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Making a Photo Choice in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, South Dakota

17 Dec
Canadian geese fly through a grove of trees at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many times while out photographing in Siouxland I come across various scenes and shoot a number of photographs, worrying at the time about capturing or creating an image and deciding later which ones I should work up in the post processing. Much like developing rolls of film and scanning through the negatives with a loupe or looking at a contact sheet and then deciding which one(s) I should spend time on in the “darkroom”.

During an outing at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve this fall I was lucky to find some Canadian geese hanging out at a small lake area in the park not having yet left for the day to find a nearby corn field to eat and maybe spend the day. The lake area is bordered by trees and brush and I was at one end or part way down to the end and was photographing through a break in the trees without branches obstructing my view or appearing as an aberrant line that is visible but looks like something on the camera’s sensor.

Canadian geese fly through a grove of trees at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found the geese flying through what remaining fall foliage more appealing that past bare branches, but the ability to get a clear angle to photograph them was limited and frustrating in that the color helps tell part of the story, as the geese are migrating to a an area for winter. I much prefer the line of the geese in the second and third photographs as they show the line of ducks in flight but believe the colorful foliage helps set them apart from their background although the flying geese’s formation began changing at that point, and would soon be leaving the grove of trees and wetland area. Shooting with somewhat of a super telephoto lens gave me a very slight and limited angle of view, in addition to the photographing through a break in the grove tree’s branches that line this wetland area. Sometimes one has to made do with what one has and be happy for a decent image as compared to telling maybe an interesting story ending with that famous line, “Trust me when I tell you………”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Canadian geese fly through a grove of trees at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Perseverance and Luck in Siouxland, Saw-whet Owl, Moorehead Park, Ida Grove

13 Dec
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.

Some times when I am out and about in Siouxland I feel lucky in that I was able to photograph something I previously had not, and able to create some images I am really happy with. Not all folk might agree with my photographic choices, but I am not them, and they are not me. During a recent outing I was with friends trying to find and photograph a saw-whet owl in Moorehead Park in Ida Grove. The 500 acre park is mostly timber with some pine trees, where occasionally saw-whet owls will winter, coming south from the Boreal Forests of Canada to a “warmer” winter climate.

A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.

I would not have gotten so lucky had it not been for a local photographer and nature enthusiast, Don Poggensee. Mr. Poggensee has been photographing these and other owls in the area and elsewhere for years. Probably decades, but who’s counting. After the previous opportunity to photograph the small 6″ inch owls didn’t pan out, I had planned to go back to the park. In corresponding with Mr. Poggensee he mentioned he would let me know if the owls might show up as he tends to check the area every morning, and undoubtedly has thousands of images of these owls. He also said that over the years he has probably escorted a few thousand people who have travelled hundreds of miles to come and photograph the small winter visitors.

A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in an pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.

I was guided back to a place I and others had just been too two days prior. As we reached The small stand of pine trees Mr. Poggensee stopped and asked, “Do you see it?” I was scanning the tree and remarked that the first time out (and probably more) I could stand right in front of the tree and look right at it, but not see it. And sure enough, we were standing in front of it and I didn’t see it. But eventually I did. And I was thrilled. I had seen tight photos of this owl for a couple of years and thought it would be fun and “cool” to be able to photograph it myself. Sometimes one gets lucky, with a little help.

A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in an evergreen in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is satisfying to be able to photograph such a majestic little bird. While not an eagle or equally large raptor, the cute little guy was cooperative and allowed itself to be photographed without darting away. We kept a respectful distance and I worked slowly positioning myself. The sun was a little higher in the sky but was pleased with the highlights of the surrounding vegetation that help set off and distinguish the owl from its surroundings. Mr. Poggensee said that if you get lucky and can photograph the bird with its eyes closed, the feathers on the eyelids look like snowflakes. And going forward this Christmas holiday season I believe I will continue to see snowflakes dancing in my mind.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in an evergreen in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Holiday Spirit in Siouxland, Christmas Decorations, Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha, NE

9 Dec
After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With Thanksgiving past along with Black Friday, the Christmas holiday is beginning and many places are already decorating for the upcoming day. Recently I visited a newly renovated park in Omaha, NE, the Gene Leahy Mall. Formerly the place had a few lagoons, but those have been filled in with new landscaping and different design and now sports and Christmas decorations and other accoutrements for the upcoming holiday.

