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.

The wild geese depart

March 26th, 2005

WINTER WITHERS and spring gathers pace. The days are lengthening and it gets easier to contemplate bounding out of bed and making best use of the whole of the day. Although, my good intentions were sore tested with the dreich mornings we had at the start of the week.

Spring has really arrived for me when I see the delicate blue scilla flowers, which are about the last spring bulbs to bloom. Solitary little flowers which grow in ones and twos, they are a wee glint of colour when the snowdrops are dying away.

Daffodils are flowering in the woods. They come on later than the garden ones, probably because the garden is sheltered and sunnier. When I buried the Sheba dog last year I transplanted a bunch of daffodil bulbs into the grave. They are looking well now and are a fitting memory to an old friend.

You become aware of changes in the routines of birds and animals at this time of year. Love may be in the air, but so is wildlife's instinctive urge to breed and perpetuate each member of nature's family.

It is months since I noticed a hare in the fields round the house, but yesterday morning I saw five in the winter barley. I came on them too suddenly to be able to take cover and watch them, and they spied me straight away.

One flapped down, characteristically flattening itself against the earth with its long ears laid along its back. If the barley had been just a little higher it would have disappeared. The other four sat on their haunches with the big radar ears flickering.

Each side eyed up the other. I suppose Macbeth is enough to unnerve the boldest hare because soon they all cantered off, running mad March rings around each other and not really caring about us once they were on the move.

As the Doyenne was filling the log basket she found a field mouse which had crept into the log stack and died. We presume it was looking for shelter during the last snows but couldn't get deep enough to escape the deadly chill of the wind.

I was enraged several weeks back to find another  hit and run' dead squirrel on the roadside. What made it worse, was its mate was sitting in the beech hedge, waiting €¦ €¦.

I sometimes see the survivor foraging amongst the fallen beech mast and stop the car to watch it, scarcely a yard away from me. If they are regularly fed, squirrels will become acclimatised to humans. Neighbour Ian has given me a video of the squirrels in his garden running around his feet.

As winter departs so do the geese. I hardly hear them now. I miss their wild calls for a week or two but I'm soon diverted by spring's messages of renewal.