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.

Orange Ark

April 24th, 2010

YOU NEVER know who you are going to meet round the next corner   Thus it was on Wednesday when the dogs and I were out again walking along the side of the River North Esk   What looked like an orange boat bobbing about in the shallows turned out to be three floats, like Oropesa floats, linked together to form a platform.

In a wooden shed on the bank, crouched over a computer, I met Gary Killon and Ian Forbes who work for SEPA – the Scottish Environment Protection Agency which has responsibility for protecting and improving Scotland's environment and creating a sustainable legacy for future generations, an ideal close to my heart.

The computer was linked to an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler which is the grown up name for their wee orange boat, and it is a very sophisticated piece of kit   Using sonar, it measures the flow and quantity of water coming down the river to provide accurate flood forecasting.

The boat was secured to an overhead wire which spanned the river and was winched back and forth enabling Gary and Ian to measure the relationship between the height and flow of water at various points   This is the last of three recording stations on the river which collect information on rainfall and floodwater threat.

SEPA is introducing an improved proactive flood warning system to their existing Flood Warning Direct provision, which will come into operation in the autumn   This will enable the agency to give a minimum of three hours notice of flooding via text or phone message to vulnerable houses and businesses which sign up to the new system, so that they can take preventive action.

I chased the dogs out of the hut before Inka put his foot through the computer and we carried on up the river   Inka suddenly froze in classic pointer pose, his nose working overtime   As I thought, it was a nest but an unwelcome visitor had been there before us.

Just a scrape in the ground, lined with grass and leaves, there were broken egg shells scattered around and a single partridge egg sitting forlornly in the middle   Possibly the work of a crow for, although it seemed well concealed amongst thin saplings, the nest was too close to the field edge to escape sharp-eyed predators   That's nature, but it's probably still early enough for the birds to mate again and produce a second clutch.

I've been told that the Keithock Burn which rises somewhere about Trinity, outside Brechin, and flows into the Cruick Water (which in turn flows into the West Water, which in due course joins the River North Esk) is the only river in Angus to flow north   There are an awful lot of water courses in Angus – surely there can't be just one that flows north   What can readers tell me?

Written on Saturday, April 24th, 2010 at 9:54 am for Weekly.