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.

Mixed marriage

September 10th, 2011

EVERY ONCE in a while Nature throws up an oddity.

Unless they've gone in the last twenty four hours there's a gaggle of about fifty greylag geese on the lochan behind the house   They have been there nearly a fortnight and settled in with the resident mallard ducks very neighbourly-like.

Greylags are our only native breeding wild goose, which these almost certainly are, because the winter-visiting migrants won't start to arrive from Iceland until the end of this month. There's been no sense of the restlessness of new arrivals about the birds, so I think they've been in Scotland all summer, although there are plenty of stories about how climate change has disturbed the traditional rhythms of the wild.

There's something of the farmyard about the birds   On land they walk with measured dignity and on the water they upend themselves like farmyard ducks to feed on the aquatic grasses growing on the bottom   The dogs and I have been keeping an eye on them and there's one that stands out from the pack   It has broad white-feathered patches on its cheeks and across its forehead, quite unlike other greylags I've seen.

I didn't have binoculars the first time I saw it and thought it might have been a Canada goose   They have white cheek patches which extend below the chin, but not on the forehead   Once I got the glasses on it, there was no doubt   Canada geese have a black head and bill whereas this bird has the greylag's ashy-grey head and distinctive orange beak.

I phoned a wise ornithologist friend with my story   He told me greylags are the ancestors of the familiar white farmyard goose, and the most likely explanation for what I had seen was that my bird's great, great, very great grandfather had mated with a domestic bird   What I was seeing was a throwback to this ancestral union   I was quite disappointed – I imagined I'd discovered something much more exciting.

My father regarded himself as a whisky connoisseur   He was fond of his food too and, as my silhouette bears testament, it's clear I have inherited his predilection   As a countryman Father reckoned a casseroled pigeon was just about the finest meal Nature could offer, but he never thought of mixing whisky and bird together.

I remember a story about a gardener who was driven near demented by the damage hungry pigeons inflicted on his vegetables   He was not a shooting man and nothing he did seemed to deter them, until he hit on the idea of feeding them corn soaked in whisky   The whisky did the trick and the pigeons keeled over completely sozzled and the gardener gathered them up and despatched them.

With today's price of whisky you couldn't do that now, but what a sales line – oven-ready pigeons with built-in whisky sauce!

Written on Saturday, September 10th, 2011 at 2:29 pm for Weekly.