THE excitement in the air was palpable, with courting tufted ducks and mute swans bringing sparkle to the silvery waters of Gartmorn Dam, underlining that spring's warm embrace was well and truly upon us.

One pair of mute swans were totally engaged upon each other, swaying their long necks in rhythmic harmony as they undertook their ritual courtship display.

It was wonderful to watch, and it seemed like all of nature was singing and dancing on this warm early spring day.

Gartmorn Dam is on the cusp of change, with the first summer visiting sand martins appearing on brown-skimmed wings over the next week or so.

Once they get down to breeding on nearby sand banks along the River Devon, life will become a dangerous lottery, and at any moment, torrential deluges of rain can raise river levels and flood-out their nesting burrows.

They also run the gauntlet of predatory mink, which like nothing better than to dig out their burrows for eggs and chicks.

On the circuit of Gartmorn Dam, I noticed several flocks of Canada geese. Whilst attractive, they are an increasing and introduced breeding bird to Scotland and have the potential to be a pest species if numbers continue to rise.

Other birds out on the water included coots, and in the far distance, a pair of great-crested grebes, looking resplendent with chestnut frills on either side of their heads and a small dark crest.

In Victorian times their colourful plumage was much prized for fashionable clothing.

Spring is not really a time renowned for fungi, but on a decaying tree trunk I found white brain fungus coating the surface bark. It is a jelly fungus, typically found growing on dead branches of broadleaf trees, especially beech.

I brushed my fingers across this translucent fungal covering, which was surprisingly hard to the touch.

Up above me, a song thrush then began to spill its spring melody.

A sweet note, and then one more: a musical couplet, followed immediately by another, hesitant at first but gaining in confidence with each passing moment.

It was a special moment, a reminder of nature's power to relax the mind and soothe the soul.