A WANDER down to the River Devon is always beneficial for the soul, no matter the time of year, but June is especially good, with their being an abundance of wildflowers and many young birds about.

One especially colourful flower in bloom just now is dame's violet. The flowers vary considerably, ranging from purple, lilac and white.

Also known as dame's rocket or sweet rocket, it is a native of continental Europe which has escaped from gardens and is now widely found in the countryside.

Unlike many other non-native species, dame's violet does not seem to be detrimental to the environment, and its colourful blousy blooms are attractive to insects.

Look out too for leopard's bane, which has a flowerhead superficially similar to a dandelion, but held aloft on much longer stems.

It is a localised plant that occurs along the banks of the River Devon in several places, and is always a joy to find.

Comfrey is also showing well, and like dame's violet, its flowers show variation, with most plants sporting creamy-yellow blooms, but some also exhibiting purple flowers.

An ever-continuing comfort is red campion, one of our earliest flowering plants, and one which can still be blooming in the autumn.

For me, red campion is a misnomer, for the petals are pinkish, and pink campion would be a much more appropriate name.

There have been good insect hatches down by the river in recent weeks, and it is not unusual to see black-headed gulls swooping low over the water to snap them up – a bit like giant swallows.

They are truly elegant gulls and glide through the air with real grace and poise.

On a recent visit to the river, I watched a mother mallard carefully shepherd her three ducklings out on the water.

She probably would have hatched up to nine ducklings, but such is the toll of predation from mink, otters, crows and other creatures, that she will be doing well to rear at least one of her brood to adulthood.