Tag Archives: wildlife

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley

1 Jan
A large flock of ducks lift up off of the Missouri River at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With changing seasons it’s always enjoyable to go to the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley to watch the migration of birds. Mainly ducks, geese and some others. Probably more that I don’t recognize. So it’s always a lucky thing to meet an actual “birder” who will sometimes point out species they are excited to see.

Ducks are seen on the shoreline of the Missouri River from a blind at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An eagle sits atop a tree at another location still along the Missouri River at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Depending on weather one can sometimes find a lot of people or few. Because of the drive time to the refuge I always tend to hit mid-morning which doesn’t find a lot of folk rummaging about yet until later in the day. Unless it’s a really, really special occasion, I never rise before the sun to get there at first light. I realize I am missing photographic opportunities but I like being fully awake while getting to the park. And it seems it’s not until noon or early afternoon that people start showing up in numbers so it’s easy to get about and social distance. Plus, if I don’t see everything at that time, and one doesn’t as various birds continue to migrate on their time table, it gives me another reason to make another trip.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bicyclist makes his way down a paved road at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An eagle sits atop a tree across the Missouri River at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Last Days of Fall in Siouxland, DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge

4 Dec
Visiting the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge during the remaining fall days outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While driving about Siouxland I took a trip to the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge and got lucky with a warmish day and some remaining fall foliage before the first winter storm came with snow the end of October and removed the color from the park’s landscape. While I enjoyed the color during the visit I noticed not many birds appeared to be migrating through at that time.

Visiting the De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge during the remaining fall days outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The weather has been so wacky this year. Being cold, then warm, then cold again, that the seasons seem a bit out of the norm. I still hope to return and see if any birds are passing through on their way to warmer climates and their winter homes before the landscape is covered in white and the temperatures drop too much.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visiting the De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge during the remaining fall days outside of Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Sunny Day in Siouxland, DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley

23 Oct

Everyone enjoys a sunny day in Siouxland, critters included. With fall officially here the colder weather will arrive soon enough.

Birds resting on pilings and enjoying some sunshine at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley there wasn’t as many migrating birds as one might think passing through the area yet. With warmer temperatures still it appears migration hasn’t really begun in earnest, at least for a lot of creatures.

Pelicans and ducks using a sand bar for some rest and relaxation on a sunny day at the De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Generally there can be thousands of ducks and geese passing through this area as a stop or rest area much like one sees along the interstate. Cooler temps are predicted in the following weeks so another trip might be warranted to see what birds are passing through on their journey to a winter habitat while some of us local critters stay put and dream of spring sometime in February after the charm of “winter” has worn off.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying some sunshine at the De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging out with Friends in Siouxland, Adams Homestead, North Sioux City, SD

29 May

Birds flock to a tree at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, April 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I find myself frequenting the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve often these days in Siouxland. It’s a nice place to go and forget about current events and issues and enjoy nature and the variety of animals that inhabit the park. All of whom are mostly hanging out with their friends every time I visit.

Turtles sunning themselves on a log at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

They live in the moment and enjoy what there is without projecting, as far as I can tell, and I remind myself that one never really knows what the future holds, except maybe The Shadow, and then only a select number of folk even realize what I am referring to. As friends would say, it’s a generational thing.

Geese sweep across the surface of Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The antics of the animals are fun to watch as well. Much like people watching, seeing them behave as they do and trying to determine whatever motives there may be, other than instinct. Probably a similar quest as to determining which came first, the chicken or the egg.

Two gadwall ducks paddle about Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday April 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Two wood ducks sun themselves on a log protruding from the water at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday April 20, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I find it’s a good thing to sit, watch and ponder, knowing there are answers to questions I will never know, and so don’t overly burden myself with asking pondering too long. Just enjoying the moment, being present, and looking forward to my next visit to this outdoor paradise.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lone Redwing Blackbird sits in a tree at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, April 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out of Siouxland, Lee Simmons Safari Park, Ashland, NE

13 May

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out of Siouxland in recent weeks has not been totally difficult as in many places around the country, but still done with a little trepidation and awareness. On a weekend, which I don’t know what possessed me as opposed doing this during the week, I took a drive out west past Omaha, NE to visit the Lee Simmons Safari Park in Ashland, an offshoot of the Henry Doorly Zoo. It was a nice weekend and many other folk had the same idea. Normally at this park folk can park and stay and watch the animals there, but because of the coronavirus the park is currently only allowing drive through visitation.

