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.

Butterflies and cockyolybirds

July 16th, 2011

BEING ONE half of a team that wrote the story of an amazing dog I was intrigued by an e-mail from our daughter about another unusual dog that was born without front legs and has learnt to walk upright on its hind legs like a faintly Jurassic human   It lives a full life and obviously has adapted to its circumstances completely   Google  Faith the dog' and you'll get his official website and a YouTube film of Faith on the move.

A pair of buzzards have reared two chicks in the woods just across the field from the house   The youngsters are still dependent on the parent birds and, out first thing with the dogs, I hear their insistent calls demanding breakfast from their overworked parents   They haven't learnt yet that cars are death traps for buzzards and are inclined to sit by the side of the drive, rising rather clumsily when they hear the car approaching and flapping off in front of me.

Last week I wrote about the scarcity of butterflies so it was interesting, as I got dressed on Wednesday morning, to listen to Sir David Attenborough being interviewed by James Naughtie on Radio 4's Today programme, explaining why butterflies are such useful guides to what is going on in our gardens and countryside.

Better still, visit www.bigbutterflycount.org to take part in a nationwide on-line survey of butterflies   From this weekend until the end of the month we are asked to spend only fifteen minutes looking for and counting butterflies   There's a colour poster to print off to help identify and record the butterflies you see.

Butterflies are indicators of the health of our countryside, so it's an ideal thing for school kids on holiday to undertake, knowing that their personal research is an important contribution to the picture of their distribution and numbers.

I also wrote that siskins are one of our few native birds that don't have a nickname   I should have known better than be so over-confident   By Monday morning I had a postcard telling me that they are known as Barley Birds and Thistle Finches – obviously references to favourite seeds in their diet   I'm always delighted when readers get in touch to correct me, sharing their own knowledge of the countryside and adding to mine.

If you walk your dogs in the country it's the time of year they get ticks, which are best removed quickly   We check Inka and Macbeth almost daily for the unwelcome visitors.

It's not just dogs – humans too   I played host to one when we were on holiday in Sutherland and had to visit the doctor to be treated   I was given a fortnight's supply of antibiotics and strict instructions to finish the course   Left untreated, Lyme Disease can develop which has unpleasant effects.

Note –    cockyolybirds – see Shorter OED ‘dear little birds’ c.f. ‘dicky birds’

Written on Saturday, July 16th, 2011 at 2:01 pm for Weekly.