Out on an autumn day

I arrived at sunrise and was greeted by such a spectacle of starlings. Large flocks were silently dropping in to the marsh to feed before taking flight in a swirling mass. As one flock flew over me I could hear the purr of their wings and a soft, whistling chirrup – it was a very muted call, as if they were being polite lest they wake the neighbourhood at this early hour.

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The starlings dropped into the centre of the marsh in sight of the Severn Bridge – the colours of the marsh were still soft and cool in first light . . .

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. . . but as soon as the sun touched the marsh it woke up in a burst of burnt siennas and indian reds.

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On the spit by Portishead Pier the water was lapping at the edge of the salt marsh and unusually ringed plover were there. The burnt sienna of the spartina was reflected on their sunlit feathers . . . and on the redshank.

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. . . whilst in the depths of Portishead Hole the lively “cobalt turquoise light” of the middle shadows contrasted boldly with the darker shadows and the bright sunlit ochre mud giving a deliciously moody feel to this redshank.

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. . . and more sombre hues deeper in “the Hole”.

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Back out in the sunshine some teal flew out of Chapel Pill. There was another flock deep in the upper reaches but I crept away to leave them resting undisturbed.

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Further down the creek was this very handsome drake teal – though I feel this sketch does not do him justice.

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The sunshine soon gave way to showers and I cursed that I had not worn my waterproofs but soon I was in the midst of rainbows and cared little about getting wet. How do you capture that incredible light? The handsome teal flew off.

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Late in the afternoon I returned once more and once more was greeted by the starlings . . .  just off Portishead Pier where long shadows stretched across the marsh.

It had been a lovely autumn day of changing light and weather – so good to be out on the marsh.

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