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

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©)

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©)

Until Next Year in Siouxland, Backyard Birds, Sioux City

31 Dec
A white-breasted nuthatch holds onto a seed it pulled from a feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the winter temperatures yo-yo back and forth between warmish and downright cold in Siouxland, I thought I would pay tribute to some backyard visitors until next year when the weather will be decidedly more pleasant. Cool is not bad, downright freezing is not. I would guess some of the visitors might be regular, but still they stayed long enough for me to attempt photographs, many of them, and I hope to see them back next year as the days grow longer and warmer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A red headed woodpecker poses for a photograph in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An American goldfinch poses on a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A house finch checks out a visitor while visiting a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A house sparrow comments about a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An American Goldfinch enjoys a snack at a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday May 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow munches on seeds at a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, January 16, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A downy woodpecker eats some suet in the backyard of a residence Sunday, December 26, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow munches on seeds at a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, January 16, 2022. (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©)

Freezing One’s A__ Off in Siouxland, Sioux City

27 Dec
Frigid winter weather has temperatures around a -15 degrees Fahrenheit, and wind gusts up to 40 mph making the windchill feel like -44 degrees Fahrenheit, as a squirrel feeds on corn while covered in blowing snow flakes trying to stay warm in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like much of the Midwest and other parts of the country the Siouxland region was in an arctic freezer recently, with temperatures dipping to -44 degrees with windchill and wind gusts of 30-40 mph. I bundled up to clear sidewalks, which later covered again with the wind blowing, and filled feeders. I feel bad for the little critters spending the cold outdoors and so like to see that they have something to eat. And also filled some water bowls I keep outside, which froze over in just minutes. Even heated water bowls I keep outside during the winter were freezing over with just small areas visible without frost or ice. It’s pretty amazing and scary it’s so cold.

As temperatures for the Siouxland region which includes western Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and Northeastern Nebraska are expected to remain at -30 degrees Fahrenheit with wind wind gusts still up to 40 mph, house sparrows drink from a heated pet water bowl outdoors in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, photographed through a doorway window pane.
Frigid winter weather has temperatures around a -15 degrees Fahrenheit, and wind gusts up to 40 mph making the windchill feel like -44 degrees Fahrenheit, as house finches and sparrows feed at a backyard feeder then fly to nearby bushes with puffed out feathers trying to stay warm in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographs of the birds eating do not really tell the story of the frigid weather. Interestingly enough I had to wait a few minutes for the lens to acclimate outdoors as my first set of photos appeared not sharp, and luckily I could stay in a corner area outdoors that was somewhat protected from the wind. The birds though were thoroughly enjoying themselves and the eats and I was happy to see that.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Frigid winter weather has temperatures around a -15 degrees Fahrenheit, and wind gusts up to 40 mph making the windchill feel like -44 degrees Fahrenheit, as sparrows feed on fallen seed from a backyard feeder as they try to stay warm in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A house finch flies to another feeder as temperatures for the Siouxland region which includes western Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and Northeastern Nebraska are expected to remain at -30 degrees Fahrenheit with wind wind gusts still up to 40 mph, in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Dec. 23, 2022.
Frigid winter weather has temperatures around a -15 degrees Fahrenheit, and wind gusts up to 40 mph making the windchill feel like -44 degrees Fahrenheit, as sparrows puff out their feathers on a fence line in between trips to backyard feeders trying to stay warm in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
As temperatures for the Siouxland region which includes western Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and Northeastern Nebraska are expected to remain at -30 degrees Fahrenheit with wind wind gusts still up to 40 mph, house sparrows drink from a heated pet water bowl outdoors in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, photographed through a doorway window pane.

Celebrating Christmas in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, South Dakota

25 Dec
A holiday greeting inside a building at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve seen Sunday, Dec.5, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Christmas comes but once a year, every year, reminding folk the “reason for the season” as the clever phrase or jingle is oft used. Even in Siouxland the Christmas spirit emanates everywhere. And depending on one’s bent, happy holidays, merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or other faith-based or not celebratory greetings are used.

And it’s not a bad thing to wish another person a joyous day or year. All people deserve kindness and respect although the world is filled with haters. Black and white, no shades of grey or reference to race, but just to good and evil. Life is filled with shades of grey but for one day it would be nice if folk were rise above the pettiness and loathing they may feel or desire to just let life be. And if people can, enjoy the day however and in whatever way it means to them. Some are more lucky than others in doing this, but a sense of peace is something everything should be entitled to.

Citing another oft used sentence: Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A holiday sign spreading the faith at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Sunday, Dec. 05, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (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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