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.

In the midst of life and all that

May 7th, 2011

TWO DEATHS – it's the nesting season and the consequences could affect more than just the two birds that didn't see the end coming, or weren't quick enough to take evasive action.

There was no corpse to confirm the demise of the pigeon but from the explosion of feathers littering the ground it was clear that it had been taken – probably by a sparrow hawk   A pigeon's feathers fall out easily and with the impact of the hawk's stoop, and in the ensuing struggle while the hawk despatched it, the victim's feathers were scattered all around.

The dogs were more interested in the carcase of the red-legged partridge   Its breast was stripped of flesh by the time we found it   Possibly another victim of a sparrow hawk, but I'm told that they are a favourite prey of buzzards, and there are plenty of these large raptors in the neighbouring woods.

Pigeons lay eggs most months throughout the year and the loss of one in the natural order of things is scarcely critical   Red-legged partridges have only a short breeding season and both birds share in incubating the eggs and tending the chicks when they hatch   The remaining parent may desert the eggs if she or he is left on their own, and then the eggs will provide a meal for rats or stoats   Nothing goes to waste in nature.

I saw a stuffed pike's head for sale in Taylor's Auctions in Montrose   It was an ugly looking brute anyway, but the taxidermist had mounted it with its mouth wide open and I could see why they are one of the most feared predator fish.

Needle-sharp, backward-pointing canine teeth are supplemented by rows of short, backward-pointing teeth lining the roof of the mouth   Their prey stands little chance of escape as, the harder it struggles, the more it is impaled on the vicious barbs.

They are cannibalistic, taking their own kind and other fish; anything that's available really including ducklings, frogs, and water voles   Pike were regarded as a delicacy in mediaeval times and monks reared them in ponds, or stews, to eat on Fridays when they abstained from eating meat     I've only ever caught one, on holiday in Finland, and our host cooked it for me Finnish-style as a treat   Personally, I was underwhelmed!

One of my great pleasures when out with the dogs is walking amongst mature trees   With the new season's growth of leaves they are looking just about their best right now   There's all shades of green but the Doyenne and I like taking the walk past a venerable old copper beech   In the late afternoon sun it fair gleams on the far side of the field   Beside it there's a spreading horse chestnut tree smothered in white pyramid candle blossoms, promising loads of conkers in the autumn.

Written on Saturday, May 7th, 2011 at 9:44 am for Weekly.