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“Shooting the Moon” in Siouxland, rural Woodbury County

22 May

A full moon rises as the sun sets behind a the horizon over an Iowa countryside near Anthon, Iowa Saturday evening May 15, 2022 before the lunar eclipse takes place later creating the blood moon. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the seasons change in Siouxland and the days slowly get longer, I find it easier to “stay up later” and try some photographic adventures. Although a friend of mine was probably disappointed that I didn’t want to shoot later, I find myself fading sooner as night approaches than I did when a younger person.

We ventured out to try our hand at photographing the blood moon, which was created by a partial lunar eclipse. I have driven countless backroads around the Siouxland region, but when it came time to decide where to situate ourselves so the moon create a nice backdrop to something in the foreground, I drew a blank, and settled for a stretch of roadway and hillside.

But after an hour of shooting I found myself fading faster than the setting sun. I told my friend to continue shooting and I didn’t mind staying out late, but I decided to just enjoy the moonrise as it got darker than to try and photograph it in the night sky.

It was amazing to see though. And while there are no European cathedrals in rural Siouxland to utilize in creating an image of note, there is always next month to maybe plan a little better and find a place that would visually create a better scene. Time will tell.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A full moon rises over an Iowa countryside near Anthon, Iowa Saturday evening May 15, 2022 before the lunar eclipse takes place later creating the blood moon. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying History in Siouxland, Without Knowing it, rural South Dakota, Beresford

20 May

Older barns in disrepair seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I traverse various parts of Siouxland while driving about I find that I see fewer and fewer older wooden barn. The rustic look, even in disrepair, hail to an era that has for the most part passed. Farmers or those farming ( industrial operations) no longer erect the wooden structures that at one time housed animals, harvested crops and machinery. As the bigger is better mantra continues to envelope America and it’s ideal of business the small farmer also has disappeared and the structures now that house equipment is metal or fiberglass. More cost effective, less maintenance and all of those things that attribute to the bottom line.

But I miss seeing the structures. And most times I happen upon them at the wrong time of day while out driving around. Maybe seeing them in passing. Sometimes stopping, sometimes not, depending on if I am time constrained to arrive someplace.

Two older barns seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The rustic nature appeals to my visual sense, but the use and disuse and decay speaks to another passing of an era where form and factor are no longer valued. That thought could be addressed to a lot of areas and state of affairs these days. When at a small time museum a few years ago a docent was showing school children and older wall phone which had the spin knob to wind it up and get a connection along with the ear piece held to one’s head and the extended speaker you had to lean into to speak with the operator, as well as the desk top model with the rotary dial.

The children had no idea what the two items were, and were quite astonished when they learned that what they carried in their pockets and took for granted was large, non moveable and didn’t have a screen. Advances in technology is marvelous with many wonderful inventions, but sometimes I wonder at what loss does this occur without the accompanying history that brought the state of humanity to this next level of achievement and the effort to get there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An older barn in disrepair seen Friday, April 8, 2022 in rural South Dakota, located south of Beresford, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Transitory Visitors in Siouxland, American White Pelicans, Badger Lake, Whiting

18 May

American White Pelicans settle in enjoying the afternoon sunlight during a brisk, windy day at badger Lake in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday April 25, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the migrating waterfowl like the American White Pelicans passing through Siouxland, I sometimes get confused about what birds find a home in this area and those that are passing on to another destination. Like the majority of Canada geese that use Siouxland as flyover country, but others call it home.

A truck hauling equipment passes in the background as American White Pelicans settle in enjoying the afternoon sunlight during a brisk, windy day at badger Lake in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday April 25, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

American White Pelicans settle in enjoying the afternoon sunlight during a brisk, windy day at badger Lake in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday April 25, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I occasionally check various locations around the area to see who’s hanging out, sometimes I am delighted, other times disappointed when I find nothing. But then there is another day, and these critters like we humans are dealing with roller coaster weather than runs cold, then hot, dry, then wet, which probably interrupts their travels as much as it does our daily lives. And some of us are not traveling as far.

