Common tern colonies usually number around 2,000 birds, but can be as large as 20,000.

Common terns arrive in the UK from their wintering grounds in April, and leave our shores again in August or September.

One interesting example of tern behaviour is known as ‘dread’. This usually occurs in the early part of the breeding season, and describes the peculiar event in which most or all of the terns will suddenly burst up from the ground and fly low over the colony or the sea, either to deter predators or for apparently no reason at all.


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