Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)
Arctic Tern, Farne Islands, England, June 2003 - click for larger image The Arctic Tern performs the longest migration known for a bird. It breeds around the Arctic in Europe, Asia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland and has the most northerly breeding range of any tern. It also breeds round Scotland, Ireland, northern England and on coastal Holland, Germany and into the Baltic.
Arctic Tern, Westray Orkney , Scotland, May 2003 - click for larger image These birds migrate south to the Antarctic with birds from the south of the range leaving from late July and returning from early May while more northerly breeders leave up to early October and return up to end June.

They breed mainly on coasts and inshore islands while, outside the breeding season they spend most of their time at sea.

Arctic Tern, Farne Islands, England, June 2003 - click for larger image They feed on fish, insects and shellfish. Fish are caught by plunge-diving normally after a hover.

They are similar to Common Tern Sterna hirundo but have a shorter bill, shorter legs and a longer tail so that, in flight, the wings look set further forward than on Common Tern. The bill is dark red with no black tip.

Arctic Tern, Farne Islands, England, June 2003 - click for larger image The nest is a shallow hollow on the ground and it is defended vigorously as any visitor to the Farne Islands will know (see final photo). There are between 1 and 3 eggs in a clutch.
Arctic Tern eggs, Farne Islands, England, June 2003 - click for larger image
Arctic Ternwith chicks, Farne Islands, England, June 2003 - click for larger image
Arctic Tern, Farne Islands, England, June 2003 - click for larger image
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