Here are some October sketches many of which feature in my
October salt marsh sketch book. . .
. . . during October the vibrancy of the autumnal salt marsh colours mellow into a tapestry of rich ochres.
The view towards Denny Island in October
and again from Chapel Pill.
Light is everything on the marsh. There are those days in October, the ones hinting of winter when the marsh is softened and edges rounded by blue greys, yellow greys, green greys, greys of all hues.
Starlings feeding on the salt marsh towards Eastwood and the pier
Then there are the days that hark back to summer when strands of sun escape the clouds and turn the spartina grass at the marsh edge from a dark straw colour of raw sienna into bands of burnished gold.
Teal on a vibrant day with the Welsh hills in the distance
Teal over spartina
One of the joys of autumn is watching the migrating birds arrive like the teal and wigeon and the wisps of snipe that fly high overhead before spiralling down to settle amongst the tangle of salt marsh grasses.
Teal fly back and forth in large an small flocks.
The Argabay, one of the sand boats that dredge the channel, is a frequent backdrop to the teal.
A common snipe flushed from the salt marsh. Not sure what the industrial building is on the Welsh coast but it catches the early morning light beautifully
The snipe’s exquisite plumage conceals it so well amongst the dense salt marsh that, here, you are only likely to see them on the wing when they are flushed by the rising tide, an approaching walker or an inquisitive dog.
Snipe flushed from the salt marsh – note the roe deer in the foreground.
The “common snipe” although not so common in reality, is a small, but extremely elegant, long-billed wader. Then there is the jack snipe, an even less common, smaller and dumpier, shorter billed version which “bobs” repeatedly as it probes the soft mud for food.
Both species visit the salt marsh.
I often find them on the edge of the “snipe track”, a well trodden path right through the middle of the marsh to the sea.
Another favourite at this time of year are the large flocks of goldfinches. They have a lovely “bouncy” flight and chatter incessantly to each other before tumbling down to feed on the downy thistles of the sea aster. A wonderful sight.
Goldfinches feeding amongst the wine red stems of sea aster at the marsh edge in company with redshank.
Then there are the roe deer.
A roe deer ran through a wonderful splash of green which added a real zing to the otherwise dark, brooding marsh. In the background is the old masonic hall which has recently been demolished to make way for the new lifeboat station.
The marsh foliage looks tall alongside the small roe deer (about the size of an alsatian dog).
painting of an October morning with teal and passing cargo vessel
This post was first published on 15 November 2014 and revised in January 2015 and April 2015.