THE soft light of a winter’s dusk descends over the River Devon estuary by Cambus, the pastel sky infused with purple and pink.

And then I hear a noise, gentle at first but gradually gaining in intensity.

It is the sound of an incoming flight of pink-footed geese, honking excitedly as they approach the estuary.

I hunker down lest the geese should spot me, but I am too slow, and they detect my presence, the gaggle veering away over my head, calling all the while.

These geese were arriving from their daytime inland grazing grounds in fields and pastures from throughout central Scotland to settle down on nearby mud banks on the inner Forth to roost for the night.

This cacophony of geese is part of winter’s soul, so enchanting and mesmerising that one could never tire of listening to their calls sweeping across the wild emptiness of the estuary.

Earlier that afternoon at Cambus, I had come upon a small group of teal, their bills eagerly sifting the glutinous ooze for minute creatures.

Teal are such attractive little ducks, so perfect in form. But they are flighty birds, forever on the alert, and will take to the air at the slightest hint of danger.

The estuary is also home to goosanders, its rich waters providing excellent fishing for flounders, sea trout and eels.

It is fascinating to watch goosanders as they hunt, for they periodically dip their heads under the water to look for fish, which in effect is an avian version of snorkelling.

Another master fisher is also at work – a grey heron, who has picked the perfect spot by the fish pass on the Cambus weir to increase its likelihood of catching a meal.

Herons are clever birds and they soon learn the best fishing places, often at the top of a riffle or by a quiet pool.

As one stands like a lone sentinel, it is a picture of focused concentration: eyes strained in constant vigil for the slightest tell-tale movement of a fish beneath the water’s surface.