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The Lazy Days of Summer in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

27 Aug

An Asian tiger yawns from the soon to become heat of the day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This summer in Siouxland like many places has been extremely hot and dry. When I visited the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE earlier in the summer on such a day the animals reminded me that sometimes it’s okay to take a break during the heat of the day, if possible, and not over do it. Although for humans that is not always possible, as temperatures seem to become more extreme both in summer and winter maybe the human race needs to re-evaluate it’s life and needs to accommodate a climate that is not always hospitable. But that will never happen as the wheels of commerce and industry and those who wield the power will never acquiesce to such a mind set as they work from their mostly air-conditioned and more temperature controlled board rooms and offices.

But watching the animals at the zoo, they understand nature and seem to know when taking a break is a reasonable option too puruse.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Resting but always wary, a tiger lays on a cool cement floor at the start of a soon to be hot day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nap time for a young cheetah at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young cheetah looks up at the sound of a noise at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young spider monkey picks off something from another at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two spider monkeys look out what their enclosure at the humans watching them at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two spider monkeys look about from their enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storms in Siouxland, rural Sioux County

5 Aug

Storm clouds appear to bring rain showers near Ireton, Iowa in rural Sioux County Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I was younger and prior to living in Siouxland I chased a few storms for newspapers I previously worked for, in west Texas and Louisiana. Looking back on those experiences it was probably not the best of choices. But it can produce interesting images. Many of them centered on property destruction on surrounding communities where I worked. Storms roll through the Midwest and Siouxland in the spring and summer. Sometimes they can be pretty dramatic, other times they bring needed rain without much drama. Generally those are the better storms. But I still enjoy going out occasionally to check out the clouds and such and hope the most action I see is heavy rain. Done the the hail and high winds and I can pass on those. To which the adage “no pain no gain” can extol a heavy price especially when personal vehicles are damaged.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Storm clouds appear to bring rain showers near Ireton, Iowa in rural Sioux County Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm clouds appear to bring rain showers near Ireton, Iowa in rural Sioux County Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Public Grooming in Siouxland, Sioux City

11 Jun

A Cooper’s Hawk checks its surrounding while perched in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In my neck of the woods in Siouxland there seems to be a single or pair of Cooper’s Hawks that live about the area. I see one, rarely both, flying above or landing nearby, sometimes closer than I personally would like.

The weather this particular day had been off and on with a rain shower, although mostly off in the immediate area. So I was surprised when the hawk showed up looking a little ruffled and damp. Possibly getting caught in a down pout nearby and then finding a place to do a little drying off. The towel guy wasn’t available this particular day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Cooper’s Hawk checks its surrounding while perched in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cooper’s Hawk does a little grooming perched in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting to all those difficult spots a Cooper’s Hawk does a little grooming perched in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cooper’s Hawk checks its surroundings while it does a little grooming perched in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Shooting the Moon” in Siouxland, rural Woodbury County

22 May

A full moon rises as the sun sets behind a the horizon over an Iowa countryside near Anthon, Iowa Saturday evening May 15, 2022 before the lunar eclipse takes place later creating the blood moon. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the seasons change in Siouxland and the days slowly get longer, I find it easier to “stay up later” and try some photographic adventures. Although a friend of mine was probably disappointed that I didn’t want to shoot later, I find myself fading sooner as night approaches than I did when a younger person.

We ventured out to try our hand at photographing the blood moon, which was created by a partial lunar eclipse. I have driven countless backroads around the Siouxland region, but when it came time to decide where to situate ourselves so the moon create a nice backdrop to something in the foreground, I drew a blank, and settled for a stretch of roadway and hillside.

But after an hour of shooting I found myself fading faster than the setting sun. I told my friend to continue shooting and I didn’t mind staying out late, but I decided to just enjoy the moonrise as it got darker than to try and photograph it in the night sky.

It was amazing to see though. And while there are no European cathedrals in rural Siouxland to utilize in creating an image of note, there is always next month to maybe plan a little better and find a place that would visually create a better scene. Time will tell.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A full moon rises over an Iowa countryside near Anthon, Iowa Saturday evening May 15, 2022 before the lunar eclipse takes place later creating the blood moon. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting Dry in Siouxland, Snyder Bend Park, Woodbury County

30 Apr
Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The last year or so less and less rain has fallen in the Siouxland region which includes western Iowa, northeaster Nebraska and south eastern South Dakota. A recent visit to Snyder Bend Park has shown how much water has receded from a previous shoreline. The park’s water is fed from a local power plant when it discharges water into the area. With little snow over the winter and until recently hardly any rain, at times the park looked like a dust bowl when the wind gusts occurred.

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I visited the park a couple years ago and eagles were migrating the park was filled with water. Now the former lake beds are a giant, sandy beach. Time will tell how this will unfold and what will be seen for recreation this summer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

23 Mar
A rabbit hunkers down as a visitor passes by at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I spent a good deal of time walking the trails of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve located nearby. It’s peaceful and a nice way to get some exercise while also feeding the photography bug, photographing whatever critters may pop up during the walk.

A rabbit looks about watching someone approach on a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, August 3, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A rabbit sits quietly watching someone approach on a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, August 3, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young bunny continues its morning trek into tall grass at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most times I concentrate on deer and other larger animals. They also tend to “linger” a bit while checking out visitor on the trails, while the smaller critters tend to bolt right away. Better to be safe and leave than sorry for hanging around to see who’s bopping down the pathway.

