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


Saturday, May 22, 2010


(MAY 22, 2010) Windows that we look into everyday provide us with sustenance in living no matter how long we stand and stare or how short of time we spend looking - gazing - gawking. There are windows, or portions, of all lives lived on this planet. They may be the people whose window we pass on the streets or on the trail. They may be windows of natural life that we pass, sometimes not noticing anything, and are impacted in some way by the plant or animal's life we get a brief glimpse into as we pass.

This morning I was talking with a fellow walker who is regularly there on weekends. As we were looking into the "windows" of each other and he was petting Sadie, learning a little more about the other, we saw a group of Canada geese across the path behind a chain link fence. There were, perhaps, 6-7 of them. As we stood there, they seemed to get more and more agitated, perhaps at seeing Sadie, the bird dog. Finally, their honks got louder, and the wings started flapping. They took to the sky, except there was a "twangy" sound and a squawk. One of the geese had hit an overhanging line. He picked himself up, honked a little and, eventually, flew off to catch up with the others. I had a "window moment" with that one goose for a brief, traumatic, period in his day.

However, my first "window moment" of the day was in the dark woods below the ball field at Dan Daniel Park. As we entered the woods, it was getting lighter (around 6:45) and I noticed some movement over near the bank above the river. There was a group of mallards - a mother and six ducklings standing there. I started taking pictures, thinking to myself, these are large ducklings and I had not seen them before today. The mother had kept the young ducks hidden, but today I got to have my "window moment" with this family of mallards.

As I walked out of the dark woods, moving west on the trail, I noticed the osprey being active as it came back and forth to its large nest across the river. I took some photos and enjoyed that "window moment" with the giant bird.

At the bridge, near the public works department, I had a few windows into the lives of a family of geese. There were a number of adults and a number of goslings of different sizes in the water. As they swam about, it was interesting to watch the adults keeping the babies in line and scolding them whenever they got out of line. This window into the living room of the geese proved very interesting - loving but tough discipline that is needed for survival.

I walked past where I usually turn around (at the 1.5 mile marker beyond the bridge that goes to the train station). I was glad I did because I got some pictures of a beautiful heron as he crept through the green brush next to the river. I also saw into the window of river traffic as two Canada geese swam calmly past the heron who ignored them as they passed through his living room.

I saw some "industrial windows" mixed with the window of the birds. A cardinal was perched on a metal smokestack and a mocking bird also found a metal smokestack on which to sing. Their brief windows were open only for a short time before they had other places to go.

Going past the bridge to the train station, there was a lot of activity there as a distance walk was being set up for later and the windows of these workers, setting up a giant inflatable ending arch and beverages for the thirsty walkers/runners. I enjoyed talking with a few of those and viewing some windows in their lives.

As I approached the restroom near the public works department, I saw a fellow photographer, long time acquaintance, and we began to open our windows to each other. I learned about swallows that are down on the river and we shared some stories. We walked the next 3/4 mile together talking and taking pictures. This was a window where I saw through it and learned some things.

My windows didn't close after my walk this morning. This evening I went to Angler's Park with Sadie. I always see a groundhog as I enter the park and took a picture of it this evening. He is always there munching the grass allowing me to look through the window of his dining room. However, earlier, I didn't need to even leave home to peer through the window of a groundhog eating; I just had to peer out my window into the back yard where a groundhog was chomping the dandelions while a half dozen grackles did their thing nearby.

While at the park this evening I also concentrated on flowers and insects. I saw an attractive moth clinging to a flower; fortunately, Sadie was not looking through this window but looking elsewhere, allowing me to take a number of pictures. She could have easily interrupted that moment of voyeurism on my part. I also saw a fly on a flower, just sitting there - looking at me, looking at it through its small window of the day.

Earlier this week, a fellow walker told me that he had met another walker who introduced himself. The man said that "this is what enjoying life is all about." I agree -looking into the windows of others as they share their lives or looking into the windows of animals as we stumble upon a brief moment of their time, helps us to better understand people and nature much better.

Today I learned a number of things looking into windows of lives. I learned that parenting skills of adult geese much be natural since I'm sure they don't offer courses on this for the geese; I learned that river traffic among birds doesn't always result in territorial disputes; I learned that Canada geese aren't always graceful when they take off to fly; I learned that some insects are very pretty, up close, and even prettier when hanging on to flowers, and I learned that there are three types of swallows on the Riverwalk: the tree swallow, the barn swallow, and the rough-winged sparrow.

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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