This bird was on a beach, as they often are, and it was turning over pebbles as its name, turnstone, would suggest it does. Have you watched turnstones tossing small pebbles aside with their beaks? I recommend it.
They really do throw the pebbles around. And I guess they are looking hard for small crustacea as they scurry away from under the tossed stones. I couldn’t really see what these turnstones, for there was a small flock of them, were doing so I looked at how beautiful they were instead.
Now I’ve seen plenty of turnstones, and thinking about it a little, I’ve seen them in plenty of places which have included rocky and sandy shores around the UK coast, but I’ve not really looked at them and watched them very much. I certainly haven’t seen turnstones feeding on a human corpse as was reported in a celebrated note in British Birds many years ago (was it by the late, great Bernard King – or have I misremembered that?).But I have seen turnstones at my local Stanwick gravel pits and on rocks in the Azores and on sandy beaches in West Africa (there picking the flies off human faeces) and in some ways the turnstone is a ‘turn up anywhere’ bird. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it at any reservoir or on any shore.
And yet, and yet, it is a peachy little bird. Certainly the ones tossing stones on this beach were gorgeous. Still in its tortoiseshell breeding plumage the thing that struck me the most was the beauty of their heads. Turnstones have white tops to their heads with black streaks in the white. At the moment my hair is brown with some white streaks in the brown, but give it time and I will probably resemble a turnstone more closely.
Look at their black patterned faces. They are very striking – aren’t they? And it seemed to me at a quick look that they were all different. Can you recognise turnstones by their faces a bit like Bewick’s swans, I wonder?
I don’t know very much about turnstones but I enjoyed watching the tossers on the beach.
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