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.

Spring fever

April 30th, 2005

INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS on the countryside and wildlife come my way. A reader e-mailed to say that the swallows had arrived at their house and she wondered how this would affect the pair of wrens that were squatters in one of last year's swallows' nests.

Did they  hot nest', she queried, in the same way we humans  hot bed'? It's an intriguing thought that hadn't occurred to me.

Where the wrens are concerned I wouldn't think there's any question of  hot nesting'. Wrens are pugnacious little birds, quite ready to see off any swallows thinking of returning to last year's family home.

Cuckoos can't be said to  hot nest' either. They lay one egg in up to about a dozen host nests – it's called  brood parasitism' – and that's the extent of their parental efforts, as they leave the host birds to hatch and rear their offspring.

Could last week's story about the duck's nest with pheasant eggs in it, be nearer to  hot nesting'? Two birds taking turns to incubate two sets of eggs.

That doesn't seem likely either. Ducks leave their eggs uncovered while they feed, so why might this one have wanted to share her responsibilities with a pheasant? If the fox hadn't destroyed the nest we might have been nearer an answer.

Spring is in full tilt and there's just such a lot of activity. Most of the songbirds have nestlings, and I watch the parent birds criss-crossing the garden with beaks stuffed with insects. Song thrushes, and the more handsome mistle thrushes, parade across the grass pulling out worms.

One lucky young blackbird, newly out of the nest and just able to flutter, was saved by the vigilance of a visiting friend who saw Macbeth about to make a dash at it. Colin's shout was enough to slow Macbeth down and attract my attention. We all got a rare scolding from the mother bird.

Talk about the fresh green shoots of spring makes it sound as though that's the only colour on show. The yellow oil seed rape has suddenly started to flower. Fields of daffodils pepper the landscape and there are blocks of brown where the farmers are still planting tatties.

Driving from Friockheim to Forfar, the woods just before the turn-off to rather grand sounding Trumperton are full of delicate wood anemones with their blushing pink petals and fernlike leaves. In the woods at the back of House of Dun there's a wee bank of primroses which catches my eye each time I pass.

 Ye canna kiss the lassies when the whin is nae in flooer'. Fortunately, the yellow gorse or whin flowers appear practically all year round; which is lucky for the laddies!

One swallow doesn't make a summer, but as five greeted us last Sunday, lined up on the telephone wire, surely our prospects are hopeful.