Bridlington beach

After spending the morning up at Flamborough Head I spent the afternoon on the beach in Bridlington harbour.

Flamborough Lighthouse from the beach at Bridlington

Groups of knot were scouring the tideline

I like knot, they are very busy birds hunting invertebrates on the tidal mud and their taxonomic name is ‘Calidris canutus‘ (Dansk: islandsk ryle) named after the Viking king famed for being able to hold back the tides. I think that’s probably where the English name comes from too, because the Danish spelling of ‘Canute‘ is ‘Knud‘ – which isn’t a million miles from ‘Knot‘. They can sometimes be seen in enormous flocks of to 100,000 birds, which is a sight I’d love to see.

A knot and a redshank with an oddly distended neck

The knot has the most gorgeous rufous breeding plumage where the breast turns to a coppery red colour and the light parts of the feathers on the back turn brown, but as I only ever see them in winter I’ve never seen the full breeding regalia.

Another redshank (Tringa totanus, Dansk: rødben) cooling its feet in the ‘surf’

I wrote about the turnstone (Arenaria interpres, Dansk: stenvender) in my last post about Bridlington, but this one was a real character. It scuttled along the parapet of the sea wall as people were walking to and fro just a few feet away and was quite happy for me to point a camera at it. And I got some nice portraits of it standing on the stone sea wall with the blue sea in the background:

And the whole time we were in Bridlington a lone barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis, Dansk: bramgås) was in residence. Barnacle geese nest way up in the Arctic, in Greenland and Spitsbergen. Because they are never seen on a nest in the UK it was thought that they didn’t originate from eggs but that they started life as goose barnacles which live in deep water but can sometimes be found washed up on debris dislodged from the sea bed.

Barnacle goose fattening up in England before a long flight north to the Arctic

21 responses to “Bridlington beach

  1. A very productive day, Finn, and some lovely shots–especially your third one of the turnstone. I’m always interested to read your background info too–good stuff about the Viking king!

  2. I sure enjoy your bird photos! These are great!

  3. I think the best place to see Knots in the numbers you yearn for, would be on a winter’s trip to Snettisham. Also, I do believe you’re knot going to see Knots in their summer plumage in this part of the world, due to the timing of their spring moulting. I may be wrong on that last point and perhaps, it’s time to do some research on that particular aspect. As for Turnstones, they are incredibly tame birds, the ones on Padstow harbour in North Cornwall are especially approachable.

    Take Care


    • Hello Tony, I’ve been contemplating a winter sojourn to the nort Norfolk coast for several years to see the sea bird flocks, but I haven’t made it yet. It’s very high on my priority list though!

  4. Your birds are all returning and rising to their Spring while ours settle down for the cold winter we are going to have this year…poles apart :).

    • Hello Fran, they are indeed. Almost all my summer migrants are back now – the most recent two being the whitethroat and the swift back from Africa – the last regular I’m waiting for is the yellow wagtail.

      • We have “Willy Wagtails” here…I wonder if they are the same thing? (Minus the “yellow” of course 😉 ) ours are ferocious and brave little birds that buzz their enemies and warn other birds that an enemy is in the neighbourhood.

      • Could be the same family. The yellow chap is ‘Motacilla flava’ and we also have the pied wagtail which is ‘Motacilla alba’, and there’s a grey one too, but they’re pretty uncommon here. So there are various wagtail species. I like the idea of your little guys fighting their corner. Respect!

      • 🙂 We had one swooping our American Staffy Earl… it would have been the equivalent of one of us taking on King Kong! 😉

      • Blimey, you have to respect that kind of tenacity!

  5. I didn’t know that about barnacle geese, what a fascinating story. I love your last picture of the turnstone with his very thin shadow legs.

    • He was indeed a lovely chap Lorna, he scurried around peering into all the nooks and crannies of the sea wall and then he took a rest and just stood on the edge gazing over the harbour, while I watched and photographed him. It was a high quality 10 minutes spent in his company!

  6. What intriguing ‘ back stories” you give us on the birds… marvellous photos, especially your friendly turnstone….

    • I’m pleased you like the stories Valerie. I love all the tales of the creatures around us. I think they reflect an enduring symbiosis between us humans and our wildlife, both biological and psychological.

      • Coming belatedly to this post of yours, I was about to remark on the way you bring in the myths. Valerie got there before me! She’s right. You do myths so well and of course, your photos are excellent.

      • Hello Sam, I’m really pleased you folk enjoy reading the myths and legends. I think it’s one of the things what makes nature so interesting and fun to learn about. And of course I’m pleased you enjoy the pictures too 🙂

  7. Pingback: Bridlington turnstones and house martins | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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