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.

Murton Nature Reserve

March 4th, 2006

IT'S EXCITING to return to a spot where so much change has taken place. The Murton Nature Reserve lies east of Forfar, just off the Forfar-Friockheim road. Created from eighty acres of worked-out sand and gravel quarries, they were a blank canvas on which to establish this fascinating project.  

In the months since I last visited, much of the scrub vegetation has been grubbed out and new grass sown. Ponds for waterfowl have been developed, and hedges and woodland areas planted.What was derelict wasteland has been transformed into an asset that is of value to nature, wildlife and the environment. It is an ongoing exercise in active management to bring the site back into proper balance.

Al. Borland, the resident Ranger, is passionate about what has been achieved already, and what he hopes will be accomplished in the future. Fundamental to the reserve is its conservation and sanctuary value for wildlife.

Residents and regular visitors include lapwing, sandpipers, numerous ducks, roe deer, fox, stoat, moles, voles, frogs and newts. Little stints, wheatears and black tailed godwit are some of the unusual migrants. An osprey pays a flying visit en route to neighbouring Rescobie Loch, as none of the reserve ponds have fish.

A special interest for me is the  designer' sand martin nesting bank, to encourage breeding of our least well-known swallow. Sand martins take me back to summer visits to a fondly remembered uncle and aunt who lived in Midlothian.

 Green' credentials are admirably maintained. Begging and borrowing what wasn't on site, almost all materials such as wood, stone and fencing are recycled.

Because it is a  reserve in the making' it provides exceptional educational opportunities. Al. looks forward to welcoming schoolchildren and students from local colleges, as well as visitors of all ages and all levels of interest.

Two viewing hides overlook the main ponds, and there will be interpretive panels at key points. Workshop and guided activities will be introduced, and a walk programme is planned.

Access and the path network have been planned to accommodate visitors of all abilities including wheelchair users. Murton opens to the public in May to coincide with Biodiversity Week.