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Awed by Nature in Siouxland, Badger Lake, Whiting

24 Oct
Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County nearWhiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out and about in Siouxland looking for and visiting new nature places one gets a pleasant surprise. I had seen a body of water along an interstate highway that runs through Siouxland and occasionally would see “white floating bodies” in the water and guessed they were pelicans. I first spied pelicans while visiting with a friend at Snyder’s Bend recreation area in Woodbury County a year or so ago. Watching them circling overhead as they began a migration run.

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I drove out on a county highway I often used then started driving some back country roads along the stretch of the interstate hoping I might get lucky. I didn’t know the place I was looking for was called Badger Lake at the time. And a week or prior I had driven some other backroads further north of this area looking for same body of water, but to no avail.

But on this drive meandering through various roads that also run parallel to the Missouri River I got lucky. And I couldn’t believe that I was witnessing possibly 200-300 American White pelicans in the body of water some resting and preening while others worked as a group in a circle to “herd” fish so they could then enjoy a meal.

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature can always amaze one. A novice when it comes to birding and really spending time to understand critters in the wild, I do enjoy the quiet and no distraction of “white noise” while watching and occasionally photographing any and all creatures that allow me to get close enough to do so without disturbing them. But I have need more practice and look forward to those opportunities.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Migrating American white Pelicans herd fish to feed while others rest in a body of water near Badger Lake Wildlife Management Area in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. Some folk think migration periods might vary this year to changing climate temperatures in various regions where the birds winter and summer during the year. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reaching for Heaven in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

22 Oct
A goose takes flight and aims for the heavens during the migratory season this fall seen at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes one wants to aim high and take a chance of achieving new heights, even in Siouxland. Not much needs to be said aside from admiring a person or creature who wants to try. It is always nice to achieve a goal or dream, but sometimes it is just as important to just make the attempt in getting there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging out in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

16 Oct
A red-tailed hawk looks for a meal while perching on a wooden hi-line pole as the sun begins to set Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County looking about before flying off to possibly find a better hunting opportunity.

Out driving about some gravel backroads a week or so ago in Siouxland I enjoyed the sun dipping lower in a fall sky. I had decided to call it a day after driving a couple of hours looking for images when I saw this red-tailed hawk land on a hi-line pole. It was overlooking a corn field and I am certain the feathered creature was contemplating was delicious morsel might be available for a snack as it also watched the sun setting in the western sky. Eventually it decided to try another location, but it was enjoyable watching this bird look, preen and look some more, as though it wanted to be presentable for whatever occasion might arise.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A red-tailed hawk scratches its head as the sun begins to set while perching on a wooden hi-line pole looking for a meal Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County looking about before flying off to possibly find a better hunting opportunity. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

12 Oct
A Red-Headed woodpecker, its scientific name “erythroephalus” means red-head in Greek, watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when out walking about Siouxland, especially in nature areas like the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve I catch fleeting glimpses of song birds flitting about the trees. Hearing them call, sing, and basically, taunting me because I never seem to be fast enough to get a photograph of them.

Occasionally they do relent and will stay put for me to get a picture. One area in particular at the preserve whenever I enter it and leave it, there is always a red-headed woodpecker there to greet me and send me off. It never varies and and amazes me like the birds are just waiting to see folk they know out for another “constitutional” or walk about the area.

A Blue Jay, part of the corvid family which includes the magpie, crow and raven, cautiously watches a visitor use a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Eastern Kingbird, known for fearlessly attacking intruders that invades its space, watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And when I am finished with walking and make my way back to the visitors’ center I sometimes sit to watch the birds at the feeders nearby. A variety of birds, mostly cooperating as they all swoop in to sample the goods and then take off again. And hopefully to swoop in again. Occupied with eating, it’s a little easier taking a photograph here, but then again, they are a bit distracted. Enjoying the morsels set out for them to come and “entertain” the guests.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A House Sparrow, House Finch and American Goldfinch feed at a feeder at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A House Finch looks for seeds on the ground at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging out on a Summer’s Evening in Siouxland, Latham Park, Sioux City

6 Oct
A common sparrow greets a visitor at an entrance to Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A quiet little park area in Sioux City attracts all sorts who on a quiet Sunday evening in Siouxland like to hang out and enjoy some of summer’s last or waning days. Meeting some friends for a bit of a picnic lunch before fall really revs up I got there early to find some other locals enjoying the park as well and a quiet summer’s eve.

