Down by the River Devon the first of the autumn leaves have started to swirl in the air whenever the wind blows, alighting gently onto the water’s surface before being carried downstream.

I like the autumn; the chilling of the air and the turning of the leaves. The Ochils too will soon change hue from tired shades of green to a blaze of ochre that has been fired up by the wilting grass and bracken.

It is a season that brings so much and out on the river dippers are uttering short bursts of soft song as they mark out their territories. Dippers thrive on the Devon and one only has to turn over a small stone plucked from the shallows to find the reason why. The underside of such pebbles will invariably be crawling with small insect larvae – an abundant source of protein for the dippers to feast upon.

I disturb a heron as I make my way along the bank. Herons often have favourite fishing stations and those on the Devon particularly like to position themselves at the top of shallow rapids. Trout are on the move to spawning areas at this time of year and present an easy target for the herons as they ascend these shallow, bubbling stretches of water.

Trout have other enemies here too. Only recently I came upon an inquisitive mink that eyeballed me from in among tangled tree roots on the bankside. It soon tired of this staring game and plopped into the water and disappeared from view. Mink are the most accomplished swimmers and trout are one of their principal prey items.

Although the mink is an undesirable alien species to these parts, there is no denying that they are rather attractive creatures in their own right, thick furred and lithesome. One must never forget that it is not their fault that they are here, and as such, deserve at least a modicum of our respect.