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Taking in the View in Siouxland, Mulberry Bend, Newcastle, NE

18 Sep

Looking at the South Dakota side of the Missouri River seen from the Mulberry Bend Overlook in Nebraska along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For being part of the Midwest and flyover country, the Siouxland area has some nice rolling hills and hilltops that make for nice viewing or the surrounding countryside. The Mulberry Bend Overlook, part of the Missouri National Recreational River corridor gives one such a view. Recently a make over was done to the park and so it’s been closed for about a year. To me it doesn’t seem to have changed much, although I believe some changes were done to make it more accessible to those physically challenged. The views though are still impressive.

American While Pelicans hang out on a sandbar in the Missouri River seen from the Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A view of the Missrouri River seen from a trail at the Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An overlook from a trail at the Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a couple of trails out from the overlook allowing a different view of the Missouri River and a pleasant walk for the most part, plus some seating to sit and enjoy, as long as the bugs are not too intrusive at the time one chooses to visit. Hot, humid and very muggy days are not ideal. But it’s a nice place to get away, and hopefully fall will provide some nice scenic looks as the leaves change color before falling as the winter months approach.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A platform viewing area over looking the Missouri River that is also disabled accessible at the Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

New signs along trails help hikers know where they are at at Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A second overlook off of a trail at the Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A ridge trail leading back to the parking lot for Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

at Mulberry Bend Overlook along the Missouri National Recreational River area Saturday, July 23, 2022 near Newcastle, NE (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Morning’s Drive in Siouxland, rural Thurston County, Nebraska

16 Sep

Two bison soak in some morning sun near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some mornings when I wake up early, which seems to be most days, I feel I need to get out and do a little exploring or at least driving around the Siouxland area. Because the vast majority of the region is rural and farmland or open acreage, there are choices available to explore, which makes it all the better and the opportunity to actually get lucky and find some wildlife.

A deer peers out from tall grass near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A doe and its young eat grass in a yard at a home in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The light that time of day is also much nicer, a little more direct and slanting and will become more so as the season gets into fall. It also means not having to get up as early to beat the sunrise in getting out as the days start a little later.

Morning light in a pond in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Steam rises off a pond in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s always pleasant to drive about country roads with the windows down in the cool morning air knowing the heat of the day won’t be scorching and force one to run the AC the entire time. Of course, if there is other traffic on the road one needs to be conscious of the ensuing dust storm as some like to fly down those gravel roads. But that’s another story.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer on a hill top watches a visitor on a country road in rural Thurston County, Nebraska near Winnebago, NE Thursday, July 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bison graze in a field near Winnebago, NE Monday, August 29, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting Nature in Siouxland, Frost Wilderness Wildlife Area, Vermillion, SD

2 Sep

A Cedar Waxwing sits on a branch at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like visiting new areas outdoors that I haven’t been to or seen yet. Although I have been to Frost Wilderness wildlife management area previously, I just didn’t know it. When previously visiting, there wasn’t any signage and this time I also found another entry that lets a visitor get a bit closer to the Missouri River that separates South Dakota and Nebraska. Plus I got to photograph a bird I have seen fleetingly but never long enough to make an image. Those Cedar Waxwings can be quick little birds, and prefer staying within the shelter of their surrounding trees. This time though one of them made me feel at home while other species also checked me out.

A Cedar Waxwing eyes a visitor from a branch at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A juvenile bald eagle takes another pass overhead looking at a visitor and if it would be of any interest to it at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Orchard Oriole sits atop a tree at Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two Orchard Orioles sit atop a tree at Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular wildlife area has mowed pathways which made walking much easier. And as one near the border between the two states another turnout with a pass through gate makes it easy to access the river and surrounding area. One thing though, the area appears managed more for the avid hunter than it does for the hiker and bird enthusiast. Signs are posted about the hunting availability and I would be shy to go walking early morning in the area looking for species as a visit a year or two ago I heard a very loud shot not more than 100-200 yards away. It wasn’t a shotgun, but a more robust type of rifle. Myself and some students with me made a quick beeline to our parked cars. Bullets have a way of traveling where not directed and sometimes folk don’t look beyond their target to see what lies beyond as the intent of bring down an animal occupies the senses.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Eastern Kingbird looks about a meadow at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

