Tag Archives: wildlife

A Passing Moment in Siouxland Watching Nature, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley

31 Aug

A redheaded woodpecker checks out who is also visiting the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I am out in Siouxland visiting various wildlife refuges my encounters with nature and the creatures is sometimes very fleeting. Many birds are very coy about strangers and visitors who happen upon the creature’s neck of the woods. Whether walking a trail or grassy meadow, the feathered friends take note and then seem to vanish. A blink of an eye is almost a lifetime while trying to photograph them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Redheaded woodpecker eyeballs a visitor at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Moments later a Redheaded woodpecker plays coy and ignores a visitor at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Redheaded woodpecker launches itself from its perch at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Displaying some interesting aero dynamics a Redheaded woodpecker leaves its perch at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Redheaded woodpecker leaves its perch upon a post at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, July 3, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Still Day in Siouxland, Wildlife Management Area, Salix

29 Aug

A water lily on a still pond at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes a quiet, still day is a pleasant day in Siouxland. Enjoying the outdoors, on a cooler day with the hopes of seeing some wildlife but not really knowing what to expect. There are the days when one must look a bit more to see the beauty in the vastness, which might be one unique lily pad among the many.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Content or Quality in Siouxland, rural Woodbury County

7 Aug

A momma raccoon looks for food possibilities under some water lilies at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Synder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while out shooting in Siouxland I come across situations where I weigh the idea of capturing an image and its content versus the quality of what that image may be because of the shooting situation. Working for newspapers for so many years has taught me that most times a photographic situation may not be ideal. And I still find that to be true. In those newspapering days I was shooting TriX and sometimes one might “pull” the processing to flatten out high contrast situations in bright sunlight, or a mixture of bright sunlight and deep shade. And TriX was rated at 400ASA.

A momma raccoon looks for food possibilities under some water lilies at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Synder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A baby raccoon follows its momma as it looks for food possibilities under some water lilies at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Synder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I was exploring a wildlife management area new to me that I had not walked before. And I came across a creek and small pond. I was watching birds fly about when I noticed movement along a bank. Naturally the pond and creek were 4 to 5 feet below me and when I spotted the raccoon through tall grass and lily ponds I thought I would try my luck. I find photographing animals always a challenge. And the raccoon didn’t seem to have noticed me. It wasn’t until I had been shooting a bit trying to focus through the tall grass and into the shade that I realized the bigger raccoon had company. A couple of babies tagging along behind as they hunted for a meal.

Two baby raccoons follow their momma as it looks for food possibilities under some water lilies at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Synder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A baby raccoon follows its momma as it looks for food possibilities under some water lilies at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Synder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A momma raccoon looks for food possibilities under some water lilies with a baby close by at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Synder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The one little guy/gal hugged his momma’s tale and made it hard to distinguish one from the other until I got home and started editing my files. Most times when I see an animal and it doesn’t seem to be aware of me I pretty freeze in place, barely moving a foot unless to make certain I am rooted in spot so I don’t go tipping over as I look through the viewfinder. And trying to keep track of the head in deep shade and focus at the same time was a challenge.

So then later it becomes the balance of sharing images that may not be stellar technically but have some value for the content. Images of raccoons are not at the top of the Fujita scale if one is measuring intensity and dynamic content. So I guess it’s more of the challenge to be able to produce images under less than ideal conditions and still tell somewhat of a photographic story. The raccoons trailed off, pun intended, away from me still looking for food and I enjoyed watching nature having a day out with the kids.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A baby raccoon gets wet following its momma as it looks for food possibilities under some water lilies at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Synder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A water lily pond at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Synder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying “Light Play” in Siouxland, rural Monona County

9 Jul

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when I drive about Siouxland I have not particular destination in mind, or at least no particular subject matter. Sometimes when checking out an area to see what I can find and have as a resource for later use I will take a drive. One particular weekend day afternoon to got lucky as the sun was getting low in the sky for the end of the day, the sunlight broke through the cloud cover that had contained it and showered the countryside with light. Very directional and hard lighting that will give a landscape a bit of character or bring its own character out as it sculpts hillsides and other amenities.

