Turnstone sketches by Hannah Longmuir

This blog post is an ode to the turnstones in Campbeltown harbour.

When the tide was high the turnstones grouped together, huddled and impatient, just above the water line on the harbour wall.  Looking down on them from the harbour wall, their chestnut brown summer plumage looked like camouflage against the stones.  They were wobbling brown stones with funny bright orange legs.  I love turnstones because of their orange legs.  Not especially long nor elegant, but vivid and joyful.  Orange legs into grey Scottish west coast water (but only up to a few inches deep – these are shoreline birds).

And then, when the tide is low, they are black beaks flipping stones, revealing tasty treats underneath.  They can flip stones up to the size of their bodies. Gravel, rocky beaches, seaweed.  These are birds of rugged pebbly beaches.  Those are the kind of beaches I love.  I would take a windswept Scottish beach over a Caribbean paradise any day.

Campbeltown harbour was a seabird paradise.  We saw oystercatchers galore, and curlews.  There were lots of gulls, eider duck, herons.  We ate our chips and watched them feed in the harbour mud at low tide.  Noisy but lovely.

Noisy but lovely maybe sums up a holiday with a two year old.  It was so good to be away, to be by the sea, to have time for the three of us.  A toddler away-from-home is a tempestuous thing, though.  He very vocally expressed himself quite firmly all week.  Usually with a strong “no”.  I suppose it is a reaction to being out-of-context and out-of-routine.  Even he couldn’t fail to be charmed by the scuttling, flipping, orange-legged turnstones.




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