Tag Archives: winter

More Bird Antics in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

20 Apr
A downy woodpecker checks out the scene at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire of watching birds at bird feeders. Each species seems to have its own ritual when having a bite to eat. And sometimes I even feel intrusive watching them eat as they stop, stare, long and hard, before continuing their meal. But for a quiet moment, it can be bliss.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bird Antics in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

2 Apr
A red bellied woodpecker checks out the area before approaching a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out and about in Siouxland and enjoying nature, I can only smile sometimes when I see various antics the feathered friends sometimes provide. A real life “floor show” with meaning. This winter on a warmish day I watched a red bellied woodpecker enjoying himself at a suet feeder, all the while keeping an eye on an interloper who sat nearby, watching. A Cyclops that unblinkingly never wavered from watching the bird enjoy an afternoon snack. These are those days from which I can amass a few hundred photographs trying to find one or two interesting moments or movements. But then, sometimes those moments don’t really materialize but are just images frozen in time of a warm winter’s afternoon.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A red bellied woodpecker eyes a visitor as it readies to snack at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red bellied woodpecker feeds at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red bellied woodpecker feeds at a suet feeder at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red bellied woodpecker feeds at a suet feeder at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Day Out in Siouxland and a Frozen Falls, Falls Park, Sioux Falls, SD

29 Mar
With a lower than normal water flow, people take a photo near the water falls at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The winter in Siouxland this year was a curious season. Almost no measurable snowfall except in some areas of the region which causes concern for an agricultural area since moisture is necessary for planting crops in the spring. But also allowed residents to check out areas that normally are off limits due to water levels. The Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD is one such place. Visitors were able to access areas normally not available simply because the presence of water was too high and safety was an issue. Safety is always an issue, but folk were taking advantage of the low water levels to take photographs and see the park in a different light.

Low water runoff exposes a large area at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Foam floats into the air from where the waterfall hits the area below it at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But some area residents made the best of the situation with low water levels in the park from the Big Sioux River, and enjoyed themselves as we all adjust to whatever the new normal might be.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A white-ring mallard sits in flowing water along with a juvenile mallard at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a Walk in Siouxland, Downtown Sioux Falls, SD

21 Mar
Sculpted art work in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even in winter it’s nice sometimes to get out of town and take a walk in a nearby community, like Sioux Falls, SD. The downtown landscape around it and Falls Park will be changing in the years to come with some major construction underway along the Big Sioux River that runs through the community.

A walk from Falls Park into downtown Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A walk along the Big Sioux River in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It had been a little while and there seemed to be new artwork in the downtown area, although it could be just new artwork to me since I have not been there for a few months. And as the weather cooperated and warmed up the day, it was nice to saunter about without an agenda to see what might photographically be appealing.

Dated billboard in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sculpted art work in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sculpted art work in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are numerous times when walking around a community it’s easy to become enthralled with architectural offerings as buildings’ angles and lines will draw one’s attention. And it’s easy to walk past street artwork as it’s just there, in harsh light and somewhat challenging to photograph.

But therein lies the challenge and a chance to savor these pieces of art for their own sake, which may look different on a summer’s day with trees leafed out and shade and a chance to saunter without a chill, that happens even happens on “warm” winter days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sculpted art work in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Downtown Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A statue of Richard Franklin Pettigrew stands near Falls Park in downtown Sioux Falls, SD Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Pettigrew was a founding father of Sioux Falls and his early years was a surveryor and later land developer. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking Through History, Oto Cemetery, Oto

11 Mar
An older grave marker at the Oto Cemetery in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Oto, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have walked about a number of rural cemeteries I have come across in Siouxland. Reminders of those early settlers and pioneers who came to Iowa couple centuries ago looking for a better life than the one left behind. Walking through the various cemeteries one can never really know why folk left and traveled to an unknown area, then, far away and probably weeks or months in the making of the journey, considering it was done by wagon train.

Oto Cemetery overlooks the small community in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Oto, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Older grave markers have dates around the mid 1850’s at the Oto Cemetery in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Oto, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the folk were remembered, and most are laid to rest on a hillside, overlooking an area they settled to begin a new life. In a place still cared for, and with the occasional new occupant that comes to join those before them, laid to rest, for an eternal slumber, until the final calling they all most certainly believed in.

A peaceful resting place to await their next journey.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Older graves markers sit atop a hill at the Oto Cemetery in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Oto, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A detail image of an older grave marker at the Oto Cemetery in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Oto, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bird Migration in Siouxland, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley

5 Mar
Swans rest at an open water area on a lake area at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like most parts of the U.S. that are pathways for bird migration during the winter months, I have seen birds moving through Siouxland, but it seems hit and miss at times. Although by no means am I a “hardcore” birder, out in whatever weather looking for these critters, but try to time my trips with reasonable temperatures at least north of 20-25 degrees without windchill. And maybe because it has been such a weird winter in that temperature swings from the 50’s down to below zero every few days has affected the birds and their instincts and migration.

