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Enjoying a Morning out in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

10 Sep
American wild turkeys and their young forage for food in morning light at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like many in Siouxland enjoy a nice morning walk when the weather’s nice and the sun is just coming up. That activity is not exclusive to humans but also wildlife when it might be a bit safer to take the family out for a stroll and morning brunch. I consider myself lucky when I happen upon such a “family” and I don’t spook them too much and be patient while they make their way to whatever destination they choose. Have the fun is just watching their behavior and seeing nature up close and somewhat personal, each being on it way to start a new day and to see what awaits.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A young wild American Turkey chick stretches its wing while out walking with its parent at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

American wild turkeys and their young forage for food in morning light at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Speeding through Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

4 Sep
A turkey chick cranes its neck to look for a possible predator after flying into the branches of a nearby tree near a trail along with several siblings at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I used to run nearly everyday when I was younger, pushing myself on the various routes I would chart on trails, streets, tracks, various places always trying to change up the scenery and impact different surfaces had on my body. Until that is my doctor told me my knees would no longer sustain that kind of activity. These days in Siouxland I chart various places to walk, but mostly contain myself to nature preserves and other places where I might see song birds, deer, other critters and where I can walk at ease and not feel in a hurry and enjoy myself “on the journey” as opposed to the journey’s end as I did when I finished my 4-5 mile (nearly) daily run as I did in the past.

Taking a run at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A turkey flies into a brushy area looking to avoid a passerby at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a morning bike ride at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve I envy those I see out for a run. I just truly enjoyed the exertion and the movement, especially when I found myself in that runner’s “groove”. These days I think of the missed opportunities some of these folk miss when speeding down a trail or path getting in their daily exercise. Making a noise before reaching a point along the trail that might spook critters getting a morning snack or heading to a spot they will bed down for an afternoon nap during the heat of the day.

A white-tailed deer watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer and turkey spy a passer-by in a meadow area and then take off in different directions after seeing a passerby at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

My slower pace has led me to other discoveries and enjoying nature in a different way. And I am not saying folk out running or biking are not enjoying nature. A friend rides a bike all the time and and is able to photograph some pretty amazing scenes while out and about. Although he is scanning the area he is in as an avid birder, and looking to document what he sees. I try to walk softly when on the trails since I am actively looking for critters to photograph and much more moving along than sitting in a blind waiting for creatures to come my way. Although recently I acquired a blind and will see how that works out and whether my patience and ability to sit still for more than 15 minutes will help me.

A Western Meadowlark sings from its perch along an open woodland as it watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cooling down after a run at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a walk at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And maybe my adjustment to my enjoyment of nature has changed since I can no longer run and must confine myself to footfalls as I traverse various trails and places. And I was never a really big biking enthusiast, even less so after some close encounters with drivers who probably aren’t good drivers even without traffic on the roadways. And I am content with that, enjoying the morning, learning animal behavior and seeing if my photographic reflexes will allow me the chance to capture a critter in motion or in its habitat as I quietly and slowly move into a better photographic shooting position without alarming or stressing the animals.

Regardless of one’s reason being outdoors and in nature, it’s good for a person to put down the electronics and just enjoy those moments of quiet and scenes that don’t include buildings, vehicles or other “manmade” items other than bird blinds. Solitude and space has its rewards and I hope to enjoy more of them down the road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A doe and its fawn make their way down a mowed walking trail at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

19 Aug
Native to North America a wild turkey peers above a plant as it cautiously watches a visitor walk by using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting up early for some morning walks at a local nature preserve, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, has been rewarding, getting to hear silence and birds before too many people hit the trails running, walking, riding bikes. Some folk I come across are surprised to see animals species so close to the trails. But then again, I try walking quietly, not talking to anyone and listening to music and moving but in a hurried fashion.

