Tag Archives: nature

Watching Neighbors Stop by in Siouxland, Sioux City

16 Sep
Two common house sparrows and a downy woodpeckers stop by for a snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s nice sometimes when guests drop in unexpectedly and stay to grab a bite to eat while visiting. I am always interested to see who stops by, along with my roommates who at times are non plussed about visitors, especially when out of reach, which I believe is a good thing. Bon appetit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa



Common house sparrows snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A black-capped chickadee munches on a snack from a backyard feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bluejay checks out what is going on in a backyard at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching as some backyard birds snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching as some backyard birds snack at a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sept. 1, 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©)

Moonlight Express in Siouxland, Rural Iowa

31 Aug
A recent full moon rises over a hill top in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars, Iowa Satuday, Aug. 21 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while driving about Siouxland, one gets lucky and sees an image right before one’s eyes and you do the best to take advantage of it. While returning from a photo shoot earlier in the evening, which was held indoors, I didn’t realize there was a full moon that evening. And my surprise as I was driving home to see this huge, round ball above the distant landscape. I needed to get home to begin processing and doing post production on the work I had already photographed, but then realized stopping to photograph this scene wouldn’t significantly add more time.

A recent full moon rises over a hill top in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars, Iowa Satuday, Aug. 21 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many photographers plan their ventures out for certain events like a full moon. Deciding ahead of time where they should be to also incorporate some sort of foreground into the image for perspective and interest. Me, I do whatever I can to make an image interesting, most times coming upon something like a full moon by happenstance, not really planning ahead or even realizing that there is lunar activity in play. After seeing the moonrise and then thinking about stopping, the next thing that happens is a song that always pops into my head for me to hum as I contemplate the moon. Or maybe, for a certain generation, thinking about Ralph Kramden’s comment to his wife, Alice, when he feels displeasure about something, but ultimately knows she is right. And lastly, I tried a little experimentation with white balance adjustments, but ultimately went with what I started as it looked most real and natural. And just glad I didn’t hear the CCR song playing and the rest of my trip home was uneventful.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A recent full moon rises over a hill top in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars, Iowa Satuday, Aug. 21 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting Spotted in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

19 Aug
Native to North America a wild turkey peers above a plant as it cautiously watches a visitor walk by using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting up early for some morning walks at a local nature preserve, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, has been rewarding, getting to hear silence and birds before too many people hit the trails running, walking, riding bikes. Some folk I come across are surprised to see animals species so close to the trails. But then again, I try walking quietly, not talking to anyone and listening to music and moving but in a hurried fashion.

Native to North America a wild turkey and its chicks feed in the grass along a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021before seeing a visitor using the same walking trail. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Native to North America a wild turkey and its chick crosses a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But everyone has their own purpose in using the trails. I used to run a lot, but not so much anymore. And in slowing down I have seen so much more than previously on my visits and I have to admit I enjoy these visits that much more. Although I do miss running. Sometimes one just doesn’t know what might be around that next bend if you are mindful and watch. These are the surprises I enjoy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Native to North America a wild turkey and its chick cautiously watch a visitor approach using a walking trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Great Escape in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

3 Aug
A deer begins its retreat after seeing a passer-by in a meadow at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Anthropologists have sometimes said that early society retained a fight or flight outlook on life that was in part due to self-preservation. The same is most certainly true in the animal kingdom, even here in Siouxland. Early morning walks in Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve has given me a chance to see nature a bit more upclose and personal that previous visits during later hours when I have visited there. Nature’s actions take place in twilight hours, early and late. I am just glad I can witness some of it as I venture out earlier to escape the current heat of the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer spies a passer-by in a meadow and begins its retreat at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A deer spies a passer-by in a meadow and begins its retreat at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A deer spies a passer-by in a meadow and begins its retreat at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A deer takes flight after seeing a passer-by in a meadow and begins its retreat at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, July 05, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer Days in Siouxland, Sioux City

1 Aug
A squirrel checks out a visitor as it snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer days in Siouxland just aren’t enjoyed by we humans. Visitors to a backyard looking for a morning snack enjoy the shade before the heat of the day sets in and it’s nap time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A squirrel snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A squirrel snacks on a peanut in a residence backyard Tuesday, July 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bird Greetings in Siouxland, Bacon Creek Park

24 Jul
A Redwing Blackbird sings early in the morning at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking early in Siouxland one gets the chance to encounter and hear “the little birdies” sing or scold, depending on their mood and where one might meet them. Sometimes it might be too close to their home, especially in spring or early summer when young might be around.

