This is one of those terns which in the bad old days, birdwatchers may have been tempted to call a ‘Commic’ tern (see p60); being a grey winged, white-tailed, black-capped tern with a red bill. We can see enough in the photo to go further, however. Perhaps most obvious is the blood red bill which is quite short and lacks any black. The next thing to note is that the wings are uniformly patterned, lacking any smudging or ‘dark wedges’ in the primaries and almost showing a translucent ‘window’ in the hand. The tail streamers are long, but not exceptionally so. Finally, the underparts, though in shade, do look grey, giving a ‘white-cheeked’ effect. Combined these features all confirm that this bird is an a Arctic Tern.
KEY FEATURES ’Commic’ tern pattern of grey wings, black cap and red bill Tail streamers quite long (many are longer) Short bill is blood red with no black tip Wings look very ‘clean’, lacking ‘dark wedge’ in primaries