And many times while there I also find various bird species. Mostly songbirds but at other times different varieties, and they too tend to be skittish and I am not always able to get as close as I might like to photograph them other than a “here is a snapshot of what I saw” kind of photograph. Of course he doesn’t help when a bicycle or runner goes by. That tends to spook the creatures with a fast moving “animal” passing by.

A Great Blue Heron feeds at Mud Creek in the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Great Blue Herron at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Great Blue Herron at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I try to be stealthy when photographing the birds, and have not yet gotten into the habit of rising before dawn to go “camp out” at a spot and wait for the critters start stirring in the wee hours of the morning. I still like to walk the park as much as I like to photograph the creatures and try to enjoy the best of both worlds and just enjoy the moment, a little fresh air and quiet, before the noise of the world grows louder as it inevitably will.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Great Blue Herron snacks in a marsh at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

19 Mar
Two Canada geese seem to be complaining to a photographer while they enjoy their day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, February 20, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter in Siouxland as elsewhere has been unusual to say the least this year. Temperatures on a roller coaster ride, cold, very cold and then warm. The warm days were pleasant though, and most folk took advantage and got out to enjoy them. The waterfowl at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve also seemed to enjoy a bit of sunshine and warmth as they enjoyed walked about a frozen Mud Lake.

A bicyclist rides by as geese walk on an ice covered lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, February 20, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two women point at some geese on Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, February 20, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two Canada geese enjoy a warmer day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, February 20, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Living in the Midwest has its challenges during the winter months. But except for the extreme cold on some days, there was little snow shoveling this year which made many people happy, except for those that remove snow during the winter to add their bottom line. It’s March and warmer days are ahead. Maybe even a little rain to make up for practically no snowfall in this area. And it might be nice to once again photograph critters out at the preserve walking about some green space and getting much needed exercise and a chance to welcome a change of seasons.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two men walk their dogs during a warm day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, February 20, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A joint bone of some animal that did not survive the winter, weather prey or succumbing to an injury seen at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, February 20, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese waddle about a dozen Mud Lake on a warm day at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, February 20, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two Canada geese take to the sky blue yonder above the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, February 20, 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Early Morning Adventure in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

7 Mar
Canada geese move about early morning at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not all adventures are great adventures in Siouxland. Some can be experimental in nature as I found out early one morning last fall. I am guessing it was a pleasant enough morning, temperature probably in the 40’s at the coolest, which is not bad. Much better than the current single digits and below zero temperatures Siouxland is currently experiencing.

Canada geese move about early morning at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Shooting early in the morning and trying not to use too high of an ISO setting left with Smith a wide open aperture and slow shutter speeds. The Canada geese populating Mud Creek at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve were not overly active, but any motion created “artistic effects” whether intentional or not. But the famous saying, “Nothing ventured………” seemed to apply and the attempt made.

I will be the first to admit that the results were not tremendous, but I did like the blue hour affect and the slight motion, well for some images, more than slight motion that resulted. As the temperatures rise it might be time to again revisit an early morning adventure and try and find that sweet spot between light and motion and clear images, or a better artistic rendering utilizing such an affect.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A later morning photograph shows a Canada goose sitting quietly in the water on pond scum at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bird Migration in Siouxland, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley

5 Mar
Swans rest at an open water area on a lake area at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like most parts of the U.S. that are pathways for bird migration during the winter months, I have seen birds moving through Siouxland, but it seems hit and miss at times. Although by no means am I a “hardcore” birder, out in whatever weather looking for these critters, but try to time my trips with reasonable temperatures at least north of 20-25 degrees without windchill. And maybe because it has been such a weird winter in that temperature swings from the 50’s down to below zero every few days has affected the birds and their instincts and migration.

Swans come in for a landing at a lake area at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese, a variety of ducks and swans enjoy open water and ice at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the few times I venture out I see some waterfowl in various open water areas but not nearly as much as previous years. But then I read about others who have seen scores of birds around the Siouxland area so figure my cold weather reluctance might be a factor.

Two women view Canada geese, a variety of ducks and other waterfowl near an open water area at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese, a variety of ducks and other waterfowl enjoy open water and ice at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But getting out and enjoying nature and attempting to photograph these creatures is all part of enjoying the day or moment until the next opportunity arises. I just keep wishing that the little rodent Phil had seen or not seen his shadow, whichever it may be, and that winter would end earlier than the little critter predicted.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An eagle watches for movement from atop a tree along the Missouri River at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese, a variety of ducks and other waterfowl enjoy open water and ice at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Outdoors in Siouxland, Snyder Bend Park, rural Woodbury County

1 Mar
Canada geese fly in and out from open water at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa, Friday, February 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Just recently I learned that a park in rural Siouxland was once again up and running. Snyder Bend Park had some surreal visitation in 2020 but with drought conditions and some other issues, the water area was drained and only recently refilled and stocked with fish, which brought with it the return of waterfowl. A number of Canada geese on a blustery day were doing touch and goes with one group landing on the water while another took offer and soaring on the air currents around the park.

The cacophony of noise was somewhat deafening but understandable with a large flock of geese. Some of the waterway was iced over, but a decent portion had open water and the waterfowl were making the most of it. Maybe happy to return to a favorite stop over spot on their migration route.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Canada geese on open water at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa, Friday, February 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese do a fly over at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa, Friday, February 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa, Friday, February 11, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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