After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The park is much more family friendly these days with many folk coming out to view the decorations and take photos, either by themselves or with a professional photographer in tow to capture this year’s memories to cherish later. And the magical effect of the decorations as the sun began to set made the area almost magical.

After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Visitors enter the Gene Leahy Mall Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s always challenging to photograph the fading light and the Christmas light together, trying to find that fight balance of ambient and artificial light to create a photo that has a little impact and hopefully catches a viewer’s eye.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
After a 3-year renovation project the Gene Leahy Mall shows off Christmas decorations around which families photograph themselves seen Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nap Time in Siouxland, Sioux City

7 Dec
A squirrel tries to nap in the crook of a tree on a windy, bone chilling day in the backyard of a residence Thursday, November 17, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. Temperatures are predicted to fall into the single digits before a warming trend that is more seasonal begins next week. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when the weather isn’t cooperative, and is cold, breezy and with a heavy hint of winter in the air, a course of action might be to take a nap. This little guy was nestled in a tree nook, the wind buffeting its tail and I watched as its eyes kept closing. Doing its best to nod off even with strong wind gusts and a cold chill in the air. But tomorrow will be another day and with a tummy full from local eats, it might be good to forgot about the weather for a bit, and dream of spring, freshly dug up peanuts in a shell and a warm breeze.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A July Day in Siouxland, Wildlife Management Area, Woodbury County

5 Dec
A bee makes the most of gathering nectar from flowering plants in a meadow at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days in Siouxland are more productive than others for every being. I wonder looking back at this busy bee if he and his family are safely tucked away into their hive, counting the days until spring again arrives. And wild flowers are seen in meadows around the region and the sun is warm and fragrances fresh. Winter is slowly descending into the region which some of the last warm days currently happening. And this and other scenes will be a faded memory.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bee makes the most of gathering nectar from flowering plants in a meadow at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bee makes the most of gathering nectar from flowering plants in a meadow at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing History in Ruins in Siouxland, Tekamah, NE

3 Dec
An old railroad passenger car far beyond beyond its expiration date is seen in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I travel about Siouxland my imagination sometimes wanders and I wonder what life was life before my time in the area. On an outing with another photographer we happened upon an old passenger train rail car in Tekamah, NE. The rail car has seen better days and I wonder what rail line it covered and when and where did it transport people in an earlier era. Speculation as to its current location made us think that maybe someone had found the rail car, moved it to this location for possible later use say for a museum or some such thing. But time has taken its toll and now only the rail car knows what its former glory days were like and who traveled the rails in it possibly searching for a new beginning or visiting a past one. All I can speculate is that its history is now firmly in the past.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An old railroad passenger car far beyond beyond its expiration date is seen in Tekamah, NE Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Day out in Siouxland, Owl Searching, Moorehead Park, Ida Grove.

1 Dec

A photographer walks about Moorehead Park as he and others looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I joined some other photography enthusiasts searching for what seems to be illusive owls that winter in Moorhead Park in Siouxland in the community of Ida Grove. A local nature photographer and birder, Don Poggensee led the group around the park looking for barred owls and a northern saw-whet owl that comes from the Boreal Forests of Canada and winters in the “warmer climes” of Iowa and elsewhere. I always enjoy being outdoors although it was a brisk morning with temps in the teens and a stiff enough wind that was to become stiffer as the day wore on.

An empty tree cavity where nature photographer Don Poggensee said a barred owl generally occupies at Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee leads a group of photographers on a walk about Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee leads a group of photographers on a walk about Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mr. Poggensee told the group about the two species of owls while I came up empty on the barred owl, one member of the group was able to photograph it in the empty cavity of a tree. The rest of the time the group walked about search different pine tree stands looking for a 6″ owl that really blends into its environment. This particular day it seems its natural camouflage was working overtime, or maybe it was just wearing a cloak of invisibility. Even our guide told us that finding the little guy was hit and miss and it might be in a neighboring field next to the park enjoying its time while visiting the area.

