Tuesday 21 September 2010

Just how old...

Just how old - a ringed Arctic Tern on Inner Farne (Jason Moss)
Tuesday 21st September comments: For those who have not seen the nes today, the islands released a press release of some interest...

A sea-bird has officially become the UK's oldest recorded Arctic Tern. It was ringed as a chick on the Farne Islands on 28 June, 1980, making it at least 30 years, two months and 23 days old. The birds typically live 13-15 years. This bird's record-breaking status was confirmed after it was recaptured this summer on the islands, located a few miles off the Northumberland coast.
Arctic terns' 44,000-mile (70,000km) pole-to-pole migration is the longest known annual journey of any animal. The previous UK record was 29 years and 10 months, although the typical life expectancy is about 13-15 years - primarily as a result of the terns being prey for other predatory birds, lack of food or being caught in storms while at sea.

The bird was originally ringed by John Walton when he was a seasonal warden for the National Trust, which owns the Farnes. Mr Walton, now property manager for the islands, told BBC News he was delighted when he heard the news that the chick he ringed three decades ago was still going strong. "This bird would have flown close to one million miles, raised any number of chicks, survived predators and storms and still looks in brilliant shape."

The new record only came to light after the information was entered into a database managed by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Mr Walton explained, "then this figure pinged out saying 30 years and I thought wow! Ringing - which involves attaching a lightweight ring with a unique identification number around the leg of a bird - is carried out to allow researchers to learn more about individual birds. Although the tern, known as CE60645, has set a new UK record, it is still some years away from claiming the title of the world's oldest Arctic tern that is currently held by a bird ringed in the US and reached the age of 34 years.

"Fingers crossed, this bird is good for another four or five years, which would allow us to take the world record from the Americans," Mr Walton joked.


Wez Smith said...

I saw this on 'Newsround', great stuff!

kezia said...

Thanks for the update I hadnt seen it on the news , quite amazing when you think of the journey these birds take

Alan Tilmouth said...

Michael Frankis requested I post this link to you: