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.

Goose fever

December 16th, 2006

THE DOGS and I were walking round a lonely pond which frequently attracts duck, especially in the evening. We'd reached the top end when I heard the first haunting cries of geese heading our way.

I was completely out in the open when a pack of about thirty birds flew low over our heads and landed at the far end of the pond. That surprised me, for geese are usually very wary and will veer off and circle round at the sign of anything unfamiliar. But a strong west wind was blowing and the birds seemed determined to reach the shelter of the tree-fringed water, come what may.

As we moved on I heard more geese and saw a huge skein coming in from the east, possibly from Montrose Basin. All I could do was curl up on the grass and call the dogs in to lie beside me. I've no experience of counting geese in the air, but I tried to get some calculation of numbers passing over me. I firmly believe that somewhere in the region of a thousand geese – mostly pink-foot – flew in to join the earlier birds.

Ringing carillons from the north announced the approach of more geese. Thereafter it was quite wondrous. In the space of a quarter hour or so a further four colossal skeins, each as big as the first, spiralled noisily in. There must be a celestial bush telegraph that tells them all where the party is!

Their noisy clamour blotted out all other sounds, and as they settled they passed on gossip of where the best feeding could be found, and how the weather was up north. It brought back memories of times as a youngster out with my father, watching similar sights at dusk, as great rafts of geese lifted off the Basin to fly to their feeding grounds.

We lay for half an hour in the deepening mirk. The rain had started and my backside was soaking wet; Macbeth was shivering, whether from cold or excitement I couldn't tell, and it was getting pretty dark for finding my way through the wood and back to the road.

As soon as we moved the nearest birds took fright and rose from the water. A medley of alarm and indignation crescendoed as we skirted the pond and were spotted by lookout birds. Suddenly the world erupted with a roar of powerful, beating wings and a babel of harsh, condemning cries as hundreds and hundreds of jostling geese took flight.

The real wonder is that not one bird collided with another in such a confined area. Each found its own air space in the bedlam of noise and confusion.

Then there were just the receding calls of departing geese growing fainter. It was one of those intense, emotional contacts with nature that happen only rarely.