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.

Fox in the garden

February 11th, 2006

IT'S BEEN a week of sightings and sounds which started with the most unexpected sighting of all.Urgent calls from the Doyenne had me cantering to the other end of the house.

  

  A fox had crossed the lawn outside the bedroom window, and a few moments later had trotted back again. I was just in time to see a tawny brush disappearing round the side of the house. If I'd stayed where I was I would likely have seen old Tod running across the back green and escape out of the garden. La D was most excited because she had never seen a fox so close to.

I'd come across what I thought were fox droppings on the gravel, and then decided I was wrong. Several nights previously I was sure I heard two foxes barking at each other. And again decided I must be wrong because they were followed by a tremendous amount of irate shouting. Perhaps it was a dog and a fox exchanging insults with each other – but there was no doubt about the shouting!

Despite gloomy weather predictions the mornings have been mostly bright and sunny. I watched two male wood peckers squaring up to each other in the bare branches of a plane tree beside the bird table. Males have a scarlet crown of feathers on the back of the head and both sexes have a scarlet patch on their rumps.

The morning sun is still quite low in the sky and it caught the vivid colour of their tail feathers as they jostled for territory, flitting in amongst the branches, until one acknowledged defeat and flew back to the wood.

Several days later I heard two more woodpeckers drumming in the policies of the big hoose. They were in different trees and their tapping produced two clearly different notes, a bit like a primitive xylophone.

Two buzzards were taking advantage of the strong wind, scarcely needing to flap their broad wings as they circled each other. Their pale, barred undersides were picked up by the early sun and one, the male I presumed, was giving its plaintive, mewing cry. Just another sign of approaching spring.

Out with the dogs, last thing before bed, and Inka was taking a great deal of interest in bird droppings below a beech tree on the roadside. I flashed the torch into the branches above and, as I expected, disturbed a roosting cock pheasant. It seemed a very exposed place to spend the night. Writing a countryside diary gives me a great deal of scope with regard to outdoor matters. I was tickled to see a lollypop lady seated on a wee stool busily knitting as she waited for the children to come out of school. It seemed a chilly place to sit and knit but she seemed ‘weel happed up’ against the cold.

  

  

  

  

Written on Saturday, February 11th, 2006 at 7:40 pm for Weekly.