Native to North America a wild turkey and its chicks feed in the grass along a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021before seeing a visitor using the same walking trail. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Native to North America a wild turkey and its chick crosses a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But everyone has their own purpose in using the trails. I used to run a lot, but not so much anymore. And in slowing down I have seen so much more than previously on my visits and I have to admit I enjoy these visits that much more. Although I do miss running. Sometimes one just doesn’t know what might be around that next bend if you are mindful and watch. These are the surprises I enjoy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Native to North America a wild turkey and its chick cautiously watch a visitor approach using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Missouri River in Siouxland, Yankton, SD

17 Aug
A beach scene that could remind one of others places in the northwest of the United States is seen just outside of Yankton, South Dakota, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the hot summer days in Siouxland the thought of cooling off in water is always appealing. But it doesn’t always mean that I follow through on those thoughts. Exploring places and finding interesting “nooks and crannies” while wandering is always a joy. Such was finding a beach area along the Missouri River north of Yankton, SD. It was easy to miss in that there was only a small path leading down to the water and seeing this scene made me think of other places visited in northern California. A kind of wild looking setting I didn’t expect to find. But therein lies the joy of looking and seeing and wandering about and finding a moment when what one sees transport you somewhere else, linking to another memory and creating a chain of sights and sounds along the road of life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Cool water along a beach outside of Yankton, South Dakota, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An impressionistic look at water along a beach outside of Yankton, South Dakota, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Great Escape in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

3 Aug
A deer begins its retreat after seeing a passer-by in a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Anthropologists have sometimes said that early society retained a fight or flight outlook on life that was in part due to self-preservation. The same is most certainly true in the animal kingdom, even here in Siouxland. Early morning walks in Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve has given me a chance to see nature a bit more upclose and personal that previous visits during later hours when I have visited there. Nature’s actions take place in twilight hours, early and late. I am just glad I can witness some of it as I venture out earlier to escape the current heat of the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer spies a passer-by in a meadow and begins its retreat at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A deer spies a passer-by in a meadow and begins its retreat at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A deer spies a passer-by in a meadow and begins its retreat at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A deer takes flight after seeing a passer-by in a meadow and begins its retreat at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bird Greetings in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park

24 Jul
A Redwing Blackbird sings early in the morning at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking early in Siouxland one gets the chance to encounter and hear “the little birdies” sing or scold, depending on their mood and where one might meet them. Sometimes it might be too close to their home, especially in spring or early summer when young might be around.

A bird peeks out of a hole in a dead tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking by trees, many trees, and looking up the last place I expect to see a bird is it popping it’s head out of a hole. More likely I expect to see a bird sitting on branches and hidden. Although some species easily give away location once you hear them singing.

A cardinal sits quietly watching passersby at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Males cardinals are easy to spot within the green foliage. Although they do tend to move about, making it difficult to even grab a fleeting photo. Just a flash of red and then one needs to continue looking.

Early morning light is a bit more directional, and during the summer months bright which creates a nice contrast with the background. Backlit subjects like trees easily stand out against the darker area behind it in shade.

Morning sunlight illuminates a tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bright light almost makes it impossible to see small birds nestled in the branches, where one might mistake it for a tree limb knot and a branch silhouetted against the light. And sometimes some clever birds mimmic their surroundings, looking like a short, standing tree trunk across the water until upon closer inspection with a telephoto lens or binoculars one sees there is actually a bird there. Standing very, very still.

A Great Blue Herron stands still, almost striking a pose like a tree branch as it watches something across the small lake at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that is the fun of early morning walks. Trying to school oneself in learning the habits of these feathered creatures and and spotting them to photograph. The exercise is not a bad idea either as one walks about Bacon Creek exercising the eyeballs and legs.

