Day to spring on the bike…


The weekend before Easter was the first really fine weekend of the year when spring was evident in abundance. I took to the saddle (being a fair weather cyclist) and set out, complete with packed lunch, to enjoy the sunshine.

As I’ve often said, cycling is a great way to get around the countryside without causing much disturbance and being able to hear as well as see what’s about near the roadside is a great bonus.

The first thing I noticed was the abundance of singing willow warblers which must have all arrived that weekend. They joined the chiffchaff as the most vocal of the summer migrants heard all day.

My first refreshment stop was at the old Tweed Bridge between Selkirk and Gala, where I sat by the river. The bank was covered in lesser celandines whose glossy yellow petals mimicked the overhead sun and several butterflies peacock (pictured, top of page) and small tortoiseshell flitted around, pausing occasionally to soak up the warmth.

A pair of oystercatchers loafed on the opposite bank, while jackdaws busily gathered nesting material for their hidey-holes under the arches of the old bridge. Great tits were gathering moss from an old tree stump to line their nests.

The warmth brought out the bumble bees, too, in huge numbers. Several species were seen, so it doesn’t look as if the harsh winter has affected either them or the butterflies.

Cycling between there and the Yair Bridge, along one of the Borders’ most scenic routes, I encountered at least three grey squirrels on the roadside beeches. Not the most encouraging sighting of the day.

Approaching the Yair, I was greeted by a sign warning me to look out for canoes on the road. I was unaware that the river had burst its banks, but all was revealed when I saw the slalom gates above the water. The local canoe club was obviously having a competition on the rapids below the bridge.

This called for another refreshment halt. I found a comfy seat on the river bank and watched the youngsters shooting the rapids in fine style, egged on by excited parents and friends. I just thought what a great hobby it must be for youngsters, getting out in the fresh air, getting loads of exercise and enjoying the competitiveness and camaraderie of others with similar interests.

Before moving on, I was momentarily distracted by the antics of a tree creeper spiralling up the tree next to my vantage point, reminding me that I was supposed to be on a bike run, looking for wildlife.

It was one of those magical spring days when you just want to stay out until dark and soak up all the sights and sounds . Next day it was cold and wet!