Archive | outdoors RSS feed for this section

A Day out in Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, South Dakota

11 Nov

Possibly a gnatcatcher sits with a insect in its mouth for a late morning snack at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have probably mentioned numerous times that I just enjoy being outdoors in nature in Siouxland, happier when I can make an interesting photograph of some species or scene, but nonetheless more enjoyable in agreeable weather before the prairie wind turns winter days frigid with temperatures marking below zero encounters. Not my idea of fun. And many times I end up with a hodgepodge of images of scenes or critters. I never really know what my encounters might entail and what I might find. And most times I can’t remember or even guess at the species until I check a book or two upon returning home. Birding is not second nature to me, but I still enjoy what I can and keep attempting to decipher what these creatures are.

But I could think of less pleasant ways to start or encounter a day and these days I try not to take these passing pleasures for granted.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Eastern Kingbird sits among some wild sunflowers plants looking for insects at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A mourning dove flies across a meadow at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bee checks the progress of a small sunflower plant at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bee moves on to its next plant as it gathers pollen or nectar at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A group of small sun flower plants at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Wednesday, August 31, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Fall Day in Siouxland, rural Monona County

7 Nov

A trace of fog highlights a rural scene of the Loess Hills area in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, October 8, 2022 near Onawa, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall is a favorite season of mine as it is for a lot of people. And even though again this year Siouxland has seen less rainfall than it should one could still find some color in places. Driving the backroads of the Loess Hills area in western Iowa is always a pleasure. I am only sad I didn’t get to enough places this year within the time period as the colors changed and the temperature yo-yo’ed between unusually warm to cold and near freezing.

Two hikers head off on a trail from the Loess Hills State Forest Overlook in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, October 8, 2022 near Pisgah, Iowa as fall colors are continuing to change from summer to fall. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A rural scene of the Loess Hills area in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, October 8, 2022 near Onawa, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Already most if not all trees have lost their leaves and their color. The only ones that still might have some leaves are burr oaks which sport a green and brown color scheme. Winter can sometimes be a long stretch as one only sees brown and sometimes white. But even that was sparse last year with less than normal snowfall as well. But patience will have to be the rule of the day as daylight savings time changes soon and winter slowly creeps closer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The hillside near a trail from the Loess Hills State Forest Overlook in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, October 8, 2022 near Pisgah, Iowa are ablaze in fall colors. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two hikers set out to hike a trail from the Loess Hills State Forest Overlook in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, October 8, 2022 near Pisgah, Iowa as fall colors are continuing to change from summer to fall. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Nature Up Close in Siouxland, Lee Simmons Conservation Park, Ashland, NE

5 Nov

A Bald eagle calls out at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On an outing in Siouxland I visited the Lee G. Simmons Conservation and Wildlife Safari Park near Ashland, NE. It’s a drive through park where one can get up close and personal to some animals. There are areas one can park and step outside the vehicle which makes it a little easier taking photos that trying to do the same in the car.

A bald eagle calls out to others at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bald eagle responds to another one calling out at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bald eagle enclosure keeps the birds in, but a fenced gate/doorway allows visitors inside the enclosure where one is within a football field 30-yard line distance from these incredible birds. I have seen them in the wild flying about and fishing and able to get close enough to photograph them clearly. And heard them call while flying, but I had never seen them calling up close and personal.

There seems to be varying ages of eagles at the safari park. Most times these birds have been found injured and rehabilitation was not able to restore them to the wild to continue their life. One bird in particular seemed much older, with a feather growing out of its beak or some point around it. Making me remember aged aunts and grandmothers who also occasionally sported whiskers as they got older.

A bald eagle returns a call at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I think about it, I become a little sad knowing these birds once flew hundreds of miles soaring above the earth and making their way in the world until some unfortunate accident that now requires them to live in captivity. Maybe remembering their days of youth and freedom and watching the world pass below from their perch on high.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bald eagle sits shielded on a branch as it watches others call out at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bald eagle sits shielded on a branch as it watches others call out at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sharing in Siouxland, Backyard Birds, Sioux City

3 Nov

Sparrows munch on seeds at a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, January 16, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it’s nice to have a companion when sitting down for a meal. Sharing the day’s tribulations and other goings on plus events happening around, “the feeder”. Many times I catch the feathered friends sharing a feeder and eating quickly as they gorge, fly off, and return to gorge again. The fall I haven’t seen as many passing birds it seems going through the area, at least in my neighborhood, but I know that must be flying through to new destinations. Fall is slowly progressing. Cold days and nights, warm days and nights, it’s been an unusual fall. And anticipating it will continue to be so. Can’t say I mind the slow progression.

When winter arrives all the news says it will be extremely cold and lots and lots of snow. I like the idea of lots and lots of snow, but the extreme cold is getting old and it doesn’t allow the snow to leave until sometime in March or April.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Backyard birds share a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Backyard birds sharing a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A common house sparrow chases another away from a backyard feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pausing in Siouxland and Enjoying the Moment, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek

1 Nov

A couple watch a farmer harvest a crop in a field below a bluff that is part of the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. The couple said they met 40 some years ago on a grade school outing at this very site overlooking the area below which is approximately 30 miles north of Omaha, NE where they now live. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days it’s not a bad thing to take a pause, and slow down, ponder and just enjoy the moment in Siouxland. I found a couple doing just that recently at the Hitchcock Nature Center which overlooks farmland from a bluff region and part of the Loess Hills that is found in western Iowa.

The couple said they visit fairly often, and met while in school decades ago during a class trip to the preserve, and always enjoy coming out and enjoying the moment. Until a talkative photographer interrupts the reverie.

