Jay walking

Today’s picture is a rather worrying road sign encountered by Bruce.


The forecast was not great for today but with the wind coming rather from a northerly direction, we were protected by the hills that more commonly give the rain when our usual wind comes from the south west.  Looking at reports of rain bedevilled sporting events to the east and south, it seems that we might have had the best of the weather.

After our cycling B&B guests had left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I had just arranged to go off to fill the moorland feeders with Sandy, when Dropscone appeared at the door having sneaked out for a solo pedal round the morning run.  He had found it hard going in a stiff wind and I was quite pleased to not to have gone with him.    There was no time for coffee since I had to go to pick Sandy up.

We filled the bird feeders and sat down to await events.  We didn’t have to wait long though and we were well entertained by the jay and several woodpeckers.



The jay was very active, flying across the clearing and paying several visits to one of the tall bird feeders.


It even managed to squeeze under the roof…


….and must have been a bit surprised on one occasion to find a woodpecker looking at it.

woodpecker and jay

I never expected to be able to take a picture of a woodpecker and a jay sharing a tree.

woodpecker and jay

I hoped to get a picture of the jay in flight as they look elegant in the air but it was always too quick or I was too slow.  This was my best effort.


In the end, the jay flew off and we too took our departure and retired to Wauchope Cottage for a cup of coffee and a biscuit.

It turned into another gloriously sunny day and Mrs Tootlepedal went full speed ahead at her gardening.  She is full of new ideas just now and things are getting shifted and reorganised so she is never short of something to do.

I, of course, have a camera to fill any idle moments that I might have.

The meconopsis have been well sheltered from the wind and the third flower has opened.
The azaleas, after a great explosion of colour, are reaching the end of the road.

I went to the back of the house to try to sneak a picture of blackbirds feeding their young but got distracted by finding a cotoneaster which was playing host to about twenty assorted bees and hoverflies.

Just two of the visitors.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal interrupted her gardening for long enough to respond to a call from Steve to get more cycling content back into the blog and we set out to do a short but strenuous (10 miles and 860ft of climbing) circular ride.  I took sandycam with me to record the green and pleasant land we cycled through.

Quarry Brae
Going up the second short hill near the start of the ride.
Looking across the Esk to the highest point of the circuit.

Having left the river side as we left the town, we dropped down and crossed the Esk at Burnfoot and climbed the hill towards the cottage that you can see in the picture above.  Below is the view looking back across the river.  You can see the road we took on the right of the picture.  The big house in the background is Craigcleuch.  This was built in the 1870s for the owner of a mill which was finally closed last month.


Here we can see Mrs Tootlepedal picking up the KOM points as she goes over the Col de Sorbie.

KOM at Sorbie
Alt 175m

This is the view back down the hill.

Esk valley

On our way we passed this unusual brown sheep.


By good fortune, the brisk wind was behind us for two thirds of the circle and we finished in an entirely happy mood brought on by the combination of the beauty of the countryside, the wealth of wild flowers by the road and the fact that the weather looked much worse ten miles north of us.

We were greeted by this ball of fluff when we got back.

There’s a siskin under there somewhere.

I went to have another look at the blackbird nest and it looks as though the chicks are rapidly outgrowing the rather small nest.

blackbird young

I put the fine weather to good use by sieving another bucket of compost and treating the middle lawn to a dose of combined buck-u-uppo and moss killer.   I am determined that, if only for a single week in the summer, both lawns should look as though they are in good condition.  The present spell of warm weather with occasional rain leaves me with no excuse.

Sandy rang me up in the evening to tell me that he had gone back to the moorland feeders to get some more shots of the woodpeckers and jay as he hadn’t been too happy with the results of his morning efforts.   A woodpecker and jay came to within feet of where he was sitting which brought him less joy than it would have if his camera hadn’t been sitting on a tripod with his remote control fixed to it and and pointing in entirely another direction.  We agreed that the only answer to this sort of thing was to have many more cameras each.  Ah well.

He also told me that an otter had been spotted in the dam behind our house this morning.  I shall have to keep an eye out for it.

Have failed to catch the jay in flight, a siskin will have to make do as flying bird of the day.

flying siskin









Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

23 thoughts on “Jay walking

    1. I am very busy with the photo exhibition and the concert at the moment but will try to get out as much as I can. Thank you for letting put in a few birds meanwhile.

  1. wonderful views during your bicycle ride. I enjoyed the shot of the jay and woodpecker at close quarters.

  2. Beautiful photos, I feel like I was there myself. That siskin is just too cute! I was so surprised to see you mention Wauchope Cottage (I’m somewhat new to your blog) – it’s actually the place we want to stay at if/WHEN we visit Scotland and England! My husband is big into cycling and my daughter and I love the scenery. Sounds like a perfect destination for us.

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