Farmers have welcomed the recent spell of fine weather that has finally brought the countryside to life. After the long, harsh winter and late spring both men and their beasts enjoy having the sun on their backs.

Sunrise and sunset at this time of year are often the best times of the day on a farm. Unfortunately, sunrise is a time for getting on with work and I am a great believer that an hour in the morning is worth two in the afternoon. For some inexplicable reason you seem get through your workload quicker if you start early in the morning.

There's something about dawn, particularly in May, that's invigorating. Even the wildlife feels it, as birds sing their dawn chorus.

Solitary and mysterious hares head back to the hill to lie hidden during the day, after spending the night grazing the sweeter grass in the fields, and everywhere there's a buzz of activity that only happens at dawn.

Out on the hill curlews make their haunting, eerie cries, while snipe produce a distinctive drumming sound with their wings. Lapwings acrobatically rise and tumble in the air plaintively calling out "pee wee", from which they get their nickname "peewits".

Plucky peewits are my favourite bird and I always look forward to March when they return from their winter quarters to nest. They're the bravest little birds I know and woe betide the sheepdog who runs to close to a nest as mother peewit will swoop and dive until its chased away. When the chicks are hatched they will pretend to have a broken wing to lure hungry predators away from their brood. Then just as dog or fox think they are about to catch an easy meal, they fly away.

Sadly the numbers of curlews and peewits have declined in recent years - partly due to changing farming practices, but mainly due to predation by carrion crows, or corbies as we call them. Their numbers have been steadily increasing and they systematically scavenge in search of eggs that they greedily devour.

At one time, whenever corbies flew near a peewit's nest both male and female peewits took to the air to chase them away. That left the nest exposed so other corbies could eat the eggs. By the late nineties I noticed the peewits on my farm change their tactics as the females sat tight on their eggs and left their mates to fend off the raiders. That seemed to work and numbers gradually increased. Another important factor in their recovery locally was that gamekeepers trapped and shot more corbies, easing predation pressure.

Scotland has much of Europe's last wildernesses and we have an exciting, diverse environment full of life, movement, sound and colour that many of us take for granted. In built-up countries like Holland, city dwellers yearn for horizons that stretch further than the next block of high-rise flats. They need to be at one with nature to find an inner peace. It's amazing just how important wildlife is and how it adds something to our lives.

As I said, the two best times of the day are sunrise and sunset. After the day's work is finished it's easier to enjoy sunset from a leisurely vantage point and watch the wildlife bed down for the evening. To be tired enough to make the act of sitting down a sensation of real relief is a pleasure that has much to be said for it provided that you are not over-exhausted, but just physically in need of a rest.

I enjoy summer and autumn sunsets best. A dramatic red sky as the sun slowly dips behind the hills in the west shows off the drama of the local scenery to best advantage. Such a sunset is considered a shepherd's delight, but it is not exclusively reserved for shepherds and everyone can enjoy it.

Rooks streaming across the sky as they head back to their rookeries in the autumn give way to mallard ducks flying onto ponds or stubble fields to feed, whilst a woodcock may be briefly glimpsed flitting out of a wood to feed. Pheasants cackle in the woods as they settle down to roost for the night.

Overhead, bats begin catching moths with breathtaking precision. Occasionally a lamb will bleat for its mother and as dusk gives way to darkness there are the occasional screeches of a barn owl. As the light fades and the silence of the night descends, I always feel relaxed and contented. Maybe that's the real reason such colourful and dramatic sunsets are a shepherd's delight.