Tag Archives: outdoors

Soaring in Siouxland, Gavins Point Dam, Yankton, SD

16 Jan
People watch from a parking lot as an adult bald eagle soars about at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature always amazes in good ways and sometimes bad and a recent outing in Siouxland brought the unexpected fun of watching bald eagles fly and fish at the spillway of Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD. This is a stopping off point for a variety of migratory fowl with open water most times in nearby lake areas at the Lewis and Clark Recreation area and at the dam’s spillway which regulates water flowing downstream of the Missouri River.

An adult bald eagle soars over the Missouri River spillway at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult and juvenile bald eagle locked in a stare down at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A photographer tries his luck photographing both adult and juvenile bald eagles soaring about at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s truly amazing watching the bald eagles fly about and then dive, somewhat, into the flowing water of the river to catch fish. Sometimes it was like watching “touch and go” maneuvers that military aircraft sometimes perform during training. And as it was still during a holiday week a number of spectators came out to watch these majestic creatures perch in trees or look for food.

An adult bald eagle soars over the Missouri River spillway at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult bald eagle clings onto something it pulled from the Missouri River spillway at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A juvenile bald eagle grabs something in the Missouri River while in flight over the spillway at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was also challenging from a photographer’s standpoint in trying to follow the action which sometimes pivoted on a dime acquire focus as these creatures made their way over and near the water. Although I might be somewhat disappointed with the results of my photographic experience, I was not disappointed in the opportunity to watch these birds perform their aerial acrobatics, successes and near misses all being equal.

I could think of worse ways to spend part of a day, not withstanding with a day temperature of 45 degrees in late December.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two juvenile bald eagles manoeuvre while in flight at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A juvenile bald eagle readies to grab something in the Missouri River while in flight over the spillway at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult bald eagle soars over the Missouri River spillway at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of adult and juvenile bald eagles perch on a tree at the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, SD Thursday, December 30, 2021 (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter in Siouxland, Big Sioux River, Sioux City

14 Jan
A deer peeks out from behind a tree along the Big Sioux River near Stone State Park Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa/ (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter has finally arrived in the Siouxland area although temperatures continue to seesaw up and down from extreme cold to unseasonably warm. Of course there is nothing to the issue about weather and climate, and will leave that discussion to others.

During the “warmer” days though it’s nice to get out and take a walk even if it’s brief and more time is spent trying to photograph than actual walking.

A deer peeks out from behind a tree along the Big Sioux River near Stone State Park Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa/ (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Some open patches of water as ice forms on the Big Sioux River as the temperatures plummet near Stone State Park Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa/ (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when the temps hit below zero with wind chill, it might be a good time to do some house cleaning and cataloguing photos already taken until more agreeable weather allows one a safer venture outside to enjoy nature and whatever might be seen to continue photographing Siouxland. Winter is nice, but spring and longer days might be nicer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Ice is forming on the Big Sioux River as the temperatures plummet near Stone State Park Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa/ (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer peeks makes its way as it forages along the Big Sioux River near Stone State Park Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa/ (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cruising Altitude in Siouxland, Browns Lake, rural Woodbury County

8 Jan
A juvenile bald eagle cruises just above Browns Lake in rural Woodbury County Thursday, December 16, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like unexpected surprises when out looking for critters in Siouxland. Finding them in places I haven’t encountered them before is such a delight. While out checking one location recently and not finding any birds I had hoped would be there, I stopped by another, Browns Lake. With the recent drought conditions in western Iowa the water level is very low and so I didn’t expect to find anything there except a frozen pond. Maybe some geese, which weren’t there either.

Walking about a bit I did spot a large object moving along a tree line and headed toward the lake. Never a Boy Scout, I guess I wasn’t prepared as I had a long telephoto lens instead of a shorter zoom and so found myself trying to adjust and my framing as a juvenile bald eagle kept flying closer, and closer, and closer still.

Just cruising. Taking in the sights below and probably looking for a noon time meal or snack. I hope it had better luck than I.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A juvenile bald eagle cruises just above Browns Lake in rural Woodbury County Thursday, December 16, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A juvenile bald eagle cruises just above Browns Lake in rural Woodbury County Thursday, December 16, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A juvenile bald eagle cruises just above Browns Lake in rural Woodbury County Thursday, December 16, 2021. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging out with Family in Siouxland, Hillview Recreation Area, Hinton

2 Jan
Elk resting in their enclosure at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, no matter which one but especially around Christmas, life seems very frenetic with so many places to go, people to see and things to do. The media extolls this as does so, so many advertisers. Last minute deals, hurry.

The ultimate quandary about life is that time is infinite, yet also finite.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

And in the mix is lost the the time and opportunity to just stop a moment, relax and just enjoy the quiet of family and friends, resisting the call to go somewhere or get one more deal.

Enjoying Jack Frost and his Handy Work in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

31 Dec
Ice crystals on some dried grasses at the Adams Homestead Nature Preserve Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The weather this winter so far has been unpredictable if anything here in Siouxland. Warmer than normal temperatures, F1 tornadoes in December followed by high octane wind gusts and cold temperatures. It has been unusual but I like to be someone who does not complain, especially about missing the cold and snow.

