USING a pair of trail cameras, I have been monitoring a shallow offshoot creek of the River Devon recently and have been continually enthralled by the bustling activity of the local wildlife.

Teal adore this little creek, and its calm and shallow confines act like an oasis where they can feed safely on the rich muddy bottom by up-ending continuously.

Teal are delightful little ducks that are active both by day and night, and which are mainly winter visitors to the River Devon, departing in spring to their summer breeding grounds by loch margins and bogs.

Herons were regularly captured by the cameras, stalking in the shallow margins with slow and cautious movements as they carefully scrutinised the water for fish.

I always enjoy encountering herons on the Devon, for individual birds display different personalities, with some being confiding and enabling a close approach, whilst others are shy and flighty.

An otter made a brief appearance on one of the cameras, quickly skirting the edge of a pool, its back undulating in a sinuous and weasel-like movement.

Otters are doing well on the Devon but are seldom seen because of their mainly nocturnal and secretive habits.

However, when walking river banksides, it is easy to see their scent marking sites where they have deposited their tarry-like spraints (droppings) on top pf prominent locations such as rocks, tree stumps or small hummocks.

A water rail – one of our most elusive water birds – was also caught on video.

Like the otter, water rails are commoner than one might imagine, and they like nothing better than to lurk in reed-beds or among thick tangles of waterside vegetation making them very difficult to spot.

I was also thrilled to have secured several clips of snipe feeding in the shallows of this River Devon creek.

The snipe, which is a small and long-billed wading bird, is another master of concealment and it was wonderful to get a glimpse into their secretive lives.

In one instance, the camera filmed a pair, with one bird trying to mount the other as if mating.

It is far too early in the season for proper mating to occur, but the clip did reveal that spring is maybe not as far away as one might think.

The most fascinating piece of film, however, was a snipe catching a brook lamprey.

At this time of year, slowly maturing brook lampreys live under the mud of rivers, and have the size and appearance of small eel, only about 10cm long.

This feeding snipe hit the jackpot and pulled the wriggling lamprey out from its muddy lair with its long and probing bill. The snipe wrestled with the lamprey for several seconds before swallowing it with a satisfied gulp.

I knew from previous experience that brook lampreys live in this pool, normally emerging from the mud as adults in April after having spent a few years in their larval stage.

Brook lampreys are fascinating fish that encapsulate the very beating heart of the Devon – a river that is brimming with wonderful wild surprises.