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Migration in Siouxland, Gavins Point Dam, Yankton, SD

26 Jan
A waterfowl that might be a lesser-scaup duck lands in the spillway of Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Maybe somedays I am not the most observant person, focused on some thing in particular and excluding other sights that should also command my attention. I have ventured out in a limited fashion this year in Siouxland looking for critters and migratory birds but to me it seems that the migration passed me by or is not following a pattern of what I have observed in years past, which could easily be the case.

Migrating snow geese fly overhead as they look for a landing place near the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An American White pelican lands at a lake near the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have ventured already to some familiar places looking for migratory birds in December and January but have not found much of any thing. Even local wildlife that hangs out at such places. And my birding skills are vastly inferior to others I know, not seeing flying geese or other birds isn’t the same as finding certain species of song birds that pass through the area and are no larger than say a house sparrow.

I never mind getting out and taking a look, but am ever hopeful that my interest my at least afford me an opportunity to pull my camera out of its bag and make a couple of photographs. Of course, in the kind of weather as we have been having, I fault no feathered visitor in finding a warmer, more user friendly place to shelter in and hang out until conditions are better for its journey. I bitch and moan a bit about getting out in sub degree weather to look for these guys, and am not the “one on the road” traveling to a destination looking for fair winds and smooth sailing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Migratory waterfowl birds congregate at a lake area near Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An American White pelican lands at a lake near the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Migrating snow geese fly overhead as they look for a landing place near the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

24 Jan
A deer casts a quizzical look at an early morning walker at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Depending on where one walks at times it is possible to meet and greet another trails in Siouxland, my hope is always that it’s a critter of some kind. Of course, coming across them in warmer weather is always a plus and sunshine makes the images snap a bit more that shooting on an extremely cold day with a grey overcast sky.

Turkeys loiter on a cut path looking for snacks at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it’s also true that I won’t meet any passersby on a trail if I am not actually walking on the trail looking for them. Temperatures have recently been creeping upwards towards the mid 30’s and the hard, crusted, ice encased compacted snow has begun to melt a little bit. But then, weather folk say more rain, they snow is on the way. Winter is still here and thoughts of spring will continue to be just that, thoughts and dreams.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A young deer pauses to check out a visitor at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Turkeys on parade at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two deer make their way through a harvested corn field at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Birds on a Stick in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD and Sioux City

22 Jan
An Eastern Kingbird sits on a plant stem at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 27, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A black capped chickadee sits on a branch as summer winds down and fall begins in the backyard of a residence Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I began photographing more birds both near home and in parks around Siouxland I began to pay more attention to the perches these feathered folk use. Sometimes it is very sturdy and at others it seems to follow that phrase “any port in a storm” where they may situate themselves as they take stock of the surrounding area. Birds in some of the parks have sometimes more choice for perches, as often times these places also provide a kind of prairie habitat which is generally not available in neighborhoods within a community.

An Eastern Kingbird sits on a plant stem at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 27, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow watches from a branch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow sits on a branch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And photographing in these two different places create their own challenges. In a neighborhood one can sit a spell, especially near feeders and birds will come and go and possible give more opportunities to photograph them as they rest on a perch before heading to a feeder. Whereas in the park’s meadow area the birds can see you coming from some distance off and I have found one is only able to get so close necessitating the use of a long lens often times with a teleconverter to make an image of the bird “in the wild” so to speak. And of course as in so many things, timing is everything. Sometimes the act of bringing a camera to one’s eye will spook a bird so one needs to be aware and judge how close and how long one wants to hold a lens up into a position to get a photograph of a particular subject.

In the meadow areas using a tripod or monopod is just another piece of gear to carry for some distance, possibly a few miles while hiking, which is not always fun and tiring. So trade offs are made while one “enjoys” oneself out in nature with possibly the benefit of a photograph of some creature also enjoying the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Eastern Kingbird sits on a plant stem at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 27, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A house finch sits on a branch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow looks directly at a visitor in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.(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©)

Moments at the Dakota Farm Show in Siouxland, USD at Vermillion, SD

18 Jan
A vender checks his phone during a slow start on the last day of the Dakota Farm Show on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD in the Dakota Dome Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Every January in Siouxland the Dakota Farm Show takes place at the Dakota Dome on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD. All types of mostly agricultural type vendors attend to show interested parties, mostly farmers and those of like minds, what goods might help make their lives more productive and easier to pursue.

