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The Tabby Turnstone


In winter the turnstone has greyish-brown upperparts, white underparts, a grey head and neck and dull orange legs. Both sexes are alike and juveniles resemble adults, but their feathers have a more scaly appearance. The male’s breeding plumage is striking with black and white facial markings, rich chestnut upperparts with dark bands a white belly. The female is a duller version of the male. This species is most often seen on coasts in winter, using its bill to flip stones or probe seaweeds on the tide line.



Outside the breeding season, the turnstone’s comparatively drab mottled brown, black and white plumage gives it good camouflage on rocky coasts. These birds were photographed on the Yorkshire coast where they winter from there Arctic tundra breeding grounds. Currently in moult these still feature some of their breeding plumage.


A turnstone’s nest is a shallow scrape on open ground, sometimes on a slight mound. Between May and June they will lay three to five buff eggs marked with darker blotches. They feed on invertebrates and insects. A short, harsh alarm call will be heard if feeding birds are disturbed. A turnstone is roughly twenty-one to twenty-four centimeters long.


If you fancy seeing these beautiful waders along the Yorkshire Coast then harbours are the key areas, such as, Whitby, Scarborough and Bridlington.




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