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.

Spring activity

April 9th, 2011

I LIKE to keep an eye on the lochan at the back of the house at this time of year   The wildlife sightings are more quality than quantity for a lot of the waterfowl are paired off and, if not already nesting, certainly getting domestic.

We hadn't gone far when I saw two bumble bees feeding on pussy willows by the side of the track   I'm no expert on bees, but I believe I'm right in saying that these were likely to be queen bees, newly emerged from their winter hibernation, feeding heavily on the willow's pollen as they prepare to seek suitable sites to build a nest and lay their eggs which will develop into this year's worker bees.

It was an encouraging sight for there have been worrying declines in numbers of honey bees as well as bumblers in recent past seasons   Willows are one of the first trees to flower in spring and the pussy willows provide a welcome source of energy not just for the bumble bees.

Signs that spring is gearing up are getting more plentiful   A couple of rhododendrons, one white and one blood red, poke their heads above a high wall to greet me in the mornings when I take the dogs out.

Flowering currant grows wild in the woods, but it's not a shrub I'm fond of – the blossom smells as though a cat has stopped by it briefly and relieved itself   Thinking about it reminds me of a white wine that we used to buy some years ago called Cat's Pee on the Gooseberry Bush   Contrarily, it was a wine that we enjoyed and was ideal for drinking outdoors at barbecues.

As expected, it was quiet up at the loch and I sat with my back against a comfy strainer post, waiting to see what came along   Inka and Macbeth found spots out of the wind and settled down too, enjoying the sun's warmth.

There was a ripple on the water and a mallard drake and three ducks bobbed past, apparently without effort   It's true what they say about everything being calm on the surface but beneath they are pedalling like mad.

I know one swallow doesn't make a summer but it gladdened my heart when my first swallow of the season swooped out of nowhere and flashed across the loch hunting for insects   It disappeared almost as suddenly as it arrived   Shortly afterwards another – or perhaps it was the same one – pirouetted across the water in a blaze of aerobatics   Harbingers of others soon to follow?

On the road home two buzzards were tumbling on the blustery wind, the light feathered patches on the underside of their wings catching the sun   Buzzards stay together for life and while they were probably engaged in their annual mating display, they clearly seemed to be having fun too.

Written on Saturday, April 9th, 2011 at 10:48 am for Weekly.