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.

Feathered friends

March 24th, 2007

WATCHED him strolling confidently along the avenue between the high beeches. The mid morning sun, shining through the bare branches, lit up his rich chestnut and golden brown bodywork and the bottle-green head feathers. He was gorgeous, and he knew it. He stopped for a moment to ruffle his feathers, no doubt the pheasant equivalent of checking his tie was still knotted perfectly, and that just the right amount of handkerchief was showing from his breast pocket.

He calls most days to pick at the seeds below the bird table which the tits and the finches have discarded, so he's a useful visitor. The spring plumage is very grand. As is his royal progress – fastidiously picking up his feet with each step and drawing the claws into a pointed bunch, and then splaying them out again as he rather primly prepares for the next one, as if fearing to tread in something perfectly revolting.

The bird table is right outside the kitchen window so I have a front row seat to watch the activity. Unlike the woodpeckers which are very proprietorial about the feeders when they call, the pheasant is happy to share with the robins and sparrows. The slightly curved beak gives him a supercilious look. I gave a tap on the window and he turned his basilisk eye, ringed with gold and sitting in its red cheek wattle, on me as if to say – “I'll take your question after lunch, young man.”

Although they are very much birds of the wild, pheasants will quickly accept human company, especially when food is on offer. Friends had a daily morning visit from a cock pheasant, named Jocky, which tapped on the kitchen window with his beak, signalling that it was time for the children to leave their own, and go out and serve him breakfast.

Percy, on the other hand, liked the walled garden. Sooty, an experienced hunting cat, regarded everything in the walled garden as family, and he and Percy were often seen there, sitting side-by-side in harmonious compatibility. Snoozing gently in the sunshine, the Master of the Hoose was awoken by an insistent pecking at his leg – Percy was peckish! Being of kindly disposition the M-o-H went indoors by the French windows and through the dining room, dogged – in a manner of speaking – every step of the way by Percy, to the utility room where bird food was kept and lunch could be served in style.

This familiarity with humans proved fatal for Jocky who met an untimely end, and history does not say whether Percy died of contented old age. But the two stories show how wild birds will readily exploit any opportunities that make it easier to forage for food.

I'm assured Percy would be thrilled to have been immortalised today, so I think I must salute Jocky too.

Written on Saturday, March 24th, 2007 at 9:13 am for Weekly.