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 spend most of their time creeping and fluttering over rocks, picking out food from under stones.
Key ID Features
Coastal locations, often seen on piers and jetties as well as beaches and rocks..
Brown and black mottled upper parts more contrasting in summer.
Dark breast also blacker in summer when dark brown winter head becomes strongly patterned black and white.
Orangey legs are constant all year round as is short, dark, tapered bill.
Winter adults in flight show white rumped, black tipped tail, a white back stripe and white patches and bars on upper wing.
Scientific name: Arenaria interpres
Family: Sandpipers and allies (Scolopacidae)
Where to see them:
All around the UK coastline. Likes rocky shores as well as sandy and muddy ones. Particularly likes feeding on rocks covered with seaweed, and will feed along seawalls and jetties.
Seen in UK:
Present for most of the year. Birds from Northern Europe pass through in July and August and again spring. Canadian and Greenland birds arrive in August and September and remain until April and May. Non-breeding birds may stay through the summer.
What they eat
Insects, crustaceans and molluscs.
Text (c) RSPB, used with permission
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Photographer: Tim Tapley