THERE are young birds around wherever you look in Clackmannanshire at the moment, newly fledged from their nests and plaintively calling for their parents to feed them.

These calls are important as it enables parent birds to pinpoint where their fledged young are hiding amongst the luxuriant summer growth.

Young robins are particularly noticeable by their incessant peeping. But trying to see one is a different proposition as their mottled cryptic brown plumage blends in so well with the environment.

In my own garden, baby dunnocks and blackbirds have all made appearances on the lawn, and young coal tits have been busily calling from a nearby hawthorn.

However, one of my most interesting recent sightings was a mother goosander on the River Devon carrying two of her youngsters on her back.

Goosanders have a habit of doing this and it’s an efficient way of giving the wee ones a break from swimming and also to carry them to safety should danger threaten.

Mallard ducklings are also very much in evidence on the Devon just now, carefully protected by their mothers, while the adult drakes now hang-out in small groups on the river.

One morning, in amongst one of these adult mallard congregations, I spotted a drake mandarin duck in amongst them, resplendent with his colourful ‘mane’ around his neck.

Mandarins are natives of eastern Asia, and those found here have escaped from wildfowl collections.

But they are scarce in these parts, and this mandarin seemed to be a lonesome duck that had actively sought out the mallards for a bit of company.

But one day, he might strike lucky and find a female mandarin, and thus make his own contribution to the annual summer boom of young birds.