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 19, 2010


(MAY 19, 2010) This day started with a sad moment. After a discussion of the issue, we decided to take the small kitten found yesterday at Angler's Park to the Humane Society. Many factors played in this heart-wrenching decision, but we believe it was the best decision.

After taking the kitten to the humane society, I started my walk from near the public works department and walked toward the west turning around near the Holiday Inn Express. By starting about a mile up the river from where I usually start, I saw different people and different patterns of nature.

The Riverwalk animals, like humans, have certain patterns of action they follow each day. The Canada geese group in the water and then fly to a grazing area in the park. The mallards swim down stream and find a place to sun and eat for the rest of the day. The adult geese and ducks take their babies on the river, near the shore, to a safe place to relax for the day and eat. Songbirds come out when the sun comes out and sing in the rays of the sun; on cloudy days, they come out and sing, but are usually hidden in the branches of the trees.

There are patterns in actions along the Riverwalk with the animals there and the human walkers, runners, cyclists . . . Those who are there regularly pass with similar comments to each other: "Good Morning," "How are you doings?" "Fine, thank you, and you?" "Nice weather today, isn't it?" "A little cool this morning, but a beautiful day," etc. When everyone starts from the same place each morning, a walker can just about guess where he will meet up with a certain individual. This morning, my pattern was wacked up by starting at a different place.

I saw some different things this morning.
I saw three goslings sleeping together curled up near the public works department; I saw three ducklings gathered together near the river towards the train station. I saw some cedar waxwings silhouetted against the sky. I saw a turtle swimming up the creek that empties into the Dan River; I saw a heron, not shy at all, wading in the same creek as the turtle passed by.
I saw some Canada geese goslings and two goldfinches played a few steps ahead as they landed on a chain link fence; they waited for us to take a few steps, and then flew a few feet landing on the fence further up the river. It was at this time that I realized that not only were we part of habitual patterns in our lives, but also part of aesthetic patterns. The goldfinches against the pattern of the chain link fence made for a pleasing visual.

After several shots of these golden birds (my wife said that the bird looked like a pet bird from a pet shop), I started noticing other visual patterns combining human objects and nature.

The electrical tower provided an interesting combination of the poles and wires with the swallows and mockingbirds that landed there this morning. This evening, at Angler's Park, the soccer goal and the football goal posts made interesting patterns for some young bluebirds there.

But, sometimes nature doesn't even need human made objects to provide for an interesting piece of art. Two cedar waxwings silhouetted against a white sky while in the triangle of tree branches provided a natural pattern that was aesthetically pleasing.

And while thinking about patterns today, I also thought that, perhaps, the mother cat and the two remaining kittens I saw at Angler's Park last evening might still be there; I was wrong.

However, as Sadie and I crossed the bridge over the marsh, we saw a man and a woman coming over the bridge in our direction. We were halfway across the bridge when they came over to see Sadie, and we exchanged small talk. They went on over toward the ball fields while I took some more pictures from the middle of the bridge.

I then noticed the man had stopped at the top of the steps and the woman had gone down the steps. As I approached them, I saw that the woman had picked up a trap near the portable toilet there.

I commented: "Oh, you have retrieved a trap, I see." The lady said yes that they were taking it in for the evening.

The man said that "someone had reported seeing a mother cat and some kittens here yesterday evening."

I said, "I was the one."

I related my story, and they said that they were volunteers from the humane society and had put the trap there to try to capture the mother and the two kittens, but would take the trap in for the evening, not wanting some other animal to get trapped there over night. The man said that he had walked around the marsh this morning looking for the cat and kittens, but hadn't seen anything.

I guess that some animals avoid patterns in their daily lives because that can result in being spotted and captured.

However, there is a groundhog that is in the field every evening when I go to Angler's Park. It hangs out, grazing right near the water treatment plant beside the road leading into the park. I have spotted him there nearly every evening and even on the morning earlier this week when Sadie and I walked there during the rain.

Patterns are interesting - both patterns of habit and patterns that are aesthetic.

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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