The start of the last day of the Dakota Farm Show on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD in the Dakota Dome Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Friends catch up at the Dakota Farm Show on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD in the Dakota Dome Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This year it seemed attendance was limited at the farm show because of bad winter storm weather that occurred during the week of the event. A winter storm sweeping across the entire United States and bringing very cold temperatures, blowing wind and snow storms that dumped tremendous amounts of the white stuff in various parts of Siouxland. Although speaking to some vendors attendance picked up the middle day of the three day event when the wind wasn’t blowing the snow as hard and the sun began peaking out from behind grey, cloudy skies.

One interesting note, although I didn’t photograph it, was one young woman reading a book, while most others, of all ages, were perusing their phones while waiting for folk to stop by and see what products might interest them. And missing this year from past years were large tractors with tires standing taller than most people and other “large scale” equipment pieces, except for a shed installation. It is understandable though that traveling in challenging weather conditions is less than ideal for some inventory compared to just moving smaller boxes to set up a display. And interests and products change from year to year, depending on the needs of those agricultural people (read farmers) who use it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One company built a steel structure for display at the Dakota Farm Show on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD in the Dakota Dome Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Sharing a joke with friends at the Dakota Farm Show on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD in the Dakota Dome Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A little business as the crowd picks up on the last day of the Dakota Farm Show on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD in the Dakota Dome Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Jack Frost Nipping Toes in Siouxland, Clay County, SD

16 Jan
Hoar frost creates a contrast with a tree’s darker bark seen along a county road in Clay County outside of Vermillion, SD Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter time in Siouxland can be a pretty time. Freshly fallen snow, hoar frost, snow drifts, within reason, can make for some compelling images. It’s just getting over the idea of getting outside when it’s cold and taking the photographs. On a recent trip to Clay County in South Dakota near Vermillion, hoar frost covered trees and roadsides. a virtual winter wonderland.

Hoar frost decorates a field seen in Clay County outside of Vermillion, SD Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Hoar frost seen along a snow covered county road in Clay County outside of Vermillion, SD Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What makes for a pretty scene may not always make for the best of driving conditions. And one always hope that other drivers share the same concerns and are not in such a hurry that a side trip through a ditch is part of the travel route. Especially when fog is also part of nature’s plan that visibility is limited. But it does make for a pretty site and instead of thoughts of sugar plums dancing in my head, it’s just another hot cup of coffee, and maybe a sweet roll to savor after a stint outdoors on a cold day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hoar frost decorates a field seen in Clay County outside of Vermillion, SD Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Hoar frost seen along a snow covered county road in Clay County outside of Vermillion, SD Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Hoar frost covers trees along a county road in Clay County outside of Vermillion, SD Friday, Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Still Life in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park, Sioux City

12 Jan
A still life of drift wood covered in snow and frozen in a pond at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes life can be simple and uncomplicated, even in Siouxland. A quiet walk in a park covered in snow when it’s cold. Not many folk about, and sometimes few critters. Which then may make it simple looking for images. Or not.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

8 Jan
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©)

Sometimes when out photographing in Siouxland I attempt to see subjects in a different way. It doesn’t always work, although some days when an idea occurs to me the elements needed for creating the images are not there, or are fleeting. The last couple of years has been trying in regards to photographing waterfowl or other birds around ponds and small lakes in the area. With an ongoing drought that is serious some ponds have dried up, hopefully returning when it begins raining again in combination to sufficient snowfall.

A reflection of a nesting pod at Mud Creek at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, October 4, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A blue-winged teal makes its way in a pond at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 27, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And then there are those conditional elements where one hopes for a calm day the wind picks up and that nice calm body of water fades. Or the waterfowl, shore birds pursue the insects with a bit of gusto. Causing ripples that disturb an otherwise calm body of water. Life happens, and one does the best that is possible at the time. Ever hopeful for a nice image while just enjoying the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A turtle suns itself on a branch sticking out of the water at Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Monday, July 18, 2022. The animal seems unaffected by the high heat in triple digits and humidity that the Siouxland Region will experience the next few days. (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©)
A wood duck floats in Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Out on a Limb in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve and residences in North Sioux City, SD and Sioux City

6 Jan
A Northern Flicker perches in a tree at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I walk about nature places in Siouxland I always keep an eye out for birds. I find it challenging to be able to photograph these little guys/gals. Quick and small and generally pausing only momentarily, I’ve learned it takes considerable skill to get a photograph. And many times I am feeling more lucky than good at taking a photo. Some are nice images of the birds, some are just decent and then some I am really happy with that I was able to make an image. And it doesn’t matter the species, although it is nice when it’s a bird I don’t photograph often. But if the little one gives me attitude and makes for a delightful photo, I am happy.

