Salt Marsh Summer Colours

. . . August sketches from a two hour walk on the salt marsh

Oh what a wealth of colour and moods in such a short time and if that was not enough I was in the company of three roe bucks and a host of shoreline birds.

Salt marsh sketch - vivid colours of summer

I arrived on the marsh at sunrise and was greeted by a glorious sky of rich reds and yellows.

Salt marsh sketch - Sunrise over Avonmouth

The night had been stormy with torrential rain and thunder but the dawn broke dry with a magnificent sky as I looked towards the three wind turbines at Avonmouth.

Salt marsh sketch - Sunrise over the Severn Bridge

Soon the vivid yellow sky faded as the sun rose higher and the clouds increased behind the distant Severn Bridge . . .

Salt marsh sketch - the marsh was bathed in reds and yellows

. . . but a red glow still streaked the marsh and these lovely colours bounced off the salt marsh grasses with the Welsh hills in the background.

Salt marsh sketch - towards Portishead Pier and Eastwood

Looking across the salt marsh towards Portishead Pier and the tree clad hill of Eastwood.

Salt marsh sketch - towards the Severn Bridge

As the sun disappeared behind the clouds the marsh colours became more subdued.  The brilliant indian and winsor yellows of the grasses were replaced by a duller yellow ochre in this view towards the Severn Bridge.

Salt marsh sketch - the track

Etched into the landscape is this well worn green track in the middle of the salt marsh leading from Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve to the channel’s edge.


Salt marsh sketch - mainly blues and yellows

An hour after sunrise and all traces of red have gone replaced by some gorgeous shades of blue . . .

Salt marsh sketch - what a contrast of colours

. . .  contrasting brilliantly with the vivid yellows and greens where the sun peered through the clouds and touched the marsh. I love these colours.

Salt marsh sketch - clouds of winsor blue and ultramarine

For a while even the voluminous clouds were deep, rich blues of winsor and ultramarine . . .

Salt marsh sketch - squall in channel

. . . but before long a series of grey squally rain clouds blew up the channel . . .

Salt marsh sketch - rainbow over Portishead Pier

. . .  each with a rainbow dancing in attendance – this one off Portishead Pier.

This was how I left the salt marsh at the end of my dawn walk on a typical English summer day – what a wonderful morning.

Summer waders on the salt marsh

Updated September 2014

Last summer the greenshank was missing from my sketches of summer waders but this year I was lucky enough to spot this one in Chapel Pill . . .



Also in the pill at the same time was one adult and one juvenile Grey Wagtail – this is the adult . .


Updated 23 September 2013

Well summer is over and I can feel the cool breath of autumn so this is my last update on summer waders.  Over this period I have been able to sketch redshank, ringed plover, oystercatchers, curlew, whimbrel, common sandpipers, turnstones, dunlin and black-tailed godwits. There have been reports of other waders in the area such as greenshank, though I did not see them myself so my list of sketches remains incomplete.


IMG_6424 - Version 2

I often see one or two pairs of common sandpipers bobbing rhythmically in the muddy pills at either end of the salt marsh as they look for food. Continue reading

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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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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