Little Tern Geabhróg bheag Sternula albifrons
Very scarce passage migrant. Not known to breed in the county, although it has done so in the past.
Global Distribution: This species is breeding through much of Europe, scattered along the coast and inland in parts of Africa, in much of western, central and the extreme east and south of Asia, and in northern parts of Australasia. Migratory individuals expand the range to include most of the coast of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the western coast of India and most of the waters of south-east Asia and Australasia, including New Zealand. One seasonally breeding colony is also present on Hawaii (del Hoyo et al. 1996). (Source: BirdLife International)
Gull-billed Tern Geabhróg Ghobdhubh Gelochelidon nilotica
Five county records up to the end of 2020.
2020 Ballycotton and The Gearagh, the same 3rd year bird between 21st June and 25th August.
2017 Clonakilty, adult, 26th April to 6th May 2017.
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.
Global 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 Geabhróg Chaispeach Hydroprogne caspia
Four county records up to the end of 2020.
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).
Global 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 Geabhróg Bhroinndubh Chlidonias hybrida
Seven county records up to the end of 2020.
2014 Lough Aderra, one adult on from the 4th to the 13th May.
2008 Kilcolman NNR, 5th April. to the 3rd May.
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.
Global Distribution: A widespread but patchily distributed summer visitor to southern and eastern Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Also found in Africa, southern Asia and Australia.(Birdlife International)
Black Tern Geabhróg dhubh Chlidonias niger
Scarce passage migrant, with virtually all records in autumn. Sightings decreasing in recent decades.
Global 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 Atlantic coast of Central America and northern South America. (Birdlife International)
White-winged Tern Geabhróg Bháneiteach Chlidonias leucopterus
17 county records involving at least 19 birds up to the end of 2020.
2012 Garretstown, adult, 4th August.
2005 Garryvoe, a 1st winter on the 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.
Global Distribution: A widespread summer visitor to eastern Europe, which accounts for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Also found in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. (Birdlife International)
Elegant Tern Geabhróg Ghalánta Thalasseus elegans
One county record up to the end of 2020.
1982 One at Ballymacoda on 1 August.
Global 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 International)
Sandwich Tern Geabhróg Scothdhubh Thalasseus sandvicensis
Common passage migrant and summer visitor. Rare in winter. Has bred in the past, no recent breeding records up to the end of 2020.
Global Distribution: This species can be found in Europe, Africa, western Asia, and the Americas. It breeds seasonally on the coast of much of Europe east to the Caspian Sea, wintering from the Caspian, Black and Mediterranean Seas to the coasts of western and southern Africa, and from the south Red Sea to north-west India and Sri Lanka. In the Americas, it breeds from Virginia to Texas (U.S.A.), on the coasts of the Yucatan Peninsula, Lesser Antilles, Venezuela, French Guiana, eastern Brazil and Argentina. It winters from Texas (U.S.A.) down to southern Argentina, the Greater Antilles and from southern Mexico down to northern Chile (del Hoyo et al. 1996). (Source: BirdLife International).
Royal Tern Geabhróg Ríoga Thalasseus maxima
One record up to the end of 2020.
2009 Clonakilty, an adult, 7th June. This bird may have been of the African form S.m.albidorsalis
Global Distribution: The Royal Tern is 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 side (del Hoyo et al. 1996). (Source: BirdLife International).
Lesser Crested Tern Miongheabhróg Chíorach Thalasseus bengalensis
One county record up to the end of 2020.
1996 Ballycotton, adult, 7th to 8th August; possibly same as one seen in the Isles of Scilly around this time. This is the first Irish record of this species.
Global 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 Geabhróg Foster Sterna forsteri
Four records up to the end of 2020, 2006/2007 records probably involving just two individuals.
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 Ballycotton/Ballyvergan/Dungarvan)
Global 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 Geabhróg Sterna hirundo
Common passage migrant and summer visitor. Breeds locally in small numbers.
Ringing studies show that county Cork birds winter off the west African coast.
Global Distribution: This species has a circumpolar distribution and can be found breeding in most of Europe, Asia and North America, except the in the extreme north. It winters further south, being found along the coast and inland of South America down to the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), along the coast of Africa (excluding northern Africa), along parts of the Arabian Peninsula, the coast of India and throughout much of south-east Asia and Australasia, excluding New Zealand (del Hoyo et al. 1996). (Source: BirdLife International)
Roseate Tern Geabhróg Rósach Sterna dougallii
Very scarce passage migrant, with most records from late summer.
Not known to breed, although it has done so in the past.
Global Distribution: This species breeds in widely but sparsely distributed colonies along the east coast and offshore islands of Canada, U.S.A., from Honduras to Venezuela, possibly to Brazil, the Caribbean (including the Bahamas, Greater and Lesser Antilles and the West Indies), U.K., France, Ireland, Portugal (Azores, Salvages and perhaps Madeira), Spain (Canary Islands), South Africa, Kenya, Somalia, Madagascar, Oman, Seychelles, St Brandon and the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius), Maldives, Chagos (British Indian Ocean Territory), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India), Sri Lanka, Ryukyu Islands (Japan), Indonesia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, New Guinea (Papua New Guinea), New Caledonia (to France) and Australia (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). The population in the Republic of Ireland is estimated at 1,300 pairs (BirdLife International 2015).
Arctic Tern Geabhróg Artach Sterna paradisaea
Uncommon passage migrant and summer visitor, with a bias in records towards the south-west.
Formerly bred locally but now restricted to a small number in west Cork.
Global Distribution: This species has a circumpolar range, breeding in the Arctic and subarctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America as far south as Brittany (France) and Massachusetts (U.S.A.). It is a trans equatorial migrant, and can be found wintering throughout the Southern Ocean to the edge of the Antarctic ice and the southern tips of South America and Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Overall population trends are unknown. (Source: BirdLife International)