Turnstones & Sanderlings, New Passage


This is the productive end of Severn Beach, between the two bridges. If high tide is low enough, and yesterday it was just over 10 metres, sufficient mud remains by Northwick Warth for waders and gulls to loaf.

Not that turnstones need this: the afternoon’s flock was more than happy on the seaweed of Red Ledge, right by the footpath. This allowed excellent views of their stunning summer plumage. Pale heads, black-masked and semi-collared with fine spotted caps; that’s just a start. Beneath, they sport black bibs, and broad black and tan stripes run the length of their backs. This is the season to see them.

I don’t think I’ve ever added them to the year list so late. Not so, sanderlings, which sometimes never make it. Two individuals foraged with a flock of dunlin, some of whom also displayed summer finery. They’re more understated with some rufous brown but a remarkable black belly patch.

In terms of my lists it was less surprising that turnstone and sanderling were also new for Gloucestershire. Both species are coastal and the county ain’t got much of that!

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