Tag Archives: wildlife

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©)

Bidding “Friends” Goodbye in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

9 Nov
A deer checks out a walker on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the changing of seasons takes place in Siouxland and elsewhere, I am certain I may not see as many wildlife critters as I did during the spring and summer months, and early autumn. My own inclination to get up when it’s dark and to take a walk when it’s cold seems less appealing these coming months. But then again, I might get lucky. While out and about, I might come across some deer and other critters over the winter months as they look for food and survived the fall’s hunting season. As least I hope they do. It makes for a much pleasant walk when the creatures pause, stare and wonder about you as much as you might pause, stare and wonder about them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A deer checks out a walker on a trail from a safe distance at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer stops its grazing as a walker approaches on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A deer checks out a walker on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Being a Contrarian in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

2 Oct
One starling looks back as a flock perch on a hi-line wire Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some would say there is always “one” in the crowd when a different point of view or opinion is expressed. Even in the country in Siouxland I happened upon a gathering where one individual was wondering what was going on. And why not be a little curious if there happens to be a disruption to the normal order of things, though not all disruptions should be considered improper or bad. But collectively, many don’t like it when the boats rocks, even a little.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

One starling looks back to see what the commotion is as a flock perch on a hi-line wire Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in rural Monona County near Whiting, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes Caution is Good when Making Friends in Siouxland, Snyder Bend Park

3 Apr
A crow and an eagle look in the same direction while sitting on ice looking for fish remnants in an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When the larger than normal, apparently, bald eagle population passed through Siouxland recently on their migratory trip, some other birds seemed intent on meeting them. It was fascinating to watch, but gave me a little trepidation as all were vying for “eats” on the ice covered oxbow at Snyder Bend Park.

A crow squawks at an eagle while sitting on ice looking for fish remnants in an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching a crow squawk at the larger bird of prey gave me an uneasy feeling. Bashful this one particular bird was not. And all ended well, as each decided to move on. But while watching, I wondered what was going to happen.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A crow takes off under an eagle while looking for fish remnants in an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Unusual in Siouxland, Eagles at Snyder Bend Park, rural Woodbury County

18 Mar
Two eagles sit on ice eating fish in an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This passing year and the beginning of this year has seen some unusual events in Siouxland, as they have in other parts of the nation as well. One of those happenings is the migrating birds passing through the area. Listening to folk who follow such explain because of recent weather patterns the birds that normally pass through the Siouxland area, generally one species following another, are occurring within the same time frame. And in some places, in greater abundance than previously seen.

It’s been reported that between 100-150 bald eagles visited Snyder Bend Park for a few days and some are still there, prompting curiosity for some visitors and local birders to get out and take a look. In addition to the eagles other waterfowl are also passing through during their spring migration.

Local birders visit Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021 looking for various bird species passing through on their yearly migration. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two Canada geese fly through a wetland area of Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Ring-billed gulls stop on their migratory journey at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the most fascinating part of visiting the park were the amount of eagles that stopped and hung out. When visiting the first time I saw an email of a friend reporting what other birders in the area had seen. The water in the oxbow area of the park was mostly still frozen, and the bald eagles were feasting on dead fish caught in the ice or floating as the ice melted. A few days of warmer than usual temperatures led to more ice melting and more dead fish floating to the shoreline. Last year the Siouxland area received less than normal rainfall which led to lower water levels in many bodies of water, and for some, it then became difficult to sustain the fish or aquatic life normally there, which made it easier pickings for the traveling eagles on their journey north.

A number of bald eagles sit on ice eating fish at an iinlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple of ring-billed gulls walk among eaten fish bodies as they look for food while nearby a number of bald eagles are also on the ice eating fish at an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Dead fish line the bank of the oxbow at the Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For a year of lockdown because of the COVID-19 virus getting outdoors to enjoy nature is appealing to a lot of people. Fresh air, despite the sometimes colder than normal temperatures, is always rewarding in and of itself. But add to that the chance to see a enormous migration of birds because of the unusual temperature fluctuations this year has just made it more rewarding.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A hiker makes his way across the oxbow to get a closer look at eagles on that side of the water at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of bald eagles roost in a tree across the oxbow pond at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two bald eagles feast on dead fish as a couple of ring-billed gulls fly in either direction to steer clear of them at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A redwing blackbird calls out from its perch on a grass stem at Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of eagles sit on ice eating fish at an inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A crow calls out while sitting on the ice where dead fish can be found at the oxbow water inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Canada geese fly over the oxbow water inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Pelicans fly to another part of the oxbow inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Canada geese come in for a landing at the oxbow water inlet at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Friday, March 5, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Meeting Strangers in Siouxland, Snyder Bend Park

12 Mar
A bald eagle takes off from its tree perch at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 6, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when meeting “strangers” when out and about in Siouxland they can be a little shy. Especially the feathered ones. Sometimes it’s good to have a telephoto lens when out doing nature photography.

A bald eagle watches from its tree perch at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 6, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently a number of bald eagles have gathered at the Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County taking advantage of fish they have found in a small inlet at the park which is located near the Missouri River. One friend estimated at a minimum 100 or more bald eagles congregating there as they journey to Minnesota suggested another friend. It is amazing to see these creatures. But evidently I was not someone this guy wanted to meet.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bald eagle takes off from its tree perch at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 6, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bald eagle takes off from its tree perch at Snyder Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Saturday, March 6, 2021(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Keeping an Eagle Eye out in Siouxland, rural Woodbury County

27 Jan
An eagle sits high atop a tree along a creek outside of Onawa, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it’s just nice to get lucky. These days when driving about in various rural places in Siouxland I scan tree tops, mostly looking for raptors like various hawks, but sometimes and somedays one gets lucky. Coming back from an excursion of such driving in late November last year, an eagle was sitting high atop a tree that sat in the corner of a harvested farm field. Minding his or her business, and probably just looking for the next meal. I was happy to again see such a magnificent bird, coming at the end of the day which makes an even better memory.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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©)
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