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Nocturnal waders (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
So I'm looking at the stars tonight at 23.00, out the open window over the harbour near Alnwick in Northumberland and I hear birds calling close by.
Bring my binoculars to bear on the waves lapping and am surprised to see maybe 10 birds feeding. Pretty sure they are turnstone.

Is this usual? Do waders feed depending on the daily tides rather than light?

Andrea Collins

Former member, no longer active
Some waders do indeed feed at night at times, presumably partly due to tidal cycles and partly due to variations in the availability of prey which may be more active at night.

It seems to be commoner amongst the longer billed probing species which are often using tactile and taste clues to find food items, although there seems to be some observational evidence that species that primarily pick food from the surface, such as plovers, may also use hearing to help them find food items at close range in the dark.

Certainly, there is plenty of nocturnal activity on my local beaches at this time of year with both waders and wildfowl feeding. There is an interesting chapter in "The Sensory Ecology of Birds" by Graham R Martin titled "Birds in the Dark" which has a bit about nocturnal feeding by waders and wildfowl.


Well-known member
That's interesting. The waders I've seen here in the small harbour during the day have been these turnstone and a similar number of oystercatcher, plus one redshank, and a couple of ringed plover last week. Only yesterday I was wondering where they hunkered down during the cold nights. Amongst nearby grassy dunes, foliage, or rocks?

Thanks for the information and Happy New Year

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