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.

Winter’s demise

March 20th, 2004

BROWN PREDOMINATES as the countryside colour at this time of the agricultural cycle. It looks like the last of the fields are being ploughed now, and the landscape is one of a countryside-in-waiting for conditions to improve and sowing to start.

Having said that, I've noticed several fields with familiar tatty ridges indicating that the early varieties are being planted.

The brown is broken by green patches of winter barley which was sown in the backend last year, and oilseed rape which is also planted in the autumn. They both grow a couple of inches before winter sets in and then go into a sort of agricultural hibernation until the weather warms up again in the spring.

The snowdrops are starting to droop and their petals are going brown round the edges. They have put on a good show this season and as they wither they are replaced by the daffodils which I'm sure will be just as bonny.

The pattern of the seasons is on the turn. The geese are leaving us to return to their summer nesting grounds. Although some greylag nest in the Outer Hebrides, most fly north to Iceland. Pink-foot geese nest even further away in Greenland, and both species return to Scotland when the winter temperatures fall so low there is no feeding for them.

The mornings are drawing out and the bird table begins to get busy about half past six. The red squirrel, which was absent for several weeks when the frost was bad, calls most mornings for the peanuts.

However the woodpecker hasn't put in an appearance for several months, so we look forward to his – it always seemed to be the male bird with the crimson patch on his head – visits starting again.

A buzzard lifted from the road verge in front of the car. It was feeding on a cock pheasant which I suspect had been knocked down by a previous passing car.

The buzzard had neatly filleted and gralloched the breast and innards. I took the dogs that way the following afternoon and the pheasant's skeleton was plainly visible, so the buzzard must have returned to complete its meal. No doubt scavenging crows also popped down to pick the carcase clean.

The following morning the carcase had disappeared leaving only a circle of feathers. I suspect a fox picked it up during the night, but there would have been pretty short commons left for it to feed on.

Grains of barley which had spilled out of the pheasant's crop had also all disappeared, probably to hungry mice. Nature makes sure nothing is wasted in the daily competition for survival.

At twenty three minutes to six this morning, as dawn broke, I was roused by another cock pheasant which  clokked' just the once, unlike another cock bird which crowed three times!

Written on Saturday, March 20th, 2004 at 11:22 am for Weekly.