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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©)

Enjoying the Light in Siouxland, Latham Park, Sioux City

20 Oct
Various plants decorate Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when out roaming about Siouxland I just enjoy seeing the light. How it interacts with various subjects and and the surrounding environ. No agenda in photographing anything specific, just “seeing the light”. Life should sometimes be so simple. And the fleeting months of fall I find the light bright, but not over powering because of the angle of the sun and its intense, but still muted. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to some people I talk with, but after a while, if one watches and looks and sees, it eventually becomes clearer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sunlight backlights a plant and details its vein structure seen at Latham Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, August 29, 2021. (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©)

Hometown Journalism in Siouxland, The Storm Lake Times, Sioux City

14 Oct
Storm Lake Times Editor Art Cullen speaks to the audience, attending the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues, prior to the introduction of a few Democratic candidates campaigning in Iowa for the office of President, at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently attending the Sioux City International Film Festival in Siouxland where a variety of short films: animation, documentary, comedy, etc., are shown, the feature film was a documentary about small town journalism, and the place it occupies in a community and the real threat of what is loss when that voice disappears.

The Cullen family, Delores, left, Tom, center and Art, right, share a laugh while answering questions from the audience at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art Cullen answering questions from the audience along with his wife, Delores and son Tom, not seen, at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having worked for a number of small daily newspapers over the last couple of decades it was a story I am all too familiar with, and saddened, that these kinds of newspapers are struggling to just stay in existence, as are many of the locally owned “mom and pop” stores that support them. Some might say at times a love/hate kind of relationship, but something all mutually benefit from.

The “star” of the film is the writer/editor Art Cullen, who won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing that takes on the “more powerful, well heeled and moneyed folk than the common Joe.

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Storm Lake Times is a family produced publication where most all report, write and produce the twice weekly paper. All play a role, large and small, because for small town publications it truly takes a village to survive and no job is too small that needs to be done. And the large ones are there for tackling and making a difference.

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ones hopes that this paper survives and the few remaining ones throughout the country, much like mom and pop stores, they serve a needed value to the local community. And in many cases today as yesterday, connecting neighbors and telling local stories that local folk are interested in that concerns their neighbors and other residents in surrounding communities. During the last “caucus season” when so many Democrats were running a number of them made it to the Heartland Forum in Storm Lake where they got to meet to Cullen and answer questions about rural life and agriculture, no small issues for many in Iowa. And maybe hoping rubbing elbows with a known local would help them down the road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen listens as Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) ) speaks during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Democratic candidate Sen. AMY KLOBUCHAR (MN) speaks to Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen listens to Democratic candidate and former secretary of HUD JULIAN CASTRO speaks during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen, on the right of the grouping, talks with audience members before a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Cullen family, Delores, left, Tom, center and Art, right, answering questions from the audience at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall Coming to Siouxland, rural Northwest Iowa and Elsewhere

10 Oct
The look of fall in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like many others, here in Siouxland and elsewhere, fall is a favorite time of year for me. The cooler temps, the colors, the expectation of not having to get up really early or stay up really late to shoot sunrises and sunsets. On a cool crisp morning, coffee even seems to taste better.

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Sept. 28, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A train passes through the area near the Missouri Valley Welcome Center outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like driving about the Loess Hills in Siouxland, western Iowa, and seeing the colors cascade over the hillsides and the turning of the corn crop to a golden brown. The light quality for photographs seems sharper with the sun’s light streaming across the landscape at a different angle than summer’s light. The shooting period seems shorter but the results richer. And it’s just nice to be out enjoying this season.

Checking out a trail at Preparation Canyon State Park north of Pisgah, Iowa Nov. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Leaves begin changing during a Photo Safari class outing in Ida Grove, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And as many people lament the fact that winter follows, I try not to dwell on that aspect of the changing seasons, preferring to just wait for it to happen and instead revel in the fall’s colors, hoping they last without a wind or rain storm, allowing one to traverse new places and those previously visited, always looking for on more photograph to capture a season and what it entails before its end.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

As the sun begins to set Canada geese blend into a recently harvested corn field looking for food Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County at Badger Lake near Whiting, Iowa as they begin their yearly migration south. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the sun begins to set Canada geese blend into a recently harvested corn field looking for food Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County at Badger Lake near Whiting, Iowa as they begin their yearly migration south. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Changing colors in the small community of Calumet, Iowa Tuesday, September 22, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall colors in and around Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (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©)

Harvest Time in Siouxland, Rural Monona County, Whiting

4 Oct
A farmer continues to run his combine in a soybean filed while he unloads into a nearby wagon as the sun sets Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Woodbury County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Harvest time has arrived in Siouxland as elsewhere where agriculture plays a big part of a state’s economy. Farmers are working quickly and long hours to get their crops out after a year in the state of Iowa where drought has maintained a presence for quite a while. And recently rains are predicted for the area, which during harvest is not always welcomed even in drought situations as it adds unwanted water content to the soybeans delaying harvest and hurting farmer’s profits as the soybeans like corn must fall within a certain water content criteria for grain elevators to accept them without being “docked money per pounds. And these days, pennies count.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A farmer continues running his combine to harvest a soybean field as he unloads into a nearby wagon while the sun sets Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Woodbury County near Whiting, Iowa. (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©)

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©)

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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