World Champion

First winter Arctic Tern

Meet this first winter Arctic Tern. Born last July in the high Arctic, possibly on Spitsbergen, and made its way now already all the way down to the Antarctic Peninsula. Here it found a group of Antarctic Terns, for us easily distinguishable as they were all in their summer plumage. While the Antarctic Terns will start breeding soon (or have already started), these Arctic Terns will just take advantage of the rich seas of the Southern Ocean and the long daylight to fatten up before they start their migration back to the High Arctic. Not this bird, as most first summer Arctic Terns will not fly all the way up to the breeding grounds (they won’t start breeding until they are two years old). But then they will fly every year from the high Arctic to Antarctica, averaging between 70.000 and 90.000km per year, the longest migration of any bird species.


edit 17-04-2017: even though the story about Arctic Terns is true, the bird in the image turned out to be a first summer Antarctic Tern… They are a lot more common on the Peninsula where they breed. They winter further north, but don’t have the epic migration known from Arctic Terns.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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