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.

Keeping me right

March 27th, 2004

THERE WILL be lambs in the field next door very shortly. The shepherd has dropped off several hundredweight of neeps for the feeding ewes, so once they and their lambs arrive, we – the dogs and I, that is – must go slightly further afield for the early morning walks.

Already there are lambs in a neighbour's field, looking very newly born and wobbly, but by the time you read this they will have found their feet and be more adventurous and active. When I take the dogs out last thing at night I hear their plaintive little calls in the dark, which are answered by the deeper more confident mother ewes.

I was speaking to Fred Murray, farmer in Glenquiech, who told me he won't start his lambing until early April. Being higher ground it's still quite cold up the glen for new born lambs. He is hoping for a repeat of the grand open weather we had last April, when there was practically no rain for the whole of that month, which took a lot of the burden out of early mornings and late nights.

Fred recently saw about thirty of what he thought were cormorants, on Den of Ogil reservoir, and several of them roosting on trees Like him I found that a bit unexpected, but I looked up the bird book, and sure enough it says the birds occasionally nest in trees inland!

Regular readers will remember my story from Mrs Jeannie Gladstone who found a young guillemot in a ditch at the back of Fasque. A lady who came from Forfar told me shortly afterwards that guillemots are occasionally seen in some numbers on Rescobie Loch.

Writing this column has helped overturn several long cherished assumptions about a number of countryside matters.

Just as I sat down to write this week's contribution, Ian Christie from Glamis phoned to reassure me about my concerns over the absence of the woodpecker at our bird table. Like us he had regular visits until the autumn when they stopped, until about ten days ago. We agreed I should be patient and with luck our bird will be back at the peanut feeders soon.

Ian first contacted me just before Christmas to point out that it is the River Isla that flows past Coupar Angus, not the Ericht. It's lucky there are vigilant readers who keep an eye on me!

About three weeks ago some willows at the stream edge were cut down. So determined is Nature to renew and regenerate each spring, that pussy willows have erupted as usual on the lopped branches. I've trimmed off a couple of twigs and potted them with rooting powder to see if they will still root after being deprived of nourishment for so long. Which wasn't the reason for cutting them down in the first place, I'm sure!