Turnstones - charming birds of the beach


Turnstones - charming birds of the beach

The Turnstone can be spotted pacing around large stones on rocky and gravelly shores, flipping them over to look for prey. It can even lift rocks as big as its own body! Although a migrant to the UK, it can be seen all year-round as different populations arrive throughout the seasons.

Smaller than a redshank, turnstones have a mottled appearance with brown or chestnut and black upperparts and brown and white or black and white head pattern, whilst their underparts are white and legs orange. They grow to about 20cm in length.

These smart and calm little birds are rather like pigeons of the rocky seashore. They can be seen poking about rocks in small flocks. They seem largely unconcerned by the presence of humans and are happy to keep to a safe distance on foot rather than flying off.

Turnstones largely eat crustaceans, but have been known to eat of wide variety of other foods.

Further reading

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