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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

Serenading the Neighbors in Siouxland, Sioux City

8 Jun
A cardinal wonders why his audience is not listening to his song in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

backyard birds in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently a cardinal saw the chance to entertain residents in a backyard and pranced about and prepared for his performance. Checking around to see if those nearby were paying attention or not.

backyard birds in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

backyard birds in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not all residents were obliging though as it apparently interfered with other, more pressing matters.

A napping cat ignores the singing of backyard birds in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But performers know the show must go on, with or without a willing audience.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

backyard birds in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And the concert begins as a cardinal sings in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

19 May
A muskrat nibbles on a snack at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a few places in Siouxland one can go to and watch nature. Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is just a few minutes north by vehicle and most days affords one an opportunity to watch and photograph nature unfolding, with creatures cruising the park. There are a few blinds set up along one of the small lakes found there that water fowl, shore birds and other creatures frequent.

A muskrat tries to slip away after being seen by a visitor at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A friend who is a avid birder generally arrives pre sunrise to see as many species and identify them for a local club. I admire his determination to get out early and enjoy the sunrise and day’s activities beginning. I on the other hand need some caffeine to get my day started a wee bit after sunrise.

And then there are those creatures who value their privacy, and when spotted by the occasional visitor leave before one has a chance to see what they are doing. Evidently shy by nature, and probably with good reason, fleeting glimpses are all one sometimes gets before realizing what it was that one saw.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A muskrat makes its way to to the other side of Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing new Visitors in Siouxland, Sioux City

13 May
A House Wren visits a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s kind of fun to see visitors in Siouxland, checking things out, even the fine-feathered ones. A friend who is quite the birder told me such a creature I spotted in a backyard recently was probably a Ruby Crowned Kinglet migrating through the area and heading to its natural habitat for the summer months. He said they prefer wooded areas and such, but any port in a storm.

A Ruby Crowned Kinglet visits a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Ruby Crowned Kinglet visits a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A house wren visits a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But sometimes seeing new visitors gives me a little trepidation depending on their intentions, especially when it comes to my cats sunning themselves in the backyard. Any temptation is just that, especially to the young and those learning to survive in the “wild”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A small raptor hanging out in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 10, 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©)

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©)
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