A SOFT wind rippled over the reeds on Tullibody Inch out on the River Forth west of Alloa: a place of wide horizons and invigorating air that was occasionally broken by the high-pitched calls of gulls sweeping overhead on white-flurried wings.

Out on the mudflats, a mother shelduck and her two youngsters slowly nudged their way up a muddy creek, eagerly sifting the water with their bills for small shrimp-like creatures called amphipods.

I knew this was what they were feeding on because earlier in the day I had turned over a few stones by the mouth of the River Devon to reveal an abundance of these wriggling crustaceans.

The mud was thick and heavy, but despite this, the whole area was surprisingly rich in these amphipods, which in winter will form important food for teal and goldeneye ducks, as well as for fish such as flounders and sea trout.

The path-side on this enjoyable walk from Alloa to Cambus was brimming with wildflowers, including the simple and under-stated yellow petals of herb-bennet, the pale-frosted blousy heads of cow parsley, and the delicate white blooms of wild strawberries.

A small patch of red clover was particularly eye-catching with its stunning pink-frilled flowers.

On passing Tullibody Inch, a large reed-filled island on the River Forth, the distinctive reeling songs of sedge warblers rang through the air as they flitted like busy bees among the reed stems.

The view looking up the Forth here was quite magnificent, backdropped by the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle in the far distance.

It was a wonderful day to be out on this part of the inner Forth, and the spectacular panorama, combined with the calls of the wild, lifted my heart in a way that only nature is able to do.