I pho­tographed a tern in June – but which one is it?

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

QI took some pho­tos of a tern on 25 June at Titch­field Haven, Hamp­shire. It has been re­ported as an Arc­tic Tern, but some peo­ple doubt that it is. What do you think? Phil Giles

AMany bird­watch­ers were brought up with the no­tion that you tell Arc­tic from Com­mon Terns by their wholly red, not black-tipped bills. We sus­pect that is what has hap­pened here. The adult tern looks to have a wholly red bill, so some have sug­gested it must be an Arc­tic. How­ever, that bill looks too long for an Arc­tic Tern’s, and too orange-red, rather than blood red. So, it looks like a Com­mon Tern, but with a re­duced amount of black in the bill tip. This would make sense, also, as Arc­tic Terns are more northerly breed­ers, only reach­ing as far south as North Wales in their breed­ing range.

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