FOR me, there is no more wonderful experience than exploring the haugh (flood meadow) of the River Devon between Tillicoultry and Dollar, and this is a fabulous time of year to do so, because of the abundant wildlife that brims around every corner.

On my most recent visit, I had just rounded a bend of the river, when a glint of azure-blue caught my eye in a willow on the far bank.

It was a kingfisher, but it immediately saw me, and whirred-away upriver on dazzling wings

Shortly after, a couple of goosanders glided past on the water, keeping a wary eye on me all the while

The goosander is an efficient fish catcher, with its serrated bill well-designed for gripping onto a slippery trout or minnow.

Nearby, a heron stalked the shallows, its eyes in purposeful concentration as it too scrutinised the water for the slightest movement of a fish.

Ahead of me, a riverside hawthorn sparkled, hanging heavy with crimson haws. These haws will be avidly devoured by fieldfares, redwings, and blackbirds over the coming weeks, especially during cold spells when the ground is frosted hard.

I splashed my way along the rush-fringed margin of a natural pond and inadvertently flushed a snipe, which zoomed away like a crazy rocket. Snipe are intriguing and secretive birds, using their long bills to probe the mud for invertebrates.

Good numbers of snipe winter on the haugh, and in my new book on a wildlife year on the River Devon – If Rivers Could Sing – I reflect upon the importance of the haugh as a haven for such wildlife.

I wrote: "The extent of a river's reach and its influence on the environment is truly all-encompassing.

The river is the environment: its beating heart, which drains, nourishes and sculpts landscapes, providing habitat and life.

The influence of a river is much wider than the flow contained within its banks, and this is no better illustrated than the wonderful pools and ponds on the haugh in the middle section of the Devon."

  • If Rivers Could Sing can be purchased from and other online sellers. It is also available at The Sorting Officer in Dollar and Inspirations in Tillicoultry.