Tag Archives: Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve

A Summer’s Day Birding, Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve, Westfield

11 Aug

Members of the Loess Hills Audubon Society spend time looking for birds off of Butcher Rd. that abuts the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve Saturday morning, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Living in Siouxland for some is a bit of luxury in that the rural area has a number of places that “birders”, such as members of the Loess Hills Audubon Society, can get together and enjoy their common interest in finding and recording the feathered creatures that inhabit Siouxland, as well as those passing through during a migratory flight depending on the season.

And sometimes I am lucky to go along with the folk and explore a new area or revisit one I had forgotten about. Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve is a large acreage in Siouxland that contains the largest remaining prairie native to Iowa, along with a couple hundred bison that roam the preserve. The birders this day were driving the rim of the preserve and looking for whatever creatures they might find and recording their finds later on their website.

A view of the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve seen from Butcher Road Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A member of the Loess Hills Audubon Society takes a photo of scene while birding 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©)

Members of the Loess Hills Audubon Society spend time looking for birds off of Butcher Rd. that abuts the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve Saturday morning, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For me as always, it’s more about the photography and documenting what occurs, a practice I can’t seem to shake after working for small daily newspapers and weeklies for 3 decades. I enjoy watching people enjoy their passion and taking the time to pursue it, even on what turned out to be. muggy kind of morning and more so as the day wore on. But once out and searching one can forget the discomfort of the weather in trying to find those elusive little feathered neighbors. The birders recognize the bird song, of which some I do, but not near enough, and it’s probably time for me to download one of the many bird apps to use to know what bird is singing while outdoors.

A lonely fence post seen 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©)

One of several bison grazing on a hilltop off at the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve seen from Butcher Rd. Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wildflowers seen 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©)

I can easily get sidetracked while out as I see various visuals come into view. But it’s always fun, and a little morning walk after a couple cups of coffee preps one, and of course, thinking about lunch later. I am learning through friends how a day might be planned and I must admit, the planning around fun activities and eating always sounds like a good day to me.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A view of the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve seen from Butcher Road Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the Loess Hills Audubon Society spend time looking for birds off of Butcher Rd. that abuts the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve Saturday morning, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wooden bench allows visitors a place to sit and watch and listen at the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve off of Butcher Rd. Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland’s large prairie reserve, Broken Kettle Grasslands

13 Jul

This weekend was the annual Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve bison day near Westfield, Iowa. This preserve is part of Nature Conservancy and is the largest prairie area in the state of Iowa for the organization and contains the largest remaining prairie in Iowa. The buffalo herd or bison were started in northwest Iowa five years ago with 28 animals from the Wind Cave National Park herd in South Dakota, and are as genetically pure a descent of those former bison that roamed these prairies when Europeans first began exploring the area. This was the fourth annual bison day and a variety of activities, geared for children, but educational for adults as well. Naturalists talk and show living bird species that include a bald eagle and raptors and and owl. Then there is the hayrack ride out into the area where the bison are currently roaming. The volunteers and members of the conservancy are great in answering questions as well as trying to get their visitors as close as possible to the wary animals. This weekend was a little soggy, as rain continued to make its presence intermittently. But that didn’t dampen the excitement when the bison came into view and both adults and children oohed and aahed with delight. 

 

After seeing the bison visitors were then treated to some treats that volunteered had cooked via the Dutch oven method, an oft used way of cooking that campers still use, but was in vogue with the pioneers. Around the home base are fields that visitors can explore and climb some small hills that give an extended view into the Loess Hills area and enjoy the vistas, imagining what the Native Americans saw when they roamed this open land, and what early settlers had seen when they first arrived.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland’s Nature Conservancy, Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve

19 Jul

This past weekend The Nature Conservancy‘s Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve in Plymouth County, Iowa, celebrated its 20th anniversary. It is the largest grassland prairie site in the state, just south of Westfield. And is home to a breed of buffalo that could easily have roamed the area 200-300 years ago. It was a nice day out in Siouxland checking out the preserve. Fun to see the buffalo herd, listen to people with expertise in various fields talk about prairie habitat and then walk around the area to see for yourself. I have driven by it a number of times and finally had the opportunity to visit. When it becomes a bit cooler this fall, it would be a nice day hiking, minus the current wild flowers that are blooming, but the cooler temps would make it possible to linger longer and soak in the views. More images here.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

%d bloggers like this: