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Keeping an “Eagle Eye” out for Birds in Siouxland, Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area, Little Sioux

30 Jan
An adult bald eagle perches in a tree at theThree Rivers Wildlife Area along the Little Sioux River where it empties into the Missouri River at Little Sioux, Iowa Saturday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When driving about in Siouxland I generally have a destination in mind when looking for birds. A particular park, nature preserve or refuge where I believe I will have a good chance of seeing birds, or deer or whatever else might appear. When just driving around looking for landscapes and such I will just drive and look. But the success of photographing birds one needs to be more specific.

Adult and juvenile bald eagles perch in a tree at theThree Rivers Wildlife Area along the Little Sioux River where it empties into the Missouri River at Little Sioux, Iowa Saturday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An adult bald eagle watches a crow fly by as it perches on a rock at theThree Rivers Wildlife Area along the Little Sioux River where it empties into the Missouri River at Little Sioux, Iowa Saturday, Jan. 14, 2022. Both species are scavenging for food in the river. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent excursion to the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge I happened to glance over toward a small river that feeds into the Missouri River and a place I had previously visited, although I didn’t know the name of the place at the time. And previously I has found a couple eagles gliding over the river looking for something to eat. The Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area is 200-300 acres of woods and wetland. The Little Sioux River runs through it and out into the Missouri River, and it was there that I saw some “large birds” sitting atop a small, very small, spillway. Am guessing they were juvenile bald eagles feeding along with some crows and seeing that before the place’s exit ramp appeared made it possible to detour from heading further south and to see what might be found.

A not quite adult bald eagle flies overhead at theThree Rivers Wildlife Area along the Little Sioux River where it empties into the Missouri River at Little Sioux, Iowa Saturday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two juvenile bald eagles attempt some aerial combat over theThree Rivers Wildlife Area along the Little Sioux River where it empties into the Missouri River at Little Sioux, Iowa Saturday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sometimes serendipity prevails as I found maybe 40-50 eagles hanging out, feeding, flying, practicing aerial combat maneuvers. It seemed a lot of the birds were juvenile bald eagles, possible on their migration flight with parents in tow checking locations along the way. I was happy having the chance to photograph these creatures although I still working to achieve in flight images that are in focus. So even though it was a grey, overcast kind of day, one works with what one has. Blue sky and brighter light might have been nice for taking photographs, but the birds didn’t seem to mind about the weather and in fining them, who am I to complain.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An adult bald eagles flies along a tree line at the shore in theThree Rivers Wildlife Area along the Little Sioux River where it empties into the Missouri River at Little Sioux, Iowa Saturday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An adult bald eagle perches on a rock surrounded by crows who are also scavenging for food at theThree Rivers Wildlife Area along the Little Sioux River where it empties into the Missouri River at Little Sioux, Iowa Saturday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)

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©)

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, Ice Fishing at Moorehead Park, Ida Grove

14 Jan
Ice fishermen try their luck for some action at a pond in Moorehead Park in Ida Grove, Iowa Saturday, Dec 31, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When growing up I did a little river and pond fishing near my home. It was fun, challenging, peaceful. Sometimes I spent more time just looking at nature and letting my imagination run away while sitting there fighting off bugs and mosquitos and waiting for some fish to bite.

In Siouxland when out and about I see people fishing at various places I traverse. But I never understood the appeal of ice fishing. It’s cold out, and colder still when one is not moving about and seated on ice. I have photographed a few hockey games in my day and was always glad to get away from the ice as it was sometimes colder during the winter indoors at a game than going outside to return to a newspaper office.

Whenever I see folk trying their luck I am always reminded of that movie with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon, “Grumpy Old Men”. A too funny comedy, at least I thought so at the time. Although art and life and life an art imitating one another may or may not be true.

A fisherman walks out onto the ice to try his luck at Moorehead Park in Ida Grove, Iowa Saturday, Dec 31, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Ice fishermen chat while waiting for some action at a pond in Moorehead Park in Ida Grove, Iowa Saturday, Dec 31, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But enough people do ice fish and seem to enjoy it. I never asked though if they catch the same fish summer or winter. And if the time of year made a difference to the taste. Change of seasons and food source available for the fish, like honey bees near a clover field or a field of flowers. Different types of pollen affects the end result of the honey produced. But maybe fish aren’t that complicated.