But once the sun starts climbing, it’s good to heed the advice of other woodland creatures, and head toward a shady glenn to spend the rest of the day until supper time calls. Just lounging about and avoiding the day’s heat, and then starting the process over the next day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer makes its way to a shaded glenn at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Fortenelle Forest, Bellevue, NE

22 Jul
An early morning mist envelopes part of the area surrounding the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy getting out and visiting places in Siouxland, especially outdoor parks. Taking a walk in nature is always nice, even on those days when the weather isn’t fully cooperating. Visually misty days can be more interesting and different that a bright sunshine, sunlight dappled view of a forest.

Visitors make their way along the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A woman makes her way along the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of people were out enjoying the board walk at the forest which wanders about a small portion of the park for about one mile. Meandering to different parts, one even close to the Missouri River when other surprises are sometimes in store for those who happened to pick one day over another to visit.

Turkey vultures roost in a tree along the Missouri River bank at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bald eagle replaces the turkey vultures previously sitting in a tree along the bank of the Missouri Valley at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Besides making one appreciate the beauty of nature, it always works up an appetite walking and looking for scenes to photograph. Lunch is always a nice reward after a morning out. And the chance to yet again see another bald eagle and enjoy the quiet of the forest just makes it a pleasant day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple enjoy a day out at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The board walk ehich runs about a mile encompasses only a small portion of the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple looks engulfed in foliage while using the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Geometric Lines in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

16 Jul
Geometric shadow lines at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when visiting places in and around Siouxland I default to shooting in B&W. It’s what I started with and used for photography, personal and professionally for many years. Even though scenes are in color, unless one is color blind, I see some scenes in black and white. And it took a while to understand the color of objects and how each color or variation there of was rendered in a shade of grey.

Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And depending on the subject one might also be able to utilize whatever texture is found in the scene to add one more visual element. Black and white can create a simplicity when photographing. Geometric lines and shapes, tonality, gradations. The use of Ansel Adams Zone System. Ten steps of gradation from black without detail to white without detail. At least that was how I was taught. Something though I haven’t critically thought about in a decade or two, but still aware of it and it figures into my thought process when shooting and working on black and white images.

Geometric shadow lines at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Then one can let the imagination take over and pursue visual imagery that engages oneself, focusing only on capturing what will translate the what is seen. Then photography becomes fun.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shadows at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

12 Jul
A Lesser Yellowlegs poses as it hunts for a meal at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a jaunt to Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is always a nice way to start one’s day. Of course that is after having a couple cups of coffee to jump start the day. I am finding one needs to be an early riser to find nature’s creatures a bit more active as they hunt for their morning and mid-morning nourishment. For the shore birds, they sometimes do this just underneath a bird blind that the preserve has put in place in numerous places along Mud Lake for visitors to enjoy the residents and passers through.

A Canada goose informs a visitor that the bird blind is currently occupied at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Redwing blackbird makes some noise on a perch at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two Lesser Yellowlegs look for food in Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I try to improve my photography of nature it’s nice, and convenient, to have willing subjects, as long as they are not too aware of one’s presence. Hence the bird blinds. I know I will not be traveling to far flung places on the earth like Africa, Peru or even the Rocky Mountains to photograph animals in the wild. But will be content with the “local wild creatures” I have nearby at preserves and parks and do the best I can to capture them in motion. Not a bad way to spend a morning.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

American white pelicans slowly circle overhead at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A wood duck floats in Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Lesser Yellowlegs hunts for a meal at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An Eastern Kingfisher studies its surroundings from a tree branch overhanging Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reflecting on Nature in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park, Sioux City

10 Jul
A fisherman looks like he’s casting into the trees as they reflect in the water at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice to take a walk at a local park without bundling up for a winter’s chill and see nature in its summer’s regalia. An early morning walk has night light play that occurs around the park, especially when it comes to reflections.

Not an alpine lake but a body of water at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Water reflections give a French impressionistic look to a scene at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature plays tricks wth what one sees. And a narrow point of view a person could have difficulty of telling up from down which can be fun. Mother Nature knows when to enjoy herself and let those who see it in on her optical allusions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A man casts his line into the water as steam and the reflection of the opposite bank appear at at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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