Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Country courtship

February 1st, 2003

PIGEON FEATHERS scattered over the grass told a story of violent death. They hadn't been there at lunchtime when I went outside to taste the afternoon. But by dogs' walk-time it was clear another episode in the natural cycle had occurred. Survival of the fittest, as ever.

I suspect a buzzard. There are plenty of these handsome birds around, and I frequently hear them calling, although they have been quiet recently. So I was curious when I heard their “mewing” calls on the afternoon in question. It is such a diffident call for so large a bird – out of keeping with their size. Perhaps one was celebrating a tasty lunch.

I parked in the gateway of a field of winter barley to eat a forbidden pie. A buzzard was enjoying the warmth of the midday sun out in the middle of the field. It is still the low winter sun which can make driving difficult, especially when it reflects off wet roads.

A second buzzard landed in the field several hundred yards from the first. It seemed that I was about to watch a courtship ritual. Number one buzzard paid not the slightest notice to number two, and walked off in the opposite direction. Number two made little swaggering flights towards number one, trying to attract her attention.

The message from Two to One was obvious. “Let me fly into your life”. I couldn't stay till the end of the courting, but buzzard number One seemed decidedly unimpressed by Two.

As I watched the buzzards, two cock pheasants flew from the neighbouring wood, one in hot pursuit of the other. Number one had obviously trespassed into the territory of number two, and was being shown the door in no uncertain manner.

Pheasants are powerful runners and are not inclined to fly unless they have to. Number two chased number one for fully quarter of a mile until number one flew over a burn onto the next farm. If all goes well they will soon both have a harem of pheasant hens. By late summer there will be immature birds scampering round the field edges providing more tempting treats for the buzzards.

Last Saturday was Burns Night. We had homemade leek and tattie soup for lunch, and rolls filled with potted meat. I was brought up to call it potted hough, but that name seems to be consigned to history. In the evening I cooked a haggis (I'm very good at that), and mashed lovely Golden Wonder potatoes and a bit of neep, all enlivened with a dram of the cratur. We listened to Robbie Shepherd on the radio introducing “Take the Floor” from Ayr Town Hall.

Despite Robbie's best efforts Sheba snored through the whole programme. Macbeth rather hoped a bit of haggis would fall his way. It just goes to show that whatever the marketing people say, life is still full of simple pleasures. And the pie? Stuffed with guilt, and all the tastier for it!