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.

Regeneration and stuff

May 21st, 2011

TOO BUSY looking, to see   There's so much wildlife activity at this time of year I should be better focussed and avoid getting sidetracked.

I'm too easily distracted from the washing-up to gaze out of the kitchen window, watching mistle thrushes ranging over the lawn in search of wholesome, tasty, organic baby food and flying off with beaks stuffed with worms and grubs for their nestlings   They are early nesters which is why they are so busy now.

Meantime there's a temporary absence from the bird table of many of the small garden song birds which are sitting on eggs   It will be a different story in a couple of weeks when the tits and chaffinches have nests full of noisy chicks and the parent birds are run ragged keeping up with their demands for food.

Most frequent visitors to the bird feeders are the woodpeckers and the red squirrels – and the bane of my life, the jackdaws   They are as entitled as any of the birds to the extra feeding but, apart from the squirrels which aren't intimidated, the jackdaws chase everything else away   It's nature finding her own level, but the jackdaws are bullies and I have a lot of sympathy with the small birds.

I talk to the anglers I meet while walking the dogs up the riverbank   They (the anglers, that is) tell me that the River North Esk is full of salmon but frequently the water has been too low to let them swim upstream to their spawning grounds   The North Esk is known as a spate river, meaning it depends on rainfall and a spate water to fill the river and let the migrating salmon pass through the parts that are too shallow.

There's worrying evidence of disease amongst the salmon, which are attacked by a white fungus and is probably a death sentence once it is contracted   It's first evident on the nose and moves back along the flanks of the fish's body, and can be seen quite clearly when the fish are in low water   It's believed to be caused by stress of overcrowding when fish are held in a pool and can't move upriver because of lack of water.

A favourite walk with the dogs is up the North Esk from Inveriscandye, below Edzell, and this is the time to see the riverside spring flowers.

There's yellow primrose, and broom and sharp-spined whin   Lilac wild violets and blue speedwell, bugle and vetch   Water aven, a most attractive plant which I don't recall knowingly seeing before, which has deep pink, almost purple, drooping bell-shaped flowers   And pink campion   And frothy white Lucy Arnot or pignut blossom, stitchwort and Sweet Cicely which makes me think of granddaughter Sweet Cecily.

So, that's the dilemma – there's so much to look at, what do you see?

Written on Saturday, May 21st, 2011 at 11:13 am for Weekly.