This bird really is aptly named. It is a chunky wader with a short stubby bill - and it uses it to Turn Stones! In fact stones, weed, objects in the tide wrack and even sea shells are turned over to feed on insects or crustacea beneath. The legs are bent and the bill (even forehead) are inserted beneath the object and it is flipped out of the way.
There is also a Black Turnstone in Alaska but this (known as the Ruddy Turnstone in North America) is much wider distributed. Breeding birds are found circumpolarly around the Northern Hemisphere from the Baltic Northwards. Migrant Turnstone are globetrotters and only the Antarctic, Southmost South America and Australia do not have wintering birds.
The plumage is a mixture of chestnut, black, white and greys. The head is black and white and there is a large dark breast band. The underparts are white and the short, strong legs are orange. The 'ruddy' comes from the chestnut on the back, wings and mantle. Turnstone do not breed in Britain but one can always hope for they are present all the year round!
Waders on the shore and turning stones are usually Turnstones.
Length 230 mm Closed wing 155 mm Weight 110 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead