One of the fun discoveries about Windy Knoll has been the many critters we encounter. Well, generally speaking — snakes, not so much.

There are all the usual suspects — the deer, as well as our dear Mr. Groundhog. Fox, hummingbirds, turtles, numerous insects — including more praying mantis than I’ve seen in my entire life — and even a few frogs and toads are among the others in the cast of characters we see on any given day. Every once in a while, there’s a black bear passing through, too.

Some of the new discoveries were the number of different butterflies and moths. Like the hummingbird, which always moved too quickly for me to catch properly on camera as it flit across our front bed from nepeta to nepeta, not all were ready for their close up (evidenced below).

It never fails, each of these discoveries brings back the wonder of childhood. And adding native plants is encouraging all manner of wildlife to stop and linger. Where there were weedy invasives and clouds of gnats when we first arrived, we now have native plants and more biodiversity. Gone are the gnats, though I’m not sure if there’s a real correlation with the transition of our landscape. It maybe the beneficial insects devouring them. Let us hope.

Late last spring, a Carolina wren mother took up residence in the window pot and hatched her chicks. The nest was tucked right next to the dining room window, which was difficult for photography. Each day offered a new discovery. It was happy day — tinged with a little sadness — when the chicks eventually were old enough to fly away. I wouldn’t be surprised if mama came back to build another nest again this spring.