Turnstone

We saw this little gang of birds standing on one leg and hopping around the harbour at Scarborough. As it stood there, you’d think an individual had lost a leg, then suddenly off it went, scuttling around the quayside on both legs, until it came to rest and resumed its one-legged pose.

What was it? This required resort to the bird book when we returned to the ‘van. The book showed the very bird – same plumage, leg and beak colour – a juvenile turnstone. Adult males can be much more brightly patterned in the breeding season.

turnstone_juv_scarboroughIt seems that thousands of turnstones spend winter around the coasts of the UK, and some non-breeding birds stay here all year.

And why the strange name? It’s obvious when you realise – they are frequently seen turning over stones in the search for food.

And apologies to the couple who overheard our first thoughts and went away thinking it was a dotterel, a rather larger bird!

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