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 30, 2010


(MAY 30, 2010) As we entered Dan Daniel Park this morning we saw a large turtle crossing the road and a young deer grazing on a hillside to the left of us. We had arrived 15 minutes earlier than we usually get out to the park, and we were seeing some things we don't usually see. I thought that this would be a day of seeing the things in nature we usually saw, plus some new things. I felt it was going to be a wonderful day for picture taking!

I was wrong about seeing those things "in nature we usually saw"; I was right about seeing new things.

After parking the car I noticed that the full moon was shining brightly against the new blue sky of the morning. I have taken some interesting photos with the moon in the background - some Canada geese flying by and a mockingbird on a bush. This morning, early in the walk, I kept waiting for that mockingbird that always shows up when there is an interesting background - the bird was MISSING. I never got that shot with the moon.

I can usually get some good pictures of swallows and bluebirds around their houses. This morning - "crickets" - nothing. No activity and no pictures. The swallows and the bluebirds were MISSING.

At the spot where the cormorants hang out on a log, I knew that the faithful few would be there just standing and looking and, perhaps, accompanied by a few turtles. I got ready to take the picture of a half dozen or so of the creepy black birds on the log, but, again, MISSING. The high water had almost covered the log, and there was only one cormorant on the log. When I return a half hour later, even the one cormorant was MISSING.

Now when one has a routine and finds that routine disrupted by, say the fact that the person went out earlier than usual, it would be assumed that that individual would be greatly disappointed. Well, I did MISS seeing the mockingbird with the moon in the background, and I did MISS seeing the swallows and the bluebirds, and I did MISS seeing the cormorants - but, I knew that the morning would hold more for me if I just looked and FOUND what it offered.

Near where we see the cormorants, Sadie FOUND a large turtle in the grass heading towards the river. She wanted to get closer, but I held her back. The giant reptile inched its way forward and then made a mad dash to the undergrowth before disappearing.

Heading west on the Riverwalk, we approached the Martin Luther King Bridge, and I saw an interesting design on a fence post. As I looked closer, I realized that I had FOUND a brown dragonfly perched on the side of the post - the light shining through its wings produced a beautiful piece of nature that I would have missed had I been 15 minutes later.

On the return trip I stopped to take some pictures of bumblebees flying around a group of flowers. Looking closer, I FOUND that they were not alone. There was a gold and black butterfly enjoying the nectar of the flowers making a bright contrast to the mostly green and pink surrounding.

Near the butterfly was a wood fence, and I noticed something orange shown in the morning light. Looking closer, I FOUND that the object was an insect of some type. It possessed an amber color with an interesting design on its back. I have no idea what the insect is, but it was very pretty.

However, my greatest find of the day was the return of an old friend on the Riverwalk. For too long this guy had been absent, perhaps enjoying the Riverwalk at another location or venturing on to other wet lands to enjoy the elements there. Near the train trellis I FOUND a wood duck resting on a log. It has been several months since I had seen this guy who during the winter months stayed among the mallards in a seemingly congenial relationship. It was good to see the old guy again.

As I was walking and thinking about those that were MISSING this morning along the Riverwalk and those that were FOUND and the wood duck that was returning, I thought about this holiday we are celebrating. As families gather, they tend to talk about those that are MISSING from the family - parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents. There is a hole in the family left by those who are no longer around. With these losses, there is sadness.

Of course, there are always the new FOUND members of the family - a new spouse, a new child, a new friend. With these additions to a family, there is joy.

And then there is the one who returns after a lengthy absence. That person is welcomed back into the gathering, and the family is made whole again.

Of course, tomorrow if I get to the Riverwalk at the time I usually get there, I will see my old friend the mockingbird (perhaps with the moon in the background), my old friends the swallows and the bluebirds, and, if the river has gone down, my old friends the cormorants en masse. They are MISSING for only a day - they will be back and so will I.

Tomorrow I will also see new things - new creatures that have always been there, but FOUND by me for the first time as I look closely and eagerly expect to find the unexpected.

Tomorrow, like today, will be another good day on the Riverwalk.

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