Tag Archives: stone state park

Counting the Little Birdies in Siouxland, Audubon Christmas Bird Count, Sioux City

27 Dec
Local Loess Hills Audubon chapter member Jerry Probst programs a portable speaker to emit barred owl sounds as he spends the morning participating in the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes one has to have faith that you will find what you seek. Even if you feel you are walking in a dark wilderness and feeling your way, metaphorically speaking. But starting the day before sunrise looking for birds can feel that way. And in the end, one may or may not be successful in the endeavor.

Every Christmas the Audubon Society conducts an annual Christmas bird count where chapters of the Society, like the Loess Hills chapter, throughout the U.S. during a two-week period in December look for whatever species happens to be there and record their findings. These may be birds that are indigenous to the area as well as those migrating to another clime to winter at.

Local Loess Hills Audubon chapter member Jerry Probst places a portable speaker in some brush to emit barred owl sounds as he spends the morning participating in the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

City lights from Sioux City is seen past the dark trees before sunrise as local Loess Hills Audubon chapter members Jerry Probst and Warren Dunkle spend the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was difficult photographing this bird count which I previously had done, but then it was later in the day and I actually had light to be able to accomplish the task. But two Audubon Loess Hills chapter members Jerry Probst and Warren Dunkle were looking for owls. At least they were “looking” to hear owls at Stone State Park and had brought along a small portable speaker to start a dialogue with these elusive creatures.

And one never really knows what you might find go bump in the night (dark) or, literally, stumble upon as the pair made their way along one of the roadways in the park.

A woman walking her dog in total darkness called out as she saw the red light the two used to check their footing and avoid fallen limbs that littered the roadway due to recent storm activity that brought some F1 tornado activity throughout Iowa and not that far from Sioux City, damaging buildings and downing trees and limbs.

A woman walks her dog in Stone State Park as local Loess Hills Audubon chapter members Jerry Probst and Warren Dunkle spend the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in the park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A woman walks her dog in Stone State Park as local Loess Hills Audubon chapter members Jerry Probst and Warren Dunkle spend the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in the park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

She seemed genuinely surprised that other folk were out so early in the morning walking trails in the park, as were Probst and Dunkle. But then not many folk probably venture into the park in total darkness. And try as they may to get whatever owls might be around to respond to the calls made, not a sound could be heard, not even a “Merry Christmas to all and to all a Goodnight” from these furry creatures.

But with the recent weather activity with the recent warming periods and then dip into cold, it seems even these creatures have had to learn to adjust their formerly normal activity that might also include a new normal. But as an annual event, the bird counting folk can always look forward to next year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Local Loess Hills Audubon chapter members Warren Dunkle, right, moving to stay warm, as he and Jerry Probst and spend the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Local Loess Hills Audubon chapter members Jerry Probst said he’s been involved in the Audubon Christmas bird count for over 20 years as he spends the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Local Loess Hills Audubon chapter member Warren Dunkle says he mostly is a second pair of eyes as he spends the morning looking for barred owls for the annual Audubon Society Christmas bird count in Stone State Park Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 in Sioux City, IA. The pair didn’t find any owls while out looking. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A First Day Hike in Siouxland, Stone State Park, Sioux City

6 Jan

A number of individuals showed up to participate in the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of people showed up this year at Stone State Park to hike on New Year’s Day in Siouxland to start their year enjoying nature and the outdoors, as well as a sunny, warmer winter’s day. Roughly a 2-3 mile hike over fairly good terrain the intrepid individuals make their way along a trail selected by a park manager.

Individuals hike down a trail participating in the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Footprints tell the story as a number of individuals participate in a First Day Hike outing at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With milder and warmer temperature than in recent days, the trails made easy walking except for a couple inclines that left a couple people rubbing their backsides dusting off snow after finding their feet touching air for a few moments because of slick surfaces. But it is a nice way to start the year and nice to find like minded folk. Talking to a couple others who hiked some said only 4-5 people participated  in last year’s hike because of minus zero temperatures that kept most folk indoors.

People begin making their way back to the start of the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Participants enjoy their walk during the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mid point for the hike was a small lake which I always enjoy. It changes its looks every season and it’s a place I have hiked to many times. Both by trail and by a road that ends near it.

Checking out Turtle Lake during the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Hitting the halfway point during the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not one for making resolutions anymore, I do plan to get outdoors more often to local parks and walk. With shot knees my running days are over, but I still like to be outside hearing the birds or crickets or whatever creatures happen by and enjoy nature. And most times it’s not really getting time, but making time to enjoy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One last chat with the park manager after the First Day Hike outing in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall is Coming to Siouxland, Stone State Park

22 Oct

at Stone State Park inSioux City, Iowa Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.