American White Pelicans sit on a sandbar across the Missouri River at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Informational signage about the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trail markings signage at the Frost Wilderness wildlife management area near Vermillion, South Dakota, Thursday, July 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Passing Moment in Siouxland Watching Nature, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley

31 Aug

A redheaded woodpecker checks out who is also visiting the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I am out in Siouxland visiting various wildlife refuges my encounters with nature and the creatures is sometimes very fleeting. Many birds are very coy about strangers and visitors who happen upon the creature’s neck of the woods. Whether walking a trail or grassy meadow, the feathered friends take note and then seem to vanish. A blink of an eye is almost a lifetime while trying to photograph them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Redheaded woodpecker eyeballs a visitor at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Moments later a Redheaded woodpecker plays coy and ignores a visitor at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Redheaded woodpecker launches itself from its perch at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Displaying some interesting aero dynamics a Redheaded woodpecker leaves its perch at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Redheaded woodpecker leaves its perch upon a post at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Still Day in Siouxland, Wildlife Management Area, Salix

29 Aug

A water lily on a still pond at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes a quiet, still day is a pleasant day in Siouxland. Enjoying the outdoors, on a cooler day with the hopes of seeing some wildlife but not really knowing what to expect. There are the days when one must look a bit more to see the beauty in the vastness, which might be one unique lily pad among the many.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Reliving History in Siouxland, Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park, Ft. Calhoun, NE

23 Aug

A canon is fired during the Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy visiting historical sites within and near the Siouxland region. Some of which have folk with a keen interest in portraying historical figures with knowledge of the area and are happy to share that knowledge with visitors. On a very hot, muggy August day I took a trip to Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park in Nebraska to again check out a living history day.

An re-enactor officer explains what life is like in the army during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Trying to stay cool in a fort barracks on a very hot and sultry day during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A re-enactor talks about available medical tools, and explained that horse hair was used during the 1800’s as sutures and explains it has been found only slightly less effective and strong as today’s modern suture material.

I had met some of these folk previously on a visit a few years ago and so it was fun to catch up a bit and see how they were getting on, but also to listen as they told “their stories” which reflects the early frontier life on the plains as this fort represents one of the first outlying defenses of a new nation pushing westward and various other folk with occupations that were supportive of the troops stationed at the fort but not employed by the military as personnel.

This particular day though there were few visitors and I would imagine that heat, with possible highs near 100, kept people away either staying indoors or checking out various water parks or river areas where one could stay cool. But fewer people meant more time to chat with these folk and learn more about the history they had to tell.

Signage outside the barracks seen during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors check out one of the open buildings at the fort barracks during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A re-enactor takes a smoke break during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. The gentleman said he enjoys participating because it is generally quiet with a few visitors stopping by. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A re-enactor stays cooler in the shade of the fort barracks during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was a nice day for what it was, but with searing temperatures and little breeze, spending time in the sunshine for a couple of hours was plenty of time. Unlike the 4th of July Living History event at the park, there is not as much pomp and circumstance and once one has seen and heard a canon fire, not much more needs to be said.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A re-enactor checks in with a fellow participant during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A re-enactor spins yarn during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An enlisted man can always find something to do seen during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An enlisted re-enactor awaits visitors to talk about the soldiers bunk accommodations during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The parade grounds inside the fort barracks seen at a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cabin outside the perimeter of the fort barracks during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors walk past a picketed garden area during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A detail heads out to fire a cannon during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cannoneers prepare to fire during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cannoneers hold their position after firing during a Living History event at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Ft. Calhoun, NE Saturday, August 6, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting the Departed in Siouxland, Hancock Township Cemetery, rural Plymouth County

21 Aug

A headstone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I continue to drive about Siouxland I continue to find locations with older cemeteries, many with grave sites of those departed who probably first settled the area, or arrived shortly thereafter. Many of these resting places also have “current” residents recently departed in the last few years.

