Tag Archives: wildlife

Everything’s Ducky in Siouxland, Heron Haven, Omaha, NE

20 Oct

A young mallard stands on a floating log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Wood Duck takes flight as two others continue sitting on a log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Traveling a bit outside of Siouxland proper to other places like Omaha, NE and visiting various parks and preserves it has is kind of a plus as it’s not too terrible long a drive and while it takes some effort to get there, the rewards or hope for same can be a good motivator to get out the front door.

And while I can’t say I have the bird bug pushing me to photograph these “flighty” creatures I do enjoy the time spent watching them and hoping to make an unusual, or usual kind of exposure. I am always happy no matter what when photographing animals.

Two young mallards sit on a floating log at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A wood duck peers about as it feeds in a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy the light play on the critters and their surroundings. And with less than ideal rain conditions this year as well as last year many places that were just water have begun to become more wetland, land, than water ponds. Another element that looks weird when photographing fowl. The mossy like substance is more of a green ooze. Cue the Halloween music.

A wood duck feeds in a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Heron Haven is a delightful place to watch water fowl and from what I learned, the one resident heron. I saw a shadow pass over but didn’t actually see the bird. Too focused on stationary ducks and reflections. But it’s all good. Outdoors, nature, pleasant enough weather and then lunch after having done an early start to reach Omaha in the morning while there is still some nice light. I have previously spent worse days when working for a newspaper. But now I can look forward to those excursions that I want to make. And only have myself to disappoint if all does not go well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Ducks are silhouetted on a pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A bird blind at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographers are drawn to find resident herons and other birds at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A board walk takes a visitor out over a water pond at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Sibley bird identification chart of backyard birds on display for visitors at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Wildlife Management Area in Rural Woodbury County

6 Oct

A blooming water lily at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area off of Hwy K-25 Wednesday, July 13, 2022 near Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when I head out into Siouxland I have no destination in mind, but just hope I might come across something that might make a decent image and a chance to visit an area I have not been to previously. A wildlife management area off a county road I have driven numerous times was such an unexpected opportunity. Nothing fancy, a short trail and a creek. But it was quiet, and once I arrived, critters were about just enjoying their summer’s day while mindful of a visitor, but not overly concerned.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A young Redwing Blackbird looks about perched atop a small tree at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A turkey and its chicks wander about until seeing a visitor at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkey chicks seem puzzled after their mother moved into higher weeds (at right) after seeing a visitor at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Turkey chicks seemed puzzled after their mother moved into higher weeds (at right) after seeing a visitor at a Woodbury County Wildlife Management area near Snyder Bend Park Wednesday, July 13, 2022 south of Salix, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Nature’s Art Displays, Heron Haven, Omaha, NE

2 Oct

Reflection of surrounding vegetation at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent trip outside of Siouxland down to Omaha, NE and visiting a “new to me” nature place I was struck by the “art work” on display at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE. I was looking for the resident heron and whatever other birds I could find, guessing my timing for season and such was probably not the best as it was a nice enough morning, but the day was heating up.

But as I sat quietly watching to see what birds might wander into view I began seeing the reflections surrounding some of the water areas at the preserve. A still morning would have made the images “more perfect”, but when visiting someplace, I enjoy what I find do the best that I can to make an image that might reflect, pun intended, what I have found there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Reflection of surrounding vegetation at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reflection of surrounding vegetation at the Heron Haven in Omaha, NE Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary, an oxbow wetland of Big Papillion Creek. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)
%d bloggers like this: