WE ARE spoiled for choice in Clackmannanshire for the best places to see the full glory of autumn leaf colour but one of my favourites is at Vicar’s Bridge.

It may be no more spectacular than anywhere else, but for me the combination of the russet tones of the beeches combined with the rushing noise of the nearby River Devon brings together the very essence of autumn.

Autumn is not just about colour, but also the smell, the heavy dampness of the air and nip of coldness which in a few weeks’ time will be very much more severe.

It is also a time of plenty with the abundant haws and numerous other seed plants.

When it comes to the star performers of autumn, then the beech tree is right there at the top. Whilst the shed leaves of some tree species can be rather dark, limp and lifeless, those of the beech are crisp to the touch, almost as if they have been toasted over a fire.

The leaves of beech are fascinating to watch as they change colour during the course of autumn, yellow at first before turning orange or reddish brown.

They are dropping and changing colour because they have finished their job of capturing the maximum amount of sunlight, so vital in the manufacture of food for the tree.

Even once shed, leaves still have an important role to play. This leaf litter is like a protective blanket, home to countless invertebrates and rich compost that will return the goodness back to the soil.

Blackbirds in particular spend a large amount of time in autumn and winter flicking over leaves in search of the invertebrate bounty that lies below.

Sometimes these blackbirds are so engrossed in their foraging that it wouldn’t surprise me if some end up being ambushed by prowling foxes.