A WONDERFUL walking circuit, where wildlife brims around every turn, is from Dollar to Vicar’s Bridge and back again.

Starting on the Devon Way near the Dollar Health Centre, I headed westwards towards Tillicoultry. Here, in among a tangle of brambles, I was surprised to glimpse a chiffchaff.

This is a summer-visiting warbler, but small numbers do occasionally winter here, especially if the weather is mild, as it has been so far.

The signs of the benign winter were further highlighted by a hazel that was hanging heavy with lime-green catkins.

As spring approaches, these catkins will become fluffy and dangly, when they are most appropriately known as lambs’ tails.

I soon left the Devon Way at Lower Mains and followed a small track that leads to the River Devon. This area is always a great place to see tree sparrows.

Tree sparrows are not nearly as common as house sparrows and can be identified by their brown caps and little black ‘ear’ marks on the side of the head.

On reaching the river, I turned left and followed the path that leads along the left bank to Rackmill, and then crossed the road here, and transferred over the bridge to the right bank, heading into Damhead Wood.

Several different types of fungi prospered here, including hoof fungus that clung to the trunk of a birch. This bracket fungus does indeed look like a horse’s hoof.

It is also known as tinder fungus and in the distant past was used as a tinder to catch sparks. On another tree, jelly-ear fungus grew – a red-brown species that favours elders for gaining tenure.

By the bankside lurked a heron, which carefully scrutinised the water for trout, before taking to the air on lumbering wings.

The woodland here is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the presence of a rare bog plant known as pond sedge.

As I neared Vicar’s Bridge, the sun was beginning to set, turning the sky a fiery orange

As I struck up the lane towards Pitgober and then back to Dollar, a tawny owl hooted a long quavering ‘hu…hu-hoooo’.

The creeping embrace of darkness was gathering, and the creatures of the night were beginning to stir.