02 August 2011

Roseate went to the Americas

Any report about Roseate Terns is always special, just like their rings. On Monday we opened the online recoveries from the weekend to find a sighting of a Roseate tern in a breeding colony. Yes, we are in the summer that’s what they should be… but we read a bit more and discovered that the finding county was New Hampshire! After double-checking, I checked the database and found that there is only one other recovery of a Roseate Tern ringed in the UK & Ireland and found across the Atlantic during the breeding season.

Quoting the Migration Atlas [about North West population of Roseate terns] ‘dispersal beyond this metapopulation to the Azores or USA appears to be extremely rare’, this confirms that this is a very unusual recovery.

Roseate terns breeding in the UK & Ireland winter along the east side of the Atlantic in Africa, while the birds from the North American populations go to Trinidad and the Brazilian coast. Some intrepid individuals clearly add variation to the genetic pool by moving between the continents!

SR73180 was ringed by the National Parks Wildlife Service (NPWS) as a chick on 1 July 2009 in Rockabill, near Dublin (Ireland) and hadn’t been seen until the 28 July 2011 when it was spotted at a breeding colony in The Isles of Shoals, a group of islands off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.

SR73180 hasn't bred yet but, as a two year old Roseate tern, is doing a 'late season prospection' and, possibly finding a mate with whom to return next year and breed.

Daniel Hayward, who reported the bird and monitors all the seabirds in the Isles of Shoals as part of The Terns Project, has supplied the photographs.

Thanks to Daniel Hayward for letting us know and Stephen Newton from Birdwatch Ireland for his contribution to this post.

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