Monday, June 14, 2010

In the heart of a ternery

If you're into bird migration then the Arctic Tern, the greatest of travellers, must be high on your list of favourites. Many migratory birds perform gargantuan feats of travel but the Arctic Tern breeds in the northern hemisphere, close to the Arctic Circle, and winters in the Antarctic. This bird lives in a perpetual summer!

Arctic Terns nest in large colonies which are a spectacle to visit. These little terns are strongly defensive of their nests and attack anyone on sight. Hats are advisable when visiting a ternery. During this visit to the Inner Farne colony Arctic Terns concentrated on pecking Geraldine's knuckles (the only part exposed as she took photographs) and drew blood! Still all was worth it for the photographs taken...

under attack!

On islands with rich fishing offshore, terneries may have more than one species breeding. Here we had Arctic Terns (above) and smaller numbers of Common Terns (below).

and sticking together in a separate part of the island is a colony of the larger Sandwich Tern (above and below).

Black-headed Gulls nest scattered between the terns and opportunistically try to rob them of their food. Not surprisingly the terns mob them when they are not busy attacking humans.

but it is the Arctic Terns that are stars of the show, and they make sure you know it!

but you know when you've had enough and the terns have won!

and they all come out to make sure you don't return!


  1. Beautiful shots Clive!!
    The Artic Tern sure has tenacity. Such a tiny cute birdie, but with a strenght that makes it endure harsh winds and fly around the globe. The photos are stunning and the blog very interesting as always, letting us take a glimpse into the wonders of our mother Earth! sandra Sentieiro

  2. Thanks Sandra. They are fun indeed although a bit annoying after a while! Still, they're only defending their property. We'll keep trying to tell good stories in the blog...Clive

  3. I bet you didn't know which way to turn, with so many species around! Nice pics Gerry. Stevo