A soft piping whistle, followed by another – a flute-breath that drifted across the air like a whisper in the breeze.

My eyes scanned the tangled branches of trees at the back of my Clackmannanshire garden, and I soon spotted a pair of bullfinches, the male resplendent with his black cap and rosy breast, the female more muted in her plumage, yet nonetheless a picture of regal elegance.

I watched the pair with mixed emotions – for last spring, the emerging buds of my apple tree were feasted upon by a pair of bullfinches, and such was the hammering, there was barely an apple left in the autumn.

Despite this, bullfinches only ever occur in low numbers, and as such, should be cherished, and such reflections of apple angst were quickly quelled, for the presence of these colourful birds brought unrequited joy.

Bullfinches are loyal to the core, pairing for life and always going about their business as a couple, whistling to one another continuously like a pair of besotted lovebirds.

Watching the antics of the bullfinches was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon and inevitably, other garden life caught my attention. Above the lawn, queen buff-tailed bumblebees, laden with eggs and newly emerged from hibernation, flitted this way and that as they scoured the ground for suitable holes to build their nests in.

The clouds parted and the sun shone down, magically conjuring small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies into the air. Both species exhibit colourful wing-patterning, which flashed and glistened in the afternoon sun. Like the bumblebees, they too had emerged from their winter slumbers and were now seeking mates before laying eggs.

A loud whistle from the house roof pierced the air. It was a starling, sitting on the gutter, its beak crammed full of dried grass nesting material. It eyed me briefly, before scuttling into a crevice under the eaves to build its nest.

No matter where I looked, nature was busy at work preparing to produce the next generation. The aura of excitement in the air was palpable and it was truly inspiring.