BRAMBLES hanging heavy with their autumnal fullness by the edge of the Devon Way near Tillicoultry; some glistening black, others hued like ruby wine as they hasten their way to ripeness.

The temptation is too much, so I pluck one, then several more, popping them into my mouth to savour their wild sweetness.

My tongue tingles with delight and I wonder whether bank voles, foxes and other wild creatures experience the same pleasure when feasting upon this bounty.

Well, of course they do, I conclude, for sweetness is an irresistible attraction for all animals; not just for the taste, but also as a provider of energy.

Sugar has played a profound role in providing human gratification since the dawn of time, and I’m sure that applies equally to other creatures.

The importance of brambles to our native wildlife soon becomes obvious, for a bit further down this Tillicoultry track I find a fox dropping, purply-black in colour because of the number of berries it has consumed.

Other berries shine out at me; a scarlet-dripped rowan tree, haws and rose hips, still glinting from the recent early morning drizzle.

These red berries are an invitation to dine, with birds and mammals benefiting from the nutrition, and the bush or tree profiting by ensuring its seeds are spread far and wide by being deposited in animal droppings.

I pick another bramble, and notice a pair of mating spiked shieldbugs, clinging to an adjacent cluster of berries.

Shieldbugs are fascinating insects, so named because their flattened, almost triangular carapaces do indeed resemble a shield.

Shieldbugs are sometimes known as 'stinkbugs' due to the smelly liquid they excrete to put off hungry predators.

But this mating couple were so engrossed in their act of procreation, I don’t think they would have noticed an approaching predator.

I left the shieldbugs in peace, and further down the track popped another sweet-tasting bramble into my mouth, enjoying the richness of nature’s sweet harvest.