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet takes a different view of the world around it while sitting high in a tree at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A turkey vulture sits in a tree top taking in the scene around it at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak sits on a branch while checking out a suet feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A house finch watches the backyard at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Last year’s winter was warmer than what seemed normal with little to no snow. This year the weather is considerably colder with more snow and now ice storms mixed with snow. Some winter days I like sitting in one spot to photograph small song birds, but so far this winter the weather with its minus 30-40 degree temperatures has made me wary of frostbite just being outside too long.

But spring will eventually come and hopefully warmer temperatures, even in the high 20’s or 30’s with little wind would be pleasant enough to sit outside for a bit to capture these little guys in a different season and scenario. Plus the practice wouldn’t hurt.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Possibly a flycatcher sits on a branch at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Wood ducks hang out in a tree during morning hours at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

House finches wait their turn at a bird feeder birds in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, January 7, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A black capped chickadee sits on a branch as summer winds down and fall begins in the backyard of a residence Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow sits on a branch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (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©)
A Grey Catbird calls from a small tree 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©)
A red-tailed hawk sits perches on a branch looking or a snack at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday Oct. 22, 2021.
A sparrow eats a seed in the backyard of a residence Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Sparrows sit in a tree in the backyard of a residence Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow appears to give the “stick eye” to a visitor watching it in the backyard of a residence Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Holiday Lights in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

23 Dec

Holiday lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For the last couple of years the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve has been putting up Christmas lights around the homestead that folk can visit each of the four weekends in December, with Christmas Day not included should it fall on the weekend. When the pandemic hit a couple years ago the Adams’ parks manager, Jody Moats, wanted a destination place for people to get outside and enjoy some festive sights as most churches and other organizations were being cautious in having large crowds in small rooms adding to the chance of viral infections. The popularity of the Christmas lights was overwhelming embraced by locals as they can walk through the homestead and meet Santa before his big day.

Santa poses for a photo with fans at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Santa greets visitors at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Holiday lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I find it challenging to photographer as the blue goes fairly fast and the homestead is in a small wooded area, so trying to balance an exposure and still so activity tests one’s skill as a photographer. Some photos I made handheld with the help of a study tree while others were done on a tripod. In situations like this I mostly find the people as props to the Christmas lights rather than the other way around. For the brave folk who brave the chill a little popcorn, candy cane or coffee and hot chocolate brace them until they walk about and for a short time just enjoy the Christmas season.

Jerry Mennnega

Sioux City, Iowa

Holiday lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Holiday lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Holiday lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Candy cane decorations light up the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Holiday lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Holiday lights at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Thinking Warm Thoughts in Siouxland, Loess Hills Audubon Society, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

21 Dec
Loess Hills Audubon club members out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count started recently here in Siouxland and elsewhere and runs from Dec. 14, 2022 through Jan. 5, 2023. People from throughout the U.S. will go out and record what species they find and share that for the organization’s data base and ongoing tracking of bird movement. With colder temperatures descending into the Siouxland region expected soon it will be a far cry when members of the Loess Hills Audubon group took a bird walk about Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in August of this year. Short sleeve shirts, shorts and some with sandals, that won’t be the attire needed to walk about and look this winter.

A swallowtail butterfly seen while Loess Hills Audubon club members were out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A song bird seen while Loess Hills Audubon club members were out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A song bird nestled in a cedar tree spotted by members of the Loess Hills Audubon club out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

According to a Connecticut chapter of the Audubon Society the Christmas bird count is one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in the world. And because of the time of year, different species will be found in different places. I have attended some winter bird counts in the past hosted by the local Loess Hills Audubon Society and the folk are very dedicated in looking and finding species that will help educate humans about this particular animal kingdom.

I have just not been keen on those very cold, cold mornings and rising before the sun to get out and look for the birds. For me it’s always about photographing what is at hand, and shooting in the dark has its own challenges.

I haven’t decided yet if I want to make another attempt this year or not in getting back out into the cold, all the while thinking about those spring, summer and early fall expeditions looking for birds and enjoying those warmer temperatures. Although I always dress appropriately and don’t really feel the cold, getting over the inertia to get out of bed is it’s own challenge. I just enjoy my coffee later in the morning all the more.

Loess Hills Audubon club members out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Loess Hills Audubon club members out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But looking for birds and trying to photograph them is always run, no matter the time of day or wind chill degree. It makes more a good story later on.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Residents of Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve make their way back to the barn in preparation for visitors during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A painted turtle enjoying a morning sun basking at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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