Arctic Tern

Sterna paradisaea

And watch for the deep-sea liner climbing
Out of the bright West,
With a salmon-sky and her wake shining
Like a tern's breast, —

Marjorie Pickthall

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All but one of these tern pictures were taken on the Farne Islands in Northumberland. If you haven’t been yet, you should certainly try it, although, at the time of writing, the islands are closed because of an outbreak of bird flu.

The terns are the most aggressive birds on the island and will dive-bomb and peck your head if you approach the nest. If you don’t take the hint, they may give up and simply settle on your head. I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures. I remember thinking at the time that all that agressive flying and screeching can’t be a good use of energy at a time when they should be focusing on breeding.

The remaining image of the tern on the signpost was taken at Foulney Island. They did their best to prevent humans disturbing the birds, but sadly the colony was being devastated by a pair of Kestrels nesting nearby.

RSPB information

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