Tag Archives: nature

Art is in the Eye of the Beholder in Siouxland, Making Decision on Representation, Little Sioux Park, Correctionville

16 May

A slow shutter speed exposure of water running in the Little Sioux City River at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deciding how best sometimes to represent a scene found in Siouxland, or anywhere is dependent upon the person. And sometimes the representation doesn’t quite fulfill the artist’s or photographer’s intent.

Photographing moving water with a slow shutter speed, during daylight without a neutral density filter doesn’t quite capture the scene as well as very early morning or early evening when using a slow shutter speed would be more beneficial. But it doesn’t hurt to try, and practicing seeing and the skills and mechanics one has at hand is always a good thing I believe. Practice makes one better at achieving results and seeing in the first place. Of course, being prepared is helpful. But I don’t pack the suitcase when I go out photographing and walking. A couple lenses and a camera body and I utilize what I have at hand. Grateful when something works out, aw shucks when it doesn’t.

Of course, there is always tomorrow and another walk. I might not encounter the same scene with the same elements and lighting, but that’s the beauty of taking walks and exploring.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A correct exposure of water flowing in the Little Sioux River at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Refuge in Siouxland, Little Sioux Park, Correctionville

12 May

A Trumpeter swan checking out visitors at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a number of wildlife refuge areas to be found in and around the Siouxland area. Visiting Little Sioux Park recently I thought it lucky to see some Trumpeter swans at the small lake there. Stealthily trying to get out of my vehicle to photograph these creatures I realized it was odd, they weren’t flying away, but rather coming toward me.

A Trumperer swan swims to shore to greet a visitor at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two Trumperer swans come to shore to greet a visitor at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems the swans at the park all have a damaged wing, and so live there. Enjoying a quiet area, free of predators, except maybe humans, and greeting park visitors maybe in the hopes of gaining a treat.

The swans ambled slowly but without hesitation up the fence line to greet the new comer and check them out.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Trumpeter swan “grins” at a visitor at Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Iowa Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting a View in Siouxland, Brown’s Lake at Bigelow Park, rural Woodbury County

4 May
An adult bald eagle watches waterfowl below at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While many folk have access and the ability to visit a number county and regional parks in Siouxland, I for one feel lucky that I can enjoy the various trails and sights and scenes I come across. But that might not be true of all residents. When I visited Brown’s Lake earlier this year I noticed that the Woodbury County Conservation group installed a small deck that is “handicapped” accessible, now making it easier for some people to stand or sit over the water. To watch the waterfowl, maybe fish, or later, enjoy a summer’s evening, notwithstanding the mosquitoes who might also be visiting.

A newly built handicapped accessible deck is seen at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A newly built handicapped accessible deck is seen at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have enjoyed a few outings to the lake and the chance to see various migrating waterfowl passing through the area. Although I braved the colder temps and winds gust of 30mph and higher in doing so. Call me crazy, but it was still worth it to watch nature and enjoy the show at hand.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A number of Canada and greater white-fronted geese lift off after being spooked at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A newly built handicapped accessible deck is seen at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese take off from Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Greater white-fronted geese lift off at Brown’s Lake in rural Woodbury County Friday, March 11, 2022 near Salix, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)

More Bird Antics in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

20 Apr
A downy woodpecker checks out the scene at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire of watching birds at bird feeders. Each species seems to have its own ritual when having a bite to eat. And sometimes I even feel intrusive watching them eat as they stop, stare, long and hard, before continuing their meal. But for a quiet moment, it can be bliss.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Waiting for the Thaw as Winter Passes in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

14 Apr
Greater white-fronted geese among Canada Geese at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Friday, March 4, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As mentioned before winter in Siouxland and elsewhere has been different this year. Local weather folk said there were more above average warm days in February than cold days. But those cold days were very cold and small ponds and lakes, like Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, froze over. Migratory waterfowl walked about or even appeared to “skate” on the ice on the water. With only small areas where they could get their feet wet.

A Canada goose sounds off on a frozen Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, Sunday, March 13 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Blue hour in the morning on Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, Sunday, March 13 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But temperatures have warmed once again and the ice has melted for the time being. But it is not unusual to sometimes get a spring blizzard in April in Siouxland. It doesn’t last long, but still, winter has supposedly passed. The landscape is still brown, but recent and sporadic spring sprinkles with hopefully bring some spring flowers, or at least a green landscape. One can only hope it’s sooner than later.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two pair of Canada geese announce their presence at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, Sunday, March 13 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A morning walk on a frozen Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, Sunday, March 13 2022 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

“Winter Dressing” in SIouxland and Rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

12 Apr
Hoarfrost decorates a small wooded area in the countryside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mother Nature decorated Siouxland and rural Nebraska recently with remnants of this year’s winter’s season, as some low lying fog areas created that winter wonderland look with hoarfrost decorating the surrounding countryside. This kind of frost never seems to last long. That short shelf life between freezing and sunshine allows the ethereal effect to disappear quickly. Letting one wonder if it was a dream or actually real. Something William Shakespeare make have written about in one of his plays that also took place in the countryside.

