Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ruddy turnstone

Other names: Sea dotterel; Sea quail; Sand-runner; Stone-pecker; Horsefoot snipe; Brant-bird; Bead-bird; Checkered snipe; Red-legs; Red-legged plover; Chicken plover; Calico-back; Calico-jacket; Sparked-back; Streaked-back; Chuckatuck; Creddock; Jinny; Bishop plover.

... I had an exceptional chance to watch... The select company was "one little Turnstone and I," the latter armed with binoculars, the former too busy to notice intruders. He was a fine gentleman, dressed in the gaudiest calico possible for the fall fashions, yet not too proud to work for his supper. His method was not unlike that of the proverbial bull in the china shop, for he trotted about, tossing nearly everything that came in his way. Inserting the wedge of his bill under a pebble, a shell, or what not, he would give a real toss of his imperious head, and flop over it would go. His efforts seemed to be well rewarded, for he fed there for some time. It is in search of such prey that the turner of stones operates, a cog in the wheel of the system of nature, which decrees that every possible corner and crevice of the great system shall have its guardian, even the tiny spot of ground beneath the pebble on the beach.

Info from Birds of America, first published in 1917 and which includes color plates of Louis Agassiz Fuertes' paintings. Said book made for good company this evening.

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The Turnstones were not so much trotting about as they were, instead, slip-sliding along the jetty rocks yesterday while they fed. There were no stones to be turned; in fact I wondered just what they were finding edible among the waves.

4 comments:

Caroline said...

I think I like the Chuckatuck best!

Matthew Spady said...

In Virginia, the small village of Chuckatuck, which dates back to the early 1600s, is now part of the City of Suffolk. The name, derived from a Native American word, means crooked creek or bend in the creek.

T.R. said...

I love this photo and I love this post. It's so, so perfect!!!! Beautiful!!!

LauraHinNJ said...

Caroline: Yeah... I get a real kick out of reading those old names and wonder how they originate.

Matthew: Hi and thanks for the info... tho it makes me wonder even more about it being applied to a turnstone.

TR: Yeah... old books are a treasure!