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


Sunday, May 23, 2010


(MAY 23, 2010) The walk this morning moved from Gray to Green to Grumpy.

The morning started as a very dreary morning with gray clouds and a threat of rain. As I began my walk, one of the two bikers, who are very regular on the Riverwalk, said as she rode by, "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet . . ." I agreed, and then we couldn't bring ourselves to say that it was a pretty day before going in opposite directions.

The grayness of the sky turned into a very plush green as we entered the dark woods. The evening rain had turned the foliage into an emerald glow. There seemed to be new life there, over night, that had not been there the day before. I noticed new leaves on the bushes, and insects were busily enjoying the water on the leaves and the nectar on the honeysuckle. A few bees were visiting the remaining blooms of the honeysuckle, and Sadie got distracted by a small fly's activities as it made its temporary home on a large leaf.

The birds, however, were only black silhouettes against the gray sky. Except for the noticeable shape of some of the birds, they were unidentifiable. Their color told me nothing except for a few that had attracted the brief rays of the sun. A cardinal sat upon an antennae on the top of a building, the unmistakable markings of a robin were evident when the light picked up a glimpse of the bird's breast as he sat on a tree limb in the emerald foliage, and a couple of goldfinches flew across the path at one point. Of course, the young goslings were mostly gray or white except for the small yellow chick that was constantly running to catch up with the larger siblings near the water.

In some places along the walk the gray and the green mixed with the gray/black chickadee being framed by the green surrounding of plants and a gray heron was outlined by a green frame of bushes as it strolled in the water. However, the plushest of green was noticed as we were on our return trip and saw our friend, the mallard, in his regular place. The sun was coming out by that time, and the intensity of the Kelly green covering his head glowed with radiance; I don't know where his usual mate was this morning.

At about the mile mark of our walk, the morning grew into a morning of grumpiness. The geese were their usual grumpy selves as we approached, and they honked a warning that a dog was in the area. The ones near the public works department made their usual march to the river, but the ones near the bridge to the train station protected their path, and we encountered our first act of bird attack of the day. One of the adult gray geese put his head down, parallel to the ground, hissed and started a feigned charge. Sadie cowered, perhaps having remembered her first Canada goose attack when she was less than a year old. On up the river we saw more Canada geese goslings than I had seen at one time on the river this year. There was, first, a group of 21 with 4 adults guiding them up the river. They were followed by another group of 10 goslings, and then a smaller group of 7 goslings was bringing up the rear with adult supervision. On the way back, we saw the large group in a field near the highway, enjoying the wet grasses while the adults stayed on the outlook for sojourners like Sadie and me. One of the geese made a threatening gesture at us as we passed by, but must have decided that we were not a true threat.

Not only were the birds on the ground grumpy this dreary morning, but we experience two dive bombings by two different types of birds. Near the public works department, a mockingbird buzzed over my head as we must have been very near a mockingbird nest. We have had that happen before on several occasions in nearly the same spot.

However, the most interesting attack of the morning occurred near the Martin Luther King bridge where we were buzzed by two swallows, circling us in a menacing way about 10 feet above my head. They stayed with us for 20-30 yards. When we came back that way, they didn't buzz us, but the two adults were sitting high on a wire waiting for any threatening action. Both Sadie and I stayed as far away from their house as we could. This was my first attack by a coordinated squadron of swallows. It was quite an impressive assault.

The only other moment of grumpiness was noticed on the river as the young Canada geese goslings were being herded into a nice green marsh before coming up the bank to frolic in the damp foliage. One adult goose was constantly having to urge on a straggling gosling that was swimming a few yards behind the rest. The adult would put her head down and gently, but deliberately, nudge the baby onward.

As we got back to the car, the air was warming up and the humidity was building. It was 8:45 on this gray, green and grumpy morning.

It had been a mostly pleasant walk, and it had been a good morning on the Riverwalk.

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