The Grimaldi Line

A frequent sight are the comings and goings in and out of Royal Portbury Dock of the Grimaldi car transporters. These “chunky” vessels In their distinctive yellow livery brighten up even the dullest of days.


Arriving just before dawn the lights of a tug lit up the starboard (right side) of the Gran Bretagna, one of the Grimaldi fleet. The beautiful call of the curlews rang out as they flew past, still too dark to see them the sound was even more magical in the half light. I could just make out the telltale sign of a family of roe deer, 3 pairs of ears silhouetted above the salt marsh.


As the light increased I could make out a large flock of dunlin flying past.

IMG_7915Views of the Grande Sicilia heading towards Portbury DocksIMG_6135IMG_6121


As flocks of dunlin and ringed plover flew past.



Picking up a tug by the middle buoy in the company of a small flock of wigeon . . .


Making a colourful backdrop for the large flocks of teal which gather here in winter.


IMG_7922 IMG_7909

. . . and being led past the lighthouse into Royal Portbury Dock.

The colourful Grimaldi Line

It was not only the salt marsh colours which inspired my last post of “Summer Colours” but this brightly liveried ship of the Grimaldi Line also added to the vibrancy of the salt marsh that morning.

Salt marsh sketch - the Grande Sicilia heading for Portbury Docks

This is the  “chunky” Grande Sicilia a 177 m long x 33 m wide ro-ro (roll-on roll-off) car transporter. Her cadmium yellow hull blended with the yellows on the salt marsh and contrasted brilliantly with the winsor and ultramarine blues from the sky and the hills – even the muddy water reflected these wonderful blues.

Salt marsh sketch - a closer view of the Grande Sicilia passing Portishead Pier

A distant view as she passes Portishead Pier . . .

Salt marsh sketch - a closer view of the Grande Sicilia passing Chapel Pill

. . . and getting nearer to me here off Chapel Pill with white reflections from the hull and wheelhouse.

Salt marsh sketch - Grande Sicilia passing Chapel Pill with ringed plover and dunlinI could see the cars on the Grande Sicilia’s foredeck as she passed Chapel Pill. In the foreground a flock of ringed plover were in company with some dunlin – the wings of the plover shone out in the sunlight. The cadmium yellow of the hull was darkened with reds, both cadmium and indian where the shadows and touches of rust fell.

Salt marsh sketches of the Grande Sicilia with ringed plover and dunlin

See Salt Marsh Summer Waders for more summertime waders and Salt Marsh Summer Colours for more landscapes from that morning.


Teal – jinxing and jiving

Sketched between September and January
IMG_9396Although the wintering teal have now left for their summer breeding grounds I thought I would add some winter time sketches that I have just been leafing through.

I find these small, fast flying ducks that jinx and jive in flight fascinating. Their teal green wing bars shimmer in the winter sunlight, though even on a grey day they don’t disappoint.

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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.

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