THE sun shone brightly, and a song thrush uttered his sweet music from the top of an alder.

The range and variety of his song was immense, with each phrase repeated twice, before moving onto the next.

I was down by the River Devon near Menstrie and struck westwards along its south bank, past the Menstrie Burn and then followed the river's course towards Cambus.

This is a quiet stretch of the river, and the signs of spring were all around, with silver-furred willow catkins, as well as hazel catkins and the kidney-shaped leaves of lesser celandines all catching my eye.

In only a few weeks' time, these lesser celandines will burst out into yellow-spangled colour, the herald to other spring flowers such as wood anemones and primroses.

A pair of reed buntings flitted in among a tangle of willows, the male still yet to fully develop his breeding attire of black-plumaged head and russet-streaked body.

Reed buntings are unassuming little birds, under-stated in plumage and with a spring song that is weak and underwhelming.

Further on, and a small group of goldeneye ducks that had been resting on the river took to the air on whistling wings.

Goldeneyes are well-named, for their bright yellow eyes often catch the sunlight in a most remarkable way, their glowing orbs shining out like a torch beam.

Those gleaming eyes certainly have an intensity that lingers long in the mind.

Soon, I passed by the Old Tullibody Bridge, which dates from the early 16th century.

The Old Bridge went out of use in 1915 in favour of a lattice steel girder bridge built a short distance to the north to carry the A907 road.

Not long after, my route joined back onto the Menstrie to Cambus walkway and cycleway. Here, another historical construction shone-out – a doocot that dates to the 17th century.

Called the New Mills doocot, it is a fascinating remnant from the past and built to house flocks of rock doves, which provided food for the table.

The person responsible for harvesting the doves would have used a ladder to reach the nest boxes, where either fully-grown or more often, unfledged "squabs", were collected as a culinary treat.