Summer visitor from March to September to all Irish coasts. Winters off south Africa and as far south as Antarctica.
Usually seen over the sea. Slender seabird with narrow, pointed wings, long forked tail and long, pointed bill. Grey above and white below, dark cap to head. Flight light and buoyant, can hover briefly over the sea before diving in. Very similar to Common Tern (with which it breeds) and told apart by plumage and structure. Arctic tern is smaller, with a smaller head, neck and bill and slightly narrower wings, which look forwardly placed on the body. Very short legs. Adults have a blood red bill, usually with no dark tip. The underparts are greyer than Common Tern and there some contrast with the cheek. The wing pattern is useful in separation, Arctic terns shows no dark wedge in the primaries but shows a distinct trailing edge. Arctic terns have longer tail steamers, extending beyond the wing tips. Adult winter plumage, like all terns is different from breeding plumage, but is only seen in the wintering range. Also has distinctive juvenile plumage, with some brown in the mantle, a dark carpel bar and white secondaries. Shows a distinct trailing bar to the primaries, bill darkens rapidly.
Credit: BirdWatch Ireland
For the first time on record, Arctic Terns successfully raised chicks on Dalkey island in 2019, giving a boost to the vulnerable colony.
As terns are a ground nesting bird, the pressures of sea rise, increased storminess, flooding along with predators such as rats and gulls have taken their toll on our tern populations on Dalkey islands. There were great concerns for the future of the dwindling Arctic Tern colony.
Birdwatch Ireland and their volunteers have managed to remove at least a large proportion of the rat population on Dalkey Islands. Canes were also erected across a portion of Lamb Island to exclude gulls from the tern colony. The efforts of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown staff to manage all aspects of the island and the great work of Birdwatch Ireland has assisted the survival of these chicks. This work was carried out as part of the Dalkey Tern Conservation Project, which is currently funded by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.
Common resident at wetlands, estuaries and along rivers throughout Ireland.
The grey plumage and stature of Grey Herons make them unmistakable. It is a very familiar species being widely distributed and a year-round resident in Ireland. Single birds are often flushed when posed motionlessly at the edge of water bodies, coiled ready to strike out at unsuspecting prey with its formidable spear-like bill. It feeds along the edge of a wide range of wetland habitats from coastal waters and estuaries to loughs, streams and marshy ground. They are usually encountered as solitary birds and sometimes as a pairs, although if observing breeding colonies - heronries - numbers can be in the 50s.
Credit: BirdWatch Ireland