Beautiful purple sandpipers but oh gosh its cold!

Seen 30 March 2013
Sketch of purple sandpiper using 2H and HB pencilsThe best time to see purple sandpipers here is at high tide when the only rocks still above water are those close to shore.

Battery Point is a great place to see ships passing within feet of the shore, or to get a good view of wintering purple sandpipers and this morning I was not disappointed on either count. It was actually a sunny morning but oh gosh it was cold with such a bitter, bitter easterly wind blowing a gale it felt like mid winter instead of spring.


There were at least five tugs escorting the large Panamanian bulk carrier Ocean Lord past Battery Point toward Royal Portbury Dock and six purple sandpipers combed the lichen covered rocks for food.


Sketched on Aquarelle Arches hot pressed watercolour block.
Colours used: indian red, cadmium red, winsor blue, payne’s grey, indian yellow.

Purple sandpipers and tug Svitzer Moira leading the Ocean Lord

These beautiful wading birds were constantly on the go, busily working their way along the rocks on the headland. I was rather hoping they would move the few metres round the headland into the lee of the wind so I could have a more comfortable view . . . but they never did.


I watched until I felt chillingly blast frozen when the lure of a thawing hot drink tempted me home. It was a rewarding morning but made me reflect on the resilience of wildlife and my own lack of staying power!

Bottom sketch on Aquarelle Arches cold pressed watercolour block.

Colours used:
Purple sandpiper: winsor violet, burnt umber, indian yellow,
Greys: colours as above plus ultramarine
Boats / sea: indian red, cadmium red, ultramarine, payne’s grey, indian yellow
Lichen : sap green, yellow ochre


Useful link
RSPB purple sandpiper page at:


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