Hoarfrost decorates a hillside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese take off from a pond surrounded by hoarfrost decorating the countryside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hoarfrost decorates a grass stem seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always find it challenging in photographing in this type of environment. One needs enough contrast to bring out the delicate details of the frost, especially if one is attempting macro photography. Blue skies are ideal because of the contrast, but that means the frost will be disappearing soon as the temperatures begin to rise and the sunshine helps the frost “disappear”.

Hoarfrost decorates a roadside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hoarfrost decorates a fence line in the countryside seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I drove to this area to look about I that particular day I drove through some dense fog. But the temperature there was not cool enough to create the frost I found in rural Nebraska. And just miles apart. Sometimes one gets lucky and gets to witness Mother Nature in action. The hoarfrost being a kind of benign action as opposed to seeing storms and the destruction sometimes wrought after those have ended. This day though, I just wished I had brought a thermos of coffee with me as the sun rose higher in the sky and the landscape changed before the viewer’s eyes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Hoarfrost decorates a field seen outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A frosty sight along Omaha Creek outside of Winnebago, NE Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Anticipating Spring in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

10 Apr
A barren winter’s look at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For some reason, this winter feels like it has lasted a long time in Siouxland. I know that probably isn’t true, but sometimes the slow march of time makes it feel that way. With unusually warmer days than normal, am guessing myself and others were spoiled a bit and the anticipation of warmer days lasting more than one or two and again some green scenery is palpable.

Renovation work is underway seen on a barren winter’s day at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Renovation work is underway seen on a barren winter’s day at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkeys have the grounds to themselves of a barren winter’s look at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I look forward to returning to some favorite haunts and seeing how they have or have not changed. Lauritizen Gardens is one such place and the flowers in spring and early summer are a delight to behold.

I enjoy visiting places “off season” as it’s nice to see a contrast from what one would normally expect, especially at the Gardens as it’s generally “dressed up” and looking nice. And it looks like some changes are also underway so I look forward to seeing what transpires and as I understand it a rearrangement of assets will make it a better environment for the patrons’ visiting experience. Progress is just that. Good, bad, indifferent, everyone has their own take. Change is constant, and beauty is in the eye of the individual beholder.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A barren winter’s look at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Renovation work is underway seen on a barren winter’s day at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkeys have the grounds to themselves of a barren winter’s look at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, December 17, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One More Look of Siouxland’s Winter Visitors (well first of the year winter), Gavins Point Dam, Yankton, SD

8 Apr
A bald eagle perches in a tree above the spillway of the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Monday, January 3, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This year, so far, I have seen a number of bald eagles in various locales within the Siouxland region. The majority of those sightings took place at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD along the Missouri River bordering the state of Nebraska.

Watching this creatures soar and dive and then perch aloft in tree tops is indescribably thrilling. They are are magnificent. Using a telephoto lens allows one a closer look. And after shooting way too many photos, one is able to retain a few keepers. I have seen other eagle photos posted that are much more dynamic than mine, but I keep trying. Time, place and luck, one can only wish and hope.

A bald eagle flies over the Missouri River looking for a meal below near the spillway of the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Monday, January 3, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bald eagle scoops up a fish from the Missouri River near the spillway of the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Monday, January 3, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even the best “athlete” has challenging days. A number of eagles caught fish from the Missouri River then subsequently lost their grip, which seems hard to imagine seeing their talons up close through a lens when they perch in the tree tops. But fish, even dead ones, are slippery, and then sometimes you have that interloper who expects you to share.

And back again into the drink for another chance for a meal and maybe the thrill of a catch.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A juvenile bald eagle challenges an adult male to its catch in mid-air over the Missouri Rive near the spillway of the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Monday, January 3, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bald eagle clutches a fish it caught from the Missouri River near the spillway of the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Monday, January 3, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Try try again and a bald eagle clutches another fish it caught from the Missouri River near the spillway of the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Monday, January 3, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes plans don’t go as expected as a bald eagle drops a fish it caught back into the Missouri River near the spillway of the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Monday, January 3, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographers and birders watch bald eagles perch in trees and fly about the spillway of the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Monday, January 3, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dining and Dashing in Siouxland, Sioux City

4 Apr
A Cooper’s Hawk eats a dark eyed junco song bird on the railing of a deck it killed in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa March 31, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy watching nature in Siouxland and have begun spending more time doing that, as well as spending time at local parks and preserves. That said, I was never really interested as a youth in watching those Wild Kingdom television show that showed nature in all its glory, including the lesser creatures being eaten by the bigger creatures.

As A friend recently said, that’s life in the animal kingdom. And I get that. I just don’t have to watch it. And so when it’s up close and personal outside a window, nature becomes all too real.

A Cooper’s Hawk eats a dark eyed junco song bird on the railing of a deck it killed in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa March 31, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cooper’s Hawk eats a dark eyed junco song bird on the railing of a deck it killed in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa March 31, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I didn’t see the take down, but watched through a window at the back of a house and of course, shot a few photographs. I quietly tried to slip out a side door to continue shooting, but not through a window, but the hawk was having none of that as it probably wanted to defend its mid morning snack and continued its meal elsewhere.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Cooper’s Hawk eats a dark eyed junco song bird on the railing of a deck it killed in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa March 31, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though it blends into its surroundings, a Cooper’s Hawk looks about as it eats a dark eyed junco it took from a backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa March 31, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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