WITH last week's blustery weather, I decided a sheltered walk was the sensible option, and the short circuit at the Ochil Hills Woodland Park nestled between Alva and Tillicoultry fitted the bill perfectly.

Originally planted as an informal garden around the Alva House estate, the woodland park is thought to be one of the oldest plantations in Scotland.

The trees here are predominately sycamore but ash is also abundant, and on the higher fringes there is oak, too.

Despite the wind, there was plenty of bird life around, including a large mixed party of great, blue and coal tits.

It might seem strange for different species to flock together, but there is safety in numbers in a large group, with there being more pairs of eyes to look-out for predators such as sparrowhawks.

Wind-tumbled jackdaws and rooks swirled in the air high above the trees, and on the ground, a diminutive wren busied itself in amongst the leaf litter as it foraged for small invertebrates.

Above the clamour of the whirling wind, I could hear a blackbird singing, marking out his territory in anticipation of the forthcoming breeding season.

The blackbird's song is liquid and smooth in quality; the ultimate in natural chill-out music.

The poet William Henley was certainly a blackbird fan: "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."

As I continued on my way, the blackbird's sweet music faded into the distance, leaving in its place the whistle of the wind rustling through the trees.