The Record Breaker…

Arctic Tern adult1

The impressive Arctic Tern on the Isle of May

Arctic Tern on roofa

Nesting amongst the thrift on the roof of the visitor centre!

Arctic Tern

Youngsters preparing for life on the wing

Friday 31st January comments: We’ve brought you the stories of several seabirds which winter locally to the Isle of May, those which travel further and those which travel to West Africa. But today we bring you the story of the longest, the record breaker; the bird which real does see no borders or boundaries.

Arctic Terns nest on the Isle of May from mid-May to late July and family parties gather in August before heading off on one of the most remarkable journeys any animal undertakes on the planet. The birds depart south and head beyond Europe, down Africa and in some cases into the Indian Ocean before wintering off the pack-ice of the Antarctic. These birds will see 24 hour day light and in February, will congregate around the East Antarctic with research showing that the West Ice Shelves are an important area. These birds are undergoing a full feather moult and feeding extensively on krill before eventually heading back north in early March back to UK breeding grounds.

It’s an incredible journey, the longest of any animal on the planet and it’s undertaken every year and Arctic Terns can live beyond thirty years of age (so think how many miles these birds must fly!) It’s impressive, beyond comprehension but it happens. These birds are the true flyer of flyers and so if you are visiting an Arctic Tern colony over the summer, just remember how far these birds have travelled, it might just blow your mind.

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