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.

Tufted duck in Aberdeenshire

July 9th, 2005

THE POET John Dryden wrote of  youth, beauty, graceful action'. He might have had in mind the roe deer calf that was standing in the middle of the road as I came bowling round the corner

I expect it was one of two calves that I watch grazing with their mothers. They've grown out of the teenage awkwardness when their legs seem too long for their bodies, and have developed into the elegance of near maturity.

This one's mother was probably in the wood on the other side of the beech hedge, but her calfie got a severe fright at the sudden appearance of the car, and bolted down the road looking for a break in the foliage. It soon scrambled through, and no doubt spent the next few minutes pondering on the noisy monster that was the latest addition to its short life experience.

As I drove round the next corner I was confronted by a very junior red squirrel running down the road towards me. I braked, but it seemed quite oblivious of the car. Perhaps, because you so often see them close to the roadside, they just get complacent about these noisy animals that tear past at such unseemly speeds.

It stopped, sat back on its hind legs and gazed at me for several moments, then shot into the hedge. I watched it climb up and round the trunk of a beech tree, until it disappeared from view.

The Doyenne and I took ourselves, and Macbeth of course, off for a day's diversion in Aberdeenshire. We took a familiar route over the Cairn o' Mount along to Aboyne, turned right at Dinnet and headed into the hinterland by Logie Coldstone.

We had our picnic at the side of a loch. The sun popped out intermittently and it was warm enough to bring out the flies, although happily there weren't enough to torment us too badly.

Several families of tufted duck, seven or eight ducklings in each, paddled around the fringes of the reeds. They are one of our commonest diving ducks, and the youngsters were popping up to the surface of the water like corks as they perfected their diving techniques.

A seagull landed on the water beside one of the families. Duckling seemed to be top of its agenda for lunch, but the mother bird was having none of it. She lunged angrily at the intruder, which took off smartly and didn't try to return.

Not so lucky was a leveret I heard about. It must have been almost newly born because a crow was able to carry it off in its beak. The parent hares were in hot pursuit, frantically leaping into the air, trying to force the bird to drop their baby. They succeeded, but the crow caught its prey again and carried it off to a nearby wood.