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.

Walking on broken egg shells

May 15th, 2010

EGG COLLECTING used to be regarded as a respectable contribution to ornithology   The Victorians, who rarely did things by halves, amassed some huge collections which are probably now all held by museums, although I believe it is now not policy to openly display them.

It used to be quite a schoolboy hobby too but it all came to an end, and for the best, with the enactment of the 1954 Protection of Birds Act, and later reinforced by the 1981 Wildlife & Countryside Act   Now it is illegal just to be in possession of wild birds' eggs even if you haven't taken them from the nest   However it's still useful to be able to recognise our wild birds' eggshells for they are an indicator of what we can expect to see in our favourite parts of the countryside.

Coming home from a walk with the dogs I found the empty shell – pale blue with red-brown blotches – of a newly hatched mistle thrush   We already know of two such nests beside the house, and even though the parent birds drop the hatched shells well away from their nests so as not to draw attention to the chicks, this find was far enough away to indicate another family.

Close by was half a light blue hedge sparrow's shell   They are a lot less common than I remember, so it's good to think another four or five of these unobtrusive birds will add to the pleasure of walks   Their piping calls are heard almost throughout the whole year.

Keeping one's eyes open and being on the lookout for these signs of birdlife regeneration adds interest to walks at this time of year, and broadens our countryside knowledge.

I've never given a great deal of thought to bookworms   When they have been burrowing in books it's generally confirmation that the book is very old   So when the Doyenne opened one of her cookbooks and found the familiar tunnels bored through it, I took a bit more notice.

Research suggested our visitor could well have been a paper louse which was fattening itself up at our expense   They like a kitchen's warm and moist atmosphere and feed on organic matter in  ill-maintained' books   In order to protect the guilty I stopped my research there – but it has set me thinking!

A family of young squirrels – kits, they are called – is providing us with endless entertainment   I watched an adult and kit feeding together on one of the peanut feeders   A second kit tried to elbow its way in and get a share too     Suddenly it was very familiar – the parent lost patience with its pushy kids and for a brief moment there was red fur flying everywhere and the two kits found themselves back in the adjoining pine tree, blaming each other, and having to wait their turn.

Written on Saturday, May 15th, 2010 at 7:19 pm for Weekly.