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.

Birdsong

July 22nd, 2006

DUNDEE PIGEONS are cheeky birds, I've decided. I was sitting at a city centre terrace cafe, drinking my coffee and reading a popular daily broadsheet, when a city pigeon alighted on the balustrade. It had its eye on the leftover bit of a chocolate brownie which lay on a plate, three tables away.

It paid me scant attention, it was obviously used to humans, but another café patron sitting at the table next door to its proposed elevenses was just a little too close for comfort. The pigeon hopped first one way along the balustrade, and then the other, willing the human who sat between it and starvation, to move on. Its efforts paid off, and as soon as my neighbour had wiped his whiskers and gone back to shopping, my pigeon attacked the remains of the bun with great enthusiasm.

A country pigeon, with a twig in its beak, alighted on the drying green as I was hanging up the washing – as I get older I do get better! He – or it may have been she – cast a basilisk eye at me, as if to say  kindly clear off while I get on with the house building'.

As I made my way down the washing line, hanging up unmentionables, the pigeon waddled ahead of me in the sort of Toad-of-Toad-Hall-washerwoman-way they do. It obviously wasn't fazed at all by me, it had better and more important concerns, but it wasn't going to give away the location of its nest to a potential enemy.

Pigeons nest and lay eggs almost throughout the year, unlike the song birds which have a much more defined nesting season. Apart from second or late clutches, most birds have seen their fledglings leave the nest, and the sonic boom of birdsong that accompanied the nesting season from April till the end of June is dying down. I was quite surprised, therefore, at the speed with which the swallows nest at the front porch was reoccupied as soon as the last chick from the first clutch had flown. There are four new eggs in it, although I'm concerned the hen bird may have deserted them.

The dawn and the evening choruses are the birds' way of establishing territory round their nests. The song thrush is well named because of its clear musical notes which we hear throughout much of the year, but it sometimes seems as though the smaller the song bird the greater the volume of song it can produce. You would wonder how the wren, with such a small  breist', can produce such an intensity of glorious noise quite at odds with its size.

If the Doyenne produced, pound for pound, the same volume (pray that she'll forgive me for saying this), she'd near burst my eardrums whenever she crooned me a lullaby.