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


Friday, May 7, 2010


(May 7, 2010) OK. The first thing I saw this morning on the Riverwalk was an awesome Osprey circling around and then landing on a nest across the river on a tower at the Brantley Steam Plant. The osprey has a nest there, and photographers have been seen to line up along the bank of the river taking pictures of this broad winged raptor.

"Are there babies yet?" seems to the question asked by a number of those I see during my walk; I don't know the answer to that.

However, today, someone asked, "How do they get the babies off the tower?" I said, "I guess the mother pushes them and hopes they can fly." I don't know. There is a lot I don't know, but each day I learn more and more.

Now back to the subject at hand.

OK. One other thing about birds. The Canada goose that builds its nest on the bridge piling leading over to the train station, was up and about. The nest had only feathers (for a picture of the goose, go to my web site at: http://www.riverwalkpics.com/Blog-Link-1.html ). That could mean only one of three things: 1) the babies had hatched (there is the question, always, "How will the babies get off the piling?" The piling is about 30 feet above the river - my response: "I guess the mother pushes the babies and hopes they can swim.") 2) Something got the eggs/babies - a predator, perhaps, or 3) There were no eggs there. I won't venture a guess, because I don't know.

Now back to the subject at hand.

There are many things to see along the river even if birds are not your forte (a friend wrote this week and told me about her sister who was afraid of birds). This morning Sadie pointed and approached a number of squirrels before they scampered up a tree, a safe distance from this four legged beast. They do that every time, and I end up with a very frustrated dog.

Also, there are the turtles. They hang out with the cormorants in the middle of the river; they climb on fallen trees near the banks of the river, and they lurk under water and can be seen just lying below the surface. There are several types of turtles on the river. There are box turtles, snapping turtles/tortoises (we ventured upon a giant tortoise along the path when Sadie was only a year old - she is now four and half - and it was all I could do to keep her from being within the reach of the large mouth of this prehistoric monster. She showed no fear. I've been told that if a snapping turtle bites you, it won't let go until it thunders. I'm sure it's an old wives tale, but I wasn't taking any chances with Sadie on that sunny day), and river cooter turtles. That's only three that I have seen; there may be others. We saw one sunny itself on a fallen tree near the bridge at the public works office, and we saw one huddled between two cormorants in the middle of the river.

As we were walking back, Sadie paused (or is the PAWsed?) and got into her pointing stance (it is really very beautiful to watch and like a work of art when she does that) and was pointing at something. Often it is an insect (butterfly, bug, etc.) or sometimes even a blade of grass that the wind has blown.

I tugged at her leash and said, "Come on, girl." She didn't budge. I walked over to see what she was pointing at - it was a black and white butterfly. It flew away shortly after I had taken a picture and was on the other side of the fence where it was safe from by "bug dog." This was a time when Sadie actually pointed out a subject for my camera.

As we continued on, I started looking at the vegetation and fence along the trail and noticed an interesting orange and black bug with red eyes. I'm not sure what it is, but it sure is colorful. I took a picture of it, and noticed, when I got home, how red its eyes are. This is a part of nature that many people miss; this is a part of nature that shouldn't be missed.

A few months ago I watched the series by Ken Burns on the National Parks. I was awestruck at the beauty of these wonderful preserves of nature and historical sites throughout our nation. The feeling I got while watching that series is the same feeling I get when I venture daily to the Riverwalk. There I expect to see birds in great numbers, but always come back after seeing amazing critters that are right here in our back yard.

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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