First Arctic Terns Arrive in Iceland Skip to content

First Arctic Terns Arrive in Iceland

The first Arctic terns of the season have arrived in Iceland. Four birds were spotted near Gardur in southwest Iceland on May 10. These birds seem to be habitual because in the past years they have always arrived at the same place at the same time, reports.


An Arctic tern. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

Since then, the tern has been spotted in other locations in Iceland but due to a sudden cold spell after a warm period it hasn’t been out and about much, according to Morgunbladid reports.

“I have seen it sitting on the airstrip, but after the chill it hasn’t been around much,” commented Bjarni Magnússon, district commissioner on Grímsey island, Iceland’s northernmost inhabited island which lies directly on the Arctic circle.

More birds have been sighted in the north and east than the south and the west this spring. Magnússon said the terns have flocked to Grímsey in the past two summers and that the nesting had proven successful; there is plenty of food in the waters around the island.

Nesting has not been as successful in Arctic tern colonies in other regions in the past years.

He expects the bird to arrive in large flocks as soon as the temperatures rise again. Yesterday, Grímsey only had a temperature of 2°C (36°F) and a cold wind was blowing in from the northwest.

The outlook for the entire country is not promising. According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, temperatures will remain low and they might even drop below the freezing point in the north, accompanied by sleet.

The Arctic tern is the Icelandic migratory bird which travels the longest distance—every spring this small bird travels from its winter habitat in Antarctica to its nesting grounds in Iceland and the Arctic regions.

Click here to read more about the Arctic tern’s achievements and here to read about its breeding difficulties.

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