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


Wednesday, May 5, 2010


(MAY 5, 2010) The tree swallow was on his bluebird house; the squirrels were scampering around on the forest floor of the "dark woods" at Dan Daniel Park; the mallards were enjoying the early morning sun, and the baby geese were picking up food from the sand while staying as close as possible to the adults.

"Groundhog Day - The Movie." Everything today was just like yesterday and the day before in many ways. So, I looked closer - verrrrry, verrrrry closer at the world that makes up this small preserve of nature called the Riverwalk.

In the trees I saw three birds that looked like bleached cardinals which someone had tinted tan and painted war paint around their eyes. I had seen these birds before, but not enough times to recognize what they were. In the bird book at home, which I had received as a gift a couple of Christmases ago, I discovered that these were cedar waxwings, a bird that, I'm sure, birders would quickly recognize, but I'm not a birder - I just like taking pictures of birds and learning what they are later. Against the blue sky, the these tan masked birds were awesome looking.

I saw a singing sparrow in a tree. Silent, and then lifting his head, this small bird belts out a chirping sound that carries for quite a distance. Often a sight I notice on the trail.

But, looking verrrrry, verrrrry closely, down on a small beach near the river, I saw some swallows flying about and landing on the beach. Not unusual since I have tons of pictures of tree swallows. However, these were different. The swallows I've been picturing have white breasts; these had an orange-tan breast. Again, consulting my book when I got home, I discovered the swallows I had been seeing are tree swallows. This was a barn swallow.

I had identified two new birds, but my looking closer was not over. On the way back toward Dan Daniel Park, I walked near the trees and bushes that grow between the Riverwalk and the river. I saw a reddish-orange spot on one of the leaves. When I looked closer, the spot had small black spots on it. OK . . . a ladybug isn't that special; in fact, we had an infestation of these little bugs a few years ago and were told by exterminators that they could not take care of our infestation because these little guys provide a service to our environment. We lived with them, and they eventually went away. Many of these little reddish/orange dots I would vacuum up in my special "bug vacuum" and take outside to release into nature. But the reddish/orange on green made for a very attractive color combination.

Before entering the dark woods, I noticed a small spot moving on a fence along the river. As I looked closer, I saw a house fly (OK - a TREE swallow in a BIRD HOUSE, a BARN swallow on a BEACH, and now a HOUSE fly on a fence, go figure) hanging out on the top of the fence. I took some pictures of the nasty little creature and realized, upon closer observation, that he was quite pretty with his greenish tinted body, veined wings, and reddish eyes.

As we got into the dark woods again, we veered off the walkway into the woods where Sadie enjoys the flying insects as we pass by in the tall grasses there. In one section, there were this luminescent sticks that rose up in great numbers, being made luminescent by the sun peeking between the trees. Sadie's alert button was pushed as she jumped at the group only to have them disappear. As I looked closer, I noticed that they were MOSQUITOES. We had ventured into a nest of mosquitoes. I followed one as it lit on a tree. Looking closer, I saw its long, skinny body, and long legs. After taking a few pictures, Sadie and I left the dark woods to head home.

We had looked closely, verrrrry closely, at a very small part of the world that makes up this local natural environment. Often there are things around us that we fail to see.

It was a very good morning on the Riverwalk, but, for some reason, I find myself scratching a lot.

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