I DESCRIBED the Black Devon in this column a few years back as "Clackmannanshire's forgotten river".

It is a term I think still holds true today, for much of its course runs through countryside that is not easily accessible.

But there are exceptions to the rule, including by the south-east edge of Alloa where there is a fine little walk by the river that offers some excellent opportunities for wildlife spotting.

On a visit last week, a group of mallards splashed in the shallows and a heron sat hunched on the bankside, carefully scanning the water for trout, flounders and eels.

The lower stretch of the river here is tidal, making it a particularly rich place for fish.

Spring was most definitely in the air, with blackbirds and song thrushes in full flow, uttering their rich fluty songs, while a party of long-tailed tits bounded along the edge of some ash trees, continually calling to each other.

But it was the music from the blackbirds that really shone above all else.

The poet William Henley was certainly full of praise for the elegance of the blackbird's song when he wrote: "The nightingale has a lyre of gold/The lark's is a clarion call/And the blackbird plays but a boxwood flute/But I love him best of all".

The path soon took me to the broad grassy expanse that surrounds the RSPB's Black Devon Wetlands reserve, a place which kestrels and barn owls find especially good for hunting for voles.

I find the incongruity of this landscape compelling; towering electricity pylons and nearby industry, all enveloped by grassland and boggy pools - a place where nature meets humankind.

By the reserve, a reed bunting flitted up into the air and perched atop a reed for several seconds, watching my every move.

A moorhen called from nearby, but the air soon fell silent, apart from the gentle rustle of the breeze rippling through the reeds.