DAWN is breaking and following the previous day's torrential rain, the River Devon near Alva is bulging at the banks.

Muddy water in a frightening flow of surging power, rising inexorably with each passing minute.

A flutter in the damp grass catches my eye, then another movement. I look closer and see two young sand martins stranded by the raging water's edge, fully feathered, but still unable to fly.

As the water encroached upon their nesting burrow in the bank below, they must have made an emergency exit – a do or die situation for these little bundles of feathery fluff.

One of the birds looks in good health, but the other is especially bedraggled, so I gently pick it up and transfer it to safer position where I hope its parents can still find it.

These youngsters are close to having the ability to fly, and if the mother and father can feed them for just another day or so, then they will be safe.

But in the meantime, they need to lie low in the hope that a mink or a crow doesn't discover them.

But they are the lucky ones, and as I look at the bankside and the submerged nesting burrows, it is apparent that many other sand martins must have succumbed to the floods.

It is always a game of Russian roulette for sand martins when nesting so close to the water's edge.

But all is not lost, for I see other burrows on a high sandy cut that look safe from the rising waters.

I leave the two young sand martins on bankside, and as I head for home, a welling of emotion falls upon me.

These two little birds looked so fragile and vulnerable, and even if they survived this trauma, then more challenges lie ahead; not least, a marathon migration to their wintering grounds in Africa.