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 21, 2010


(MAY 21, 2010) A number of weeks ago, one of my colleagues who teaches photography in the art department told me that he mentioned my name several times in his class because "you are OUT THERE EVERY DAY taking pictures, looking for THE SHOT."

Today I was thinking about that statement as I realized that when I'm OUT THERE, Sadie is OUT THERE, too. I have my agenda; she has her agenda. I am out there enjoying the fresh air and nature and trying to take a few good pictures; she is out there enjoying the fresh air and nature and trying to . . . be a hunting dog, doing what hunting dogs do - hunt. She is constantly tracking and pointing and jumping at anything that moves. She pulls on the leash at times when I am taking a photograph because I am not near enough to where she needs to be to do whatever she is needing to do.

We do, however, work together at times. This morning as we started our walk, Sadie pulled me toward something on the ground. I pulled at her leash and said, "Come on girl. Let's get going." However, she was persistent, and I went over to see what she was staring at. There, in the parking lot, was a large black object, a couple of inches long, moving slowly toward the grass. As I looked closer, I realized it was some kind of wooly worm (I looked it up, and I believe it is a leopard moth larvae). It was all black with a red ring around the back end, inching its way to the grass. This is a very interesting creature that is OUT THERE for a short period of time until it does what it has to do before becoming a moth. This is one of many creatures OUT THERE that add variety to our walks since we don't see this EVERY DAY.

For me to be OUT THERE EVERY DAY is something that I enjoy. It is not survival or something that I MUST do; it is something that is pleasing to me. However, most of those who are OUT THERE are OUT THERE, day in and day out, just trying to survive.

About a half of a mile from Dan Daniel Park, there are some trees where the song birds sing daily. Each morning I see some beautiful birds in the trees singing - just chirping away.

Now, why do they do that? My conjecture is that they do this for, perhaps, one of two reasons. I know they don't sit their like, this morning, the beautiful cardinal and the brown mourning dove did in their beautiful grandeur chirping just for my enjoyment. I know there are nests nearby, and the birds that I see are, almost always, males, noticeable by the brightness of their colors. My belief is that these males are either 1) singing to attract a mate or 2) singing to distract me from the nest that is in the trees behind me as I watch them in the trees before me. They are OUT THERE everyday either trying to attract a mate or trying to distract a potential predator (either Sadie or me) from spotting their nests.

The same applies to the bird houses along the trail. These bluebird and swallow houses often have the male bird sitting on the top. When I approach too closely, the bird flies off a little ways, sits there, looks at me as if to suggest I follow, and then flies a little further. This morning, I noticed this action when I saw a tree swallow sitting on the top of a house; yesterday I was teased by a goldfinch that flew a little ways and landed on another section of a chained link fence along the trail before flying away again as I got nearer.

At this time of year, the most noticeable actions by birds, keen on survival of the species, are what is done by the geese on the trail. The geese are very aggressive when it comes to someone getting too near their gosling off-spring. The adults huddle around the youth, honking; if someone gets too close, the adults will thrust their necks out, hiss, and come toward the threat in a hostile way.

This morning the adult geese seemed especially threatened by Sadie, and they formed a barrier between us and the babies. A few of the adults guided the young geese towards the river, while three adult geese hissed and honked at us. When the young were on the river, the rest followed and huddled around the young as they all swam safely in the water far away from the perceived threat. For the geese being OUT THERE EVERY DAY their practice of every moment is the key to either surviving another day or not. For them, it is not just enjoying the fresh air and nature; for them, it is basic instinct survival.

Another element of nature that is OUT THERE EVERY DAY is the foliage. This morning Sadie spotted something in the bushes beside the trail. As I walked over, she was pointing at a bug of some type, but right in front of me were some berries growing in a tree. They looked like raspberries or blackberries; I'm not sure what they are. Anyway, they were aesthetically pleasing, and I enjoyed looking at them and taking photos of these berries that are OUT THERE EVERY DAY providing food for the animals as well as providing seeds to quietly replenish themselves in the rich earth of the dark woods.

And, finally, there are other people OUT THERE, like me, who are OUT THERE EVERY DAY. For them, they are likely OUT THERE for the same two major reasons I am out there: to enjoy the fresh air and nature. This morning I was heading back to the car when I stopped to talk with one of my walking friends. I happened to be taking a picture of an oriole that had landed high in a tree and noticed that the walker was wearing a Baltimore Oriole baseball cap. He told me the story of his cap as I continued to take pictures of the beautiful bird in the tree on this sunny morning. Both provided a moment of enjoyment - one with its song; one with his story.

Getting OUT THERE EVERY DAY to GET THE SHOT is a secondary reason for my daily walks on the Riverwalk. I would be there even without the camera to just enjoy the air and nature and all of the other elements, both human and natural, that are OUT THERE EVERY DAY.

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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