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.

Getting to the bottom of things …

September 19th, 2009

WOOD HEDGEHOGS aren't wood and aren't hedgehogs either, as I found out several days ago. The Wood Hedgehog or Urchin of the Woods is one of our woodland mushrooms and although they are quite common I've never knowingly seen one before. They are identified by the spines instead of gills on the underside of the pale cap.

There is a convoluted logic, even humour, in the names we have given some of our insects and fungi, based on shape or colour or other characteristic. Seen from below, the Wood Hedgehog does have a passing resemblance to the animal seen upside down. On the other hand Orange Peel and Salmon Salad fungi look pretty much exactly as you'd expect them to look. And what of the Deceiver? Why was it so named, and where is the deception?

Moths are mostly nocturnal so we usually don't see them until the moment of imminent death on the car windscreen. But does the Common Quaker quake when it is at rest on a branch? Which Hebrew letter or symbol appears on the Hebrew Character's markings to account for its name? There can be no doubt, however, about the origin of the Death Head Hawk Moth which has an image of a skull and crossbones on the back of its head.

It's been the best season for butterflies than I can recall for many years. Out with the dogs, I've made a point of stopping at a neighbour's colourful garden and several bushes of nectar-rich buddleia nearby which have been supporting colonies of Red Admirals, Peacocks and Painted Ladies.

There's an old fashioned pleasure in standing in the sunshine, watching the insects' apparently aimless progress from bloom to bloom. They land momentarily on my hair and clothes, but soon realise I'm not too tasty and fly on. Incidentally, buddleia is sometimes called the butterfly bush because the plumes of tiny, heavily scented, white and purple flowers are so attractive to them.

We've bought a new birdtable and it's a two holer. The nesting box on top is divided into two compartments with an entrance hole for each.

Lem Putt is the main character in a slim book called “The Specialist” by Charles Sale. Lem's speciality was sanitary engineering if you are fastidious, or building outdoor privies if you are more tolerant. He had an intuitive awareness of human nature which helped him to provide for his customers' most delicate psychological as well as material needs. A major discussion before work started was always whether the facility should be a  single holer, two holer, up to eight holer!

Students of Scottish social and agricultural architectural history might have been interested in the two holer that I saw sixty years ago built over cattle courts at a farm outside Ullapool. There was little account taken of individual sensitivities when that was made.

Written on Saturday, September 19th, 2009 at 10:36 pm for Weekly.