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.

Wildlife in the workplace

August 30th, 2003

MATERNAL PROTECTION of the young seems to be an instinct shared by the animal kingdom and us humans alike. I had a perfect example of it recently when the dogs and I were out for the evening walk.

We often turn off the road onto a farm track that leads down to a big field and looks across to the hills. It's not a long track – maybe fifty yards – and there is a central grassy strip between the two tractor wheel tracks. We had been very quiet coming along the road and then turning sharply down the wee lane.

The dogs had run ahead of me and I was suddenly aware of a hen pheasant crouched in the grassy strip. There wasn't much cover and it sat absolutely motionless. I felt it was following my every move even though its eyes didn't blink. The dogs had passed it without seeing or scenting it.

My first thought was that it was injured, hit by a passing car. I bent down to look at it more carefully. The dogs realised I had stopped and came back to investigate. It was only when I stretched out my hand, and with the caperings of the dogs as well, that the poor bird lost her nerve and exploded into flight.

As she rose three chicks, cheepers just a day or so out of the nest, scattered in every direction, instinctively causing confusion. My main concern was for the survival of the chicks, and to stop the dogs catching them. After this example of courage from the hen they were all entitled to a more secure future. I'm sure when the panic subsided she came back and collected her brood.

It is really quite late for a second hatching. I was surprised neither dog picked up their scent because they passed within about a foot of the birds. It seems to bear out what I have heard, that some ground-nesting birds can suppress their scent during the nesting season.

I made a call to Sturrocks the joiners, at Whigstreet just south of Forfar. I parked beside a large bush of white buddleia which was quivering with butterflies. Red Admirals I could recognise, but there were two or three other varieties clouding the bush – more than I have seen for quite some time.

Inside the office was the explanation. As a contribution to our environment Sturrocks have created a low maintenance wildlife garden. Planting it out with lavender, evergreens, herbaceous shrubs and hot-colour flowers. It's a wildlife haven sitting alongside all the energy and industrial activity in their workshop. It's attracting numbers of butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, bees, birds, and small mammals.

What a great idea that could be taken up by other businesses to bring colour and interest to their workplaces. Giving pleasure to their staff and to visitors.

Written on Saturday, August 30th, 2003 at 8:02 pm for Weekly.