Monday, April 22, 2013

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstones foraging at the water’s rocky edge claim what the waves brings in. Claiming it quickly, then retreating ahead of the next wave. Foraging in blind rock crevices, they have to be fast and possess a keen sense of timing to stay dry…they rarely lose.

Living on aquatic invertebrates and insects, Ruddy Turnstones form small flocks for mutual benefit.  Slippery rocks are not a problem for the Ruddy Turnstone.  Surefooted, they trot and jump in the rocks, appearing randomly like pop-up toys.

I was with Lou Skrabec, an experienced birder. It was getting late.  The sun was low on this second day of April and we had just started back.  We had a mile to walk to our cars when this small group of Ruddy Turnstones appeared on the rocks in good light and near-full breeding colors.  Aware of us, but unconcerned, they accepted us as no-threat as they patrolled the quarter mile long walls that make up the Murrells Inlet jetty. 

Prying nourishment from these rocks would seem a difficult task, but with their uniquely shaped upturned bill they skillfully wedge food loose.   Stepping lively when the wave comes in, they inspect the rocks as it receded.  I can’t tell you what they’re eating. Their ‘turnstone’ name comes from the act of turning stones over to discover what’s below.  

Though their food search seemed productive, they suddenly  decided these rocks weren’t good enough anymore. They flew off to check the millions of other rocks that form the Murrells Inlet jetty. 

It was a great day!


Locator for Murrells Inlet:,-79.03616&spn=0.02261,0.038924&t=h&z=15&vpsrc=6&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=relatedproducts_maps&utm_source=mapseditbutton_normal