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.

Dusky harmonics

November 8th, 2008

THE COLD snap at the start of the week brought the red squirrels and the woodpeckers and the garden song birds all flocking to the peanut feeders. Not that they didn't come before but the availability of easy feeding was a welcome invitation.

Each evening I filled our three feeders. In the mornings they were attacked by hungry wildlife and by mid-afternoon were empty again. As we are surrounded by trees and shrubs and hedges which provide plenty of natural feeding I haven't put out any seeds yet, but it showed how important it can be to supplement the birds' diet at this time of year.

Macbeth led the way for Thursday's walk and I could hear geese calling from the wee loch about half a mile above the house, as the crow flies. I'm not a crow and Macbeth can't fly despite his long-held belief that some day he will, so we took the longer path through the wood.

Dusk was falling early and the pheasants had settled into their roosts in the trees. Young cock birds which had discovered that their voices had broken were  klok, klokking' away to each other, passing on the news that strangers were in the wood.

About thirty pink-footed geese (so far as I could see) were sitting on the loch as I crept into position at the foot of a massive beech tree. Its spreading branches still retained much of their dead and dying foliage which hid me from sight from above. Geese have excellent eyesight and are wary birds, and Macbeth's white coat could have been enough to spook others flying in to roost.

But another pack flew confidently in and settled on the water. They are complete masters of their aeronautical skills. I love watching them spiralling from a height as they come in to land, twisting and banking and whiffling the air through their feathers, and touching down with noisy splashes.

More followed in small packs and as we were sitting only some ten paces from the water's edge I had a marvellous view. They are noisy devils and by the time five hundred or so had dropped in for a wash and brush up the clamour of their calls was getting deafening.

I had noticed the variation in the pheasants' calls as we came through the wood, and the medley of  wink, wink' and honks from the geese were enough to write a pink-foot symphony. Mallard duck, which were also roosting on the loch, started to chime in too. Loud  kwek, kwek, kweks' competed with the geese.

I saw the unexplained flash of a torch at the far end of the loch and the birds round about me fell silent. A tawny owl called once, and with that the loch erupted and with a mighty, rushing wind the geese departed.

Hi, lotos eaters!

Written on Saturday, November 8th, 2008 at 10:32 pm for Weekly.