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.

Osprey and daffodil country

June 3rd, 2006

‘CAST NOT a clout/ till May month is out' has characterised the unseasonal weather over the past month. Not so much the rain, because May can sometimes be pretty wet, but the cold northerthly winds when we should be enjoying the milder prevailing westerlies  

The Doyenne and I hoped for better things last Monday Bank Holiday. We'd taken the May Day holiday, at the start of the month, for a trip into Aberdeenshire, and were favoured with  a day of four seasons' as the weather ranged from bright sunshine to hailstones. Surely it couldn't happen twice, so bundling dogs and picnic into the car, we set off on the same trail. But, mindful of the chancy weather, we chucked in a couple of extra layers of clothing.

It was a day of just three seasons this time, but we appreciated the time away from the demands of the telephone. The highlight of the day was seeing an osprey. I was walking the dogs round the heavily-wooded side of a loch when the bird flew out of a tree at the lochside.

I reckon that I surprised it for I have never seen one of these magnificent birds at such close quarters. As it banked to fly away from me I saw the powerful, curved talons which it uses so skilfully to pluck fish from just below the surface of the water. I've read that only one in four dives for fish is successful, so each meal is hard won.

If I'd had my wits about me I should have recognised how osprey-friendly the surroundings were. I might not have alarmed the bird, and been able to watch it hunting over the water and scooping its supper from the loch.

I've just finished reading a thoroughly entertaining book called  How to be a bad birdwatcher' by Simon Barnes, which is both witty and informative. I can empathise with the author completely, for he started birdwatching with little more than enthusiasm. I like his description of birdwatching – “the calm delight of the utterly normal, and the rare and sudden delight of the utterly unexpected”. My osprey sighting was the latter.

Daffodils in full bloom on the crest of Cairn o' Mount was another glimpse of the  utterly unexpected' as we drove home. Not just out of place, but out of season now elsewhere. Road improvements were carried out at the spot some years ago, and our considered conclusion is that as the contractors finished off the work they spread topsoil which contained the bulbs.

May month is notable for birthdays. Macbeth turned five, and Inka celebrated his first birthday. We hope Inka has stopped growing. We don't want too large a Labrador. Our first one, Gibby, was very patrician and very tall, and his tail could clear a table of coffee cups with one sweep!