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, June 20, 2010



(JUNE 20, 2010) A couple of days ago I wrote about ants and how the world of ants is totally female because the males have only two purposes: to mate and die. So much for Father's Day for these little fathers.

This morning I saw the standard family gatherings as the geese were swimming with their young and the mallard mother was with her ducklings. There were young bluebirds, swallows, sparrows and mockingbirds in the trees at different spots along the trail.

I started thinking of Father's Day and how many new fathers there are along the Riverwalk this year. The river seems much more largely populated with ducks and geese this year; it was a prolific year for the addition of ducklings and goslings to the river population.

I don't know if I am noticing more, but there also seems to be a larger number of insects, not the annoying ones like gnats and flies, but the pretty ones like butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and moths. Sadie enjoys tracking them with her stealth movements as she hones in on her prey, which she misses 99 times out of 100 (sometimes I give the insect warning before she strikes, and the insect flies away safely).

There were two very interesting things I saw this morning. I was watching some damselflies along the edge of the river. They were close enough to get some good shots. However, there was one blue damselfly that was not straight bodied like the others; in fact, this damselfly had a crooked body. As I looked closer, there seemed to be an extension to the body (see the photo at the top of this entry).

HOLY COW! There was another damselfly hanging on to the blue damselfly.

HOLY COW! My first reaction was that this had something to do with the mating of the insect, but what was going on? HOLY COW!

I started thinking about what I had learned a few days ago about ants mating and then the male dying. Was this female damselfly carrying the corpse of her lover? HOLY COW!!!

A little ways up the trail I saw some pretty white and purple flowers. There are usually some type of interesting insects around them, so I thought I would go to investigate. There were some bumblebees flying in and out of the flowers, and in one of them I saw a ladybug. But, it was a most unusual ladybug - it was larger than most ladybugs I had ever seen. When I looked closer, I noticed that it was NOT just one ladybug I was seeing, but two - one was riding piggyback on the other. I thought again about the mating ritual of ants since the one on top looked anemic, not as bright as the one on the bottom. Again, I thought, well here is another insect that won't be able to celebrate Father's Day since, I assumed, like the male ants, he would die after mating. HOLY COW!

Well, I was wrong in both cases. Neither the damselfly nor the ladybug (by the way, male ladybugs are called - - - "ladybugs")would die. I was observing the mating rituals of two very unique insects.

With the story of the ants a few days ago, my first discovery of the Webworm Moth yesterday, and now the mating rituals of the damselfly and the ladybug, I may find myself looking more closely at insects rather than birds - or, maybe not. But, if Sadie, who spends more time pointing at insects and less time pointing at birds, can change from being a bird dog to a bug dog, perhaps I can spend more time concentrating on bugs and less time concentrating on birds.

Actually, I take pictures of anything along the Riverwalk that interests me - whether it is a bird, a flower, an insect, or just a unique sunset. With the foliage so heavy in the woods now, the insects are much easier to spot than birds. But sometimes what happens on the Riverwalk makes me feel like a voyeur. What happens on the Riverwalk stays on the Riverwalk - unless I see it and write about.

It was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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