A lone Canada goose sits quietly on a shaded pond off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like watching the light when it creates some amazing possibilities for images. Even if I am not shooting or in position for what I might think would be a good photograph. A pond nearby was in shade because of the low setting sun and the trees and provides a good contrast (pun intended since there is no contrast in light at the pond) to what an area looks like without the sunlight streaming across.

Life sometimes should be simple and a joy to just enjoy simple things, like sunlight and a landscape.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting various areas of a hillside off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring Siouxland, rural Monona County

7 Jul

A winding country road beckons one to explore in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I sometimes feel like I haven’t been exploring Siouxland as much as I have in the past. Other concerns and work tends to keep one busy, as well as higher gas prices. But slowly driving about back country roads is always a joy because one never knows what to expect or what one might see. Sometimes nothing and then again.

A wood barn still stands seen off a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting an outbuilding off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This particular area I have driven many times but recently found out about a wildlife management area I have never hiked and it has some amazing views. So I drove out this direction a couple of times before a prairie seminar was to take place so I could actually find it and attend. Nothing worse than going somewhere and never arriving because one couldn’t find it.

A farmer makes his way to his next field for spring planting preparation on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cattle graze in a field just off a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa Monday, May 23, 2022.. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And on a coolish evening as the sun begins to set, the light doesn’t magical things to the surrounding countryside and all within it. A better way to end an evening that some I have had in the past. Just wandering, listening to music and enjoying the moment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The setting sun creates a dramatic look as it peers through western horizon clouds spotlighting an outbuilding off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Sunset in Siouxland, rural Monona County

13 Jun

A muskrat has a snack in a pond off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everyone seems to have a routine when it comes to the end of day and the sun sets a little lower in the sky before dropping behind the horizon as nighttime falls. Even in Siouxland it seems critters use the remaining daylight hours to enjoy the moment before the coming night.

What appears to be a muskrat slips away after enjoying a meal away in a pond on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Red Wing Blackbird sings its heart as the suns begins to reach the horizon line out on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy driving about this time of day, and if parked somewhere in the country, the bird song fills the air almost up until evening is fully descended. Restoring a sense of calm and quiet, it’s a pleasant way to end one’s day. As the days get a bit longer there will be more time to enjoy the countryside and its residents if they care to share with a visitor passing through.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Possibly a Cooper’s Hawk sits almost unnoticed in the distance in a treetop as the sun sets and it looks for maybe one last meal in a field off of a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Stop and Go on a Country Road, rural Monona County

9 Jun

A deer checks its surroundings along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While out driving about some backroads in Siouxland I always feel so lucky when I come across wildlife and they take the time to acknowledge me, in a cautious way, as I try to take a few photographs from a distance to see if I can. I shoot a lot of frames these days because I know how fleeting some of these moments can be. Also, driving slowly on the back roads with minimal if no traffic is helpful in that I can pull to the side or shoulder safely and slip out of the car seat to get a better vantage point or angle and not feel like I am a contortionist behind the steering wheel.

A deer makes its way along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer stops to eat along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This young deer came up from out of a field not far from where some Turkey Vultures were gathered eating carrion on the roadway. The deer looked about warily, walked a bit, ate a bit and then walked some more, stopping and starting as it found the greens it was looking for before disappearing off the roadway down into another field safe for another day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer makes its way along a country road as the sun begins to set in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning to Share in Siouxland, rural Monona County, Whiting