Swans come in for a landing at a lake area at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese, a variety of ducks and swans enjoy open water and ice at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the few times I venture out I see some waterfowl in various open water areas but not nearly as much as previous years. But then I read about others who have seen scores of birds around the Siouxland area so figure my cold weather reluctance might be a factor.

Two women view Canada geese, a variety of ducks and other waterfowl near an open water area at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese, a variety of ducks and other waterfowl enjoy open water and ice at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But getting out and enjoying nature and attempting to photograph these creatures is all part of enjoying the day or moment until the next opportunity arises. I just keep wishing that the little rodent Phil had seen or not seen his shadow, whichever it may be, and that winter would end earlier than the little critter predicted.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An eagle watches for movement from atop a tree along the Missouri River at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese, a variety of ducks and other waterfowl enjoy open water and ice at the DeSoto National Wildlife Area Monday, January 31, 2022 near Missouri Valley, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Spring Day in Winter in Siouxland, Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek

11 Feb
A couple walks a board walk nature trail as the day’s temperature hovers in the low 50’s at the Hitchcock Nature Center in rural Pottawattamie County Monday, January 31, 2022 near Honey Creek, Iowa. Although spring-like Monday, Western Iowa is seeing this winter’s temperatures swing from from highs in the 50’s and sometimes 60’s to below zero with wind chill of -30 but very little snow. The temperature will be dropping to zero by Wednesday of this week. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An unusual winter continues in Siouxland this year, a bit different from other parts of the country. Normally the area is covered in snow, sometimes a lot, but a drought trend seems to be continuing for this part of the Midwest with little to no snow accumulations happening in the immediate area. Spring-like weather with temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s make it very pleasant to venture outdoors. The temperature has been bouncing from around zero to minus zero for a few days and then jumping back up to the 40’s and 50’s. Sometimes making it possible for almost a 50-60 degree mood change in the climate.

And the dry conditions may hamper farmers when it comes to spring planting with many worrying about enough moisture in the ground for the planted seeds to begin germinating.

A couple walks a nature trail with the temperature in the low 50’s at the Hitchcock Nature Center in rural Pottawattamie County Monday, January 31, 2022 near Honey Creek, Iowa. Although spring-like Monday, Western Iowa is seeing this winter’s temperatures swing from from highs in the 50’s and sometimes 60’s to below zero with wind chill of -30 but very little snow. The temperature will be dropping to zero by Wednesday of this week. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red-headed woodpecker fast at work on a tree at the Hitchcock Nature Center in rural Pottawattamie County Monday, January 31, 2022 near Honey Creek, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But having lived a good portion of my life in the Midwest it’s nice not to freeze any extremities going outdoors if just running to the store. Some days though this winter season and local newscasters and weather prognosticators warn people that exposing skin for more than 30 minutes during the extreme cold spells will result in frostbite. But it certainly does spoil a person wearing a sweater and heavy fleece rather than a parka. And it was nice while visiting the Hitchcock Nature Center to actually see trails I have not hiked before because of lack of foliage and snow on the ground covering the trails.

So sometime in spring or early summer when the land is dry a little longer walk to some distance hillsides will be necessary to check out the scenery and see what lies beyond the hill.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Distant park trails are seen from the watchtower nature to the nature center at the Hitchcock Nature Center in rural Pottawattamie County Monday, January 31, 2022 near Honey Creek, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes the Best Laid Plans in Siouxland, Aren’t, Prairie Heritage Center, Peterson

9 Feb
A bald eagle sits in a tree by a waterway near the Prairie Heritage Center Saturday , January 12, 2022 outside of Peterson, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a recent outing I joined some other folk for a jaunt over to Peterson, Iowa and the Prairie Heritage Center where a local bird expert was going to lead the group about the area in search of the Cedar Waxwing bird species.

I am new to birding as a hobby or vocation as some may prefer, and just enjoy getting out, walking, hiking woods and exploring new areas. Or at least new areas at places I previously have visited in the past.

If one wasn’t paying attention, the bald eagle sitting in the tree by a waterway might be missed and seen near the Prairie Heritage Center Saturday , January 12, 2022 outside of Peterson, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Birders looking for signs of the Cedar Waxwing at the Waterman Wildlife Management Area in rural O’Brien County Saturday , January 12, 2022 outside of Peterson, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But the best laid plans, a variation on a line from a John Steinbeck novel, sometimes best describes an adventure, or trip that somewhat becomes an adventure. I was looking forward to seeing a bird and maybe photographing it, a species I have not had the pleasure of an acquaintance yet. And it was an early morning rise for the 2-hour drive to Peterson.

For some reason of which I didn’t hear, the local birder who was to lead the group could not make the outing. But I have learned that intrepid birders are not to be deterred and set out with some direction after a phone call to find the Cedar Waxwing. Friends of mine know I am more of a park and walk about kind of person as opposed to driving here, stopping, looking, then driving some more. While it’s true that I do cruise about Siouxland looking for images, I must prefer exploring on foot because I can see so much more. So I passed on joining the birders on their quest.

