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.

Unnatural death

October 18th, 2003

DEATH AND life are sometimes close companions in Nature. I noticed the dogs forever wandering to the bottom corner of the garden and catching the scent of something which was pretty appetising. I had to look over the hedge from an upstairs window to see that the source of interest was a dead cock pheasant lying in the field.

By this time a buzzard was feeding on the carcase. Quite close by another cock pheasant, quite indifferent to its chum's fate, was feeding on the barley grains left over after combining. The buzzard posed no threat to the live pheasant so long as it was feeding on the dead one.

There seem to be conflicting opinions about whether buzzards eat only carrion, and whether they are true raptors, and also kill live prey. How this pheasant met its end I cannot say, but if the buzzard killed it, surely it must have been on the ground because I can't imagine so large a bird being taken on the wing. The answer may be much more mundane – that it was injured by a passing car and managed to get into the field where it died.

Crows have been cleaning up the carcase, and the second cock pheasant is still feeding on the barley. Nature quickly forgets its dead.

There have been several other deaths on the road that takes us home. I saw a buzzard (not the same one, I'm sure) on the grass verge straddling what turned out to be a dead hare. The bird was most unwilling to desert its lunch and wouldn't take flight until I was almost alongside it. I wondered if it could have been a young bird because as I got out of the car another larger buzzard flew out of the tree above me. Perhaps this was parent bird teaching young bird how to fillet a hare.

I could see from its injuries that the hare had been struck by a car. Further on was a dead red squirrel which is the third this year that I've found on this short stretch of road. If drivers would take even 10 mph off their speed when driving along our narrow country roads, these unnecessary losses could at least be reduced. Thankfully our resident squirrel still visits the bird table for the peanuts.

Sometimes, like now, I get out of bed in the very early hours with my head spinning with ideas which I have to get down on paper before I forget them. There's a full moon casting great shadows of trees across the garden. Looking out of the darkened kitchen window, the stubble field is illuminated in its ghostly white gleam. Like a hard midwinter frost, but the light seems to shimmer mysteriously several inches above the ground.

I think it's time l made myself a cup of tea.

Written on Saturday, October 18th, 2003 at 3:59 pm for Weekly.