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visitors in vehicles snake their way past a herd of bison at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On my way out of the park I asked one of the attending park personnel how many people had visited and he responded he didn’t know the total, but roughly there were 400 vehicles every hour entering. I later told friends I had not seen this kind of bumper to bumper traffic since living in the Los Angeles area in the 1990’s. But still, people were patient and gracious, giving everyone a chance to stop and watch and photograph animals as we all snaked our way through the acreage.

Pelicans relax at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Venturing out to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a variety of animals, although not as much as at the zoo proper. And on this particular day the animals seemed to cooperate and allow a look at a large number of people adjusting to a different way of spending leisure time.

Kids stick their head out of the top of a vehicle to better see animals at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Children poke their heads out of a sunroof and door window to better see the bison at a pond at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A bald eagle in an aviary enclosure at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Parts of Nebraska are beginning a soft reopening. Time will tell how that is going. Venturing out is desirable, but staying healthy has a stronger pull to walking about and into who knows what. Maybe some road trips onto the backroads of Iowa and Nebraska, just to take a look and see what one should visit again when the coast is clear.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A pelican “waves” at visitors driving through  the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animals roam free at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying a drive through at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Animals relax as people driver through the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signage directs visitors to see the animals and find other places at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park, a part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Ashland, NE Saturday April 18, 2020,(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out in Siouxland as Temperatures rise, DeSoto

11 May

Getting out and enjoying oneself at the DeSoto National Wildlife, NE Saturday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It is nice that there are a few nature preserves in and around and nearby in Siouxland where one can venture out and safely respect other people’s space while all enjoying the outdoors at temperatures now permit. And getting watch nature in its own natural habitat is always a plus.

Enjoying nature at the DeSoto National Wildlife, NE Saturday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It still seems with the extended cool weather that is now slowly warming up that spring has taken a while to arrive and for the region to start showing some greenery to brighten up a brown and dismal looking landscape.

Spring arrival at the DeSoto National Wildlife, NE Saturday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And folk can begin wandering about and finding spots to pursue their own recreation and see what luck they have in catching some dinner. When I fished as a child, it was always feast or famine. And just glad I didn’t have to depend on what I caught when I got home for supper.

Getting out and enjoying oneself at the DeSoto National Wildlife, NE Saturday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And glad there was always one parent around to make certain the young ones were fed and tended too, just like in nature.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Eagle watching at the DeSoto National Wildlife, NE Saturday, April 25, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A look into Nature in Siouxland, Alex Wiles at the Betty Strong Encounter Center

2 Sep

Photographer Alex Wiles talks about his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Alex Wiles is a very accomplished photographer and spent part of a recent Sunday in Siouxland at the Betty Strong Encounter Center sharing his passion of photography which he uses to help illuminate the need for conservation. He has traveled the world seeking to shine a lot on endangered species and share that knowledge with others.

Photographs by Alex Wiles fill an exhibit space as attendees listen how he photographed the animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River while giving a demonstration at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photographer Alex Wiles gives a demonstration to attendees about how he photographed the animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Wiles not only explained his project about the Flood Plain, but had also set up a demonstration to share with photographers attending the talk how he goes about photographing these creatures. Working as a freelance photographer and from some grants, he is a bare-boned, simple equipment photographer focused on results and not name brand gear. It was refreshing to see such work being done with minimal dollars invested. Although in recent years third party photography brands have produced some gear that rivals some of the larger known brands but don’t break the bank. So if it’s damaged in the field, it’s easy enough to replace. Although having done freelance work for a few years one tries not to damage gear in the field.

Photographer Alex Wiles explains to attendees how he photographs animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And it’s nice to see someone pursue their passion attempt to make a difference, and share that and their knowledge with others along the way.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographer Alex Wiles explains to attendees how he photographed some of the animals for his Flood Plain Project involving the Missouri River at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Just Enjoying a Day in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

15 Jun

Sometimes I can drive miles and not see anything that catches my eye or interest. And I try to stay observant while listening to some jazz cd’s traversing some back roads in Siouxland. When driving the gravel roads I am not in a hurry. Dust is flying and I generally keep my windows open, so going fast just creates more dust in the car.

But it’s the slow driving that allowed me to see something in the distance. And while I was not fast enough, I was able to catch a late morning deer having breakfast, or maybe brunch, in a field. Until he spotted me and decided it was time to leave.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lone deer runs through a newly planted field beginning to grow in the Loess Hills region of rural Monona County in northwest Iowa, Monday June 4, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland’s Spring, coming soon, Bacon Creek Park

11 Mar

On a recent visit to Bacon Creek Park in Sioux City, the day was sunny, but chilly. Some geese were walking on water, frozen maybe, but still walking on water which was fun to see. Other geese were practicing take offs and landings. Maybe getting ready for that day when they would be returning north and getting the youngsters a little extra practice in.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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