A Scenic Walk with Ollie, the Cavalier, Children’s Garden, Geese and Baby Ducklings

My friend Ollie, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, at a gazebo in his gated community

That’s a long title for this post, but it was hard to summarize my recent adventures succinctly. On Saturday, I had two walks, one with an adorable doggy and one without, and I thought I would combine them into one post. This is inspired by Restless Jo’s Monday Walk.

First, I stopped to take care of two cats for a client. Their names are Oscar and Simon.


I told the owner that the cat names made me think of The Odd Couple. Of course, for The Odd Couple, their names should be Oscar and Felix. (Felix is definitely a cat name and even the name of a famous cartoon cat.) But then, the writer of The Odd Couple is Neil Simon, so there you go.

My dog care clients always seem surprised that I have quite a few cat care clients also, with the assumption that cats are more independent. So, for the dog people, I’ll explain. Most cats eat at least some wet food, if not primarily so. This food has to be served fresh, and any leftover food has to be scraped and scrubbed from their bowls. Litter boxes need to be cleaned. Additionally, a lot of cat owners also feel that their cats will get lonely and need some human interaction. Alas, cats also tend to have some messy issues … like puking up hairballs. Ah, yes, it is sometimes a dirty job. Mike Rowe would be proud.

The cats are located so conveniently near the park that I thought I would visit and walk there again after caring for them. This is Verona Park, which I recently blogged about, but I thought I would take photos in a completely different area. So, I took some photos in The Children’s Garden outside the playground area.

Another name for The Children’s Garden is Eden Wild.
The Children’s Garden at Verona Park

It’s a pretty little garden with some flowering chives, irises, circular stone paths and benches for sitting. In the far background, you can see the children’s playground.

Irises at The Children’s Garden
Children’s Garden at Verona Park

I tried to identify this white flowering shrub and think it may be viburnum.

More irises at The Children’s Garden. I believe these are the Japanese variety.

There were also some pansies in a barrel planter …

and some polka dot plants in a painted wheelbarrow.

I’m not sure why it’s called The Children’s Garden other than its location by the playground. As far as I can tell, children aren’t involved with maintaining the garden. I had different expectations, thinking it would have more whimsy.

I can imagine a garden that references gardens in children’s literature such as the talking flowers in Alice in Wonderland, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden, Peter Rabbit and Farmer McGregor’s vegetable garden or even the nursery rhyme, “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary.” Can’t you just imagine some appropriate statuary or plaques with literary quotes? Wouldn’t a little fairy garden be fun? Possibly, there could be some interactive station to teach children about plants or gardening also, as they have in some children’s museums.

I’m not criticizing the pretty garden at all, but I, evidently, have a lot of ideas. How easy it would be to execute the ideas is another question, but it’s fun to dream.

I then walked to the other side of the lake and saw a lot of geese, ducks and other birds. I got a few good shots of these. After planning this post, I saw that there’s a photo challenge for Birds Weekly — birds beginning with a G in the title. Since I do have some goose photos, I thought I’d join in.

There was this lovely sitting mallard, who didn’t seem too afraid of me.

And several lovely Canadian geese. The deposits they leave behind aren’t so lovely, but it didn’t seem to be too out of control.

And some mallards and Canadian geese together … socially distancing.

Then, I saw these mysterious water birds perched on wood in the middle of the lake. Perhaps, Mark S. of Naturalist Weekly can help me identify them? Or if anyone else has a guess, please let me know in the comments.

After this excursion in the garden and around the lake, I drove to see my friend, Ollie, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. He was happy to see me.

This is kind of an impressionistic image of him. It can be hard to
photograph a wiggly dog.

He was very happy to see me as in, “Here is my belly. Please, give it rubs.”

He greets me with loads of kisses. This may be a cute face shot … (I mean, talk about puppy dog eyes) …

but it does not show off one of his signature features (or features of the breed,) his floppy, curly-haired ears.

He and I walked past some pleasant places in his community, like this pretty gazebo …

And this lovely pond with fountain …

and some flowering shrubs.