One of a group of photographers walking about in Moorehead Park looking for owl species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cut trail in Moorehead Park where a group of photographers spent half a day looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A group of photographers walking about in Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee points out a possible area where an owl might situate itself as he leads a group of photographers on a walk about at Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though the group wasn’t successful in finding and photographing the smaller owl, or even a chance to photographer the larger owl, it was a very nice park to hike through. Cut trails make walking easy in parts and deer paths allow easy walking through the timber. Although during summer and early fall that might be different as green plants and ticks could make a barrier to some intrepid souls. But I find it’s always nice to get to see another place not too far a drive and getting tips and locations from an experienced nature photographer and area local who knows the “hot spots” to find bird species.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Nature photographer Don Poggensee talks about an experience looking for saw-whet owls as he and other photographers check Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee and another photographer pose for a quick image while on a walk about in Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee with a group of photographers on a walk about in Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fading Fall Colors in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek

29 Nov

A hiking trail seen from a ridge at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular fall season in Siouxland seemed fleeting and unfulfilled. While there were pockets of color here and there, this fall was like a poem of unrequited love. It is always so nice to see brilliant colors and many hues when fall comes around. It is one of my favorite seasons as it is others as well. But this year that love of fall was not returned by Mother Nature. Mood swings in temperature in extreme seemed to have dampened expectations and the colors. So one must then hope and wish that next year’s fall will be better and somehow like memories past of a period of cooler temps and slowly changing colors that last a bit and not washed away with wind and rain.

Fading colors seen at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Railroad tracks seen from an overlook at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There were nice days though when the temperature seemed perfect for sweater, fleece or jacket wearing. Too cool for shorts but not cool or cold enough for a heavy jacket. The sun and its light rays caressing the path with direct yet diffused lighting. Adding another element to be cherished in photographing landscapes and such. Not the harsh, direct light of summer. And once the colors have faded, the brown landscape emerges and holds sway until spring and warmer temperatures prevail and green shoots reemerge. But now patience is key and the ability to embrace other styles of photography until winter has passed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A trail takes a hiker to an overlook at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fading colors during a fall hike at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek, Iowa Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s All in the Technique in Siouxland, rural Thurston County, Winnebago, NE

27 Nov

A Great Blue Heron takes off from a pond in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out driving around in Siouxland I will at times come across wildlife and then feel fortunate that I could take some photos of them “au natural”. Just watching them and seeing how they behave and go about their daily lives always leaves me feeling amazed. Most of the birds I have photographed show such amazing grace, although it may not be true, it appears that way. Personally I am not “fleet of foot” or graceful, and so it’s a joy to watch and wonder and be amazed.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Great Blue Heron lands on a partially submerged tree branch in a pond in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Great Blue Heron perches on a tree branch in a pond near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Early Christmas Celebration in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

25 Nov

A young boy gets his photo taken during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes Christmas is celebrated a little early in Siouxland as various places and organizations host events and get togethers before the onslaught of family and other activities become overwhelming with too many choices. The Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve held its Christmas at the Homestead which is always early November although this year with the current cold weather that has come early it felt like winter, minus the snow.

Wearing elves hats to get in the mood during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Carolers sing in a former church now located on the grounds during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is always Santa to greet kids at the welcome center and carolers in the church and activities for children to create crafts in the former one-room school house. And even though it was unseasonably cold this year, many people attended and crisscrossed the grounds to peek inside the various buildings, grab a treat and some hot chocolate getting them in the mood for the upcoming holiday.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A child creates a Christmas ornament with the help of a parent during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

People line up to take a Christmas photo looking through a cutout during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even the sheep are sporting Christmas attire during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a photo with the Christmas sheep during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A decorated Christmas tree inside Mary Adams house during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A line to see Santa next to the Christmas tree in the welcome center during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Children making Christmas ornaments in the one-room school house during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making their way to the various buildings for different activities during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas lights are strung from the trees are see during Christmas at the Homestead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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