A fountain area at Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two common house sparrows looking for some water in the fountain at Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There was plenty of bird song emanating from the surrounding bushes and trees that filled the air even as some of the little creatures had some problems finding a good spot from which to sing. But that happens to all of us at one time or another.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A house sparrow enjoys a quiet sunset at Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Oops, some landings in the bush are more graceful than others and interrupts a quiet setting sun moment for another house sparrow at Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Being a Contrarian in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

2 Oct
One starling looks back as a flock perch on a hi-line wire Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some would say there is always “one” in the crowd when a different point of view or opinion is expressed. Even in the country in Siouxland I happened upon a gathering where one individual was wondering what was going on. And why not be a little curious if there happens to be a disruption to the normal order of things, though not all disruptions should be considered improper or bad. But collectively, many don’t like it when the boats rocks, even a little.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One starling looks back to see what the commotion is as a flock perch on a hi-line wire Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Up, Up and Away in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

30 Sep
A turkey vulture eyes movement on the ground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have gotten a better appreciation for nature in the Siouxland area since the pandemic created the necessity to isolate or distance from others and enjoy the walks I have been taking at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve. I must admit though it is a bit eery to be walking along a nature trail and then to find a few turkey vultures flying overhead, circling, and wondering if my movement might be an attraction. But watching the graceful birds soar on the thermals they ride is fascinating as they rise up, drop down and rise up again. So it was with interest to watch one of the creatures leave his perch high in a tree and again take a look around to see what might catch its eye.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture lifts off and soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture lifts off and soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After eyeing movement on the ground a turkey vulture soars over the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Walk in Nature at the Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa

28 Sep
A meadow seen from a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have visited the Lewis and Clark State Park in Onawa a few times over the years, one of the many places in Siouxland named for or associated with the excursion that Lewis and Clark made a couple centuries ago when exploring America for President Thomas Jefferson and before the Louisiana Purchase. But I had never really explored some of the hiking trails. Generally there were other activities taking place at the park that drew my attention, although those have dwindled the last few years and of course greatly because of the current pandemic the country still endures.

A monarch butterfly looks for nectar from a plant in a meadow near a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are some extensive meadow areas located near a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The trails loop around the park away from a lake area and some camping sites for those that either “rough it” or camp in style in the self-contained units. I can imagine going back as the fall temperatures cool down even more with the hope of finding some nice autumn leaf change happening as I found nearer the visitor’s center at the park.

A bird dashes away as a visitor approaches on a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cut nature trail to follow at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The paths were easy to navigate and depending on the time of day that is more appropriate to find critters out and about foraging, one could wait for deer or song birds to appear. There were a couple of small corn fields planted for deer. There is a sign though that clearly states hunting is available on some of the Iowa’s DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) land which the park falls under. Although I have to admit, I was a bit confused when I came upon the site about hunting, posted right next to another sign not 10 feet away which made me wonder exactly what directions people should follow.

Signs within proximity to one another can leave a person confused at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Benches as placed on some of the various trails for a person to sit and enjoy the nature around them at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Evidence of “empty nesters” in some brush along a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While not extended hiking it was pleasant enough to walk about the trails. Along a creek feeding into the lake at the park I saw a lone little duck and kind of wondered what its story is and whether he got left behind as it looked a bit forlorn by itself without seeing any other similar creatures nearby. Hoping during the migratory season it will make some new friends to join in safe adventures or just stick to the wildlife refuge.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lone duck rests on a log in a creekl at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lone duck at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lone duck at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Family Outing in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

24 Sep
A family of turkeys enjoy a morning out together at the playground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes we humans take for granted some of the amenities available to us, even here in Siouxland. The amenities are certainly nice and I was pleasantly surprised to find a passel of turkeys enjoying a playground area early one morning before the humans showed up. Although not house trained, the turkeys can leave a trail behind and are not known for picking up after themselves.

A turkey preens itself on a bench at the playground area at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As “residents” of the park, I am sure the turkeys appreciate the area as much as their human counterparts. And early in the morning they have it all to themselves to wander and enjoy. Although wary of passing trail walkers also out early. It’s just a nice way to start the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching Neighbors Stop by in Siouxland, Sioux City

16 Sep
Two common house sparrows and a downy woodpeckers stop by for a snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice sometimes when guests drop in unexpectedly and stay to grab a bite to eat while visiting. I am always interested to see who stops by, along with my roommates who at times are non plussed about visitors, especially when out of reach, which I believe is a good thing. Bon appetit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa



Common house sparrows snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A black-capped chickadee munches on a snack from a backyard feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bluejay checks out what is going on in a backyard at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching as some backyard birds snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching as some backyard birds snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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