We walked along the main road and passed by some public buildings on our way which were not so interesting to photograph, but any land in New Jersey that is allowed to go wild is very woodsy, so there were some interesting spots even sandwiched between these buildings such as here, this rock ledge overgrown with ivy …

And Cherokee rose …

As we walked around the community center building, Ollie met a couple of admirers. One passenger in a car stopped at a light had to roll down the car window and share her admiration. We also came across a man, a Cavalier owner himself, who had to stop and give Ollie some pets and attention. I’ve noticed as an introvert that walking a dog gives you an outlet to talk to strangers more than anything else.

We were really astonished as we took the sidewalk path that hugged the rear of the community center building to come across a plastic tub full of baby ducklings!

If I had any way of anticipating what was in this red plastic tub, I never would have walked a dog right up to it. It was a thorough but delightful surprise. Ollie was behaving like such a nice gentleman. He didn’t bark, poke his nose far into the bucket, try to climb in or, otherwise, disturb the ducklings. So, I thought I could pause long enough to snap a photo.

It’s a little mysterious what the ducklings were doing there. My guess is that someone at the community center is caring for these ducklings, because they have no mother. I tried looking at the community center website to see if there would be mention of them, but there wasn’t. I did see an article from 2017 where township police rescued baby ducklings from a storm drain, so I suppose it is also possible that a similar incident repeated itself. At any rate, I am happy to have had a glimpse and a photo op.

What is your favorite part of my walking adventure?

23 thoughts on “A Scenic Walk with Ollie, the Cavalier, Children’s Garden, Geese and Baby Ducklings

  1. Hi Susan, what a cute post. Your dog is adorable, no wonder he gathers in lots of attention when he’s out and about with you. Your ducks were quite okay with you snapping pictures of them. And the garden looked so inviting. I would love to walk around there and take lots of pictures.

    1. Ollie is just my doggy friend (a dog care client’s dog) but I really love him, and the feeling is mutual. <3 :) I'm glad you enjoyed following along with our walking adventure. The duckies were such a surprise!

      1. So you are a dog care provider. I’d love to hear more about it especially how you got started. You can contact me and I’ll email you if you want to chat about it. πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Susan, Any chance the bird is an American Coot? The American Coot is a black bird with a white bill and a red eye. They are about 15 inches long. Does that sound about right?

    1. I can try to zoom in to this picture, and look up some photos online, and see if that fits. Thanks so much for your feedback. πŸ™‚

      1. Okay, I zoomed in to the photo. I can see some resemblance, but these birds don’t seem like they had very white beaks or were quite black enough. Lisa Coleman of Bird Weekly thinks they are cormorants, and I think she is probably right. I do appreciate your feedback and your bird identification tips. πŸ™‚

  3. What a lovely walk you had. Ollie is adorable! I love your references to the Odd Couple for your cat buddies. Welcome to Bird Weekly. I’m so glad you joined us and you got some photos of the the Mallards and Canada Geese. Those ducklings are as cute as can be. Your mystery birds are Cormorants and a nice capture. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed my post. I just happened to see the challenge for birds with G names from fellow bloggers after I had my goose photos and was planning the post, so it just worked. πŸ™‚ I looked up photos of cormorants, and I believe you’re right. Thank you for that. I was quite curious but couldn’t quite figure it out. πŸ™‚

      1. We’d love to have you anytime you want to join Bird Weekly. I pretty good at identifying birds especially in the U.S. You have many birds we have here in Florida. πŸ™‚

      2. I’ve enjoyed seeing Florida birds on my trips there, and there were some interesting varieties we don’t see in New Jersey. I was surprised by the sand hill cranes that my mom remembers seeing in Nebraska when she was growing up.

      3. There is a fly-away in the western-central part of the U.S. They have made a come back but are still on the threatened list. Two-subspecies are on the endangered list. Because of development, they are losing a lot of prime habitat. πŸ™‚

  4. What a beautiful walk! And you made me laugh! Yes cats do need care and they can be messy! …especially as they get older (poor little things). I love dogs and cats, great walking post! 😊

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