AN EMERALD flickering by this track edge in the Ochils – a vibrant green butterfly, and so very small.

It alights on the ground, takes to the air, and lands once more.

A wave of excitement engulfs me: it is a green hairstreak butterfly, one of our scarcer species and not often seen.

I hunker down and crawl along the ground to get closer so that I can take some photographs. It is an exquisite little butterfly – a fluttering jewel – the wings an enchanting emerald green.

I manage to take several snaps before the butterfly swirls up into the air and disappears from view.

It was an exciting discovery and one which underlines wherever you walk in Clackmannanshire, there are always wildlife surprises to be found.

Green hairstreaks fly in May and early June and are challenging to spot because when resting, they sit with their wings closed and look just like a diminutive leaf.

It had been a good day in the hills, and earlier I had witnessed the white-rumped flash of a wheatear as it rose in the air ahead of me.

Meadow pipits were omnipresent, their piping calls carrying far in the breeze.

I also glimpsed a whinchat perched on the top of a young pine, its warm tawny breast catching the sun.

I sat for a while on a rock, listening to the wonderful song of a skylark raining down.

A flash of purple by my feet caught my eye – a mountain pansy, one of my favourite wildflowers.

I crouched down to examine it more closely, and my spirits soared in appreciation of its wondrous beauty, a mauve gem with a splash of yellow at its heart.

It was plant perfection; a reflection of nature’s ability to produce the most incredible colour and form at every turn.