I prefer to just stomp around the woods and trails, trying to keep warm while walking and looking for critters, when moving on four legs or two, each make for a good subject depending on the moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An ice fisherman joins a couple others who are waiting for some action at a pond in Moorehead Park in Ida Grove, Iowa Saturday, Dec 31, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Just Saying “Howdy Neighbor” in Siouxland, Moorehead Park, Ida Grove

10 Jan
A Blue Jay looks a little cross while a barred owl tries to get in a little nap time at Moorehead Park in Ida Grove, Iowa Saturday, Dec 31, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it just good manners in Siouxland to acknowledge a neighbor and go on one’s way, even if begrudgingly. On a visit to Moorehead Park looking for owls I found the Barred Owl sunning itself in a tree cavity. This is something I don’t often get to photograph but then was surprised, pleasantly so, when a Blue Jay showed up and apparently was not pleased to see the owl.

As it danced a little jig on the branch, the owl slowly opened its eyes then closed them again, apparently thinking its nap time was more important than his feathered visitor, who eventually left. I guess it’s better to ignore small annoyances sometimes that get worked up about them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visiting the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari ParkVisiting near Siouxland, Ashland, NE

4 Jan
An elk at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the coming new year, this year, I hope to get out to more parks and preserves and view some majestic animals, whether cared for in facilities or in nature itself. Sometimes plans don’t always go as one might like, but it’s a nice goal to have. Seeing these animals up close is special in a way as many can not make or afford the trip to the mountains or other locales for a 2-3 week hunt for such creatures, whether here in the U.S. or other international locales.

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

Seeing animals up close sometimes hopefully gives one a better appreciation of how precious they are, better seen alive and in person than on some trophy wall adorning some narcissistic individual’s need to gloat or feel superior in some superficial way. I sometimes wonder if fortunes were reversed and these individuals were put onto the same “playing fields” as the creatures with only their hands, arms and legs would they fare any better from the creatures around them. A terrible thought, but maybe a lesson.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

“Seeing” History, kind of, near Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

2 Jan
Fans of the historical television drama Downton Abbey visit an exhibit of costumes at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I admit that I am a fan of history, visual and book, and recently the chance to see the costuming of the popular TV series Downton Abbey on PBS on display just south of Siouxland proper in Omaha, NE at the Durham Museum was a delightful trip. During those colder periods in the fall and winter it is nice to have some place to visit and check out if one is experiencing a bit of cabin fever.

Downton Abbey exhibit at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of fans of the television historical drama Downton Abbey visited the exhibit seeing various costumes worn by the show’s characters at an exhibit at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I was pleasantly surprised and a bit amazed at the number of fans and interested museum visitors and through a bit of eavesdropping hearing the excitement of some fans opportunity to see the costuming used for the show up close and a chance to “relive” the small screen experience up close and personal as they watched these “historical” lives enter their homes and imbue a historical aspect of a century or two ago.

A study in fashion during a wispy of Downton Abbey costumes exhibit at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Gowns worn by women actors of Downton Abbey on display at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Downton Abbey costumes on display at an exhibit at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seemingly today’s “elite” class, the rich or wanting to be rich, exude their authority through dress as well, whether they are moneyed people, celebrities, politicians, etc. Evidently some things do not change over time. And it’s interesting to view history through iconic types of imagery, like fashion. Looking no further than instagram or twitter or whatever popular social media is available for people to share their “status”. Wanting to be seen as special, rich or famous for whatever reasons is as old as mankind.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Close up look of the embroidery for a Downton Abbey period costume at the exhibit at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Period set scene helps show off costumes used in the Downton Abbey television series at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Supporters of the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An exhibit of costumes worn by characters in the historical television drama Downton Abbey on display at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

29 Dec
People pose for a family snap shot in front of the Christmas tree at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Christmas in and around Siouxland is always fun to experience. I have attended a variety of Christmas celebrations in small towns held by communities throughout the years. And since Siuoxland is comprised of three different states, it’s been fun attending Christmas celebrations in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

In recent years I have had work commitments which have curtailed my opportunity to visit various communities and the celebrations each hold ringing in the the Christmas holiday. Which is okay, work helps fund those other explorations of Siouxland when time permits and at some point I might be able to attend some of these again. Almost too many it seems to be able to post, but am happy so many communities and residents celebrate Christmas in one way or another.

A display of Christmas trees celebrating various cultures seen at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Christmas tree at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas time is for rejoicing and celebrating and it’s always nice that it is possible to get out and attend the various activities that are available. Lucky this country is not experiencing the woes and ills that other nations currently are. For all of the problems in the world, it would be nice for the mean ones to take a break from being mean and let people celebrate the season in peace.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A group of friends admire the Christmas tree at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Various forms of entertainment takes place leading up to Christmas Day at the Durham Museum Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (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©)
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