AS I STOOD by the edge of this reed-fringed pool at Cambus shortly after dawn, reflections dappled across the calm mirror-like surface, and on the far side, the flickering white-flashed tail of a moorhen caught the morning sunlight.

This was a wonderfully serene place, with its open sparkling water backdropped by the steep scarp of the Ochils in the far distance.

A drake mallard bobbed out on the water and sedge warblers engaged in their frenetic little song flights on v-shaped wings.

Then, a movement in the reeds only a few feet away, and the most remarkable looking bird paddled into view – a water rail.

I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I had seen a water rail before, for they are such elusive birds, living a secret existence in reed beds and seldom exposing themselves to the outside world.

About the size of the moorhen, with greyish-blue underparts and a curved red bill, water rails are probably commoner than one might realise.

This rail had seen me, but seemed totally unconcerned by my near presence, possibly because it so rarely ever came into close contact with humankind and thus had no reason to fear me.

Twice it buried its head under the water to probe for invertebrates, its eyes constantly scanning for the slightest movement for it to snap-up.

As quickly as it had emerged from the reeds, the mysterious rail trod back into their thick embrace and disappeared from sight.

Thrilled by the encounter, I headed over to the River Devon estuary and then down to Cambus village, before heading back up the other side of the river where a series of ephemeral pools lie.

Here, shelduck dabbled in the shallows and a lapwing wheeled in the air on floppy wings.

I sat for a while by the mouth of estuary, immersed by the sounds of nature and the soft whisper of the wind rippling over the water.

A pair of mute swans swam by, before taking to the air and sweeping away up-river, the noise of their whistling wings slowly diminishing in the distance.