But winter is young yet this season and Jack Frost is probably far from being done with his handiwork. But to enjoy his work, one must venture outside to see it, most of the times. I am happy my abode no longer has frost on its windows after some replacement years ago. The curtains don’t flutter either during wind gusts in winter. Small blessings.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Adams Homestead Nature Preserve Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sharing in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

9 Dec
Two Canada Geese fit themselves inside a stand at Mud Creek at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes we do what we can to accommodate friends and family when the opportunity arises. It may seem inconvenient at the time, and even downright annoying depending on the circumstances. But it’s human nature, and apparently animal nature as well. Probably a good thing the kids weren’t visiting for the weekend.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two Canada Geese fit themselves inside a stand at Mud Creek at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A View from Above, Under Watchful Eyes in Siouxland, rural Nebraska, South Dakota

29 Nov
A Turkey Vulture flies over a field and a copse of trees seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I see raptors and other large bird species flying or hovering overhead in Siouxland it gives new meaning to “flying the friendly skies” as these creatures look for their next meal. But it is fun to watch them soar, swoop and soar some more as they gracefully glide on the air stream looking for their next snack.

Approximately 25-30 Turkey Vultures fly over a field seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red-tailed hawk sits perches on a branch looking or a snack at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday Oct. 22, 2021.

A turkey vulture perches in a tree top at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These birds contrasted with waterfowl as they make their way on a twice yearly migration and looking for stops in between to take a break from their trip. Seemingly never crossing paths and yet reaching whatever destination they are attempting.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Canada geese fly over a field and a pond seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging out in Siouxland, Hillview Recreation Area, Hinton

17 Nov
A turkey vulture makes some noise after noticing a someone on a trail as it sits perched in a tree at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I go out to walk about or travel to some place in Siouxland I never know what to expect or what I might find. And that to me is a joy in and of itself. There are days I might feel as though what I had anticipated didn’t happen and feel I missed out on something. But one can never know what might be around a bend or over a hilltop when exploring.

A turkey vulture sits perched in a tree at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A turkey vulture prepares to leave its perch in a tree at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wile taking a short hike through the Hillview Recreation Area I came upon a few turkey vultures sitting in treetops and sadly disturbed a couple feeding on something in a field. As I appeared the ones on the ground lifted off. I felt bad disturbing their meal and was mad at myself for not being ready in photographing them as they lifted off the ground. They really are large birds as one get a bit closer to seeing them. I slowed down on the trail and tried to use some foliage to limit their view of me as I made my way to where I could take some photographs. But they are sharp-eyed creatures and I could only get so close before they left and found a higher perch to watch their surroundings, maybe also lamenting the fact that their lunch was still laying in a field.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A turkey vulture leaves its perch as another one flies by at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkey vultures leave their tree perch to relocate onto a hi-line power pole at a walker passes by on a trail at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Turkey vultures relocated to a hi-line power pole after seeing a walker on a trail at the Hillview Recreation Area near Hinton, Iowa Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Waning Days of Fall in Siouxland, rural Monona and Woodbury Counties

15 Nov
Cattle graze in a field under colorful fall foliage outside Smithland, Iowa in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With the first winter snow and possible snow to begin creeping into the area accompanied by high winds, I don’t expect many of the leaves and any fall color to be seen in a few days. Driving about Siouxland the last couple of weeks I have felt lucky to see find spots of changing fall foliage and the chance to take a few images. Like many folk, I enjoy fall and it was one of the reasons for returning to the Midwest after having worked and lived in other parts of the U.S. Winter will come, but it will also pass. One only hoped it passes sooner that later. Mild winters are nice, if temps remain in the 20’s and 30’s without below freezing wind gusts and sustained cold spells. Being out on days like that is not so enjoyable even if one likes winter.

An iron trestle bridge frames a gravel road as some fall color is seen in a yet to be harvested corn field in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Country backroads and changing autumnal colors in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about the backroads and country roads are a joy to me. Have always been. No matter where I lived I always seemed to find country roads to drive about on and a chance to get away from the noise that sometimes daily life brings. These days maybe a little more jazz than classical music on the car radio that gives my mind a chance to wander as I drive around and just look, not really knowing what to expect over the next hill or around the next bend. Small surprises and joy when an image pops up and I am there to record it. Most times, if ever, award winning, but satisfying none the less and pleasing to me. Sometimes simple joys are the best.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Trees with colorful foliage near a harvested soybean field in rural Monona County, Iowa Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Flying the Friendly Skies in Siouxland, Rural Nebraska

11 Nov
A Great Blue Heron lands on a dead tree seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire and am always please when driving about Siouxland to see critters as they go about their day until I inadvertently disturb them when pulling up to a pond or other areas I am aware of in search of wildlife. And sometimes I think they spot my vehicle and hesitate just long enough for me to think I might actually get a photograph and then depart, just as I am hitting the shutter button on my camera. The challenge to photographing creatures in their environment. Some day I might actually become good at it, maybe, but for the time being, seeing the animals in their habitat is enjoyable in and of itself.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Great Blue Heron flies to a dead tree seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Great Blue Heron looking as if it has enormous stilts to stand on perching in the top of a dead tree seen Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 near Winnebago, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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