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.

Little things

April 28th, 2007

 YESTERDAY IS history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why they call it the present.' I've no idea who said it, but what a super thought. The Doyenne and I frequently count our blessings – grandchildren and good health are a start – and we welcome each new morning and the gifts that each day brings.

Small things leave lasting impressions and whenever I go along familiar paths I'm usually on the lookout for something I've seen before. So I was delighted to see the dipper again – or maybe it was a new one – flying out from beneath a bridge that the dogs and I walk over regularly. I'm wondering if there might be a nest there.

As we continued down the burn two pied wagtails flew on ahead of us, flitting from stone to stone until they'd gone far enough and flew back to where we'd first met them. I looked back and watched them flicking their long tails in disapproval at being disturbed. Little Tommy Wagtails my mother called them when my sister and I were young.

Time spent indoors looking out is mostly time well spent. When you're surrounded by trees and hedges and bushes there's a busy world to look at. A mistle thrush and a jackdaw were squaring up to each other on the grass outside the sitting room window. The thrush was in a right royal rage and attacking the bigger bird. They were well away from cover that might contain a nest so perhaps they were fighting over food. Whatever the reason the thrush won the contest and saw its adversary off.

There's a notice beside the path through the Blue Door at The Burn, near Edzell, which tells you to look out for the otters which live along the River North Esk. I haven't actually seen one there yet, but I've just come in from exploring the riverbank where I found tracks in a wee spit of sand right down by the water's edge. They are wary animals and it's either sheer good luck if you see one, or you need perseverance and patience.

The fine weather is welcome but the rivers are low, and the spring run of salmon need to get up the rivers to spawn in the headwaters. I've spoken to several fishermen who don't report a lot of activity. Although the salmon fishing season opened in February for the North and South Esks, anglers should use barbless hooks until the 1st of June and return all salmon caught on what is called the  catch and release basis' to help preserve the spring run of fish in the river system.

It's just a sack of shakings this week, but at this time of year there's so much activity it's hard to know what to write about and what to leave out.