A former family burial plot with missing headstones at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two guests check out a headstone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A caretaker I met while visiting told me that upon his last visit it seems that some headstones are missing from certain graves which is sad. He speculated that maybe a visiting relative took them with them but it leaves the grave(s) unmarked and visitors without knowing who may laying this peaceful conclave of residents. I always find that even if I do not know any of the occupants of the cemetery, I have no less respect for those who have gone before and seen this area and countryside when it was first settled by white settlers. I imagine that many a Native American had passed through living their lives as hunter/gatherers and may have traveled an extensive area of Siouxland looking for sustenance from their Creator while living off the land.

Cemeteries by their very nature are peaceful places which is one reason I like to visit them. The occupants hold no judgement of those visiting, and I no judgement of those departed. Just a quiet time to think, contemplate and wish there was more peace in the world.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A grave stone from the late 1800’s at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A broken head stone at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Newer grave sites at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many early burial sites in rural areas had trees planted around the headstones to shade the departed seen at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A view of the surrounding rural countryside at the Hancock Township Cemetery (now known as the Bella Vista Cemetery) in Plymouth County north of Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Passing Through Siouxland while Blinking, Westfield

17 Aug

A flower planter at a park in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lot of times when I am driving about Siouxland it tends to be doing the week and most times there are not a lot of people about. Sometimes when attending an event in a small town there will be more folk. But I enjoy seeing what architecture is still in place and it always makes me wonder how a community has changed through the years, most always thriving at first with the railroad passing through or nearby and then slowly evolving and changing over the decades, century as life and work revolves less around agriculture and small towns and more about industrialization and larger cities.

A former hardware store in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A view of downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A former gas pump decorates the outside of a bar and grill in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Westfield has been in existence for a long time but searching online doesn’t net one a lot of information. Like so many smaller communities it seems a quiet place to live and come home to away from a busier world outside of the community. Although some necessities may seem lacking, one would guess the residents are content and enjoy the quiet and solitude they have come to embrace.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An antique agricultural implement at a park in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A former U.S. Post Office in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A former business gets a make over in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

City hall in downtown Westfield, Iowa Saturday, July 16, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fair Time in Siouxland, Woodbury County Fair, Moville

15 Aug

A show pig appears to be looking for a way out as its owner participates in a 4-H/FFA judging event at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rural Iowa in Siouxland would never be complete without a county fair in the summertime. Or elsewhere in other states for that matter. As a child I spent a few summers participating in 4-H events with projects and remember some fondly, and others that may not have gone as expected. And fairs have a long history, originally beginning in England as a sort of religious celebration according to some online sites.

According to a history site the first county fair in the U.S. took place in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1807. Sheep farmer Elkanah Watson wanted to promote better farming practices and held a sheep shearing demonstration and contest. Probably happy with its success, Watson began developing agricultural fairs that included contests and activities for the whole family.

While trying to maintain control of their animal entries, 4-H/FFA members of various county clubs also need to stay focused on the event judge during a competition at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A 4-H/FFA member preps his sheep for showing at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And in Iowa according to another site it was in 1841 that an exhibition was held exhibiting a particular cattle breed. An Agricultural Society created an event to show off cattle of the Durham breed, the first such exhibition west of the Mississippi River. In 1855 the Agricultural Society created the Lee County Fair in Lee County and thus began county fairs. And others in most states with agriculture began their own fairs. It was a chance for “country folk” to get a day off and maybe show off some of their livestock or produce they had grown. And fairs have changed over time, adding carnivals, and two youth groups, 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of American) were started to offer young people interested in agriculture and farm type living than now includes organic a space and place to pursue those interests.

A bunny “exhibit” for a 4_h member a at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Animal owners like the 4-H member and owner of this rabbit puts an ice water bottle in the cage to help keep the animal cool during sweltering temperatures during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022. Large fans were also deployed throughout the barn areas to keep the air moving during the fair. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors enjoy the rabbit exhibits of 4-H/FFA members at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For 4-H and FFA members the county fairs are the place to show off their work for the year and compete with like-minded individuals and maybe go to their state’s fair to compete amongst their peers, the “championship games” equivalent to sporting events. And these days 4-H clubs are not limited to only “kids in the country” like when I was growing up, and the various activities and kinds of projects has greatly expanded beyond just animals. Although some members whose parents might own small acreage can raise rabbits, chickens, goats or lamps as well as other types of projects that might include nutrition, photography, art, explanatory projects involving building or cooking.

