More on the tern

Subject: More on the tern
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 14:28:15 +1000

The tern referred to a few days ago has certainly been getting itself some
publicity!  This was in today's internet version of The Times;

>Wrong tern leads to bird's record flight


>A RECORD for the longest known bird flight was being claimed yesterday
after a common tern travelled more than 16,000 miles from near the Arctic
Circle to Australia.

>The white, starling-sized bird was ringed by ornithologists at Helsinki
University and is thought to have left central Finland on or about August
15.  After flying through the English Channel and down the west coasts of
Europe and then Africa ? normally the furthest point ? it probably turned
left at the Cape of Good Hope, heading across the southern Indian Ocean to

>There it was among 500 common terns from eastern Siberia caught on January
24 by Clive Minton, an Australian ornithologist, on a beach.

>Chris Mead, of the British Trust for Ornithology, said: "The bird must
have covered more than 16,000 miles, doing about 100 miles a day."

>The longest wildbird journey, listed in The Guinness Book of Records, was
a ringed arctic tern's 14,000-mile flight from Belarus to Fremantle in
Western Australia in 1956.  Mr Mead said: "Arctic terns regularly migrate
from 600 miles below the North Pole to the edge of the Antarctic pack-ice."

>The common tern might try to return to its Finnish breeding ground in the
summer of 1998 when it is ready to mate.  But Mike Everett, of the RSPB,
doubts that it will find its way home, adding: "We shall probably never

However I have also read this comment.  From memory the bird concerned gets
mentioned in HANZAB as an Arctic Tern:

>Yes, you can believe this is the longest DOCUMENTED journey, if you
think it this way. But, at least we think that the only correct way of
comparing distances is to measure the SHORTEST WAY from the ringing site
to the recovery place. In this case, it is 15 240 kilometers. Furthermore,
the record of Finnish birds is 15 777 kilometers and it is owned by an
unidentified Tern (Common/Arctic). It was ringed on 30 June, 1961 at the
eastern Gulf of Finland (place called Pernaja). At that time our knowledge
the indentification of Tern chicks was rather poor (and it was not
to ring unidentified birds!). Anyway, this Common/Arctic Tern (it is
to be Arctic) was found dead 11,5 years later on 25 December 1972 in
But now we come to the point, where you cannot get information enough with
just ordinary rings! You can never know, how many times this Tern has
possibly flown around the world during these 11,5 years! In such cases, you
should use (radio or) satellite transmitters in order to get reliable
>Jukka Haapala
*  Ringing Centre                    *
*  Finnish Museum of Natural History *

Murray Lord

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