Tag Archives: woodbury county iowa

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©)

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©)

Getting Dry in Siouxland, Snyder Bend Park, Woodbury County

30 Apr
Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The last year or so less and less rain has fallen in the Siouxland region which includes western Iowa, northeaster Nebraska and south eastern South Dakota. A recent visit to Snyder Bend Park has shown how much water has receded from a previous shoreline. The park’s water is fed from a local power plant when it discharges water into the area. With little snow over the winter and until recently hardly any rain, at times the park looked like a dust bowl when the wind gusts occurred.

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I visited the park a couple years ago and eagles were migrating the park was filled with water. Now the former lake beds are a giant, sandy beach. Time will tell how this will unfold and what will be seen for recreation this summer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snyder Bend Park in rural Woodbury County, Iowa see Monday April 18, 2022 is almost “bone dry” with no water and dust blowing about in parts previously covered by water, reminiscent of the 1930’s Dust Bowl. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Table Marsh Wildlife area

5 Jan

A beaver hut is seen in theTable Marsh Wildlife Area in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy spending time outdoors in nature in Siouxland, preferably in more agreeable weather that is not too hot nor too cold. Maybe I’m just picky. But the quiet, sometimes solitude and the chance to breathe fresher air can be restorative.

A wetland area, Table Marsh Wildlife is located in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

a lone bird soars over the Table Marsh Wildlife located in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a number of areas around the Woodbury County and other places near where I live. I don’t always think about visiting them on specific days, or for that matter, most times at all. Sometimes when I see a sign on my way to someplace I am reminded I need to stop in there and check it out or revisit it. So my trips are not timed to capture a specific migrating bird or other creatures, but more out of curiosity of what is there, what does it look like and what might I find here and now in the present.

A sketchy dirt road leads to the wetland area, Table Marsh Wildlife, located in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

an old bridge makes passage over part of the Table Marsh Wildlife is located in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A wetland area, Table Marsh Wildlife is located in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But at that moment in time, everything stops for me, I don’t hear the sound of traffic, the chatter of other folk or anything that one might find intrusive in such an area other than birds calling or the blowing wind rustling tall grass. It’s just a moment in time to savor for what it is, before the next moment moves one forward to another place.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple of geese fly over the Table Marsh Wildlife located in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding bits of History in Siouxland, Smithland

28 Dec

Blossoming trees at the Fowler Preserve near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like stumbling upon a bit of history when driving about Siouxland. That happened to me a couple of years ago when visiting the Fowler Preserve in Woodbury County near Smithland. Trees and other fauna was just beginning to bloom. There are a couple of trails there that take one to the top of a hill where you can get a view of the surrounding area and to rest a bit as you make your way of the hillside.

Benches are sprinkled throughout the Fowler Preserve near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Besides some normal accoutrements in parks like open space and picnic tables, I came across a large rock with a plaque. It made note of the fact that for 20 years, from 1856 to 1876, a stage coach trail passed through the area from Smithland to Sioux City. That century’s mass transportation which allowed small groups of people to get from one point to another on the western frontier without having to purchase their own horse, or wagon, or whatever might be available, until the railroads allowed even larger groups of people to move about. I was struck with awe the idea of standing someplace that 2 centuries earlier I could have spied the coach and its passengers making their way to a new place, seeing history unfold as people moved West, not knowing what to expect but hoping for a different, if not better life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A view of a picnic area at the Fowler Preserve near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A stagecoach trail passed through the Fowler Preserve from the mid 1850’s to late the 1870’s near Smithland in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Sunday, April 24, 2016. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

(Click image for larger view.)

Exploring the backroads of Siouxland, Rural Woodbury County

27 Feb

An empty barn along a gravel road in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

As I wait for better weather and better roads, another ice and snow storm is predicted for Siouxland, I’m anxious to go exploring the seemingly endless backroads that are available. These gravel and dirt roads are best navigated in dry weather. Looking forward to seeing what new places I can find and share and seeking new windows to look through and discover.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

A patchwork quilt barn in rural Woodbury County, Iowa, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting the Siouxland Countryside in Winter, Woodbury County

15 Feb

While out driving around in Siouxland between snow falls, I came across what I thought appropriately might be considered country art with a little help from nature and neglect from man. It is said that art is in the eye of the beholder, and seeing these round hay bales in a snow covered field gave me pause.

Round hay bales add a decorative touch to a snowy field in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Their horizontal lines intersecting with the vertical lines of the corn stalk remnants left over from fall harvest.

And then seeing an abandoned farmhouse sitting in a field. Its desolation in such a dreary setting reminding of how many of the pioneers who moved to this Siouxland region in the middle and later 1850’s must have felt like as they each began a new chapter in their life. Looking for a new start, a better life, yet enduring hardships that we today may not understand. People tend to be a sociable lot, and winter during those days may have been a long two or three months to endure. Just as sometimes today the overcast grey days makes one wish for spring and summer and to see life begin anew, again.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An abandoned house in a snowy landscape adds a bleak feel of winter in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting around in Siouxland’s countryside, Woodbury County

11 Feb

It’s not only people living in small and large towns that need access to life during the winter month’s in Siouxland. Primarily a rural state with a few large communities, people living in the country need to get to work and shop for groceries and generally get out themselves during the winter months.

A look at winter on a country road in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While taking a drive recently I saw the county tax dollars at work. Rural areas don’t generally employ snow plows to clear the backroads and make it possible for residents to move about. Road maintenance in the country is a little different, and I don’t know if I would have tried this after a recent heavy snowfall. But growing up in the country, one can appreciate these individuals who help keep traffic flowing in the less populated areas and make life just a little easier.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A country road winter snowplow, a grader, in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking for Landscapes in Siouxland and Finding Details, Woodbury County

25 Feb

There are days I take drives in Siouxland looking for “wonderful” landscapes to photograph and just coming up empty. Sometimes I believe I don’t see anything that inspires me or I just like being out because it’s a nice day and I have no set agenda of what it is I am actually looking for. On some of those days I take a moment and decide that maybe I don’t need to photograph a grandiose scene but possibly something more detail oriented. One can look at a scene and see a lot. But there are times it takes a discerning eye to distill a scene down to something in particular. Maybe not just a grove of trees or flowers or even one barn. Maybe just trying to see through the looking glass for something altogether different. Or not.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Doorway in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday Oct. 18, 2016.       (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Doorway in rural Woodbury County, Iowa Tuesday Oct. 18, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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