Fairly early on in my birdwatching career I remember sitting on a beach, somewhere on the east coast of Scotland, when I noticed that stones seem to be moving of their own accord. Lots of stones were shifting!
Training my binoculars on this phenomenon, I saw little creatures scurrying around. And, Hey! I’d seen my first Turnstones.
Now, I’d read about Turnstones in my bird guide, but hadn’t realised just to what extent they live up to their name. They run up and down the shoreline turning over stone after stone after stone in their hunt for food. And they can turn over rocks as big as they are! They do it almost without pausing to eat whatever they’ve found.
This is an old photograph I took on a trip to the Scottish Hebridean Island of Mull. It shows a Turnstone in its magnificent chestnut-and-black summer plumage:
Whilst Turnstones don’t breed in the UK, they can be seen throughout the year as birds from Northern Europe pass through in summer and spring, and birds from Canada and Greenland arrive in early autumn and leave in early summer.
We have a good “Turnstone-Spotting-in-Winter” site fairly nearby on the Lancashire coast (NW England).
This picture was taken there:
Turnstones are often seen in the company of Dunlins. In winter when there are so many small brown shore birds grouped together, I can never be sure what’s what. Luckily there are usually more experienced birdwatchers around to identify them for me.
I was reliably informed that this is a Dunlin:
We’ll end with another picture taken on a beach on the Island of Mull; a Ringed Plover rummaging in amongst the seaweed:
Thank you to all the birdwatchers I’ve met over the years who have shared their sightings with me. i’ve learned a lot from them (I just wish I could remember it all from one year to the next!).
Thanks also to Lisa for her Weekly Bird Challenge: Shorebirds.