GENTLE flowing water and an abundance of wildflowers, my decision to go for a short evening walk along the River Devon by Marchglen near Tillicoultry was proving to be a good one.

One of the most striking flowers I discovered by the bankside was tansy, a plant that traditionally blooms in late summer and which sports stunning bright yellow florets. Water mint was another good find in a shallow watery margin, a lovely little plant dusted with delicate lilac flowers atop its flower spike. I popped a leaf into my mouth, and it was as minty in flavour as any shop-bought version.

In thick herbage by the far bankside, I watched a reed bunting flit about. Slightly smaller than a sparrow, they are unassuming little birds that tend to keep themselves to themselves. From a distance they look brown, but when seen close-up, the plumage features a range of subtle nuances and hues.

Not far from the reed bunting, a heron perched on a branch overhanging the Devon. I crept slowly along the bankside in the hope of photographing the bird and it duly obliged. Herons have individual personalities, some are shy and flighty, whereas others are more confiding and are tolerant of the close approach of a person.

It was a mild evening and trout were rising all the time, feeding on mayflies and other insects on the water’s surface. It is easy to overlook water insects, but one should never do so, for they are the engine room of the river, the driving force the supports so much else.

On previous occasions with colleagues from the Devon Angling Association, I have sampled insect larvae from the riverbed here, and the abundance and variety of nymphs and other creatures is quite astonishing. These invertebrates are the wild beating heart of the Devon, and without them, the river would be an empty and barren place.