Rare sighting of Elegant Tern

Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans), Crosby              Photo credit: @H_histrionicus (Twitter)


An Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) has been spotted amongst a committee of Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis) on the Sefton Coast this month. 

With no records in North Merseyside, Elegant Tern is an extremely rare species to spot on our coastlines. This species was first recorded in the UK, down in Devon back in 2002. 


Elegant Tern on Ainsdale Beach
Elegant Tern on Ainsdale Beach
Photo credit: @AngrySwans (Twitter)

Elegant Tern breed on the coast of south-west USA and north-west Mexico, dispersing south along the Pacific coast of South and Central America outside the breeding season.

The Elegant Tern can be distinguished from other terns by it's yellow-orange bill.


Elegant Tern ID
Elegant Tern characteristics
Photo credit: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley


Since the 1970s the presence of Elegant Tern in Europe has long been the subject of scepticism.  However, recent research published in the Journal of Ornithology, used DNA technology to confirm the presence of Elegant Terns in Europe. 

Have you spotted an Elegant Tern or another interesting species?

Let us know by submitting your records online or via email: info@merseysidebiobank.org.uk.


You can also tag us in your photos on social media!

Twitter: @NMBiodiversity
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