A bird peeks out of a hole in a dead tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking by trees, many trees, and looking up the last place I expect to see a bird is it popping it’s head out of a hole. More likely I expect to see a bird sitting on branches and hidden. Although some species easily give away location once you hear them singing.

A cardinal sits quietly watching passersby at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Males cardinals are easy to spot within the green foliage. Although they do tend to move about, making it difficult to even grab a fleeting photo. Just a flash of red and then one needs to continue looking.

Early morning light is a bit more directional, and during the summer months bright which creates a nice contrast with the background. Backlit subjects like trees easily stand out against the darker area behind it in shade.

Morning sunlight illuminates a tree at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The bright light almost makes it impossible to see small birds nestled in the branches, where one might mistake it for a tree limb knot and a branch silhouetted against the light. And sometimes some clever birds mimmic their surroundings, looking like a short, standing tree trunk across the water until upon closer inspection with a telephoto lens or binoculars one sees there is actually a bird there. Standing very, very still.

A Great Blue Herron stands still, almost striking a pose like a tree branch as it watches something across the small lake at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that is the fun of early morning walks. Trying to school oneself in learning the habits of these feathered creatures and and spotting them to photograph. The exercise is not a bad idea either as one walks about Bacon Creek exercising the eyeballs and legs.

But once the sun starts climbing, it’s good to heed the advice of other woodland creatures, and head toward a shady glenn to spend the rest of the day until supper time calls. Just lounging about and avoiding the day’s heat, and then starting the process over the next day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer makes its way to a shaded glenn at Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Fortenelle Forest, Bellevue, NE

22 Jul
An early morning mist envelopes part of the area surrounding the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always enjoy getting out and visiting places in Siouxland, especially outdoor parks. Taking a walk in nature is always nice, even on those days when the weather isn’t fully cooperating. Visually misty days can be more interesting and different that a bright sunshine, sunlight dappled view of a forest.

Visitors make their way along the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A woman makes her way along the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of people were out enjoying the board walk at the forest which wanders about a small portion of the park for about one mile. Meandering to different parts, one even close to the Missouri River when other surprises are sometimes in store for those who happened to pick one day over another to visit.

Turkey vultures roost in a tree along the Missouri River bank at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bald eagle replaces the turkey vultures previously sitting in a tree along the bank of the Missouri Valley at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Besides making one appreciate the beauty of nature, it always works up an appetite walking and looking for scenes to photograph. Lunch is always a nice reward after a morning out. And the chance to yet again see another bald eagle and enjoy the quiet of the forest just makes it a pleasant day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple enjoy a day out at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The board walk ehich runs about a mile encompasses only a small portion of the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple looks engulfed in foliage while using the board walk at the Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Photo Choices in Siouxland, Sioux City

18 Jul
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even when “visitors” drop by in Siouxland for a visit, I find it a challenge to photograph them, especially when they are a little “flighty”. A butterfly visited a backyard earlier this summer and just when I saw it, it would leave, or move somewhere I couldn’t see it. I first noticed the little creature while reading and looking up for a moment.

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I retrieved a camera and waited, but the little guy didn’t show up and so continued reading. Then by chance casting a glance up and the creature reappeared. The choice is whether to photograph the creature’s shadow only, or show more of the actual little guy. And then decide how as it came changing positions which created different backgrounds.

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Of course what is seen is just the butterfly without any context. And sometimes that helps put things in perspective. And it all depends on one’s only aesthetics or tastes. Too little salt, not enough pepper? Maybe some cumin.

And then be happy with however the results turn out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A speckled wood butterfly suns itself on an umbrella in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, June 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving in Rural Siouxland, Rural Monona County

14 Jul
A turkey vulture flies above a valley floor of the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have not spent as much time in recent months driving in rural Siouxland as I would have liked. Work and the weather didn’t make such a drive very scenic. The spring remained brown and visually unappealing for a long time. But now with recent rains everything has begun greening up although a moderate/severe drought warning is still in effect for parts of Siouxland and elsewhere in Iowa. Low rain fall and not much snow during winter makes farming this year a bit tenuous.

Gravel roads and green scenery await any traveler driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A gravel road becons a traveler driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But driving the backroads in Siouxland is always nice. It’s quiet, there is no need to speed as time somewhat suspends itself as you wind around the Loess Hills scenic byway roads, enjoying the landscape and area for what is there. Nothing more, nothing less. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Quiet, peaceful, a bit of solitude and maybe a day of contemplation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spring flowers seen while driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Not all access points are gravel roads seen in the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Green hills await visitors while driving around the Loess Hills region in rural Monona County Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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