A hillside of interest for birders seeking the Cedar Waxwing species near the Waterman Wildlife Management Area in rural O’Brien County Saturday , January 12, 2022 outside of Peterson, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Austin Hill Prairie area near the Waterman Wildlife Management Area in rural O’Brien County Saturday , January 12, 2022 outside of Peterson, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I was lucky though, as a couple who drove north about the same amount of time had car problems and had to call Triple A for assistance to get their vehicle back on the road. I never heard what happened there or if they were able to return home under their own power or via tow truck. I once had a car break down 2.5 hours away from home and it was a long, and rather pricey return trip, not including the work on the vehicle.

So not wanting to begin my 2 hour drive back too soon I spent some time looking about the area and deciding a return trip in early summer and possibly fall might yield some nice images.

A snowy scene along a waterway at the Waterman Wildlife Management Area in rural O’Brien County Saturday , January 12, 2022 outside of Peterson, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snowmobile tracks on a waterway in the Waterman Wildlife Management Area in rural O’Brien County Saturday , January 12, 2022 outside of Peterson, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One just never knows what adventure may await on a journey, be it a short one or a longer one. One can only hope it will be a pleasant journey that becomes memorable in a good way. And gives you a chance to tell a story sometime down the road which will probably bore family and friends to tears, but hopefully a smile to one’s own face.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A meadow and grove of trees not far from the Waterman Wildlife Management Area in rural O’Brien County Saturday , January 12, 2022 outside of Sutherland, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snowy backroad in rural O’Brien County Saturday, January 12, 2022 outside of Sutherland, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Walk in the Woods in Siouxland, Southwood Conservation Area, Rodney

7 Feb
Enjoying a day out in nature at Southwood Conservation Area in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Rodney, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During the winter time in Siouxland one must sometimes pick and choose one’s outings out of doors depending on the weather and one’s tolerance for the cooler temperatures. I made an outing twice to the same nature area with only a day or two in between. The first trip the temp was near 50 degrees, but the next trip saw snow on the ground and the trails.

A suspension bridge can be found at the Southwood Conservation Area in rural Woodbury County Thursday , January 13, 2022 near Rodney, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A frozen pond and barren hillsides at the Southwood Conservation Area in rural Woodbury County Thursday , January 13, 2022 near Rodney, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two days later and the pond is covered in snow and footsteps at the Southwood Conservation Area in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Rodney, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was again a nice walk, at least I thought so. Sometimes I push my companions a bit to “stroll” about finding it a better way to look for photographic possibilities than to do it by car. And exercise and fresh air is always good. But everyone has a different tolerance for that as well, and I need to remind myself of that.

An opossum looks about at another visitor at Southwood Conservation Area in rural Woodbury County Thursday , January 13, 2022 near Rodney, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The sun shines later in the afternoon at Southwood Conservation Area in rural Woodbury County Thursday , January 13, 2022 near Rodney, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An entrance off of an Iowa Byways road for Southwood Conservation Area in rural Woodbury County Thursday , January 13, 2022 near Rodney, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The conservation area does not have a single trail that circles the entire area so one needs to backtrack a bit. Although there is a high trail, and a low trail, so the scenery or route can vary. The high trail gives a nice opportunity to see the surrounding countryside, while the low trail immerses one into the forest area. But as I tell students who take my photography classes at a local community college, I can’t think of a better way to spend a day, than being out and taking photos. Even if it means a little walking, or a lot of walking, as some have said. Fresh air is always good.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A suspension bridge for the adventurous at Southwood Conservation Area in rural Woodbury County Thursday , January 13, 2022 near Rodney, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A cut pathway at Southwood Conservation Area in rural Woodbury County Thursday , January 13, 2022 near Rodney, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Tracks on a pond at Southwood Conservation Area in rural Woodbury County Tuesday , January 18, 2022 near Rodney, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Day out in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

30 Jan
A man ice skates on a frozen Mud Lake at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, December 24, 2021 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when the weather is a bit warmer in Siouxland and more congenial without a north wind and windchills driving temperatures to the double digit minus degree area, it’s just nice to get out and enjoy the day and the moment. A little exercise doesn’t hurt as well as winter months can sometimes make one a bit sedentary.

A woman rides her bike on a trail at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, December 24, 2021 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hunters pack it in late morning along the Missouri River and across from the the river Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, December 24, 2021 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Humans and creatures try to enjoy a brief respite in the weather roller coaster as it careens from cold to warm back to cold again. The only difference is that people have a bit more of a refuge to shelter in than the critters as the winter continues and the temperatures begin to plummet to their normal seasonal range.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A young deer cautiously watches a figure up ahead on a trail at the Adams Homestead Nature Preserve Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young deer decides a detour is the right choice after spying another trail user at the Adams Homestead Nature Preserve Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese begin their descent to a field near the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, December 24, 2021 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Canada geese circle about a field as a landing area near Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, December 24, 2021 in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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