Tag Archives: animals

Seasons in Siouxland, Bigelow Park and Brown’s Lake, Salix

22 Apr
A number of Canada and greater white-fronted geese take off from Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Monday, March 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The “spring season” in Siouxland as elsewhere seems out of whack with weather bouncing back and forth between seasonal and a bit warmer, to still cold with biting wind gusts that reminds one Mother Nature is not quite done with sharing winter yet. A couple of different days checking out Bigelow Park and Brown’s Lake yielded different results. Wind gusts making temperatures feel like the teens and only allowing one to stay outside of a warm vehicle for maybe 10-15 minutes tops.

Sandhill cranes make a flyover at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some common mergansers look like low flying missiles over Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Monday, March 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A common merganser flies low over some Canada geese and other waterfowl at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the wind and temperature didn’t seem to affect or bother the waterfowl present at the lake. Flying in and flying out, taking wing on whatever pretext, although some did react to low flying raptors looking for a meal and watching perched in nearby trees.

A juvenile bald eagle surveys Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult bald eagle looks over at a juvenile bald eagle in tree tops at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Monday, March 7, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But as much as I like watching the birds fly about and test my skills trying to photograph them, the windchill and cold temps made the prospect of having breakfast and a pot of coffee a strong influence in seeking a warmer climate than my vehicle. And nothing like having another opportunity to try again to capture these creatures in nature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A common merganser flies low to land at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese lift off at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese do a fly over before landing at Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park in rural Woodbury County Sunday, March 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s All in the Technique in Siouxland, Canada geese, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

27 Mar
Canada geese come in for a landing at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Friday, March 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I am out and about in Siouxland looking to photograph wildlife, birds in particular, I always find it amazing in watching them and seeing how much we humans have adapted technique for some of the technological advances that have been made, particularly when it comes to airplanes and flying. Who better to study, than birds.

Canada geese glide into a landing at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Friday, March 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese soar overhead at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Friday, March 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I could only wish I was so graceful when moving about on this earth, although I am sure than a few of them have tumbled along the way, I just haven’t witnessed those moments. But the Canada geese are not alone in their graceful comings and goings. Other winged creatures have their own particular way of moving and getting about and it just makes for a nice day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One Canada goose gets settled in after landing on Mud Creek at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Friday, March 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

American robins take flight from a tree top at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Friday, March 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An Eastern Kingbird takes flight near Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 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©)

A Quiet, Albeit Maybe a Lazy Day in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

23 Feb
One of the monkey species reacts after a bit of a nap at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some actions, whether animal or people, speak for themselves. When it comes to primates and other species as well, it’s easy to identify with creatures and some habits they exhibit. All God’s children in Siouxland, and some days reflect that fact.

Recently visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE I visited a primate section and spent some time observing and enjoying behavior that anyone might exhibit. Some days are just made to lounge after breakfast and it was late morning when I arrived. A warmer than usual day and the sun was trying to peek out from behind the morning clouds.

A young primate rests on a cement branch in an enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spending some quiet time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Curled up for a quiet day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There has been a see saw of weather extremes in Siouxland as of late. Temperatures in the 50’s, then dropping down to single digits with overnight lows in the minus 0 range. Those are days I personally like not to venture outside and have reached a stage in life where that is possible. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to pick and choose one’s moments. Not often, but once in a while it works out.

A little extra mid-morning snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A primate watches as visitors stop and watch him and others at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young primate watches children outside of its enclosure waving to it at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Personally I am looking forward to those spring days so time spent outside only requires a sweater or a fleece pullover and a hat. Longer daylight so drive time and the beginning of plants and fauna greening up again. It also allows a little longer visit to the zoo and maybe another museum or park in the Omaha area, as well as a lunch break. Some days are meant to be slow and meandering and spent in thought and gazes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A primate tends to some needs at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A warm day in winter is a nice pleasure taken out of doors at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying some sunshine on a warm winter’s day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer’s Past in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

27 Nov
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©)

Now as fall begins to wane and the prairie winds pushes temperatures into a more wintry feel in Siouxland, I just sigh and think about walking about the region in warmer temperatures and realize it will again be a few months. Even though recently air temp has stayed in the 40’s with a couple days even approaching high 50’s, that prairie wind creates a wind chill affect negating whatever warmth the sun appears to be sharing.

