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.

Black looks

June 13th, 2009

IT'S NOT that I especially object to feeding the jackdaws, but when I go downstairs first thing and see upwards of two dozen lined up on the grass outside the kitchen window, waiting their turn to feed at the peanut baskets, I do experience some exasperation. They come in such numbers that even the squirrels seem to hold back until the black raiders have had their fill.

None of the songbirds, or even the woodpeckers, get a look in either and the jackdaws' strong, solid beaks break open the wire mesh so that the nuts pour out onto the ground. Which gets expensive on the peanuts, and I may as well scatter them on the ground in the first place.

Several years ago I complained about much the same thing and kind readers came up with a variety of suggestions about how to deal with it. One bird feeder on the market has a protective cage round the feeder itself which allows only the small songbirds access to the nuts but that, sadly, defeats our efforts to encourage the woodpeckers and the squirrels. Both species have flourished and increased in numbers with year-round feeding, and regular readers will know how much pleasure they give us and our visitors too.

One feeder hangs from a crossbar nailed to the top of a fencing post and I really thought we could crack the problem when the Doyenne brought home some thin dowelling. I poked four lengths of the cane through the mesh so that it projected six inches or so on either side, like a wooden  hedgehog', and reckoned that this would deter the jackdaws from flying in close enough to land on it.

I saw with satisfaction that the woodpeckers and squirrels quickly adapted to the change and there was no sign of jackdaws. But I'm dealing with probably the most resourceful member of the crow family and no other family of birds comes even close to matching their intelligence. By the following morning they had worked out that by swinging on a piece of the dowelling and jamming the bottom of the feeder against the side of the post they could stabilise it enough to feed again.

I extended the length of the crossbar so that the feeder swings completely free of the post and went to bed with high hopes. Imagine my frustration this morning when I saw a jackdaw perched on the dowelling again, swaying about a bit like a boat in a storm, but still managing to feed.

The best I seem to have achieved so far is to reduce the amount they devour, leaving more for our more welcome visitors. I don't doubt that, as you are reading this, the jackdaws are applying their ingenuity as to how they can overcome this latest setback – so the struggle goes on!

Written on Saturday, June 13th, 2009 at 11:58 am for Weekly.