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, July 18, 2010


(JULY 18, 2010) How close to the edge do we get in our lives? Do we often tempt fate?

This morning on the Riverwalk, I saw several cases of animals on the precipice of destruction.

As I approached the White Mill area, there was a flock of Canada geese sitting on the dam and the water rushed underneath them. They sat there calmly while below the whirlpool was swirling - a whirlpool that could drown whomever or whatever got into its swirl. Where these geese at risk? I don't think so. I have seen this image many times and have yet to see one of the geese fall over the precipice. I did see a domestic goose that had been put out into the wild by someone who no longer wanted to keep it, fall over into the whirlpool and could not get out. I believe that the wings of the Canada geese are stronger and that they could fly out if trapped under the dam.

Near the Union street bridge, I saw a group of four mallards swimming what seemed to be dangerously close to the precipice of the dam. Again, I've never seen a mallard trapped in the undertow of a dam, and I think that the mallards I saw were actually far enough away to keep from being forced over the dam by the river.

Mid-way between the Martin Luther King bridge and the Union Street bridge I saw a Carolina wren, chirping the beautiful song it chirps. It was a moment of peace as the sound filled the air. However, I had walked only a few dozen yards and the same bird lit into a harsher noise. As I looked up, the bird seemed to fussing at me, no longer singing joyously. I had wandered, perhaps, too near its nest, and it was warning me off. Was the wren in danger? No. Was I endanger? Well . . . hard to say. I have been dive bombed by mockingbirds, and I have no doubt that the wren could turn nasty. We walked on as the wren continued to fuss at us.

I have taken many damselfly and dragonfly pictures over the past several months. The little insects seem to be able to balance themselves on the precipice of a leaf. As can be seen in the picture above, the little guy seems to be hanging on with no fear of falling off. Was this damselfly on the precipice of destruction?

Well, actually YES. Only a few inches from the damselfly was the nose of a 4.5 year old English setter. Sadie had noticed the insect and had gone into her setter pose. Fortunately for the insect. it flew off just in the nick of time, and Sadie, as is often the case when she stalks a bug, was disappointed.

As Sadie was stalking the damselfly, I noticed a small flying insect - in flying mode, but not flying. The insect was moving with its wings spread and its tail moving, but it wasn't getting anywhere. This insect had wandered into a precipice of its own self-destruction. As can be seen on the picture above, there are tiny threads that go out from the flying insect. Those threads are holding the insect very tightly, and a spider will soon have a meal.

Sometimes what seems to be the precipice is not and what seems to be far from the precipice is actually at or beyond the precipice. Humans do the same. They often do things that seem dangerous (like climbing mountains and white water rafting), but are capable of doing such things without harm. On the other hand, humans (as well as other animals) often live safe lives, and find themselves on the precipice of destruction. Such an event could be caused by just being at the wrong place at the wrong time (like the insect in the spider's web).

It was another beautiful, but hot, morning on the Riverwalk.

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