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


Monday, May 24, 2010


(MAY 24, 2010) The morning started with another look at the young mallard family in the dark woods. The female mallard showed herself with a greenish tint and white eyes as she, and her 7 ducklings, wandered across the trail from a rain made temporary pond where they had been swimming this morning. Their silhouettes in front of the camouflage green highlights of the morning sun against the green woods, made an interesting picture.

At the dam near the power plant we saw our first heron, standing in the river nearby waiting patiently for an unsuspecting fish. This was the first of several we saw this morning on the river.

As we approached the first field outside of the dark woods, there was a group of deer chomping on the grasses under a tree in the far corner. A fawn was with two adults ignoring us until a large flock of Canada geese landed on the field. It was 6:45, and the geese flew in for their morning grazing. The deer scampered across the access road and into the hillside woods.
We passed our usual assortment of song birds including an oriole, swallows, mockingbirds, bluebirds, a cardinal and some sparrows. We saw the wild geese near the bridge, but became transfixed on the sight of another great blue heron wading in the creek that goes under the bridge. The bird moved gracefully, but at times, more resembled a teenage boy at his first dance - standing on shaky legs, unsure of himself. The great bird looked at us as Sadie put her head through the slats of the bridge to get a closer look; I took pictures.

As we moved off the bridge to photograph some other angles of the bird, one of Sadie's dog friends, Jodie, approached, so any future shots were discounted until after Sadie and Jodie had their ritual sniffing, jumping and faux playing. As I held the leash, I noticed the great bird fly over the bridge and out into the river. I had some good shots, so I was fine with this.

As we approached the next bridge, going to the train station, we stopped to watch the same mallard family we had seen earlier down the river. The group of 8 wandered across the sand and into the river. The mother led the well disciplined group of youngsters as several drake mallards watched from the shore.
Upon approaching the Martin Luther King Bridge, I looked down into the river and saw a yellow fin moving about over the water.
I watched this fin for several minutes realizing that it was on a living fish. A catfish, I assume, was scavenging the muddy bottom near the shore. The fish never surfaced, but the fin remained very animated as the fish dined on the bottom.

Not far from the dam, on our return trip, I noticed something dancing in the woods. It was a small shimmering thread that held a small inch worm. I took several pictures of this small, fascinating creature.

At about a quarter of a mile from the car, Sadie enjoyed venturing off the trail and into the high grass to see if she could stir up some insect life which she chases. On this morning we stumbled upon two interesting mushrooms having grown in the moist rich earth of the dark woods. I took some pictures, and then we headed home after Sadie had chased a couple of moths in the high grass.

My thoughts today kept coming back to the great blue herons that are on the river. A few years ago, someone on the river told me that in the 1970s and 80s the river was almost dead; but when the blue heron came back, there was hope seen by many in the community. Well, the heron are back in their glory. They make a brilliant show, most of the time.

There was one time last fall when I was walking on the Riverwalk. I looked out into the river, and there in the middle was a heron spreading its wings and sunning itself. That was one of those "wish I hadn't seen that" moments. The body of the heron is very thin, but the wings are very large; hence, this makes the heron, with its wings spread, look like a very thin man being an exhibitionist. I have other pictures of herons on my web page. In addition to the great blue heron, I have also seen the green heron, a much smaller, and less dynamic bird.

As with humans, the heron can be beautiful or not so beautiful, but like humans, they are always interesting to watch. I can't imagine the river without these graceful and gothic, blue and gray birds. The community would miss a great deal by not having these feathered wonders in our city.

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

Here are some more pictures taken today on the Riverwalk. Click the image to enlarge the photo.

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