Peter Pearson's picture

Observations on Turnstones

Recently my wife and I took a stroll along the promenade at Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex. The tide was receeding and just exposing the flat sandy beach. She spotted a party of 5 Turnstone, just under the prom, running backwards and forwards in the waves. Infact as we got closer we could see they were running into the incoming wave front as it rolled across the beach. In the slack water between the waves they were frantically bathing, like sparrows in a puddle. As the wave rolled back they ran back onto the beach to shake, preen and wait for the next suitable wave to repeat the performance.
In the time I have been watching wildlife, some 60years, This is the first time I have been privaledged to watch these birds bathing.
We have however noted over the past few years subtle changes in their feeding habits. They now wait around areas where people regularly feed gulls, ducks and swans,at Walton and Dovercourt and will walk up to the feeders feet to gather the crumbs they drop. We have also watched them visiting fishing nets left to dry on boats moored in Harwich Harbour, picking up tit-bits from the previous fishing trip. A far cry from the stone and seaweed turning we were familiar with in the past.



DesBowring's picture

catholic tastes

I'll never forget the famous 'British Birds' observation from the 70s or 80s entitled 'Turnstones Feeding on Human Corpse'. Nice.

Refugee's picture


The corps eating was earlier in 1966
It came up when i googled the quote from DesBrowning.


DesBowring's picture


Thanks for finding that.

Peter Pearson's picture

Turnstones feeding

I think I'll stick with the breadcrumbs thanks

anonymous spotter's picture

Bird behaviour

I think some of the apparent changes in behaviour have a lot to do with how much more notice we take as we grow older and our interest increases. They probably always behaved this way but we weren't interested enough to notice.