The first few Common Terns have been arriving back at Ferry Meadows CP over the past couple of days.
This bird is smaller than a Black-headed Gull with silver/grey back and wings and pale grey underparts. The bill is orangey red with a dark tip and fairly short red legs. The juvenile is grey, white and black with a ginger back, a pale forehead and a pink or yellow bill with a dark tip which becomes progressively darker over the summer.
The Common Tern breeds inland and on shingle and sandy beaches. It also nests on man-made rafts that are anchored in lakes and occasionally nests on flat roofs. They feed in lakes, reservoirs and rivers. Their food is mainly fish, small herring, sprats and sand-eels and in fresh water they catch roach, perch and minnows, but they also eat insects, especially cockchafers and water beetle larvae.
After nesting some birds travel north before the whole population flies south to arrive at their winter sites in November or December which are south of the equator. First year birds remain in West Africa and in their second summer they travel north and arrive mid-way through the breeding season. The bird does not breed until it is 3 or 4 years old. The oldest ringed bird was 33 years old. There are thought to be around 13,000 pairs that breed in Britain.