time in the air.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An immature Red Tailed hawk enjoys some thermal winds in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Feeling Koi in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

23 Apr
A koi fish swims about in its pond at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Friends who have known me for a while know I like the bad pun every now and again. And to visit a koi pond and to find coy fish seems like something made for exploiting. At the Lauritzen Gardens there is a pond with fish in it swimming about. I assume these are the traditional koi fish. Most are gold but some seem to have lost color and appear white.

With an overhead skylight reflecting in the water it seemed a perfect time to experiment shooting black and white and seeing how the two subjects correlate with one another. One live and there in real time the other more ephemeral existing in a reflection, fleeting as the fish because of the daylight needed to make the reflection appear.

A koi fish swims about in its pond at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Koi fish swims about in their pond at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was moment of realizing patience as the fish swam through the reflections and autofocus was fooled more times than not with the reflections and moving fish. And sometimes the fish became lost in the ephemeral making its existence almost non existent, but a fleeting moment, dream, thought or other wistful bit of time and space that may or may not have been.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A koi fish swims about in its pond at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Quiet Time in Siouxland, Adams Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

11 Apr
A couple of Canada geese find a “dry” spot to sun themselves at Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, March 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when visiting places in Siouxland it’s just nice to stop, sit and watch and listen. Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is one such place. Even though it is “late in the season” for migratory waterfowl and the chance to see a number of birds, there were still some “locals” hanging out in a water hole at the preserve, taking in the morning and enjoying the day.

I always try to remember that maybe there is a lesson in that.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two American coots paddle about at Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, March 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Canada goose stands on “dry” ground at Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, March 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Canada goose makes its way swimming around Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, March 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes Caution is Good when Making Friends in Siouxland, Snyder Bend Park

3 Apr
A crow and an eagle look in the same direction while sitting on ice looking for fish remnants in an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When the larger than normal, apparently, bald eagle population passed through Siouxland recently on their migratory trip, some other birds seemed intent on meeting them. It was fascinating to watch, but gave me a little trepidation as all were vying for “eats” on the ice covered oxbow at Snyder Bend Park.

A crow squawks at an eagle while sitting on ice looking for fish remnants in an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching a crow squawk at the larger bird of prey gave me an uneasy feeling. Bashful this one particular bird was not. And all ended well, as each decided to move on. But while watching, I wondered what was going to happen.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A crow takes off under an eagle while looking for fish remnants in an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Unusual in Siouxland, Eagles at Snyder Bend Park, rural Woodbury County

18 Mar
Two eagles sit on ice eating fish in an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This passing year and the beginning of this year has seen some unusual events in Siouxland, as they have in other parts of the nation as well. One of those happenings is the migrating birds passing through the area. Listening to folk who follow such explain because of recent weather patterns the birds that normally pass through the Siouxland area, generally one species following another, are occurring within the same time frame. And in some places, in greater abundance than previously seen.

It’s been reported that between 100-150 bald eagles visited Snyder Bend Park for a few days and some are still there, prompting curiosity for some visitors and local birders to get out and take a look. In addition to the eagles other waterfowl are also passing through during their spring migration.

Local birders visit Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021 looking for various bird species passing through on their yearly migration. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two Canada geese fly through a wetland area of Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Ring-billed gulls stop on their migratory journey at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the most fascinating part of visiting the park were the amount of eagles that stopped and hung out. When visiting the first time I saw an email of a friend reporting what other birders in the area had seen. The water in the oxbow area of the park was mostly still frozen, and the bald eagles were feasting on dead fish caught in the ice or floating as the ice melted. A few days of warmer than usual temperatures led to more ice melting and more dead fish floating to the shoreline. Last year the Siouxland area received less than normal rainfall which led to lower water levels in many bodies of water, and for some, it then became difficult to sustain the fish or aquatic life normally there, which made it easier pickings for the traveling eagles on their journey north.

A number of bald eagles sit on ice eating fish at an iinlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple of ring-billed gulls walk among eaten fish bodies as they look for food while nearby a number of bald eagles are also on the ice eating fish at an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Dead fish line the bank of the oxbow at the Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For a year of lockdown because of the COVID-19 virus getting outdoors to enjoy nature is appealing to a lot of people. Fresh air, despite the sometimes colder than normal temperatures, is always rewarding in and of itself. But add to that the chance to see a enormous migration of birds because of the unusual temperature fluctuations this year has just made it more rewarding.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A hiker makes his way across the oxbow to get a closer look at eagles on that side of the water at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of bald eagles roost in a tree across the oxbow pond at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two bald eagles feast on dead fish as a couple of ring-billed gulls fly in either direction to steer clear of them at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A redwing blackbird calls out from its perch on a grass stem at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of eagles sit on ice eating fish at an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A crow calls out while sitting on the ice where dead fish can be found at the oxbow water inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Canada geese fly over the oxbow water inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Pelicans fly to another part of the oxbow inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Canada geese come in for a landing at the oxbow water inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Friends at the Zoo in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

16 Mar
A child doesn’t see that a curious penguin has come to visit through the glass portal at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun to watch people interact with the animals at the Henry Doorly Zoo. During this past year with the pandemic I read an article where zoo people said they could see the animals there were missing “time” spent with people who come to visit. I thought that an interesting observation.

A child waves at a penguin at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As spring arrives and temperatures get warmer more people will be getting out, enjoying sunshine and a chance to be outside without freezing temperatures. But it will also be interesting to see if people still heed some caution as the pandemic continues, even with vaccinations ongoing everyday. I would guess the animals would hate to see a pause in folk wanting to visit them because of carelessness and not remaining safe until everyone is safe from the coronavirus.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A child watches a penguin swim inside its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spring Slowly Arrives in Siouxland, Sioux City

14 Mar
Another starling looks to join a crowd of birds around the top of a chimney for warmth Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. While temperatures today are above zero compared to the last few days and evenings of -20 degrees weather, birds are still looking for warmer days. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As spring slowly gets to Siouxland and other parts of the country, the lingering cold is still a reminder of the winter that was this year. Recently temperatures have been in the 50’s and 60’s, but cooler temps are predicted and the previous 14 days of below freezing temperatures in February, many approaching -40 degrees with wind chill was tough to deal with.

Birds in the area looked for warmth where they could find it, trying to crowd in to a space that would help them survive, even if it was in the open. Time will tell if spring is really come to stay, or just toying with everyone hopeful for warmer and sunnier days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Starlings crowd around the top of a chimney for warmth Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. While temperatures today are above zero compared to the last few days and evenings of -20 degrees weather, birds are still looking for warmer days. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Meeting Strangers in Siouxland, Snyder Bend Park

12 Mar
A bald eagle takes off from its tree perch at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 6, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when meeting “strangers” when out and about in Siouxland they can be a little shy. Especially the feathered ones. Sometimes it’s good to have a telephoto lens when out doing nature photography.

A bald eagle watches from its tree perch at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 6, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently a number of bald eagles have gathered at the Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County taking advantage of fish they have found in a small inlet at the park which is located near the Missouri River. One friend estimated at a minimum 100 or more bald eagles congregating there as they journey to Minnesota suggested another friend. It is amazing to see these creatures. But evidently I was not someone this guy wanted to meet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bald eagle takes off from its tree perch at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 6, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bald eagle takes off from its tree perch at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 6, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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