Even though weather-wise it feels like autumn has arrived in Siouxland, the weather this year has been so wacky that one day it’s extremely cool, the next hitting the 80’s and 90’s. Recently a Mother Nature mood swing had the area doing a 50 degree temperature swing. Colors are just beginning to show on trees and I am hopeful to get out and see them before more weather makes leaves drop prior to their coming into a full autumn delight.

at Stone State Park inSioux City, Iowa Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.

 

at Stone State Park inSioux City, Iowa Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.

A recent hike through a local state park, Stone State Park, the foliage was still very green. The park is always a nice walk on the roadways or hikes on the trails. After a recent rain I stuck to the roadways as slippery leaves and trails can sometimes add more excitement for my descent down a steep incline that I particularly want to enjoy. Bouncing along isn’t my idea of fun these days, or hobbling back to my vehicle. But fall is a favorite time of year for myself and for others too. Nature gets to display her beauty in ways that are worth waiting an entire year for. Just hoping it’s not a quick view this year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at Stone State Park inSioux City, Iowa Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.

 

at Stone State Park inSioux City, Iowa Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.

Enjoying a Long Day in Siouxland, Stone State Park, Sioux City

24 Jun

Stone State Park manager Brianna Martens leads a solstice hike on the longest day of the year in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, June 21, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The longest day of the year recently passed here in Siouxland as it did in other places too. A group of friends and like-minded individuals assembled at a local state park, Stone State Park, to celebrate solstice and get in a hike with plenty of light still available to find one’s way through the forested area. At least with this hike one didn’t have to worry about slipping on ice or stepping off the trail in the darkness.

The Northwest Iowa Group, Sierra Club rented two campsites for people to camp out overnight and enjoy nature. However, nature wasn’t having any of it as it has been raining a few days and folk showed up to walk and enjoy a meal cooked outdoors, but no one was staying the night. So it was a hike they made to just enjoy nature and revisit some areas a few had previously hiked on their own.

Solstice hikers stop to check out certain foliage along a trail in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, June 21, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Stone State Park manager Brianna Martens leads a solstice hike in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, June 21, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This group of avid explorers remarked about certain plants they found along the way, noting that young deer eat plants that older deer do not, as well as tiny moths glowing white (they are white) in the early evening light within the forest and standing out against a carpet of green.

Stone State park intern Emily shows a solstice hiker a confirmation of a moth species they found in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, June 21, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With all the recent rain beginning in early spring Stone State Park was carpeted in green as far as the eye could see during a solstice hike in in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, June 21, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Stone State Park manager Brianna Martens said it’s because of these core people that have an interest in their local parks that stopping by and spending some time with them, even taking them on a short hike is always delightful and a way to celebrate the longest day of the year.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Stone State Park manager Brianna Martens, left, talks with Bill Zales during a solstice hike in Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, June 21, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a Day in Siouxland, Stone State Park, Sioux City

24 Sep

Some days are just to be enjoyed. A walk in a local state park, taking in the sights and natural sounds, and just enjoying the moments of solitude, beauty and contemplation.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lingering Winter in Siouxland, Stone State Park

6 Apr

Winter is hanging out much too long this year in Siouxland. And it’s not only in Siouxland, but sometimes being selfish, I only care that it is lingering too long here. There have been brief moments of sunshine, and actual sun shining, but those seem to be few. Recently there was another snow fall. And the sky is grey and hazy.

I began looking at images as black and white, trying to see the possibility of grey tones.

Walking on a cold grey day at Stone State Parkin Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, April 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent hike before the snow in Stone State Park the browns and greys of this past winter still loomed large and didn’t create any excitement on my part. And with hazy, grey and overcast skies it’s sometimes hard to create images that have any kind of spark to them.

Walking on a cold grey day at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, April 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it was nice to get out of the house, go for a walk and breath some fresh air without the intake freezing one’s lungs, or walking, again, through snow drifts. I like winter, being outside and enjoying what it offers, but it’s time to move on, climb new hills and see what a reawakening or rebirth can is in the offering from spring. I just hope it shows up before summer is here, maybe in June.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Walking during a grey cold day at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, April 1, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter Wonderland in Siouxland, Stone State Park

27 Jan

Siouxland has yet to get hit by a big snowstorm although the area has been threatened with such the last few weeks. But inevitably it will happen. But recently the area had a light dusting of snow, enough to give some shape and form and contrast plus fairly mild temperatures in the 30’s which is always pleasant to photograph in, especially when hiking in Stone State Park.

