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.

Butterfly mind

March 20th, 2010

IT'S NOT always the big things that catch my imagination   Throughout the winter I've kept an eye on a small, shell-like casing which had attached itself to the garage wall   It's about two centimetres long and coloured light green   It chose a rather exposed and precarious spot amongst rake and broom handles where it could so easily have been dislodged   But it has remained anchored to that wall all through winter, defying the frosts and the winds and the garden tools being moved about.

I know there's a chrysalis inside waiting for a spring-time rise in temperature to wake it from its winter hibernation, when nature tells it that it's time to assume its new identity   I didn't see the caterpillar arrive and spin itself into its winter quarters, but I might be lucky in the next month or so and be around at the moment the pupa breaks out of its cocoon and emerges, transformed, as a butterfly – another declaration of nature's wonders.

Small white butterflies are amongst the commonest of the diminishing numbers of our garden butterflies   Their green caterpillars wreak devastation on the nasturtiums we plant each year but it's good to know we're providing a favourite food source and helping to maintain these pretty insects which contribute such pleasure to spring and summer   So, before long, I'm expecting to see a small white butterfly flittering by, with its haphazard butterfly flight, to the woodland edges near the house.

As autumn draws in, small tortoiseshell butterflies are often attracted indoors to hibernate over winter   A warm spell in spring time, like the one we've just enjoyed, is enough to waken them   We've had two in the bedroom   I had to take protective measures with one, and slide a sheet of paper under it, to move it from the centre of the carpet   Macbeth trails about the room without any thought for any of nature's wonders, except himself, and probably thought he was seeing a leaf.

Despite my intervention both have died – the butterflies, that is – which is a pity, but there is still a healthy population of them round here   They are very attracted to buddleia and I look forward to seeing them swarming over the lances of pink and white flowers around about mid-summer   Apart from its fragrance and colour, buddleia is an important source of nectar and most species of our butterflies and bees feed on it, which accounts for its nickname of the butterfly bush.

Woodcock are back in the woods round the house   Their russet plumage with barred head and underparts is so ideally adapted to their woodland habitat that, even when one was pointed out to me about eight paces away, it took me an age to make out its outline crouched in amongst dead leaves at the foot of a holly tree.

Written on Saturday, March 20th, 2010 at 11:28 am for Weekly.