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.

Web of mystery

May 22nd, 2004

MAD MAY hares are a twist on our ideas of mad March ones. Macbeth and I watched three playing together in the middle of a field of spring barley.

They weren't so boisterous as you expect their March counterparts to be – rearing up on their hind legs and shadow boxing with each other. These three were playing tag, and after the wild, rainy days at the start of the month were enjoying the fading heat of the late afternoon sun.

I'm beginning to think that after a number of hopeful comments in these Saturday pieces, the hares may really be beginning to make a quiet comeback. I have seen single animals in several other fields, although they are all as wary as the very devil. The moment they see me they are off over the horizon. One did  flap' down, flattening itself as low as possible in the short barley, its long ears laid along its back until it looked just like a large stone out in the field.

Hares have a keenly developed sense of self-preservation, and the moment it sensed it was no longer in my line of vision it was away. When I looked back all I saw were the powerful hind legs steadily disappearing over a rise in the ground; and the long, radar-like ears flickering to pick up every friendly and unfriendly message.

The wrens which took over the swallows' nest under the eaves have hatched their eggs. I've found two of their tiny empty white shells lying in the gravel. Several times we've seen swallows flying up to the commandeered nest as if hoping to use it themselves, and heard a great commotion of complaints when they realise it's been hijacked by squatters!

After a very damp night I took Macbeth for his early morning walk – just the sort of morning Sheba enjoyed. She would step outside to taste the day and after several deep exploratory sniffs and deciding everything was satisfactory, would be ready for the day's excitement.

The atmosphere was still quite moist and the early sun shone on the beech hedge alongside the road. Spiders had been very busy, for spun in amongst the beech twigs were dozens of spiders webs, still covered in beads of dew which reflected in the sunlight.

I confess that spiders are not my favourite insect, but I'm intrigued by their abilities to spin such complete works of art whose only purpose is to snare their creators' next meal. It all makes lots of sense to the spiders, but is a bit chilling to the casual observer.

So many webs must mean plenty of other insects for the spiders to prey on. In similar vein a scattering of pigeon feathers appeared on the grass. No corpse, which presumably had been long devoured, just another example of nature's survival techniques.