Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ruddy Turnstones

...back to the Captiva Island, Florida posts!
Everyday when I walked the beach, I'd find my little Ruddies somewhere along the way. They were nearly as busy as the Sanderlings running around and scrounging out food, but their style was a little different. Staying true to their name, Rick and I watched several "turn" over shells and "stones" to quickly nab the spiders and insects hiding underneath them...but just as often, we watched them run through the surf to grab mollusks and crustaceans from the tideline.

...you can never miss the orange, orange legs of a Ruddy Turnstone!

...can you see what he's doing here? He's digging a hole! In addition to turning over stones to find food, Ruddy Turnstones will dig holes to search out buried crustaceans.

...a Ruddy in winter plumage. I wonder if this little fellow has reached his breeding grounds in the Arctic yet?

A bird of the shoreline, you can always find Ruddy Turnstones running through the surf searching out sand fleas and coquinas.

...walking, searching...gotta keep moving...

...eating a coquina.

...although not a great photo, I love his athletic "running back" form...and the little coquina he's carrying in his bill!


Beak Bit
Our little Ruddy Turnstone is quite a flyer, winging his way over 16,700 miles (27,000 kilometers) on his roundtrip migration flight! In an article by Lewis Smith released in April of 2010 in "The Independent" (click here for the full article), researchers from the Australasian Wader Studies Group (AWSG) announced the amazing story of four Ruddy Turnstones' migration journey. Using new technology created by scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the researchers at AWSG fitted tiny light-sensitive geotracking devices weighing only 1 gram to the Ruddies and waited for them to return. A year later, analysis of the data taken from the geolocators revealed it took the four birds just over six day to fly 4,700 miles from Flinders in South East Australia to Taiwan. While continuing on to their Arctic breeding grounds, one of the Ruddies flew 3,850 miles in just four days and 3,100 miles more in another four days (the birds averaged 31-34 mph). Wow...these birds don't mess around! I can't wait to see what this year's research brings, because the scientists fitted over 60 Ruddy Turnstones in April of 2010, so they should have a lot more research to report.

...and this bit is just cute...the tracker can be attached to the birds by either securing it to a leg or as a "backpack." All the Ruddies had to have them attached to their legs because tests showed that after spending the summer eating, eating, and eating to bulk up to their travel weight (190g), they were "round as tennis balls" and the backpacks wouldn't stay on!

....after I read this article, I looked to see if any others were out there, and found a lot. Here are a few more links:
Bird Life International, "A Ruddy Long Way to Fly"
American Birding Association, "Gods of the Gaps"
...the article I read, The Independent, "Not such a short hop: the tiny bird that soared into the record book"

New Results reported from the past year!
Mick, from the blog "Sandy Straits and Beyond" (out of S.E. Queensland, Australia) found the reports on the new data. Seems like the little fellow did it again!!! Here are links to two sites that report in detail about the Ruddy's second trip and the migration routes he chose:
Australasian Wader Studies Group (AWSG), "Ruddy hell: turnstone flies 27,000 kms--twice!" (This article has a photo of the bird wearing his little leg geolocator and a labeled graphic of the migration routes.)
Victorian Wader Study Group (VWSG), "What's new: Feb 5, 2011

...just another little FYI from these articles...Ruddy Turnstones are hardy little birds and live up to 20 years, so an Australian bird following the 27,000 km migration route would fly over 500,00 km in its lifetime! What an athlete...


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31 comments:

Michael Bartneck said...

excellent, my parents had a house on the beach on sanibel..used to head over to captiva to check stuff out!! loved watchin those guys dodge waves!

mick said...

Those are really fantastic photos of the Ruddy Turnstones. I have never been able to get that close to them. Out here I most often see them eating small crabs.
Excellent summary too of the recent research done on their migration. I don't know if you also saw that they tracked one of those birds the second year and it did a similar migration.

Kelly said...