Wishing these critters a safe journey and fair winds as they journey to their summer destination.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

American White Pelicans settle in enjoying the afternoon sunlight during a brisk, windy day at badger Lake in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday April 25, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art is in the Eye of the Beholder in Siouxland, Making Decision on Representation, Little Sioux Park, Correctionville

16 May

A slow shutter speed exposure of water running in the Little Sioux City River at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deciding how best sometimes to represent a scene found in Siouxland, or anywhere is dependent upon the person. And sometimes the representation doesn’t quite fulfill the artist’s or photographer’s intent.

Photographing moving water with a slow shutter speed, during daylight without a neutral density filter doesn’t quite capture the scene as well as very early morning or early evening when using a slow shutter speed would be more beneficial. But it doesn’t hurt to try, and practicing seeing and the skills and mechanics one has at hand is always a good thing I believe. Practice makes one better at achieving results and seeing in the first place. Of course, being prepared is helpful. But I don’t pack the suitcase when I go out photographing and walking. A couple lenses and a camera body and I utilize what I have at hand. Grateful when something works out, aw shucks when it doesn’t.

Of course, there is always tomorrow and another walk. I might not encounter the same scene with the same elements and lighting, but that’s the beauty of taking walks and exploring.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A correct exposure of water flowing in the Little Sioux River at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Refuge in Siouxland, Little Sioux Park, Correctionville

12 May

A Trumpeter swan checking out visitors at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a number of wildlife refuge areas to be found in and around the Siouxland area. Visiting Little Sioux Park recently I thought it lucky to see some Trumpeter swans at the small lake there. Stealthily trying to get out of my vehicle to photograph these creatures I realized it was odd, they weren’t flying away, but rather coming toward me.

A Trumperer swan swims to shore to greet a visitor at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two Trumperer swans come to shore to greet a visitor at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems the swans at the park all have a damaged wing, and so live there. Enjoying a quiet area, free of predators, except maybe humans, and greeting park visitors maybe in the hopes of gaining a treat.

The swans ambled slowly but without hesitation up the fence line to greet the new comer and check them out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Trumpeter swan “grins” at a visitor at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Diversity in Siouxland, a short hour or so walk at Bacon Creek Park, Sioux City

10 May
An osprey keeps watch of a passerby from its perch above a walking trail at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I’ve learned more about “birding” and being of aware of the creatures on my outings to local parks and preserves, sometimes I am amazed at the diversity I see within a small area and the numbers and types of birds there. And I know I am only scratching the surface of getting photos and seeing these critters. Others who post information while out have a list that is sometimes 15-20 species or more long. I am not quite, if ever, there.

An osprey is startled by a passerby walking on a trail beneath its tree perch at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An osprey wrangles a fish it caught in the lake to take back to a perch to eat at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And by no means are these birds exotic and flashy themselves, although my awareness was mostly of robins and sparrows, and occasionally a raptor or hawk of some kinds.

An American robin pauses on a downed branch at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A few blue-winged teal hang our together near a shoreline at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An American coot swims about in the lake at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And of course there are those cute, non aviary types one runs across who are determined not to be disturbed while trying to finish a meal. And of course I don’t blame them as those pesky paparazzi photo types walk by.

A squirrel munches its meal at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A northern flicker pauses momentarily on a tree trunk at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A belted kingfisher perches in a tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The creatures blend in so well and are most times too quick to photograph. I have learned anew the value of patience and perseverance. And of course the the usage of a digital camera that allows the deletion of many, many images with birds within thickets that only I know are there. As I tell students, “If you have to tell me about the great deer photo while showing it to me, maybe then one should try again. Oh, that small speck? Marvelous!”

It happens to the best of us. And with practice it can get better. But it’s also nice just being outdoors without a heavy coat, gloves and stocking cap along with hand and feet warmers. Although the wind gusts have persisted well into spring. But warmer months ahead and the opportunity to find and photograph more of these winged creatures.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Great White heron stands “hidden” in some reeds along a bank at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Great White heron flies off along a bank at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A northern shoveler swims along a shoreline at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult bald eagle soars overhead at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday April 19, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Anticipating Performance Art in Siouxland, Sioux City Railroad Museum, Sioux City

6 May
A new stage area has been constructed at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A new stage area has been constructed at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While recently visiting the Sioux City Railroad Museum in Siouxland I noticed a number of changes that included outdoor performance spaces. The Railroad Museum has begun shifting its focus the last few years to sharing history about the former railroad repair facility as it continues to excavate and learn more about this important juncture and service provided to the rail industry.

