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, June 5, 2010


(JUNE 5, 2010) In 1979 President Jimmy Carter returned from a fishing trip and told a "fish story" about being attacked by a "killer rabbit."

This image, which didn't seem very "presidential" at the time, may have been one of the reasons he became a one-term president. What could have been worse? How about "killer butterflies?"

I was late getting to the Riverwalk this morning since I had picked up Elizabeth from work in Chapel Hill. The theme of my entire morning, dealing with "aggression," was foreshadowed by an event from that trip. No...now don't jump to conclusions. I enjoyed seeing Elizabeth, and there was not an aggressive moment between us as we drove back the 50+ miles. In fact, it was a very pleasant trip, as usual.

However, as we were leaving the hospital parking lot, we saw a squirrel running as fast as a little squirrel's little legs could carry him. He ran across the street with a mockingbird hot on his bushy tail. That squirrel had wandered where, I assume, a squirrel should NOT have wandered and was now paying the price.

We chuckled at the moment of AGGRESSION by that mockingbird, and it brought back memories of the past few days when a mockingbird showed aggression toward us as we, evidently, wandered too close to the bird's nest.

I got to Angler's Park at about 9:00. I still had the word "AGGRESSION" on my mind, and, sure enough, there were three events I witnessed this morning that we additional acts of aggression. As we walked around the marsh, I kept seeing dragonflies zipping over the water. Individual dragonflies were doing whatever they do. However, I noticed two small dragonflies flitting about when a large (not as "large" as President Carter's "killer rabbit") dragonfly just seemed to attack these smaller insects. Both flew off, quieckly, being chased by the larger dragonfly.

As we crossed over the bridge that divides the marsh, I heard a squawking coming from the trees ahead of me. A male red-winged blackbird had just evicted a smaller bird from his tree. He chased the smaller bird off, and then took his place back in the tree.

As we walked toward the west, we passed the water treatment plant and went into the woods. The coolness of the woods were a relief from what was becoming a very hot morning. We saw very little life, other than plants, in the woods. We saw a few mushrooms in the moister part of the woods, and we could hear the birds singing, but where they were in the canopy of the woods, we couldn't see.

Coming out of the woods, we saw some moths and butterflies which attracted Sadie's attention. About a quarter mile out of the woods, we came upon a couple of very pretty butterflies. Sadie became the AGGRESSOR in that she went into her natural pointing stance as she made her short steps toward the small butterfly. While she was doing this, another butterfly landed on my arm. It had the black and gold markings we often see, and just sat there as I looked at it, and it looked at me. It had no inclination to move. I turned my camera toward the little creature, and then realized that a 55mm lens would not work here - this became an un-photographed moment of our walk with the butterfly within inches of my head.

However, a few more of these beautiful winged creatures showed up and started landing on Sadie AND me. While Sadie's nose was pointing at a small butterfly, two more had landed on her - one on her tail and another on her hind leg. She continued pointing until the small butterfly in the grass flew away; then she noticed there was a small one on her leg. She turned around with a "what am I supposed to do?" look on her face. She turned her body around and started pointing at the butterfly on her leg, and remained that way until it flew away. At the moment, with the many butterflies in the air, it seemed that they were had become the aggressors toward Sadie and me.

Now, I'm not going to say I had to fight them off with a boat oar, like the former President did with the "killer rabbit," but it got a little creepy as 5-6 of them landed on Sadie and a couple landed on me. Actually, "creepy" may not be the right word - perhaps, "magical" is more appropriate.

The morning was otherwise uneventful (OK, "uneventful" is an understatement). However, I will always remember the morning as the day Sadie and I were attacked by butterflies. At least I'm not running for elected office, so I can get away with it; and, I will never say they were "killer butterflies."

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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