SPRING by the River Devon and there is no more wonderful place be.

My regular dawn walks take me on a circuit of one section of the river and each time I become bewitched by the abundance of nature around me.

Herons are often glimpsed on my dawn forays, and like humans, display their own individual personalities.

Mostly herons are shy birds, but some are much bolder, and one bird I frequently come across always allows me to approach close.

Perhaps it is used to my presence and knows I pose no threat. This enables me to gain an insight into its behaviour, and on my most recent encounter it was using a perch on a branch above the river to look for fish.

Every so often, a flicker of movement in the water below would attract its attention, and the heron would crouch forward and then dive down into the shallows to snatch its prey.

It is too cold at dawn for butterflies to be about, but later in the day when the air warms up, there are plenty of peacock and small tortoiseshells taking to the air.

I have also encountered several comma butterflies, which have spread their range back into Scotland after a long period of absence.

Once widespread, the comma population was in freefall for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, becoming restricted to south-east England and the Welsh border counties.

But in an astonishing revival, numbers started to increase, and the butterfly began spreading north, having adopted a preference to nettles as the main food plant for its caterpillars.

When the wings open the comma is an insect of stunning colour, but on closure the butterfly almost disappears, the jagged outline of the wings resembling a dull withered leaf amidst the tangle of the cotoneaster.

Indeed, the comma caterpillar has taken such camouflage abilities to an even higher level by looking like a bird dropping.

Is this by chance, or has the caterpillar deliberately evolved to look like bird poo? And if so, what were the natural processes that enabled it to happen? I will never know, but nature is just wonderful and so incredible in shape, diversity and form.

Orange-tip butterflies are also out on the wing on the haugh of the River Devon.

They flit and float above the flower-patterned meadows.

Cuckooflower is one of their favourite food plants, which abounds by the damper flushes of the haugh.

It is only the males that have the vibrant orange wing tips, the females are paler and more under-stated in appearance.

Orange-tips are frustrating to photograph, for they seem to be continually on the wing, never coming down to rest.

Just when you think one is about to alight on a plant, up and away it goes again.

But when one does eventually settle, the elegant beauty of the tangerine-tipped wings never fails to impress.