But pausing, watching and enjoying is always a good thing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Getting a Grip in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

30 Oct

A Blue Jay takes its selected prize at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes we all need to take a short break and readjust ourselves before traveling on to another destination. Even nature in Siouxland might need to reconnoiter and make adjustments. I noticed this a while ago while at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve as a Blue Jay found something to its liking, but taking off was problematic until some minor adjustments occurred. Life is funny sometimes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Blue Jay finds a prize at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Blue Jay finds a prize at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Probably Gone from Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

24 Oct

A wood duck shepherds its ducklings away from the shaded shoreline as a walker passes by on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. The animals were resting in the morning shade until disturbed by the passer-by. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the temperatures in Siouxland cool down and begins feeling more like fall, I begin to wonder about the little ducklings and their parents and whether they have yet left the area for other climes or will be sticking around. While out walking at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve over the summer I came across this wood duck and noticed it becoming a bit animated. It wasn’t until I saw its ducklings gather and then heading out for the farther shore did I realize it was the early warning system in place to shepherd the little ones to safety.

It seems this year I have not come across as many young birds as the past couple of years. But then maybe I am just visiting too many other places now that life is somewhat normal again and vaccines are available. And although I have seen some birds migrating overhead, it doesn’t seem like I have seen many making their way. It’s been a odd here in Sioxland for weather and apparently it still is.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A wood duck begins moving on a log to alert its ducklings nearby as a walker passes by on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. The animals were resting in the morning shade until disturbed by the passer-by. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wood duck ducklings leave a shaded area as a walker passes by on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. The animals were resting in the morning shade until disturbed by the passer-by. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everything’s Ducky in Siouxland, Heron Haven, Omaha, NE

20 Oct

A young mallard stands on a floating log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Wood Duck takes flight as two others continue sitting on a log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Traveling a bit outside of Siouxland proper to other places like Omaha, NE and visiting various parks and preserves it has is kind of a plus as it’s not too terrible long a drive and while it takes some effort to get there, the rewards or hope for same can be a good motivator to get out the front door.

And while I can’t say I have the bird bug pushing me to photograph these “flighty” creatures I do enjoy the time spent watching them and hoping to make an unusual, or usual kind of exposure. I am always happy no matter what when photographing animals.

Two young mallards sit on a floating log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wood duck peers about as it feeds in a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy the light play on the critters and their surroundings. And with less than ideal rain conditions this year as well as last year many places that were just water have begun to become more wetland, land, than water ponds. Another element that looks weird when photographing fowl. The mossy like substance is more of a green ooze. Cue the Halloween music.

A wood duck feeds in a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heron Haven is a delightful place to watch water fowl and from what I learned, the one resident heron. I saw a shadow pass over but didn’t actually see the bird. Too focused on stationary ducks and reflections. But it’s all good. Outdoors, nature, pleasant enough weather and then lunch after having done an early start to reach Omaha in the morning while there is still some nice light. I have previously spent worse days when working for a newspaper. But now I can look forward to those excursions that I want to make. And only have myself to disappoint if all does not go well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Ducks are silhouetted on a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bird blind at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographers are drawn to find resident herons and other birds at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A board walk takes a visitor out over a water pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Sibley bird identification chart of backyard birds on display for visitors at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Little Feathered Friends in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

18 Oct

A yellow-rumped warbler looks for insects at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, October 4, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when out waking in nature in Siouxland I find it a real challenge to photograph small song birds when visiting places. Unlike some friends were are “birders” I only recognize a few species and have to revisit A Sibley bird book I have, and then I am often corrected, thankfully, by friends more knowledgeable than I. Plus, I am not acquainted at all but should learn, bird song, to help identify these various species.

I just enjoy photographing them and their antiques, are the more so as they flit about tree branches and leaves trying to feed. Recently I came across a yellow-rumped warbler a friend currently identified while out walking at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve. The little guy took no notice of me as it was chasing small insects flitting about the various branches. I knew I wasn’t shooting “fast” enough when taking these photos among the shaded leaves. And while I photograph with a M4/3 camera system, the equivalent lens length of a full frame camera would have been 600mm, plus I also had a tele converter attached making the lens even longer. But still, even with somewhat blurry photos, the intent of the little guy got my admiration and allowed me a chance to work on my photo skills. Hoping there will be more opportunities but one never knows as migration is underway.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A yellow-rumped warbler spies a flying insect at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, October 4, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A yellow-rumped warbler reaches for a flying insect at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, October 4, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A yellow-rumped warbler hunts for more insects at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, October 4, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pockets of Color in Siouxland, Rural Thurston County, Winnebago, NE

16 Oct

Some plants haver begun their fall ritual of changing color seen in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some local areas in Siouxland have begun exhibiting a change of season as fall slowly makes its way into the area. Recently temperatures have been in the 60’s with forecasts of temps hitting the 80’s for a couple of days. And then with low overnight lows the leave change will accelerate ushering that fall look.

Leaves begin to slowly change in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Yellow leaves on a dirt in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I immensely enjoy the fall season as many folk do. And will do my best in getting out photographing scenes in rural Siouxland much to the chagrin of many friends and probably readers of this blog. But, therein lies the joy of not having an editor look over one’s shoulder.

Many backroads, many early mornings to catch those rays of sun diagonally lighting up the landscape. And maybe some daytime runs with full sun lighting treetops from above. On a beautiful fall day, with a little jazz playing and some coffee on tap, what a better way to spend it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trees barely begin changing in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A corn field ready for harvest in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sumac leaves change colors in a rural scene showing early signs of fall Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
%d bloggers like this: