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.

Autumn and ardour

September 17th, 2011

THE SEASONS can be tracked by Macbeth’s coat. Throughout the summer he was unwitting host to ticks, picked up from the undergrowth on his hair, which burrow down to gorge on his blood. For a while scarcely a day went by without us having to remove at least one of these unpleasant visitors from somewhere on his body.

As the weather has turned cooler the ticks are no longer the problem – now he arrives home from walks covered in sticky willy seeds; a harbinger – as Terry Wogan would say – of autumn.

It’s not the only sign. The bracken is dying back, its leaves withering and turning rust-coloured for winter. The pink flowers of rose-bay willow-herb provide one of the last splashes of summer colour, but by the end of the month they’ll be gone too.

And after a patchy start the harvest is in full swing. Out with the dogs last thing, when the wind has calmed, I hear the grain dryers on the neighbouring farms going full pelt throughout the night.

It’s been a good season for chanterelle mushrooms. It started early and I can still find enough for a breakfast fry-up. I fry them with thin Schinken ham which crisps up deliciously when cooked.

As I was talking to a neighbour she suddenly pointed out a red kite sailing above us. Although it was unusually high it was unmistakeable from the slender, angled wings and long, notched tail. It was being mobbed by smaller birds which I think were most likely jackdaws, but they were too far off to see clearly.

A pair of kites nested in the woods at the back of the house last year and we saw them almost daily. When the Doyenne saw a pair in March this year I hoped it was the same pair returning to nest again – but it didn’t happen. Seeing just the one, I hope the mate was not far off.

Springtime is generally regarded as the breeding time for most birds and animals, but a number of species breed into the autumn and late broods and litters are not uncommon at this stage in the season. Out walking the dogs I’ve come across four fresh empty pigeon shells where I know there were none on earlier walks. Pigeons, of course, nest practically every month of the year.

I’d got up to make the Doyenne an early cup of tea. It was still only half light but I could see a pair of hares on the grass outside the kitchen window. I’ve watched hares often enough to recognise their mating rituals. The male was clearly keen to couple with the female and she was equally determined to permit it only at a moment of her choosing. I can’t help feeling, however, that nature will have had the final word!

Written on Saturday, September 17th, 2011 at 5:42 am for Weekly.