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 16, 2010

To Everything There is a Season

(May 16, 2010) This was another cool morning after the thunderstorms over night. This new day threatened rain, but we had only an occasional drizzle.

The woods were beaming with the chirping of song birds, the sound of the river, and the squirrels running about. A heron had taken up morning feeding at the dam. There were cormorants in the water and flying overhead. The two Canada geese squawked their warnings as we left the dark woods moving toward the first field. There were a dozen or so Canada geese grazing across the field not at all bothered by Sadie who was an eighth of a mile away.

At about a half mile from our car we noticed something large and black near the large rocks next to the path. Sadie went over to sniff, and I quickly pulled her away. It was the remains of a cormorant that lay there with its giant wings spread and the bone structure all that was remaining. That which was left looked like the bones of a Thanksgiving day turkey after the meal has been consumed. The only life within the carcass were the two blue flies crawling over the bones. It was a ghastly sight on this dreary morning.

Walking a little further down the path we came to a view of the cormorants on the log in the middle of the river. There were 6-7 of them, and they didn't seem to be mourning the passing of one of their own.

I started thinking about the Blood, Sweat and Tears song, "And When I Die," as I continued on our walk. The song repeats the refrain which is: "And when I die, and when I'm gone, there'll be one child born." I knew that as I got to the bridge a half mile away, there would be some geese with their goslings.

I was wrong. There were no geese there, only a sandpiper on a distant rock and a blue jay in the tree. I walked through the next group of trees toward the train trellis and saw the white goose that had been nesting there on the debris for several weeks (she was still there, and there was no sign of goslings). As we got nearer to the bridge going to the train station, I saw the "one child born" playing itself out as I counted seven ducklings in the water, huddled together in one group, and a female mallard with three other ducklings walking up the beach toward the trees. Under the grove of trees was a group of geese with a half dozen goslings. On the debris under the bridge going to the train station were three white geese nesting, and on the piling was the Canada goose who nests there annually.

One of the regular walkers stopped and talked with me a few minutes as we watched the ducklings on the sand. He said that on up the river toward the Union Street bridge there were 20-30 baby geese a few days ago; there were fewer today (perhaps 15-18). Death happens daily on the river, but often it is not as obvious and obtrusive as the carcass of the cormorant.

On the way back to the car, I saw a catbird in the tree singing its mating call and a small yellow goldfinch chirping beautifully in the dense foliage of the trees. We passed the dead cormorant, again, and I thought about the Ecclesiastics verse that goes: "To everything there is a season. A time to be born and a time to die."

On this cool rain threatening morning we had experienced life and death. The life on the river greatly outweighed the death, for the new life on the river gives the river a new energy. The ducklings and goslings scampering about added the smile to this otherwise cool May morning when there was death on the banks of the river.

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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