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


Friday, June 18, 2010


(JUNE 18, 2010) Yesterday evening I was listening to an interview with an entomologist, Mark Moffett, who has just published a book on ants. The interview on NPR ran 20-25 minutes. What can a person say about ants in 20-25 minutes? What I know about ants can be covered in one sentence - "They always show up at picnics."

However, I became interested in the interview and listened closely. What could I learn from this man about ants? Well, here are a few things I learned:

1. The ants we see on the ground are all females. The males are few in number and fly around with only one purpose - to mate and die. Moffett referred to the colony of ants as a "sisterhood."

2. There are some ants in Australia that will literally run after a human. They are about an inch long, called bulldog ants, and they will chase you if you run. They can yield a painful bite.

3. Sometimes larger ants provide transportation for smaller ants as they travel about.

4. The oldest marauder ants take on the worst jobs which often includes leading in battles against other ants and guarding the trail from enemies.

Perhaps more than I needed to know about ants, but at least interesting information.

This morning I decided to concentrate on the LITTLE GUYS along the trail. OK, I did take pictures of birds and flowers and other things that caught my eye, but I decided to concentrate on the little things we sometimes just walk by and miss seeing. I noticed that flies, when enlarged and looked at up closely, are very attractive creatures with their orange eyes, their see-through wings and their neon green bodies.

A little damselfly was perched on a green leaf in an area where I regularly see damselflies and dragonflies. I have discovered that these little insects are so sensitive that even a shadow will cause them to take flight.

With the sun shining through the leaf, a small bug was clutching to the leaf and made an interesting study from above and from the side. The bug didn't move, but just stayed on the leaf as I clicked away one shot after another.

Finally, a black fly like insect had landed on a leaf and was walking around. My first thought was, "Is this the male ant that mates and dies?" The answer: I don't know. It was there for a little while and then was gone.

I recall a story that I read as a child. It was titled "The Ephemeral" and dealt with an insect that lived for only one day, mated and then died. Its major purpose was to make sure the species continued to thrive - even for one day.

So, what did I learn from looking at the LITTLE GUYS? Well, not much. However, each little insect has its own history the same as the most common of all insects, the ant. I look closely each day and discover some little part of our world that I had never noticed before. The Riverwalk provides me with a remarkable viewing stand from which to discover new things including THE LITTLE GUYS.

I was another good day on the Riverwalk.

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