Where house martins fizz and wheel

June is the time of winsor blue skies.

A time of summer migrants
like cuckoos and sedge warblers . . .

. . . and the house martins.

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At low tide they dive down to pick up beakfuls of oozingly sticky mud for nest building.

house martin 1

It is not just the mud they come for . . .
. . . there is the dazzlingly green algae growing on the lock walls.


They approach at speed
grab onto the vertical face
like some superhero defying gravity
and pick off algae
to bind into their mud nests.


PS  these sketches are in June salt marsh sketches

A touch of May magic

It was one of those days when everything was turning out rather better than expected. The overnight rain had stopped, the north east wind that had been blowing for days had eased . . . and as soon as I stepped foot on the marsh I heard a cuckoo.

A perfect start to a spring day and it got even better when I saw a water vole sitting on the bank of the rhyne. A rare treat in itself but to watch a water vole whilst listening to a cuckoo was a touch of May magic.


The water vole felled one of last years reeds – tough, bleached and woody and twice its length . . .


. . . before dragging it to the water’s edge.


After one final trim it plopped into the rhyne and dived below the surface with prize in tow . . . maybe heading for the underwater entrance to its burrow?

If I did not see anything further this was well worth getting up early for . . . but in the next hour I heard skylarks and curlews, came face to face with a somewhat scruffy roe buck and yes I saw the cuckoo!





A splendid morning!



Salt marsh pheasant

Updated 30 January 2014

I see pheasants on the salt marsh regularly . . .  an interesting backdrop for a pheasant!

A cock fight in December



There was much parallel walking as these two cock pheasants strutted and postured on the salt marsh . . .


. . . and then a flurry of feathers. In the background the cargo vessel Danica Sunrise edges her way into Portbury Docks on low water.


This territorial dispute went on for ages and so engrossed were they that my presence remained unnoticed.

Colours in the cockfighting sketches : indian red, cadmium red, burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, raw umber and cobalt turquoise light plus the addition of raw sienna in the sketch above.


On a previous visit . . .

IMG_3580 . . . a sudden flurry and that lovely staccato purr of wings of a cock pheasant bursting from the flooding marsh just ahead of me. It is such a pleasure to see and hear them on the marsh . . . and the navigation buoys, docks and Denny Island make for an unusual view.



The buoy is the middle one of three marking the right hand (starboard) edge of the shipping channel into Royal Portbury dock. 

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