A 4-H/FFA member cuddles her kitten before competing in an event during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The cat looks calm wearing its leash/bib during a 4-H/FFA competition during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A kitten looks very sedate from all of the affection and attention during a 4-H/FFA competition at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But county fairs also harken back to a little country nostalgia that those farming might enjoy. Collecting and exhibiting older “antique” farm tractors is now an expensive hobbies, akin to those who collect and show off model A and T cars and those muscle cars of the ’50’s and ’60’s.

Older style tractors and in some cases, “antiques” on display at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Older farm tractors are as collectible to some folk as antique cars seen at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And then there is the carnival side of fairs and the rides that all kids, no matter the age, still enjoy and look forward too.

A county fair wouldn’t be complete without carnival rides see at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A county fair wouldn’t be complete without carnival rides see at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A county fair wouldn’t be complete without carnival rides see at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some of the events are a bit fun-filled for the kids as in a pie eating contest that was more whip cream slurping than actual pie eating. And though I didn’t watch all of it, a few of the younger ones seemed a bit unsure if inhaling all of that topping was actually going to stay put. And no “spill buckets”.

Happy about winning the age division pie eating, well whip cream slurping contest, during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Standing nonchalantly after winning the age division pie eating, well whip cream slurping contest, while a volunteer holds another contestant’s pigtails to keep them clear of the whip cream during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Fair Queen makes sure this particular contestant gets plenty of whip cream to slurp during a “pie eating” contest at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the end though, for those that compete at the county fair, bringing home a blue ribbon or best of show or even a championship trophy still tops the list of accomplishments.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Showing off some “fancy booties” a prize winning goat entry for a 4-H/FFA member is held for a commemorative photo in the winners circle at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Summer’s Day Birding, Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve, Westfield

11 Aug

Members of the Loess Hills Audubon Society spend time looking for birds off of Butcher Rd. that abuts the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve Saturday morning, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Living in Siouxland for some is a bit of luxury in that the rural area has a number of places that “birders”, such as members of the Loess Hills Audubon Society, can get together and enjoy their common interest in finding and recording the feathered creatures that inhabit Siouxland, as well as those passing through during a migratory flight depending on the season.

And sometimes I am lucky to go along with the folk and explore a new area or revisit one I had forgotten about. Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve is a large acreage in Siouxland that contains the largest remaining prairie native to Iowa, along with a couple hundred bison that roam the preserve. The birders this day were driving the rim of the preserve and looking for whatever creatures they might find and recording their finds later on their website.

A view of the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve seen from Butcher Road Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A member of the Loess Hills Audubon Society takes a photo of scene while birding off of Butcher Rd. that abuts the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Loess Hills Audubon Society spend time looking for birds off of Butcher Rd. that abuts the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve Saturday morning, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For me as always, it’s more about the photography and documenting what occurs, a practice I can’t seem to shake after working for small daily newspapers and weeklies for 3 decades. I enjoy watching people enjoy their passion and taking the time to pursue it, even on what turned out to be. muggy kind of morning and more so as the day wore on. But once out and searching one can forget the discomfort of the weather in trying to find those elusive little feathered neighbors. The birders recognize the bird song, of which some I do, but not near enough, and it’s probably time for me to download one of the many bird apps to use to know what bird is singing while outdoors.

A lonely fence post seen off of Butcher Rd. that abuts the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One of several bison grazing on a hilltop off at the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve seen from Butcher Rd. Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wildflowers seen off of Butcher Rd. that abuts the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I can easily get sidetracked while out as I see various visuals come into view. But it’s always fun, and a little morning walk after a couple cups of coffee preps one, and of course, thinking about lunch later. I am learning through friends how a day might be planned and I must admit, the planning around fun activities and eating always sounds like a good day to me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A view of the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve seen from Butcher Road Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Loess Hills Audubon Society spend time looking for birds off of Butcher Rd. that abuts the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve Saturday morning, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wooden bench allows visitors a place to sit and watch and listen at the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve off of Butcher Rd. Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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