Colour-flagged terns at Heard Island

Subject: Colour-flagged terns at Heard Island
From: Hugo Phillipps <>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 15:17:06 +1100
Hi everybody -

By request, I am posting the message below from Eric Woehler, currently on
Heard Island, an Australian territory in the southern Indian Ocean.
Antarctic Terns  are considered to be rare vagrants to southern Australian
waters, but it is possible that one may be seen on a pelagic trip.


Resightings of colour-flagged Antarctic Terns at Heard Island
Eric Woehler & Heidi Auman, Australian Antarctic Division

There is a small breeding population of Antarctic Terns (Sterna vittata) on
Heard Island (53°S 73°E), estimated at less than 100 pairs.  They are
absent from Heard Island for the winter months, with South Africa
previously suggested as a wintering area.

Norbert Klages & Tony Tree from South Africa captured and banded more than
1000 Antarctic Terns between July 1998 and September 2000, with some 600 of
these carrying yellow tarsal flags.  The birds were captured at Bird I
(33°50S 26°17E) in Algoa Bay off Port Elizabeth, a site that is globally
important for Antarctic Terns with more than 10 000 terns roosting there at

On 31 December 2000, one of 6 Antarctic Terns feeding in the surf and
sitting on the shoreline of Atlas Cove was seen to have a yellow tarsal
flag on its left leg.

On 2 January 2001, 2 of approximately 80 Antarctic Terns feeding in the
surf at Corinthian Bay, approximately 1 km east of Atlas Cove, were
observed to have tarsal flags, and another bird was seen to have a metal
band only.

Heard Island is approximately 4300 km from Bird Island, South Africa, and
these sightings provide the first evidence of migration by Heard Island
Antarctic Terns to South African wintering areas.

Presently at Heard I until late February 2001.
*** Emails may cease at any time due to generator failure ***
NO attachments allowed without prior approval.

Dr Eric Woehler, Australian Antarctic Division


Hugo Phillipps
Communications Coordinator
Birds Australia
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HAWTHORN EAST 3123, Australia
Tel: (03) 9882 2622, fax: (03) 9882 2677
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