Walking through fresh snow at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Tree sentries scattered throughout at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

And it was nice to see I was not the only intrepid individual out to enjoy the day.

Tracks in the snow of another hiker at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga)

Stone State Park has a lot to offer any time of year, but in winter it becomes a bit more navigable if there is a good amount of snow on the ground which makes it easier to bushwhack through the park, although with a light snow fall trails were just slick enough to enable sliding down them a bit tricky. But the quiet, fresh air and stark landscape make it an escape from the daily routine and the other noise that occurs all too often.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Siouxland Snowfall, Stone State Park

19 Mar

I went for a hike recently in Siouxland’s Stone State Park in Sioux City. There was fresh snow from a recent and hopefully last snow storm of the season. Although there are times when a blizzard hits the area in April. I walked down a roadway leading to a couple trails and a small pond. No person had yet walked the roadway, and only one person had been on the trail that I could see. The only other sign of life were deer tracks, and some bunny tracks. It was quiet. It was fresh and it was just very nice. And maybe I thought that since, again, I am hoping it’s the last snow shower. As I get older, I enjoy the type or precipitation that I don’t have to shovel.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shorts Hikes in Siouxland, Stone State Park

25 Jan

I like getting out in the winter time to enjoy the outdoors. Some days the wind though increases that chill factor and makes even a well-intentioned hike or walk a non-starter or an abbreviated attempt. I took to the trails of Stone State Park recently and lasted about 30 minutes before the wind and cold forced me to make a retreat.

I like hiking in the winter months because the surrounding areas are open and easier to see more of and explore if one desires. But on cold days, even that look of sunshine can’t hide the fact that its cold.

Snow and the normal winter chill is fine by me, but when the temps dip into single digits and the wind brings it down even further to zero or possibly that minus range, then thoughts of coffee and a comfy chair and book begin to take shape.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Starting the New Year off on the right foot in Siouxland, Stone State Park

5 Jan

The Friends of Stone State Park co-hosted a 1st Day Hike Jan. 1 with the local park ranger Kevin Pape who explained that this event was not only happening state-wide, but nationally as well as parks across the country were trying to entire people outside and introducing them to their local state park in their particular area. It was an easy hike that approximately 30-35 people took advantage of with the temperature hovering around single digits to the teens.

Area residents pose for a photograph before setting off on a 1st Day Hike at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. A concerted effort by parks nationwide to get people out into nature in their area and introduce them to local parks and what is available. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Area residents pose for a photograph before setting off on a 1st Day Hike at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. A concerted effort by parks nationwide to get people out into nature in their area and introduce them to local parks and what is available. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Keepsakes for area residents who came out out for a 1st Day Hike at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. A concerted effort by parks nationwide to get people out into nature in their area and introduce them to local parks and what is available. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Keepsakes for area residents who came out out for a 1st Day Hike at Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. A concerted effort by parks nationwide to get people out into nature in their area and introduce them to local parks and what is available. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dressed appropriately and moving, the temperature was not much of a concern. Park Ranger Pape also talked about the history of Stone State Park as we traversed a small section of it. Originally land owned by a Daniel Talbot, an early settler of the Sioux City area. Talbot purchased a lot of land but during the late 1890’s with bank failings, eventually lost the land to Thomas Stone, a local banker that personally guaranteed a loan to Talbot and later foreclosed on the land as Talbot was not able to pay. Ranger Pape explains that Stone’s children later donated the land Stone obtained to the City of Sioux City which then created a park area. Later on the city ceded the park to the State of Iowa and Stone State Park was created.

Some of the stone structures in areas of the park were formerly built by the city to house a local zoo. While trying to find more cursory information about the Civilian Conservation Corp that purportedly did work in Stone State Park in the 30’s I could only find reference to other state parks through the state’s Dept. of Natural Resources website.

Besides the historical footnote mentioned above, Stone State Park currently offers a lot of opportunity to get away from urban living even though it is situated on the outskirts of Sioux City. City sounds drift away, except for occasional traffic driving through.

Having hiked through several parts of the park over the years, it is a place to forget about current events and enjoy the moment and whatever nature provides that day. On a good day with good weather, one can see a variety of birds, deer and other creatures. Once while out with some Loess Hills Audubon people doing a December bird count I even saw a coyote on a hillside early that morning.

It’s good to unplug and tune into nature, maybe next year there will be enough people for two sets of hikes on a first day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

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