In flight it is difficult to distinguish the Arctic Tern from the Common Tern - hence they tend to be lumped together as "comic" terns :-) This is definitely the Arctic variety: it has an all-red, shorter bill, and a less graceful neck. There are about 2,000 breeding pairs on the islands - just about the furthest south they breed, other colonies are in the northern isles of Scotland. Paradoxically, there are relatively few of the "common" tern on the islands, perhaps less than 100 breeding pairs.
A tiny bird from the Farne Islands off Northumberland has clocked up the longest migration ever recorded. The Arctic tern’s meandering journey to Antarctica and back saw it clock up 59,650 miles, more than twice the circumference of the planet.
The bird, which weighs just 100g, left its breeding grounds last July and flew down the west coast of Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean and arrived in Antarctica in November. Its mammoth trek was recorded by a tiny device attached to its leg, weighing 0.7g - too light to affect its flight.
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