Turnstone in the main car park, Penzance, Cornwall.

Turnstones are birds of rocky and often wild seashores, where they live up to their name by using their bills to turn over stones in search of food.

But here in Penzance, in the main car park beside the harbour – and along the promenade in nearby St Ives too – they regularly come up amongst us humans when the tide is in, searching for scraps.  In St Ives especially, people are intrigued by these little birds scurrying around their feet, thinking them youngsters because they are so small.  I bought a pasty on St Ives seafront, sat down to eat it,  and had several around my feet within moments – it was delightful to have them so close, and they gobbled down every scrap of food dropped for them.

Technique: as an ex-birder and someone who will always have an intense liking for birds (for me, their presence unquestionably boosts Quality Of Life), this shot is partly of ornithological interest – here is a little denizen of rocky and often wild coasts, usually observed only distantly, that has taken to foraging openly in a very busy, completely artificial, human environment.  But to me also, in terms of composition, this image says something else too – here is the Natural World, very much overshadowed by, and under threat from, the requirements and encroachments of the Human World.

There are other pictures of these Turnstones, all from St Ives, here, here and here.  Turnstones are mostly brownish above in their winter plumage, but beautiful orange-brown tints appear on their backs in the summer – traces of which can be seen in a couple of these images.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.  If your browser allows two stages of magnification: choose the larger.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 280mm; 800 ISO; 20 Oct 2016.

About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. bluebrightly says:

    And I agree with your impression that the shot conveys that horrible sense of the built environment overcoming nature. Something I know we are both very well aware of.


  2. bluebrightly says:

    So odd to see the Turnstone with the car right there. The other day in a local park popular with birders I saw a small group of Snipe – passing through I think. I’ve never seen them there before.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Birds do pass through, and I’ve seen odd ones in unexpected places too – once a flight of Lapwing passed over our house – that was due to icy conditions I think, they had to find somewhere unfrozen in order to feed.


  3. Sallyann says:

    Evolution… Survival of the fittest and all that.
    Unfortunately for some, the human race is very much part of today’s existence so here’s hoping that many many other species can and will adapt and overcome… With, or without, our help.


  4. paula graham says:

    Yea, lovely little things, there is a large troupe of them at Paignton seafront, very tame as many folk feed them and indeed , they seem to eat anything and survive.


  5. Looks like he just got out of the car and he’s late for an appointment. 😂
    Hope you’re well, bud. ❤ ATP ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. krikitarts says:

    I must admit that, at first thought, I found it sad that these dedicated shorebirds have stooped (if that’s the right word) to scavenging from us, but on the other hand, we are here and we are an integral part of their world, so those who can adapt will be the ultimate survivors. More power to them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I know exactly where you’re coming from here, Gary, and I agree too with your conclusion. There is the possibility of course that Cornish pasty crumbs are not the most healthy fare for these seashore foragers, I imagine they mainly consume invertebrates but, I just went with the flow and would (will) do the same again. Yes, adapting is the thing – and it really is quite something to see these little birds scurrying around people’s feet on the promenade – not something I would ever have dreamt might start to occur. A


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