Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Son of Stumpy

Still the sun shines on our mild winter..... it's a pleasure to be out. The promenade of Walmer and Deal is now my chosen habitat with the gulls, pigeons and turnstones which live on the beach and the pier each winter.
Turnstones breed in the high arctic, of course, and migrate as far south as South Africa - but many seem to winter successfully on our coasts so you wonder why some travel on all that extra way.
The use of geolocators has shown that turnstones that migrate down the Pacific coast fly even farther.... one was recorded travelling from Siberia to Australia for 27,000 km (it went the pretty way) and from Australia to Taiwan non-stop for 7,600km.

One of the turnstones on Deal pier has a damaged foot, but no! it's not the famous Stumpy, who had a damaged right foot. This one has a bad leftie, so has been dubbed Son of Stumpy.
I've got nothing against his right leg, but unfortunately, nor has he.

It seems that having a damaged foot is an occupational hazard for turnstones, as many such-afflicted birds are seen around the coast. This is not such a problem for those scavenging on rocks and sand, as the species use their beaks to forage here. On shingle, however, they seem to use their feet to move the stones in the search for bugs and detritus, and this is not easy if you have only one. Consequently, birds in this habitat make the most of nearby food sources - namely food dropped on the pier.

In Whitstable, the turnstones are tame enough to beg for scraps around the tables of the harbour restaurant - have they no shame?

Last week a fleet of trawlers from Kings Lynn circled offshore, scraping the seabed for small mussels which are then shipped to Spain to be grown on. The local fishermen here are not pleased that our patch is being damaged by these incomers.

On a walk around the block at Kingsdown, taking in the wood, the cliffs and the golf course, few birds were seen, the only ones of note being a few skylarks singing invisibly high. No Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers or Meadow Pipits at all.

The much-discussed unseasonal flowering has subsided with the colder weather, but a swathe of Fumitory brightened up the day.

1 comment:

Greenie said...

Steve ,
Just out of interest , have you ever heard of Turnstones being called Sea Pigeons ?
A fitting name from your post .
I think I heard it a long time ago , but can't be sure .