The water by this rocky shore at Kingsbarns near St Andrews had churned into a white froth, such was the ferocity of the wind and the turmoil of the waves.
It was a case of summer meets winter; skeins of honking pink-footed geese high in the sky above Loch Leven, but wildflowers still in bloom down by the track edge, with bees, hoverflies and other insects eagerly gorging themselves upon the late-season nectar.
Nature Watch: Comma caterpillar’s camouflage and colourful fluttering of butterflies cause Keith to marvel at the beauty of nature
Comma caterpillars feed on elm, nettles and hops. The adults hibernate and emerge in early spring, producing a second generation from July to early October.
It was like treading upon a sweeping carpet of copper, such was the burnished tint of the beech leaves covering this track by the River North Esk near Edzell.
It’s those eyes, the large intelligent eyes that are so striking, a piercing concentration that made me wonder whether this octopus was pondering a dilemma; should I stay still and rely on my camouflage for concealment, or perhaps better to make a dash for deeper water?
Oh, what wonderful names – early thorn, nut-tree tussock, flame carpet and scalloped hazel, it is almost as if a poet had conjured their creation.
There was not a breath of wind, not a penny whisper out on the mirror calm wispy-misted lochan where the four whooper swans drifted. It was a scene that could have been brushed from an artist’s palette; a picture perfection of a Scottish winter lochscape in all its beguiling serenity.
Standing in the diminishing light of dusk by an avenue of pines, I see the woodcock heading towards me, skimming low over the treetops on flickering owl-like wings and uttering strange croaks and intermittent hissy chirps.
There are surprises and then there are surprises – but nothing had quite prepared me for the astonishment of finding a couple of porpoises swimming in the River Forth a few miles downstream from Stirling.