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.

…. full of dead men’s bones

October 17th, 2009

CRAIGIE COLUMN has been publishing an interesting correspondence about the absence of garden birds from readers' feeding stations. Some birds migrate away at the end of summer but, with the exception of the woodpeckers, we don't expect to see much activity at our own feeders at this time of year.

On the other hand the tawny owls, which have been silent all summer, now exchange night-time confidences with each other, keeping me company when I take the dogs out last thing. The fieldfares are starting to arrive for winter and I hear their chattering calls on the edges of the woods. They like the waxy red hawthorn berries and there's plenty feeding for them at the moment.

My own view is that there is such an abundance of organic or natural food available, that the birds which don't migrate prefer to eat the real thing rather than shop-bought alternatives. In other words there's a season for everything, and they will reappear when the natural food starts to run short.

The squirrels disappear for the same reason. In beech woods where I know they are, empty beech mast husks litter the ground, evidence that they are feeding heavily and building up body fat for the winter months. My cousin and his wife came to stay recently – city dwellers, used only to seeing the grey variety, they were disappointed that we couldn't produce red squirrels to order, especially as I write about them so much.

I heard a lot of goose activity at the wee loch on the edge of the woods at the back of the house. Keeping to the trees for cover and keeping the dogs to heel, I could see more bunches of geese flying in for a wash and brush up. Before I could get to my favourite hide something or somebody disturbed them and several thousand lifted off as one. When there are as many as that the rush of their wings blots out all other sounds. It's only for a few moments, but it's very dramatic while it lasts.

Retracing old footsteps took us to the Capo Woods just off the Lang Stracht, the long straight road connecting Upper Northwaterbridge with the Edzell-Fettercairn road. It was a great favourite when the family were young and it was probably twenty years or more since we'd last walked there.

There's a fine track past the Capo quarry down to the River North Esk and the forestry tracks in the wood are well maintained. And you can visit the Capo Long Barrow which is an Iron Age burial mound. For 6000 years the last mortal remains of wee hairy hunter gatherers lay there undisturbed in their funerary cists, but nowadays their peace is disrupted by the constant roar of traffic from the A90 on the other side of the river.

Written on Saturday, October 17th, 2009 at 7:02 am for Weekly.