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, May 18, 2010


(MAY 18, 2010) Today offered two opportunities to walk on the Riverwalk. This morning we walked from Dan Daniel Park and this evening we walked at Angler's Park.

As I walk the trail and observe the wildlife, I often tend to anthromorphize the wildlife there. I see a microcosm of human life in the lives of the animals residing along side the river. For example, in the area of diversity among the creatures on the Riverwalk, there seems to be an acceptance of different species of birds than in other wildlife. The geese, both the Canada and the others, tend to hang out with each other peacefully. This morning I noticed a single Canada goose with a huddled family of white geese. The adults were hustling their little ducklings along while the Canada goose honked warnings that a dog was near (that was, of course, Sadie). It is not uncommon to see mallards and wood ducks hanging out together in peace and harmony as well.

However, there are occasional territorial disputes even among the like birds. I have seen wood ducks wander into mallard territory and the drake mallard fending the wood duck off. I have noticed some interspecies disputes among the Canada geese when some rogue Canada geese try to wander into another flock. I have seen disputes among the white geese as one goose puts his neck parallel with the ground and charges another white goose for what seems to be no apparent reason. And the mockingbirds along the trail seem to be the bullies as they defend their territories against invasion by not only other birds, but also from human as my wife witnessed last year when she a Sadie were attacked by a mockingbird, not once by two times. It was, also, mating season which tends to make the birds a little more testy.

This morning I witnessed the "huddled masses" of baby geese and ducklings. But I also noticed a difference between the ducks and the geese. The ducks seem to be less communal in their raising of the ducklings while the geese seem to surround their goslings with protection. This was evident at the beach area near the train trellis. The female mallard was looking after her 3 ducklings alone while the 8-10 goslings I saw were protected by 4-5 adults on the water and on the land.

We also saw a huddled mass of deer under a grove of trees in one of the fields near Dan Daniel Park. They seemed to be grazing in peace until a flock of Canada geese landed on the field causing the deer to scatter.

The Tired and Poor was evident this evening at Angler's Park. I was taking some pictures from the bridge that goes over the marsh when I spotted some larger movement on the other shore. I took some pictures and realized that there was a mother cat there with three kittens. My first thought was to get as many of them as I could and take them to the humane society. I climbed down a hill, after safely putting Sadie in the car, and when I got to the cats, the mother had fled and two of the three others were running away also. I did get one little tabby kitten and decided that, rather than taking it to the Human Society, to take it home and let Elizabeth see it.

This is a story that hasn't ended yet. We are both trying to decide if Sadie needs a pet cat or to take the kitten to the human society. Tonight the kitten is upstairs in the pool room with Elizabeth where Elizabeth has prepared a nice bed, litter box and food for the little guy. We will decide tomorrow what we will do.

The massive number of new born geese and duckings provide a bright scene to the park. The abandoned animals in the park (I have taken 3-4 dogs to the humane society over the past couple of years) are the poor and tired of the park. The Riverwalk has become a melting pot of birds and other animals. It is a place where, daily, one can see the "poor and tired and huddled masses" of animals. For many of them the only challenge is survival, to stay alive for another day and to, eventually, replenish the species.

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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