White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk

White Deer Twins on the Riverwalk
These rare white deer twins were born this summer and have found a safe home at Dan Daniel Park and on the Riverwalk
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My name is David Hoffman. I teach English and journalism at Averett University, but I have two side interests - writing and photography. I also enjoy walking daily with my English setter, Sadie, and my wife, Elizabeth, on the Danville, Virginia, Riverwalk. As a novice to studying nature, I am fascinated by the slightest facets of the great outdoors, but most of my pictures are of birds - I don't know a lot about them, but I am learning more and enjoying taking pictures of them daily. I also take pictures of plants, other animals, and insects. All pictures posted for each day were taken on the day of my blog entry.

Leave a comment if you have the time or e-mail me at dhoffman@averett.edu


Tuesday, April 20, 2010


(APRIL 20, 2010) This has been another day with two trips to the park. This morning we walked from Dan Daniel Park towards the train station.

As I was taking a picture of some sparrows on a hill side, a couple of ladies stopped and asked what I was photographing. I told them some sparrows. Then we saw a mallard couple, and one of the ladies asked about the markings. I told her that the male had the green head, and the female was drab brown.

One lady looked at the female and said, jokingly, "She's ugly." I said, "No she isn't! I don't think so." She said, "The male is so much prettier." I came back with, "Well, I think the female is prettier. I guess you like the male because you are a woman and I like the female because I'm a man." She laughed.

I truly think that the markings of the female mallard make her attractive, but the male is much more colorful.

As we walked to the other side of the train trellis, we saw a beautiful great blue heron within 20 yards. The great bird stood there looking at us as I took a half dozen pictures and then it flew off. They are beautiful birds.

On the way back, we stopped at the bridge where we saw a couple of mallards enjoying the morning air. They were on the creek that flows under the bridge into the Dan River. Up the creek came two male mallards and a Canada goose. I stopped to watch what would happen when the birds met. Well, one of the male mallards flew off, the Canada goose stood on a rock in the river and honked, and the other male mallard started harassing the mallard couple. The couple swam into the river with the single mallard following. After a few minutes of this harassment, the male that was part of the couple had had enough and turned on the sojourner, running him away. The single bird flew off, leaving the couple to themselves.

I often wander upon conflicts on the river. There have been regular brawls among the geese with the flock circling the two fighting birds and honking as if egging them on. The two geese attack wings of each other, holding on to them as they go in a circle. Eventually one, I assume, declares victory, and they go on their way.

I have seen wood ducks jump on mallards for territorial rights, a heron perched on a large log in the river, defending his perch from cormorants that usually rest there, and mockingbirds chase away cardinals and other birds that invade their territory.

This evening at Angler's Park, Sadie and I were walking near the bridge that crosses over the marsh. There were the sounds of the red-winged blackbird - nothing else. A little ways beyond the bridge, I saw a male mallard on the walk way - Sadie soon spotted him. Sadie went into her "gentle paws" mode as she crept down the pathway towards the duck that was, by now, very aware of our presence. As we got within 10 yards of the drake, I saw a female just in the brush there. Sadie made a surging movement and the two ducks flew away. Sadie's adrenaline was high as she pulled on the leash. The two ducks landed on the ball field about 50 yards away. Sadie wasn't giving up, so we walked, again, towards the ducks. We would take a step - they would take 2-3 steps. Finally, they had had enough, took off in flight and flew to the safety of the marsh. Again, Sadie was hyper; her bird dog blood was running fast. We had, ourselves, become the sojourners in the world of those mallards - we were aliens who had interrupted their peaceful evening.

When a sojourner invades a creature's territory, the sojourner usually has a tough fight on his hands. As a sojourner myself, I daily invade the private lives of the birds and animals that live along the Riverwalk. The geese will honk a warning as we approach, the mallard will head down to the river, and the mockingbirds begin their "bird call de jour" as we approach.

The lives along the Riverwalk are fascinating to a sojourner like myself - and to Sadie, too. It was another wonderful morning on the Riverwalk and a great evening at Angler's Park.

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