What might you expect to see on a twenty minute walk along the woodland path to the north of the village?
On one of those cold but clear sunny days in the first week of February, setting out from the east end of the path, there appeared directly overhead a Buzzard gliding magnificently over the village which then returned to a perch in the wood upsetting many of the birds in the nearby rookery.
Then further along the path behind the houses, not one but three grey squirrels emerged from the gardens scampered along the path to escape and disappear into the wood. Up into the wood and along the middle path to near the Toll Rocks to see a fairly large flock of Fieldfare on the large area of Blackthorn bushes. By now they will have returned to their breeding areas in East and Western Europe. Returning along the path there is some sudden movement higher up in the wood and for a brief moment or two I am closely watched by two splendid specimens of Roe deer. Suddenly they are gone - no doubt over the wall and onto the hill. Not bad for a Twenty minute stroll in the wood.
Among the dead leaves of the woodland floor the first signs of the bluebells and wild garlic can now be seen providing a pleasant reminder of the fantastic transformation that will take place in the wood over the next two months.
As well as walking in the wood I hope some of you have been walking along the banks of the River Devon between its junction with the Menstrie Burn and the Tullibody bridge over the last four or five months. The cold weather has brought us some interesting winter visiting wild birds: A flock of some twenty to twenty five Tufted Ducks, two pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers, a Goosander, a Cormorant and a pair of Goldeneye.