Tag Archives: moorhead park

Perseverance and Luck in Siouxland, Saw-whet Owl, Moorehead Park, Ida Grove

13 Dec
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.

Some times when I am out and about in Siouxland I feel lucky in that I was able to photograph something I previously had not, and able to create some images I am really happy with. Not all folk might agree with my photographic choices, but I am not them, and they are not me. During a recent outing I was with friends trying to find and photograph a saw-whet owl in Moorehead Park in Ida Grove. The 500 acre park is mostly timber with some pine trees, where occasionally saw-whet owls will winter, coming south from the Boreal Forests of Canada to a “warmer” winter climate.

A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.

I would not have gotten so lucky had it not been for a local photographer and nature enthusiast, Don Poggensee. Mr. Poggensee has been photographing these and other owls in the area and elsewhere for years. Probably decades, but who’s counting. After the previous opportunity to photograph the small 6″ inch owls didn’t pan out, I had planned to go back to the park. In corresponding with Mr. Poggensee he mentioned he would let me know if the owls might show up as he tends to check the area every morning, and undoubtedly has thousands of images of these owls. He also said that over the years he has probably escorted a few thousand people who have travelled hundreds of miles to come and photograph the small winter visitors.

A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in an pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.

I was guided back to a place I and others had just been too two days prior. As we reached The small stand of pine trees Mr. Poggensee stopped and asked, “Do you see it?” I was scanning the tree and remarked that the first time out (and probably more) I could stand right in front of the tree and look right at it, but not see it. And sure enough, we were standing in front of it and I didn’t see it. But eventually I did. And I was thrilled. I had seen tight photos of this owl for a couple of years and thought it would be fun and “cool” to be able to photograph it myself. Sometimes one gets lucky, with a little help.

A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in a pine tree in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. It has a prominent white V on its face.
A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in an evergreen in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is satisfying to be able to photograph such a majestic little bird. While not an eagle or equally large raptor, the cute little guy was cooperative and allowed itself to be photographed without darting away. We kept a respectful distance and I worked slowly positioning myself. The sun was a little higher in the sky but was pleased with the highlights of the surrounding vegetation that help set off and distinguish the owl from its surroundings. Mr. Poggensee said that if you get lucky and can photograph the bird with its eyes closed, the feathers on the eyelids look like snowflakes. And going forward this Christmas holiday season I believe I will continue to see snowflakes dancing in my mind.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A northern saw-whet owl sits nestled in an evergreen in Moorehead Park Monday, November 21, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. This particular owl winters in the area originating from the Boreal Forests in Canada. It feeds nocturnally on small mammals like field mice and rests during the day. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Day out in Siouxland, Owl Searching, Moorehead Park, Ida Grove.

1 Dec

A photographer walks about Moorehead Park as he and others looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I joined some other photography enthusiasts searching for what seems to be illusive owls that winter in Moorhead Park in Siouxland in the community of Ida Grove. A local nature photographer and birder, Don Poggensee led the group around the park looking for barred owls and a northern saw-whet owl that comes from the Boreal Forests of Canada and winters in the “warmer climes” of Iowa and elsewhere. I always enjoy being outdoors although it was a brisk morning with temps in the teens and a stiff enough wind that was to become stiffer as the day wore on.

An empty tree cavity where nature photographer Don Poggensee said a barred owl generally occupies at Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee leads a group of photographers on a walk about Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee leads a group of photographers on a walk about Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mr. Poggensee told the group about the two species of owls while I came up empty on the barred owl, one member of the group was able to photograph it in the empty cavity of a tree. The rest of the time the group walked about search different pine tree stands looking for a 6″ owl that really blends into its environment. This particular day it seems its natural camouflage was working overtime, or maybe it was just wearing a cloak of invisibility. Even our guide told us that finding the little guy was hit and miss and it might be in a neighboring field next to the park enjoying its time while visiting the area.

One of a group of photographers walking about in Moorehead Park looking for owl species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cut trail in Moorehead Park where a group of photographers spent half a day looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A group of photographers walking about in Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee points out a possible area where an owl might situate itself as he leads a group of photographers on a walk about at Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though the group wasn’t successful in finding and photographing the smaller owl, or even a chance to photographer the larger owl, it was a very nice park to hike through. Cut trails make walking easy in parts and deer paths allow easy walking through the timber. Although during summer and early fall that might be different as green plants and ticks could make a barrier to some intrepid souls. But I find it’s always nice to get to see another place not too far a drive and getting tips and locations from an experienced nature photographer and area local who knows the “hot spots” to find bird species.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Nature photographer Don Poggensee talks about an experience looking for saw-whet owls as he and other photographers check Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee and another photographer pose for a quick image while on a walk about in Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature photographer Don Poggensee with a group of photographers on a walk about in Moorehead Park looking for various bird species Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Ida Grove, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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