Michael...I love Captiva...the birds are so awesome there.

Mick...cool! I didn't see that research. i saw they were going to do it, but couldn't find any new reports. I'll have to search it out. In florida the birds are brave...it's incredible. I guess they have so many people invading their space they've learned to live with us...

Sue said...

Kelly-the detail of their feathers up close is amazing. They are quite beautiful!

mick said...

Hi Kelly - the AWSG (Australian Wader Studies Group) reported it briefly here: http://www.awsg.org.au/pdfs/Ruddy-hell.pdf

mick said...

HI again Kelly - the VWSG has a longer account but it is buried well down on this page under the date Feb 9_2011 http://home.vicnet.net.au/~vwsg/whatsnew.html

Elaine said...

Lovely photos! Amazing that they can cover so many miles in such a short distance. I had to check to see if they might migrate through Interior Alaska to reach the Arctic coast, but there are only incidental sightings reported and it looks like they are strictly coastal birds, so I would imagine they follow the shorelines in their migrations.

Kelly said...

Sue...thank you! He walked very close to me in these photos. Like I always say...I love Florida birds!

Mick...Cool!! thank you! I'll add these links to the post!

Elaine...the article from the second year has a route map showing their migration (of course, this is from the Australian bird. I'll see if I can find a map somewhere of the American route.

Birding is Fun! said...

Wow! Fantastic close-ups. I had no idea they'd allow such close approaches. Really cool behavior photos.

Montanagirl said...

I am just amazed by the whole migration phenomenon. Great photos, Kelly.

Roy said...

Great shots, Kelly! I have lots of shots of these guys from my Newport days. And now I'm getting homesick again...

Out on the prairie said...

I am always amazed at the migrations many little birds take. That is a draw that makes me watch for them even more.

Kah-Wai Lin said...

Nice portrait shots!

NatureFootstep said...

how did you manage to come so close to that bird? Really great shots you show today.

Janice K said...

Such fantastic pictures. I love seeing all that feather detail close up.

Modesto Viegas said...

Good work!!

Roy said...

An amazing wader and great photos Kelly.

Gary said...

Great close ups!! And I too like the out of focus running back photo. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Carol Mattingly said...

Great post Kelly. Love the images. Carol

Steve Borichevsky said...

Nice shootin', Kelly. I've seen Ruddy Turnstones on the Dogbar Breakwater in the middle of winter and on the beaches of Saint Marten in July. They do get around.

forgetmenot said...

Such fun watching him 'do his thing' --amazing information about the Ruddy Turnstones. Hard to believe they can actually cover that much ground in so short a time. Mickie

Little Brown Job said...

Beautiful images Kelly.

Bob Bushell said...

That's an incredible showing of the Ruddy Turnstones, it puts mine to shame. Well done Kelly.

Tammie Lee said...

wonderful photos, they show the character and detail of this critter in a great way.

BirdingMaine said...

WOW, beautiful closeups Kelly! Great post!

Chris said...

Yeh it's kind of weird to realize that these little fellows can travel so much and so fast... Birds are just amazing, and We also do have ruddy turnstone as you know and some travel far away from here during the winter. You got very nice shots of them and I love the last one, it is very dynamic and unique!

Hilke Breder said...

Great images, Kelly! Love that determined stride in first and fourth image. Thanks for sharing the info on their migratory feats with us.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Hope you are feeling better soon! Colds this time of the year are really miserable when it's so beautiful outside. I got over mine but I am weathering a second strike: I had to send my camera to Nikon for repairs and am waiting, waiting... can't do anything in the meantime!

Andy Wilson said...

Magnificent photos of the Turnstone.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone. I felt so lucky every time this guy would walk quickly past me...sometimes only 3 feet away! He never lingered like the Willet or Great Blue Heron, but he wasn't wary of me either. I loved seeing those orange legs flash way down the beach as I was walking towards the birds. They were always fun!

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