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.

Sting in the tale

September 27th, 2014

I’M CREDITED sometimes with more knowledge than I deserve. A reader asked, apropos of what I cannot now remember, what happens to bluebell seed?

My doubtfully informed reply was that as bluebells grow from bulbs I reckoned that they reproduce by dividing their bulbs, just like daffodils. Yes – but what happens to the seed? – was the response.

When I worked in Dundee I sometimes spent lunchtimes in the quiet oasis of Dundee Botanic Gardens. I called Alasdair Hood, the Gardens’ Curator, who had the answer.

Scottish bluebells are among a number of plants that employ two methods of reproduction. Because their seed is so tiny it can take as long as five years for a seed to produce a new flowering plant which produces a new bulb. If they relied solely on that, reproduction would be incredibly slow.

So the bluebells adopt a secondary vegetative, or asexual, reproductive system. The bulbs divide and the resultant plant is an identical clone of the parent plant, which speeds up propagation. And that is how we can look forward to the colourful banks of nodding bluebells which brighten up our spring days.

Stubble fields are good places to walk dogs. They can run free and don’t come home covered in glaur. And you can get to parts of the countryside that you normally avoid because of growing crops.

I’m surprised by the number of immature pheasants, scarcely bigger than poults, that Inka puts up from around the field margins and ditches. The open summer and dry weather must have persuaded a number of pheasant pairs that they could risk a late brood.

The shooting season opens for pheasants on 1st October, but there’s no sport in shooting such wee birds. Partridge shooting started at the beginning of this month but I picked up a bird at the foot of the Cairn o’ Mount that was obviously a hit-and-run victim.

I’ve no problems about picking up road kill, it’s free meat. I’ll pluck this one and if it’s not too damaged – some only get a bang on the head and are otherwise unmarked – it will go into the deep freeze and end up in a pie. Or I might find another the next time I drive north and the Doyenne and I will have a wee party.

We’re troubled with wasps in the kitchen. These are worker wasps which are coming to the end of their life cycle. They are looking for nectar to feed on which, of course, is in declining supply in the autumn. The insects are attracted indoors in their hunt for sweet, sugary liquids. They’ll die anyhow but most meet a swift end with a swipe from a rolled-up newspaper.

We hadn’t visited the wee lochan at the foot of Glenesk for nearly a month so Inka and I took a turn round there earlier in the week. I settled comfortably into the natural seat at the foot of my favourite old beech tree, watching and listening, and heard the whisper of wind sideslipping out from beneath wings.

A party of two dozen peewits flashed over the tree’s green canopy, swooping down to skim the water’s surface, but rolling and twisting at the last moment to circle round and do it all over again and again. They were so obviously having fun, glorying in their aerobatic agility.

They are gregarious birds. Landing on the other side of loch, they pattered about the mud, black crests erect and calling to each other with their wheezy, longing pee-wee calls. Their breeding season up the glen has finished and they are starting to flock in readiness of flying to the coast to overwinter. We’ll see them again next spring when they return with the teuchit, the peewit, storms.

I came across an anthology of verse called The Dog in British Poetry collected by R. Maynard Leonard from the fourteenth century and published in 1893. A poem entitled The Friend of Man, by an anonymous poet, appealed to me – With eye upraised his master’s look to scan / The joy, the solace, and the aid of man; / The rich man’s guardian and the poor man’s friend, / The only creature faithful to the end.

Written on Saturday, September 27th, 2014 at 9:31 pm for Weekly.