Posted 11th Jul 2018 by Peter Byrne
For the first time in 52 years, a rare seabird has 'come home', at a time when England's footballers are hoping to repeat the nation's World Cup heroics of the same year
The sooty tern is usually only found in the tropical seas surrounding the Seychelles and was spotted by National Trust rangers some 3,500 miles from home.
The bird, called 'Gareth' in honour of England manager Southgate, was seen on the Farne Islands off Northumberland, where the conservation charity is monitoring over 90,000 pairs of nesting sea birds which includes four species of tern, puffins, razorbills, gulls and guillemots.
Birds will be drawn to the islands due to the good sources of food, a lack of ground predators and the availability of suitability nesting areas. They also offer a safe stopover point for migratory birds.
A common sight in the South Atlantic and on tropical islands across the equator, the sooty tern is a rare sight in the UK, with only 26 confirmed sightings in the British Isles - the last recorded sighting was made off the coast of North Wales in 2005.
With the global population of 21 million, the breeding colonies can be as large as one million.
The bird is identified by its black back and head, along with a white patch over its bill. More commonly found in Europe, species of tern such as arctic and little terns have pale grey and white features.
Best known for its distinctive high pitched, screeching call, it is a migratory bird, spending much of its life at sea - it will only come ashore for breeding season between April and September.
As they don't float, the tern will catch up on their sleep while flying, taking 1-2 second naps.
Gwen Potter, Countryside Manager for the National Trust Northumberland Coast, said: "More at home in the Seychelles than Seahouses, the sooty tern made itself at home, flying around, calling and roosting among the colonies of Arctic terns and Kittiwakes that live on the island."
"The very first sighting of a sooty tern on the islands was 21 June 1966. We hope this return visit this year is a good omen for the England team".
Photo courtesy of Chris Cachia-Zammit