A outdoor seating area at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What appears to be a refreshment stand is set up at a location at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

According to a statement on the museum’s website: “The 31.61-acre Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District encompasses the former Sioux City Engine Terminal and Car Repair Shops of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway.

The complex was constructed between 1916 – 1918, opened 1918 by the railroad’s motive power and engineering departments. The facility served as a “divisional” terminal for servicing steam and diesel locomotives and repairing rail cars for 65 years until its closure and abandonment in 1981, when the railroad was insolvent and in receivership.”

Within the last year local actors have been portraying actual characters and people who formerly worked at the facility. The actors perform short monologues which reference their particular job and connection to the service facility or the railroad industry. Although, as it occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, an occasional hobo shows up and talks about “riding the rails” during that time period while looking for work and basic survival. Life on the road isn’t always an influencer’s dream as the depression era affected hundreds of thousands if not more people.

So it will be interesting and fun to to see the new performance spaces function as well as some “new attractions” mimicking aspects of a railroad depot stop anywhere U.S.A.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A new boarding station for the miniature rail line at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A new passenger boarding station for the miniature rail line at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A new stage area has been constructed at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting a View in Siouxland, Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park, rural Woodbury County

4 May
An adult bald eagle watches waterfowl below at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While many folk have access and the ability to visit a number county and regional parks in Siouxland, I for one feel lucky that I can enjoy the various trails and sights and scenes I come across. But that might not be true of all residents. When I visited Brown’s Lake earlier this year I noticed that the Woodbury County Conservation group installed a small deck that is “handicapped” accessible, now making it easier for some people to stand or sit over the water. To watch the waterfowl, maybe fish, or later, enjoy a summer’s evening, notwithstanding the mosquitoes who might also be visiting.

A newly built handicapped accessible deck is seen at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A newly built handicapped accessible deck is seen at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have enjoyed a few outings to the lake and the chance to see various migrating waterfowl passing through the area. Although I braved the colder temps and winds gust of 30mph and higher in doing so. Call me crazy, but it was still worth it to watch nature and enjoy the show at hand.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A number of Canada and greater white-fronted geese lift off after being spooked at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A newly built handicapped accessible deck is seen at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese take off from Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Greater white-fronted geese lift off at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A View from the Top in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

2 May
A pair of Canadian geese are seen sitting in a former eagle’s nest, possibly enjoying a view from a natural Air BnB nature’s penthouse loft in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Tuesday April 26, 2022.

Sometimes when out wandering backroads in Siouxland I am pleasantly surprised by findings I come across. While out looking for various waterfowl and spring planting attempts by local farmers, I happened to talk with a rural Monona County resident who told me some geese had taken up residence in a former eagle’s nest. It was a interesting sight to see these two heads sitting on top of such a large nest. And they must feel pretty blesses to move in and the former occupants. Although the local resident said it was witnessed that an eagle was back, maybe checking on its sublet occupant.

I did find though that this one nest was not the only one occupied by a new resident. And now I wonder how many times I have driven by various areas in the country that have these hidden gems I am not aware of and have missed. Hoping for more revealing secrets as spring unfolds into summer. One can only hope.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A pair of Canadian geese can be seen sitting in an eagle’s nest possibly enjoying a view from an Air BnB nature’s penthouse loft in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Tuesday April 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Canadian goose can be seen sitting in an eagle’s nest possibly enjoying a view from an Air BnB nature’s penthouse loft in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Tuesday April 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting Dry in Siouxland, Snyder Bend Park, Woodbury County

30 Apr
Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The last year or so less and less rain has fallen in the Siouxland region which includes western Iowa, northeaster Nebraska and south eastern South Dakota. A recent visit to Snyder Bend Park has shown how much water has receded from a previous shoreline. The park’s water is fed from a local power plant when it discharges water into the area. With little snow over the winter and until recently hardly any rain, at times the park looked like a dust bowl when the wind gusts occurred.

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I visited the park a couple years ago and eagles were migrating the park was filled with water. Now the former lake beds are a giant, sandy beach. Time will tell how this will unfold and what will be seen for recreation this summer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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