'Your turn' to help the Turnstone of the North East Kent coast

Turnstone feed and rest along the North East Kent shores in internationally important numbers during the winter months (October to March). However they are not doing as well as they could be!

Turnstone can be scared by fast movements caused by people or dogs that get too close, and will run or fly away. This disturbance stops them from feeding or resting, and can prevent them from putting on enough body fat to survive harsh weather or their long migration flight.

This video was created by local teenagers with support from Children's Play' Big Lottery Funded project in Thanet (2008-11) 


Turnstone are ‘faithful’ to a particular bay, and return each winter from Canada and the tundra to feed along these rocky shores. They feed on small marine life such as crabs and shrimps by turning over loose stones and seaweed with their bills to find them.

Peace ‘at night’ and ‘high tide’!

Turnstone need to be left alone to rest - or ‘roost’. They gather in groups at night and high tide, and tend to rest in undisturbed sheltered locations, close to their feeding grounds. But because of disturbance, fewer birds are using these roost sites and are flying further away - using up valuable energy.

Action speaks louder than birds!

There are simple actions that everyone can do to reduce disturbance and not put the Turnstone to flight, such as:

  • keeping your distance from the resting or feeding birds,
  • slowing your movement, and also
  • keeping your dog on a lead when near them.

More information


Natural England has commissioned research surveys to monitor the Turnstone every two to three years since 2002. The NEKMPA Coastal Wardens assist the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Trust to monitor numbers and disturbance. The 2013 & 2014 monitoring report (PDF 688kb) had shown a huge 50% decline in the numbers of Turnstone, and this has been confirmed by the most recent reports in 2016 Turnstone Monitoring report (PDF, 1,073kb), and 2018 Turnstone Report  (PDF, 876KB). Thiese report has been issued by Natural England/Thanet CoastProject (Thanet Council) and will need prior consent if to be reproduced or used.

The latest survey took place in January to February 2018.  It was carried out by volunteers from the Thanet Coast Project (NEKMPA Coastal Wardens), Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory Trust, Local RSPB Group, BTO member - with support from Thanet Council.

Local Action:

Turnstone signs are displayed close to the main winter roost sites.

The sign information has been reviewed with help from the Thanet Coastal Wardens and these signs and stickers (sample PDF 101kb) may be seen in the vicinity of roost sites. Information poster (PDF 603kb) are also available to download.

However, we rely on your help to avoid - or reduce your movement - close to these sites at high tide, or at night.

Some of the High Tide Roost signs in the Thanet area:

Reculver to Birchington sign (PDF, 589kb)

Westgate sign (PDF, 587kb)

Cliftonville to Kingsgate sign (PDF, 609kb)

Margate sign (PDF, 592kb)

Thanet Coast (NEKMPA)

c/o Thanet District Council,

PO Box 9, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent CT9 1XZ
United Kingdom




Tony Child

Thanet Coast (NE Kent Marine Protected Area) Officer

Telephone: +44 (0) 1843 577672

(based in Manston Road Depot)