AS SPRING approaches, perceptible changes are happening on River Devon estuary at Cambus, with the number of teal present gradually diminishing.

These delightful little ducks descend upon the estuary in large numbers in late autumn, attracted by the ice-free water and the large numbers of small shrimp-like creatures known as amphipods, which live in the mud and provide nutritious food.

Now, with the weather warming and the days getting longer, teal are starting to move-out and head to their breeding haunts in lochans and bogs in other parts of the country.

Certainly, on a recent visit to Cambus, teal were not as obvious as they had been in previous weeks.

Other signs of spring were about too, including a hazel richly adorned with limey-green catkins, which are most appropriately known as lamb's tails.

Hazel trees are easy to over-look, but at this time of year you just can't miss them.

In some parts of the country it was once believed that a prolific show of hazel catkins would herald the birth of lots of babies. 'Plenty of catkins, plenty of prams' went the saying.

As I passed a thick stand of towering conifers close to the track edge, I could hear the distinctive call of a heron, or possibly more than one, up in the tree-tops.

I might be wrong because it was impossible to see through the thick tangle of branches, but it seemed that there was a small heronry here and that the birds were beginning to nest.

It is a curiosity of herons that despite their large size, they are most secretive nesters.

Further on, I stumbled upon a small gorse bush that was in flower.

There is an old country saying that goes along the lines of 'when gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season' – a reflection of the fact that at least a few of its vibrant yellow flowers are likely to be in bloom no matter the time of year.

Come the spring, the display of the yellow flowers of gorse can be quite stunning, such as on the slopes below Dumyat in the western Ochils.

Indeed, it is said the pioneering 18th century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus fell on his knees and wept the first time he witnessed gorse in its full glory, such was its golden-glowed magnificence.