A male cardinal perches on a bird feeder near the welcome center at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, August 3, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red-headed woodpecker searches for a meal on a tree at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, August 3, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So I try to adjust my thinking and pull out heavier coats to continue taking walks in nature, weather permitting, as well as driving conditions, and enjoy the moment at hand. Wishful thinking is that, until the reality of the day interrupts serene thoughts and life presents itself in the moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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©)

Bidding “Friends” Goodbye in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

9 Nov
A deer checks out a walker on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the changing of seasons takes place in Siouxland and elsewhere, I am certain I may not see as many wildlife critters as I did during the spring and summer months, and early autumn. My own inclination to get up when it’s dark and to take a walk when it’s cold seems less appealing these coming months. But then again, I might get lucky. While out and about, I might come across some deer and other critters over the winter months as they look for food and survived the fall’s hunting season. As least I hope they do. It makes for a much pleasant walk when the creatures pause, stare and wonder about you as much as you might pause, stare and wonder about them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer checks out a walker on a trail from a safe distance at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer stops its grazing as a walker approaches on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer checks out a walker on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Walk in Nature at the Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa

28 Sep
A meadow seen from a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have visited the Lewis and Clark State Park in Onawa a few times over the years, one of the many places in Siouxland named for or associated with the excursion that Lewis and Clark made a couple centuries ago when exploring America for President Thomas Jefferson and before the Louisiana Purchase. But I had never really explored some of the hiking trails. Generally there were other activities taking place at the park that drew my attention, although those have dwindled the last few years and of course greatly because of the current pandemic the country still endures.

A monarch butterfly looks for nectar from a plant in a meadow near a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are some extensive meadow areas located near a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The trails loop around the park away from a lake area and some camping sites for those that either “rough it” or camp in style in the self-contained units. I can imagine going back as the fall temperatures cool down even more with the hope of finding some nice autumn leaf change happening as I found nearer the visitor’s center at the park.

A bird dashes away as a visitor approaches on a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cut nature trail to follow at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The paths were easy to navigate and depending on the time of day that is more appropriate to find critters out and about foraging, one could wait for deer or song birds to appear. There were a couple of small corn fields planted for deer. There is a sign though that clearly states hunting is available on some of the Iowa’s DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) land which the park falls under. Although I have to admit, I was a bit confused when I came upon the site about hunting, posted right next to another sign not 10 feet away which made me wonder exactly what directions people should follow.

Signs within proximity to one another can leave a person confused at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Benches as placed on some of the various trails for a person to sit and enjoy the nature around them at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Evidence of “empty nesters” in some brush along a nature trail at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While not extended hiking it was pleasant enough to walk about the trails. Along a creek feeding into the lake at the park I saw a lone little duck and kind of wondered what its story is and whether he got left behind as it looked a bit forlorn by itself without seeing any other similar creatures nearby. Hoping during the migratory season it will make some new friends to join in safe adventures or just stick to the wildlife refuge.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lone duck rests on a log in a creekl at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lone duck at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lone duck at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Family Outing in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

24 Sep
A family of turkeys enjoy a morning out together at the playground at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes we humans take for granted some of the amenities available to us, even here in Siouxland. The amenities are certainly nice and I was pleasantly surprised to find a passel of turkeys enjoying a playground area early one morning before the humans showed up. Although not house trained, the turkeys can leave a trail behind and are not known for picking up after themselves.

A turkey preens itself on a bench at the playground area at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As “residents” of the park, I am sure the turkeys appreciate the area as much as their human counterparts. And early in the morning they have it all to themselves to wander and enjoy. Although wary of passing trail walkers also out early. It’s just a nice way to start the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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

“Fawning” over Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

18 Sep
A fawns rests in the shade of a thicket at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like pleasant unexpected surprises when out photographing in Siouxland. In the last year I have taken many walks at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve and I can’t say I have ever been disappointed with opportunities to photograph wildlife there. I am not a hardcore wildlife or nature photographer. Never rising before the sun does to get in position to take photos but happy when serendipity intervenes and gives me a chance to test my reflexes while walking about.

A fawn checks out a visitor at close quarters at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Attending an event at Adams recently I took a walk away from the activities down a short trail and was pleasantly surprised to find two young deer hanging out in the shade and munching a bit of grass in the immediate area. I generally can not get with a football field’s distance of these skittish creatures and these two didn’t seem to mind as I was not in a hurry to scurry down a trail, but stopped and watched and was able to take a few frames of them until they tired of my presence and left. I am looking forward to fall arriving at some point in anticipation of maybe photographing wildlife with fall color. But then that might be asking too much of a serendipitous encounter.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A fawn checks out a visitor while snacking in the shade of a thicket at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having a snack but also wary of a passer-by at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, SD Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With its fawn not far away, a white-tailed deer watches a visitor using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching Crafty Critters in Siouxland, Sioux City

12 Sep
A squirrel slowly makes its way down the side of a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It never amazes me when I watch little critters behave, especially when in search of a treat in a backyard. Squirrels can be quite entertaining, and sometimes animated as they look for peanuts some friendly neighbor has left them or kernels of corn. Some of the squirrels busily obtain and they scurry to bury their treats, while others simply enjoy and chow down on as many as they can.

A squirrel peeks over a fence in search of some peanuts in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Always cautious yet always moving, hoping to score a morsel, one or two of these backyard neighbors put on a show without realizing their entertainment value. And I hope they make it through another winter even though fall is only just arriving. It seems the weather recently has been just as wacky as some these critters’ antics but a little more serious.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A squirrel lowers itself to reach some nuts in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A squirrel leaves with a prize in its mouth after visiting the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, June 12, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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