I BRING my binoculars to bear upon a flicker of colour out on the water at Gartmorn Dam.

It is a pair of adult great crested grebes, swimming in parallel unison, and looking resplendent with their long slender necks and chestnut head frills.

Worryingly, I can’t see any young greblings, so it would seem that this pair has had an unsuccessful breeding season.

Perhaps an otter or a mink had preyed upon the nest, but that’s nature and hopefully they will return next spring for a further breeding attempt.

Indeed, I will make a point of visiting Gartmorn next spring, for the courtship behaviour of the great crested grebe is something to behold, involving frantic chases and ceremonial displays where the male and female birds face-up to each other, rapidly shaking and bowing their heads.

The display often involves the collection of pondweed in their sharp bills, which is then showed off to each other like some prize trophy.

I scan the water further with my binoculars and pick out a coot and a large flock of honking Canada geese.

But the loch is quiet compared to winter when large flocks of waterfowl throng its waters.

So, I continue on my circuit of Gartmorn, watching butterflies dance up in the air ahead of me, including several painted ladies.

This is a bumper year for these incredible long distance migrant butterflies, some of which may have flown all the way from North Africa.

By the east end of the loch several sand martins sit on a telegraph wire, taking a break from the chores of looking after their young.

Their season is coming to an end and soon they will embark upon the long flight to their wintering grounds in the Sahel region of Africa.

But as they leave, new arrivals will descend upon the loch to spend the winter, including tufted and goldeneye ducks.

Life at Gartmorn Dam never stands still, there is always flux and change as nature’s calendar turns each page towards its year end.