26 May

Turkey vultures spar over who gets to dine first on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems one of life’s lessons for many species, even those here in Siouxland, is that sometimes one needs to share. Driving out in the country recently I came across a demised raccoon on a gravel road with Turkey Vultures posturing and maneuvering to get a chance to eat some of the remains. And the vultures did a little dance until finally they decided that maybe it is best to be patient and share in the spoils.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One Turkey Vulture gives a little push back than arrival who wanted to join in on the meal on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The newly arrived Turkey Vulture relents trying to muscle in on a quick bite while on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkey vultures wait for their turn to dine first on a country road in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Quiet, Albeit Maybe a Lazy Day in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

23 Feb
One of the monkey species reacts after a bit of a nap at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some actions, whether animal or people, speak for themselves. When it comes to primates and other species as well, it’s easy to identify with creatures and some habits they exhibit. All God’s children in Siouxland, and some days reflect that fact.

Recently visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE I visited a primate section and spent some time observing and enjoying behavior that anyone might exhibit. Some days are just made to lounge after breakfast and it was late morning when I arrived. A warmer than usual day and the sun was trying to peek out from behind the morning clouds.

A young primate rests on a cement branch in an enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spending some quiet time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Curled up for a quiet day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There has been a see saw of weather extremes in Siouxland as of late. Temperatures in the 50’s, then dropping down to single digits with overnight lows in the minus 0 range. Those are days I personally like not to venture outside and have reached a stage in life where that is possible. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to pick and choose one’s moments. Not often, but once in a while it works out.

A little extra mid-morning snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A primate watches as visitors stop and watch him and others at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young primate watches children outside of its enclosure waving to it at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Personally I am looking forward to those spring days so time spent outside only requires a sweater or a fleece pullover and a hat. Longer daylight so drive time and the beginning of plants and fauna greening up again. It also allows a little longer visit to the zoo and maybe another museum or park in the Omaha area, as well as a lunch break. Some days are meant to be slow and meandering and spent in thought and gazes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A primate tends to some needs at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A warm day in winter is a nice pleasure taken out of doors at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying some sunshine on a warm winter’s day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, February 8, 2022 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sigh, They Never Say Hello, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

4 Jan
A young deer looks cautiously from a cut path at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday Oct. 22, 2021as autumn leaves begin to show and a hiker appears on another path.

A young deer bolts through a meadow after seeing a hiker at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday Oct. 22, 2021.

Some days when I am out walking about at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve I have my chance encounters with wildlife. Sometimes deer, turkeys, mostly songbirds, occasionally some raptors and waterfowl. I have learned to walk more quietly and take paths away from brisk walkers and runners out for exercise in that they sometimes scare the critters away into the brush.

A young white tail buck warily watches a walker approach on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lone deer makes its way down a cut path at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most times I get only a brief moment to take a photograph. And instead of rushing the camera and lens to my eye I try to move very slowly so that the deer become a bit more curious than bolting as what they probably interpret as aggressive behavior. Photographs I have seen other photographers have taken of these creatures in the wild, whether sitting in blinds for hours (maybe) or walking in large more heavily wooded areas that foster a greater number of these creatures I don’t know.

I just see fleeting white tails in the distance, maybe hesitancy, and then flightier my nearly made a nice photograph episodes. Hoping my settings are correct and I might take one or two decent images. I am not the kind of person who would sit in a blind for hours, but wouldn’t mind walking for a few as I enjoy the movement and seeing places. In this new year maybe that should be a resolution to take more walks in the woods and explore areas I am not that familiar with, hoping I get lucky there or learn about specific new places that might afford me an opportunity to photograph wildlife. The first resolution though, is overcoming inertia and getting out. And as the days begin to lengthen and the sunlight warms the countryside, that becomes more feasible and possible. If I plan to walk a few hours looking for critters, I don’t mind coming home empty-handed without images, I just don’t want to freeze my ass off making the effort.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Deer move away as they see a walker on a trail at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Deer stop and take notice as they see a walker on a trail at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young fawn looks for its mother at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, August 30, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two young deer check out a walker and passerby on a nearby trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, August 3, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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