Arctic Terns on the Farne Islands

Without doubt the species with the most presence on the islands are the Arctic Terns. During the breeding season our home becomes theirs and life very much evolves to fit in around these magnificent birds.

By the beginning of June the majority of the terns are down on eggs and a few weeks later we will begin to find the newest generation of this truly remarkable species. It never ceases to amaze me when I walk around the islands that by the end of this year, some of these birds (currently tiny eggs) will be somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, most likely off the coast of Australia or the Antarctic pack ice. This species experiences more daylight hours than any other animal on the planet.

Artic Tern
Artic Tern

Arctic Terns have a somewhat notorious reputation among our visitors in that they will staunchly defend their eggs and chicks from perceived attack. This usually involves the bird rearing up, making lots of noise, and occasionally pecking the heads of passers-by! We do always advise visitors to the Farnes to wear a hat, and it is not always because of the weather.

" We do always advise visitors to the Farnes to wear a hat, and it is not always because of the weather."
- Ed Tooth, Farne Islands ranger
 

In 2015 the Terns were fitted with Geo-locaters, so we could track their movements over the winter. We are very excited to report that we have now caught re-caught at least 10 of these Terns.

We set up a number of shingle and sand plots around Inner Farne and Brownsman to see if the Arctic Terns would use them. So far these trial plots are being well used at present. For us, it's a way of controlling the rampant vegetation effectively, and for them it's hopefully some ideal new nesting habitat.

These trial shingle beds are designed to give the terns an alternative habitat and help us control vegetation on the Islands
A pair of Arctic Terns on a trial shingle plot