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


Thursday, May 13, 2010


(MAY 13, 2010)

In the 17th century John Donne wrote a poem titled "Song." Part of it states:

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee;
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee.

I thought of these lines this morning and afternoon while on the Riverwalk. I was "born to strange sights" as Sadie and I wandered into our daily adventure.

This morning, as we left the dark woods below Dan Daniel Park, Sadie was attracted to something in the middle of the path. I pulled her away, thinking it was something she would put in her mouth, but should not. After pulling her away I told her to "sit." She obliged and I took a closer look at what had so distracted her.

On the asphalt was a bumblebee seemingly in some state of distress. The bee was on its back and moving around onto its side and then lying still. I thought that the bee was injured, so I took some pictures of it to depict the "death of a bumble bee." After a few photos my eyes moved toward some Canada geese honking at us from a field. As I turned back around to the bumblebee, the bee had righted itself and flew away. Unusual - well, maybe not for some people, but that was a first for me.

As we walked on, Sadie pulled me into a field where she saw something. It was not anything that I could see, but she pointed at something. When I looked more closely, I realized that she had been attracted by a bird feather that was moving in the slight breeze; however, while in the field I did notice that the sun was hitting a dandelion in a most unusual way. A few months ago I took a shot of a dandelion which I put on my web page and called "The Perfect Dandelion." Here was another "perfect dandelion," so I took a quick shot of it - about five seconds later, the perfect dandelion was reduced to an empty stick because Sadie walked over it. She doesn't appreciate art. I'm sure there are other "perfect dandelions" out there somewhere.

As we approached the bridge near the Public Works department, I noticed some dew on the leaves of some bright green leaves. I started taking some pictures when I noticed movement just a little to the left of the leaf. I then saw a small strand of glistening thread and noticed a small spider in the middle of it. There was only a short distance between the two leaves where the spider has spun her thread. Was this a spider that was somewhat delusional in hoping that some insect would just, by chance, wander into her single tread, or was this the beginning of a larger project? I will never know since on the way back I couldn't remember which bush the spider had inhabited.

We did see some baby geese this morning and the barn swallows that flit about near the bridge. The babies are growing, yet they are still cute as they are herded by the adults and circled by the adults whenever danger (or perceived danger, such as Sadie) approaches.

This evening we went to Angler's Park and saw some more "unusual sights to behold." A small plant caught my eye. This plant had the bud of a bulb and the group of plants lined up looked like the domes at Red Square. these unusual plants had sprung up overnight since I had not seen them yesterday evening.

We saw the occasional red-winged blackbird and the ducks and geese. As we went onto the bridge crossing the marsh, I saw an unusual sight. The water that had covered the marsh up to and around the bridge had dried up with only a small pond remaining on both sides of the bridge and the earth where the water once was had cracked. There was still life in the marsh, but there wasn't nearly as much noticeable activity among the mallards; the great heron had, as it had for several weeks, returned to the small pond remaining in the marsh this evening near dusk. We need rain; a heavy rain will open the marsh again to the life it had a month ago when the frogs were chirping and the fowl were plentiful.

And, finally, the most unusual sight we saw today occurred on the far end of the large field where we heard a chirping sound. The sound was familiar, and Sadie was drawn to the sound. As we stepped onto the field, I saw a beautiful killdeer looking at us. As we approached, the bird just stood and looked and chirped. The bird did not threaten to fly; it just sat and looked at us. Finally, it did a little movement of rubbing his breast against the ground with his tail feathers up in the air; a very strange movement, indeed. As we moved closer, he didn't panic but just got up and walked away from us - not in a hurried way but at a leisurely gait looking back as he walked behind the chirping bird. We followed - Sadie saw a bird; I saw an adventure.

The bird seemed to beckon us into the woods near the end of the field. We followed - he led. Finally, as we got near the woods, the bird took a short flight to the path where he did his little movement, again, of going down on his body and fluttering his tail feathers. He walked toward the marsh again as we stood and watched. I looked at Sadie; Sadie looked at me after the bird had flown back into the marsh. We seemed to be asking each other, "What was that all about?"

It was an unusual ending to an unusual day.

Oh, if you go back to the poem by Donne, you will realize that the lines are not at all referring to unusual aspects of nature which Donne had experienced. He wrote:

"Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear
No where
Lives a woman true, and fair."

He seems to have been a hurt man. Perhaps he should had gotten out into nature more; though not predictable, nature is always interesting.

It was another great day on the Riverwalk.

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