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.

Putting money where the need is

September 3rd, 2011

PLAYING THE Devil’s Advocate can be a tricky business – potentially provoking a contentious debate when I have long said that Man with Two Dogs is non-controversial.

I wrote recently about the buzzard attack on photographer Bruce Robertson as he cycled from Forfar to Montrose   There are reports of at least another four of this bird’s victims, one of them a walker, all attacked in the vicinity of Bonnyton Farm.

Montrosian Peter Travis, who travels that road regularly, took to making a detour before Bonnyton and cycling an extra mile and a half round by Barnhead, and rejoining the main road at Maryton Church crossroads   Happily he's run the gauntlet of the main road several times since and got home unscathed.

Here's a truly wild bird which has attacked and injured a number of humans passing through its territory   Time will tell whether its aggression has diminished but was this, as I suggested in my earlier article, a defensive response while it had young close by, or is it a rogue buzzard and a public danger?

Compare that situation with the recent report in this newspaper of the attack on the Rev. Hunter Farquharson by a sea eagle which he disturbed killing his geese inside their shed   The difference is that the sea eagle had been hand reared as part of a scientific reintroduction project and so has a human and domestic imprint in its experience.

I'll hazard a guess that the bird was frustrated and irritated when it was disturbed   I'll hazard another that if it hadn't been hand reared the natural instinct of an otherwise free bird of the open skies and the seas would have cautioned it against entering the enclosed space of a goose shed.

On a grander scale, the Alladale Wilderness Reserve in Sutherland is engaged in an  €œecological restoration programme € to restore Scotland's extinct mammals   They have already reintroduced wild boar and elk, long extinct from the Highlands, and there are ambitions to bring back wolves, and perhaps lynx and bears.

I've concerns about  €œre-wilding € pockets of Scotland; not least about what happens, for instance, when Paul Lister who is Alladale's driving force, inevitably, is no longer there.

Over centuries, Scotland's countryside has adjusted to being without these creatures. I'm uncertain what the essential ecological benefits are of reintroducing them.

Remember how the ospreys re-colonised Scotland naturally in 1954 when they nested at Loch Garten   They did it when and where they, and nature, were ready   Should we have allowed the sea eagles the same freedom of determination, letting nature take its course rather than man forcing the pace?

The question for me is why aren't we nurturing the endangered wildlife we know needs help now?   I'd rather see the future of, say, our native wildcats assured before seeing money spent introducing what, in effect, have become alien species.

Written on Saturday, September 3rd, 2011 at 9:25 am for Weekly.