Help us give nature a home from £3 a month.
Birds by name
Conservation status: Amber
With its long tail streamers and general shape the Arctic tern deserves the local name of 'sea swallow'. Appearing white with a black cap, it is largely coastal although it can be seen inland on migration. It depends on a healthy marine environment and some colonies have been affected by fish shortages. Arctic terns are the ultimate long distance migrants - summer visitors to the UK and winter visitors to the Antarctic.
Breeding terns can best be seen on island such as the Farne Islands in Northumberland or on the Northern Isles where the greatest breeding densities occur. Look out for them on spring pasage at inland reservoirs and around the coast in autumn as they head south.
European birds start to arrive back from their Antarctic winter break in May, with northernmost birds getting back in June. Many birds occur inland during their migration north, passing through central England in late April/early May. Migration south commences after breeding in late July and August.
* UK breeding is the number of pairs breeding annually. UK wintering is the number of individuals present from October to March. UK passage is the number of individuals passing through on migration in spring and/or autumn.
Please note that the map is only intended as a guide. It shows general distribution rather than detailed, localised populations.
Niels Krabbe, Xeno-canto