Sunday, 29 June 2014

To the Moon & Back

Nearly 31 years old (with a few grey feathers)

Ring still in good condition


Sunday 29th June comments: Birds are incredible. You have to hand it to them and there are very few which can match our breeding Arctic Terns. We know from bird ringing recoveries and recent studies that these birds spend the winter off the pack-ice of the Antarctic, but we are just discovering how old these birds can live for. In recent years on the Farnes, ringing recoveries have suggested that birds can live into their early thirties, and yesterday we proved it once again…

An adult Arctic Tern (still breeding and showing some grey in the head – its got some way to catch me!) was caught on Brownsman and the ring sequence revealed something very special about this individual. The bird ‘CE94161’ was ringed as a chick on Brownsman on 11 July 1983 making it just thirteen days short of its 31st birthday! WOW!! (It’s older than all my staff on the Farnes!).

Not only is this an incredible age, but considering this bird has been travelling to the other side of the world on an annual basis ever since, makes you wonder just how far this bird has travelled in its lifetime! A quick calculation reveals that it is 19,986 mile all-round journey from the Farnes to the Antarctic (now that’s a stat!) and therefore this bird has been travelling that distance for thirty-one years, which is roughly 620,000 miles travelled (and that’s without feeding flights etc). So this bird has travelled the equivalent of flying to the moon and back (!) and back half-way to the moon in its lifetime. Get your head around that!!!!

What amazing birds and hats off to these long distance travellers (although not during the breeding season otherwise they will peck you head). Well done Arctic Terns, a true wonder of nature.

5 comments:

tul333 said...

Just incredible!

Andrew Hodson said...

Amazing!

Elaine Housby said...

A bird older than all your staff? Good grief that makes me feel ancient.

Louise said...

wow! That's the same age as me! I'll soon be 31 and have noticed my first few grey hairs too, eep!

Jeff said...

Absolutely fantastic.