Saturday, 13 February 2010

Arctic Tern.

I recently had a reason to look up my Arctic Tern records which reminded me of some of the mind boggling facts - briefly outlined here - surrounding this incredible bird which moves on a gigantic global scale, a 10,000 mile one way journey appears to mean nothing to this truly amazing bird weighing little more than 100g (3.5oz when I last did my exams at school). Another of the many distinction's the Arctic Tern holds is that it experiences more daylight than any other living organism on the planet, just two impressive examples of the capacity of birds.

The distribution of the Arctic Tern means that neither ring-recoveries nor observation's will reveal the full extent of its movements much of which occur in small groups and at high altitude across open oceans. In Britain its breeding stronghold is in Shetland and Orkney and after fledging the main post-breeding movement appears to be similar to that of the adults, southwards along the West African coast. Its not known to what extent the American-breeding Arctic Terns might occur in Britain on passage, Nearctic breeders migrate south along the west coast of Europe, and Siberian breeders may pass Britain as well, at least during the autumn.

There are many gaps in the understanding of the movements of this species and perhaps there are some safeguards for the future of the bird in that its wintering grounds are largely uninhabited and its breeding grounds are sparsely populated, in my view excellent news for any bird species in an age where persecution and wilful disturbance are still alive and thriving in some areas.


Warren Baker said...

wandering wonders Pete!

Pete Marsh said...

Hello Pete
Arctic tern is arguably the most spectacular migration through our area of Morecambe Bay & plenty of info on this in LDBWS & Hey Obs reports etc. Relevant to the above is the north-easterly orientation of the overland migration, similar to the skuas. This suggests that these could be heading for the same destination as at least the Pomarine Skuas - north Scandinavia thence north Siberia. In this respect Edinburgh is west of Carlisle & Shetland equally so. It could be argued, however, that SOME of them are short-cutting to the Farnes/Coquet. One of these days it will be written up as a conmprehensive report! A fascinating annual event and well worth a morning vigil from Heysham north wall or the Stone Jetty during light easterlies (if we get any!) in late April/early May.

Pete Woodruff said...

Yes wandering wonder's Warren, truly amazing creatures.

Thanks for the input Pete. I'll remember Heysham/Stone Jetty late April/early May and the wind direction/strength but always seem to be doing something else....wouldn't it be good to be able to be in more than one place at the same time.