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.

Raptor rapture and green sandpiper

March 11th, 2006

A FEATHERED bullet shot past the window. Even in that split second I was certain it was a sparrowhawk, and it was a first visit in over four years.

  Just quarter of a mile away our neighbour Ronald often sees these aerodynamic killing machines patrolling the side of his wood. I've wondered why we don't see them here when the bird table offers such a choice of small songbirds for breakfast, lunch and tea. Possibly this was the first time I was in the right place at the right moment.    

It was Ronald who pointed out the green sandpiper which appeared for about ten days at the side of the stream, about a hundred yards beyond the garden boundary. This was a pretty rare migrant visitor to Scotland, and I feel quite lucky to have seen one.

It's gone now, probably escaped from the snow to a warmer destination, but the frozen pond on the far side of the field brought six mallard duck to roost on the stream at the foot of the garden. No wonder I was hearing the whistle of their wings as they circled the house and prepared to land.

I so enjoyed the snow lying for more than just a couple of days. It really seemed like proper winter weather. Last Saturday the sun shone out of a cloudless sky and the dogs and I took ourselves into Glen Esk. We walked through a stand of trees to higher ground looking across to parts of the glen I don't normally see. The view was stunning, and it lifted my spirits to be in such a peaceful place.

Sunday was just as memorable, and I sat outside for more than an hour, in hot sunshine, reading my book until my nippy toes reminded me it was frosty underfoot. The dogs just love the snow, and spent the morning sparring with each other and rolling about in it.

After lunch La D. and I drove over the Caterthuns and into Glen Lethnot, which adjoins Glen Esk. The two glens are quite different. Lethnot is bare and spartan compared to its neighbour, but the snow changes the character of everything and highlights features you don't normally notice.

When they were young, we used to take the family up Lethnot for picnics and to paddle in some of the deeper pools of the West Water. And if you're not as fleet as once you were, it's easy walking further up the glen.

Macbeth has had his spring clip. As usual he went in deep shagpile and came out cut moquette. Now that all the foliage has been cut back it's apparent that he is turning into Macbutterball. Some painful decisions may have to be taken about diet, but he'll have the consolation of knowing the Doyenne and I are sharing the pain with him!             





Written on Saturday, March 11th, 2006 at 9:32 pm for Weekly.