Tag Archives: plymouth county

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©)

Exploring Siouxland, Plymouth County

23 Feb

Some days when I go out for a drive, I just drive. I try to aim my vehicle in a direction I haven’t been to recently and then hope for a little serendipity in my finding an image or two I like. Some days are better than others. On a drive in Plymouth County in October I had nice light and meandered some gravel roads looking for for whatever was there. Part of the experience of photographing my surrounding environment, and by that, I mean whatever environment I happen to be in at the moment, is just experiencing it. When I cruise about I tend to listen to jazz. Sometimes mellow, Dave Brubeck or Miles Davis, but sometimes something more lively, like some Latin jazz I have recently discovered.

The music, the light, the solitary road that stretches for miles and the countryside is to me just a pleasant way to spend a day. I read something recently that some “street photographers” try not to edit their most recent photos too soon after shooting them because of whatever emotional connection they may have had to that experience, and they don’t want that emotion to overshadow the work in and of itself.

Having worked for daily newspapers a number of years and turning images around in a short period of time, I find the emotional connection part of the context. I understand what these photographers are trying to achieve in their work and by editing their images months later, but I enjoy whatever the image provides to me now or later. And hope it stands well enough on its own and in the context provided.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A place at the inn, Siouxland manger exhibit, Le Mars

5 Dec

The Plymouth County, Iowa, museum in Siouxland has a manger exhibit up and running this holiday season with between 100-150 various according to volunteer Julie Leaverton. Mangers of various artistry and country of origins celebrating the birth of Christ fill a room on the top floor of the museum’s space in the old Central School. Many hand crafted from wood and other material, a person could spend serious time looking at different representations of the same theme. The exhibit runs through early January and would be an interesting stop on the itinerary for holiday visits.

The museum itself covers a variety of topics and genres, filling the rooms of the former school with exhibits from the late 1800’s to the 20th Century including the history of the community like the Westmar College, the beginning of Blue Bunny ice cream, early band instruments, and one in particular, a harp, that was found in the tomb of King Tut and now resides in this Le Mars, Iowa center of history.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland history and Westman College, Le Mars

25 Oct

While driving about looking for fall color, I drove into Le Mars, Iowa, last week and meandered through a few streets until I came upon a park in that small town. I had been by this place in the early 2000’s just after moving to Sioux City, but had forgotten about it. It was the Westmar Memorial Park, situated in the area that was formerly Westmar College, a former college of the United Methodist Church which served the Le Mars community for 107 years. The small campus has since undergone some revitalization with former dormitory rooms converted into apartments and businesses renting or purchasing former college buildings. The trees in the park were absolutely gorgeous though for the fall season, with a rain storm closely following me into town. The colors and darkened sky created a more dynamic and dramatic look making the trees’ color come more alive.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Fall in Siouxland, Plymouth County

7 Nov

I went for a drive the end of last week to see the remainder of fall and its glorious colors. Although this year the colors have mostly trended toward yellow, there are some trees that show red. A majority of oaks in this area of Iowa have leaves that only turn brown and fall off of the trees. With  cooler weather and rain rather than snow falling lately, the leaves are beginning to “disappear”, covering the ground to start the process all over again. But the drive in Plymouth County, Iowa, was nice. Rolling hills, still some fields of corn that have not been harvested and a sunny day. A nice day to be out and enjoying the remainder of fall. Winter is coming. Pretty soon that falling rain will turn to snow.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Summer, take 2, in Siouxland

9 Sep

It’s September, 2013, and although it’s not yet officially Fall, which is 22 September according to the Almanac, it feels like the end of July and August. It is hot and muggy in Siouxland. The local school district school year began the end of August, and already, children in older schools that do not have air conditioning have already let out early a number of times. It’s beginning to be a sure bet that the children see more early outs from the heat, than snow days during winter, which when I was a young lad they didn’t happen often, but did happen.

I am not a big fan of heat or humidity. I tend to get up early most days, and when I can, go for a drive to look for photographic possibilities in the rural areas. Sometimes I may go later in the day, if the temperature has not soared into the high 90’s with a heat index of 105 degrees Fahrenhiet. When Fall actually happens and Daylight Savings time goes away, the sunrise and sunset becomes more manageable to photograph because there is less of a time to wait in between. This summer, after rain storms, when the following day or two the temperatures cool and clouds appear in the bright blue skies, I go looking. The photographs are just so much more striking.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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