The loch is fringed with Scots pines that are mostly mirrored perfectly by the water, except where, far out, the surface is rippled by the flutterings of a line of 20 or so goldeneye.

It’s the gloaming and I’m here to see if the wintering geese arrive, but I’m too early and there’s still enough light to wander through the woods. Often, we associate the coming of autumn with changes in colour – indeed, the heather’s faded, the bracken is a deep rust. But I’m listening as much as looking. A coarse cacophony makes me head to the lochside in time to watch a clamour of rooks grow in twos and threes, swirling and sweeping above the water.

When the crows depart I hear, faintly, the deep roar of what can only be stags rutting. They must be over on these far hillsides, and when I cock my head and tune in to their bellows, I hear them from multiple directions. In autumn, stags will tussle in the battle for control of their territory and herd, and the sound of distant ruts can haunt the night air. It’s an uneasy baying, low and resonant and unearthly, and even though I know what it is, it can still unnerve.

As night falls, Jupiter is the first to gleam on to the water, and stars begin to speckle the sky. I’m about to give up when I hear a distant honk that multiplies and gets louder. One, five, 10 geese fly over me just to the east, though it’s so dark that I can’t see them. Perhaps this is an advance party of greylags returning to their night-time roost.

The breeze strengthens, coming from the north, and the clouds thicken and take away any remaining light. The loch begins a rhythmic slap against the shore, and with the hiss of the wind through the trees, all other sounds are lost. I’m cold and have been standing still for too long. I head home, knowing I’ll return, a wee bit further into the night’s dark, to listen again.

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