I WAS delighted to present an illustrated talk recently to the Tillicoultry Guild on Clackmannanshire’s amazing wildlife and it was great to see so much enthusiasm from their members’ about nature in the local area.

We are, indeed, fortunate to live in such a wonderful place, because while Clackmannanshire may be Scotland’s smallest county, it packs a pretty powerful punch when it comes to sheer diversity of landscape.

Over a very small area, we have the high tops of the Ochils, tumbling burns and rivers, forest and farmland, the inner Forth estuary, along with a whole host of other special places, such as Dollar Glen and Gartmorn Dam. Clacks really is like a Scotland in miniature.

In turn, such landscape variation means there is a wonderful diversity of wildlife, including red squirrels, birds of prey, waterfowl and a wide array of wildflowers and stunning butterflies.

There is a combination of highland wildlife and those species found in the lowlands; an eclectic mix that means there is always something exciting to see.

Such diversity was very much in evidence last week as I took a walk along the River Devon near Tillicoultry.

Dippers were busy collecting moss and other nesting material, chaffinches sang from the alders, a buzzard soared overhead, and lesser celandine, primroses and other wildflowers abounded by the bankside.

With the towering backdrop of the Ochils and the rushing burble of the river, it was hard to think of a better place to be; a natural haven right on our very doorsteps.