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Terns Sternidae, Chlidoniae (14)

(Banner Photos: Arctic Tern by Jim Wilson)

Little Tern Sterna albifrons
Very scarce passage migrant. Not known to breed, although it has done so in the past.

Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
Rare vagrant.
Three county records up to the end of 2014.

2006 Womanagh River, near Ballymacoda, adult, 20th and 21st May.
1998 Courtmacsherry, adult, 26th to 27th July; same, Kilbrittain, 8th August.
1993 Ballycotton, 29th April.

Distribution: The Gull-billed tern breeds in warmer parts of the world in southern Europe, very small isolated population in northern Germany and Denmark, temperate and eastern Asia, both coasts of central and southern North America, the north-west and eastern coasts of South America and Australia. Post-breeding dispersal expands its range to include much of south Asia, Central America, New Zealand and parts of central Africa. (Birdlife International)

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
Rare vagrant.
Four county records up to the end of 2014.

2000 Ballymacoda, 14th August.
1998 Ballycotton, adult, 19th to 20th June; same, Ballymacoda, 20th June.
1991 Rosscarbery, adult, 12th July.
1988 Two, Ballycotton, 7th to 9th August 1988; one remaining to 13th August (Irish Birds 4: 100).

Distribution: a cosmopolitan but scattered distribution. Their breeding habitat is large lakes and ocean coasts in North America (including the Great Lakes), and locally in Europe (mainly around the Baltic Sea and Black Sea), Asia, Africa, and Australasia (Australia and New Zealand). North American birds migrate to southern coasts, the West Indies and northernmost South America. European and Asian birds winter in the Old World tropics. African and Australasian birds are resident or disperse over short distances. (Birdlife International)

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
Rare vagrant.
Eight county records up to the end of 2014.

2014 Lough Aderra, one adult on from the 4th to the 13th May.
2008 Kilcolman NNR, 3rd May.
2008 Kilcolman NNR, 5th April.
2007 Lough Beg, Cork Harbour, adult, 29th to 30th April.
1988 Ballycotton, adult, 3rd to 29th May.
1985 Kilmacsimon, adult, 28th July to 3rd August.
1984 Ballycotton, adult, 4th to 15th August.
1968 Shanagarry Marsh, adult, 18th to 19th May.

Distribution: a widespread but patchily distributed summer visitor to southern and eastern Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. (Birdlife International)

Black Tern Chlidonias niger
Scarce passage migrant, with virtually all records in autumn.

Distribution: found in the Old and New World. It ranges from southern Scandinavia to southern Spain, east through Europe and western Asia to central Mongolia. Individuals from this area predominately winter on the Atlantic coast of Africa, from the Western Sahara to South Africa. It is also found across much of Canada to northern regions of the USA, with individuals wintering on the Pacific coast of Mexico, the Pacific and Atalantic coast of Central America and northern South America. (Birdlife International)

White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus
Rare vagrant.
17 county records up to the end of 2014.

2012 Garretstwon, adult, 4th August.

2005 1st Winter, Garryvoe, 21st October.
2005 Sherkin Island, an adult on the 19th July, same bird off Cape Clear the next day (erroneously in 2007 IRBR as 2006).
2005 off Cape Clear, an adult on the 20th July was recorded on Sherkin previous day.
2002 Lough Beg, a first-winter from the 16th November to the 1st December.
1983 Ballycotton, one immature from the 29th to the 30th August.
1980 Ballycotton, one on the 10th July.
1980 Ballycotton, one on the 17th May.
1977 Cobh, one on the 28th September.
1977 Ballycotton, one on the 1st August.
1976 Ballycotton, one on the 30th October.
1976 Ballycotton, one on the 23rd May.
1975 Ballycotton, two immatures, 6th to the 20th September, two from 9th to 13th.
1970 Roche's Point, one on the 1st September.
No date Castletownberehaven, one. (IBR 21:24)
1968 Ballycotton, an immature from the 10th to the 24th August.
1936 off Glandore, one on the 31st July.

Distribution: a widespread summer visitor to eastern Europe, which accounts for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. (Birdlife International)

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
Common passage migrant and summer visitor. Rare in winter. Not known to breed. Summer Distribution

Elegant Tern Sterna elegans
Rare vagrant.
One county record up to end of 2014.

1982 One at Ballymacoda on 1 August.

Distribution: breeds along the Pacific coast from south California, USA, to Baja California and the Gulf of California, Mexico. Birds winter from Guatemala to El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. (Birdlife Internatoinal)

Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis
Rare vagrant.
One county record up to the end of 2014.

1996 Ballycotton, adult, 7th to 8th August; possibly same as Scilly individual. First Irish record.

Distribution: breeds in subtropical coastal parts of the world mainly from the Red Sea across the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific, and Australia, with a significant population on the southern coast of the Mediterranean on two islands off the coast of Libya. Outside the breeding season it ranges on the north African coast (both Mediterranean and Atlantic), on much of the Indian Ocean nearby continents, and in the western Pacific north of Australia up to New Guinea and Vietnam. (Birdlife International)

Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri
Rare vagrant.
Four records up to the end of 2014, 2006/2007 records probably involving the same individual.

2013 Garretstown, one on the 14th December.
2007 Pilmore Strand an adult from the 28th January to the 9th February(Presumed returning individual.)
2006 Ballycotton, one first-winter from 11th to 18th February (also seen near Youghal see below).
2006 Ballyvergan, near Youghal, a first-winter from the 29th January to the 28th February (considered to be the Ballycotton individual)
2006 Pilmore Strand, an adult on the 12th March. (Same bird as in Ballyvcotton/Ballyvergan/Dungarvan)

Distribution: can be found in North and Central America, breeding seasonally in southern Canada and northern USA, wintering in south-east and coastal south-western USA, along the eastern and western coast of Mexico and in Central America. It can also be found year-round on the Atlantic coast of the USA from Virginia to Texas. (Birdlife International)

Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Common passage migrant and summer visitor. Breeds locally in small numbers. Summer Distribution

Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii
Very scarce passage migrant, with most records from late summer. Not known to breed, although it has done so in the past.

Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
Uncommon passage migrant and summer visitor, with a bias in records towards the south-west. Formerly bred locally though at present breeding status is uncertain. Summer Distribution

Royal Tern Sterna maxima
Rare vagrant.
One county record up to the end of 2014. May refer to African form S.m.albidorsalis

2009 One at Ring Marsh, Clonakilty on 7th June.

Distribution: found in the Americas and the Atlantic coast of Africa. In Africa is breed from Mauritania to Guinea, ranging in winter from Morocco to Namibia. In the Americas it breeds from southern California (USA) to Sinaloa (Mexico), from Maryland to Texas (USA), through the West Indies to the Guianas and possibly Brazil, on the Yucatan Peninsula, in south Brazil, Uruguay and north Patagonia (Argentina). It winters from Washington (USA) south to Peru on the western coast, and from Texas to south Brazil on the eastern side1. (Birdlife International)