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.

Sundry thoughts

June 12th, 2004

WE'VE WONDERED, the Doyenne and I, why blue tits haven't nested this year in the nesting box above the bird table. Spiders have spun their webs across the opening into the box and it is evident the tits haven't even looked inside to investigate the accommodation. I think the explanation has come from Bill Oddie's TV wildlife series,  Britain Goes Wild'.

One of the early programmes showed a great spotted woodpecker trying to get into a nesting box to devour blue tit chicks. I had no idea woodpeckers were carnivorous. There seem to be two pairs of woodpeckers, plus young, coming daily to feed at our bird table. They chase away the smaller songbirds and won't let them share the peanuts while they are feeding on them, so they do seem to be amongst the bullies of the bird world.

Perhaps the blue tits' sense of preservation cautions them from hatching chicks directly above the woodpeckers' lunch table.

I was driving back to Forfar from Whigstreet and saw little  finger posts', as they used to be called, advertising the Forfar Path Network. My next call was the Meffan Museum where I picked up a brochure which explained that this was a network of walks and bicycle rides all within easy distance of Forfar. It's a brilliant idea and one that towns all round Scotland could develop, especially as we are being told that too many of us are overweight. I have to include myself in the statistic!

Macbeth and I were out for his evening walk, and as we stopped beside a shed I shone the torch up around the couples. A tremendous hissing came from somewhere beneath the rhones, and this was a blue tit defending its nest. They are pugnacious little birds and can produce a sound quite at odds with their size.

After a night of steady rain the morning grew very humid as the sun shone from a cloudless sky. The fields began to steam as the temperature rose until it looked as though the earth was gently smouldering. Some evenings have been equally warm and summery and I've enjoyed ending my day's work with a welcome glass of wine.

I think I understand the emotions of the man who said –”Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits”. There are times when thinking is an uncalled-for exertion, so why overtax a summer evening or a good glass of wine with uncalled-for effort?

We talk about the dawn chorus, but the evening chorus is just as sustained, and continues almost till darkness. It's very peaceful letting the day gently decelerate, surrounded by bird song and wrapped in the scent of honeysuckle from the garden.

The trouble is the grass doesn't understand such delicacy of sentiment, and I’m going to have to rouse myself and cut the blooming stuff again.