bird migration, birds on the seashore, brown black and white bird with orange legs, migrant birds, rhos-on-sea, small wading birds, Turnstone, turnstone flock
The tide was high this morning when I arrived at the promenade, so I was not expecting to see many birds about foraging on the shore, but I’m happy enough to just watch the sea, so I looked out over the railings anyway . I’m glad I did that, as there beneath me, a whole flock of Turnstones were perched atop the sea-defence boulders immediately below. The birds were either resting quietly or catching up on their preening as they waited for the tide to turn and expose the rock shore once more.
Turnstones are distinctive medium-sized waders. They are high Arctic breeders, and are migratory. They are chunky powerful birds that have strong necks and bills that are well suited to their feeding technique. As the name implies, these species readily turn stones, shells or seaweed looking for hidden invertebrates. They eat insects, crustaceans and molluscs.
As the birds were obligingly still, I counted 70 birds in varying sized groups spread along a length of the rocks, but there may have been more below and out of my sight.
It would be interesting to know where the birds have come from as these particular birds have not been here for long. Turnstones are present around our coastline for most of the year. Birds from Northern Europe pass through in July and August and again spring, then Canadian and Greenland birds arrive in August and September and remain until April and May. Non-breeding birds may stay through the summer.
Turnstones spend most of their time foraging creeping and fluttering over rocks, picking out food from under stones.
Their appearance is striking in flight, with white patches on the back, wings and tail.
Where to see them
Turnstones are found all around the UK coastline. They are strictly coastal,and are seen on stony, sandy and muddy shores beaches and are often found together with other waders such as Purple Sandpipers. The birds particularly like feeding on rocks covered with seaweed, and will feed along seawalls and jetties.
I was walking along Rhos promenade this morning when I spotted a flock of these birds sitting on the rocks. I have never seen this type of bird before, and I was intrigued and wanted to know more about them. There were around 100 birds perched on the rocks. The tide was high, so they were getting sprayed occasionally, but it didn’t seem to bother them! I just googled “varieties of UK seabirds” and found your photo of the Turnstone. Imagine my surprise when I came onto your page and found that the photos were taken on Rhos promenade, in the very spot where I saw the birds today!
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Wonderful! Such a lovely surprise the first time you see them isn’t it? I’m happy you found my blog- thank you for signing up to ‘follow’ – hopefully you’ll find out more about the wildlife in and around our area there too!
I live in North Wales and today (27.10.2019) for the first time I saw a whole flock of these birds on the rocks at Rhos Point in Rhos on Sea (nr Colwyn Bay). There were over 100 of them all perched on various rocks. The tide was in so they were getting sprayed a bit, but it didn’t seem to bother them. Thank you for posting this article, so I could find out what type of bird they were. Really beautiful sight to see them all on the rocks this morning.
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I’m glad to know you found the post helpful, thank you for letting me know. The Turnstone flock there is a lovely sight isn’t it? We’re so lucky to get to see them so closely, they are beautiful indeed. If you look carefully amongst them you might find our special winter visitor/s too – Purple Sandpipers and sometimes there are Dunlin amongst the flock too.