Terns on the Up!

Also known as the 'Sea Swallow' the Arctic Tern is the longest distant bird migrant in the world!

Also known as the ‘Sea Swallow’ the Arctic Tern is the longest distant bird migrant in the world!

Arctic tern numbers on the up on the May!

Arctic tern numbers on the up on the May!

25 pairs even nested on the roof of the visitor centre

25 pairs even nested on the roof of the visitor centre

Wednesday 26th August comments: Despite their fragile appearance Arctic terns have the longest annual migration of any animal. They migrate to the northern hemisphere from the Antarctic pack ice in order to breed and lay their eggs. This annual migration is almost 71,000km, and over their lifespan of around 30 years, an Arctic Tern may travel a total distance of 2.5 million km. What makes such an undertaking worth it? Well, during our summer the North Sea is teeming with life. The highly desirable sand-eel provides the growing chicks with plenty of calories and is easily digestible too!

The Arctic tern population on the May has fluctuated over the past decade and it is still uncertain whether the colonies here will become permanently established. The good news is that, in recent years we have witnessed a growth in the breeding population, certainly an encouraging sign that all our efforts looking after the terns is paying off.

This year we recorded 484 Arctic tern nests, an increase of 69 new nests from last year. It was disheartening watching poor weather and the gluttonous gulls take their toll on the terns. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as many chicks took to the wing to start their first long migration.

The Arctic terns have certainly come a long way from 2010, when the colony abandoned. Since then the numbers have recovered, and we have high hopes for our Arctic terns in the years to come.

Let’s not forget about the Common terns. Despite the name they are not all that common on the May with only 13 nesting pairs recorded this season.

We look forward to welcoming them back in May next year, for more head pecking!

(article written by James Crymble)

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