New data for Arctic Terns (Sterna paradisaea) migration from White Sea (Onega Peninsula)

A.E Volkov, Maarten J.J.E. Loonen, E.V. Volkova, D.A. Denisov

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Abstract

The Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) has one of the longest migratory routes of any species. Based on ring recoveries during the 20th century, Arctic Terns migrate several thousand km. from their breeding area in the Arctic to their wintering area in the Antarctic. The exact migratory paths of Arctic Terns from East Greenland,
Iceland, the Netherlands, Spitsbergen and Alaska were investigated from 2007–2012 through the use of geolocators.
In 2014–2015 we used geolocators in the Russian Arctic for the first time in order to study the migratory routes of Arctic Terns from their colony on the Onega Peninsula in the White Sea (64°56′42″ N, 36°44′20″ E). In 2014, geolocators were deployed on 20 Arctic Terns, and in 2015 we retrieved data from 7 birds. After leaving the colony on the Onega Peninsula at the end of July — beginning of August, and before the start of the southward migration, the Arctic Terns were located in a large area of the North Atlantic from Iceland to Baffin Land (Canadian Arctic). In general, the tracks of Arctic Terns from the White Sea and from
the Netherlands coincided: from the North Atlantic, birds flew along the coast of west Africa, then across the Indian Ocean reaching Australian waters before finally arriving in East Antarctica in the area of Wilkes Land. Staging areas with a duration from 4 to 38 days were located in the North Atlantic, waters of South Africa
and the central part of the Indian Ocean. Off south-east Africa, a previously unknown staging area was discovered. The wintering areas of the White Sea Arctic Terns are located in the huge Antarctic region from 90° E to 10° E, mainly between the wintering areas of the Arctic Terns from the Netherlands (Wilkes Land) and from Greenland, Spitsbergen and Alaska (Weddell Sea). One White Sea Arctic Tern was recorded in the Weddell Sea. The migratory route from Antarctica to the breeding area passes through the central part of the Atlantic with staging in the North Atlantic. From 20th May, Arctic Terns arrived at their breeding colony on the Onega Peninsula. The duration of the southward migration (an average of 104 days) is comparable with the duration of wintering in Antarctic waters (an average of 128 days). However, the northward migration is much shorter (an average of 61 days) because of the more direct way via the Atlantic. The speed of the southward and northward migrations are comparable (an average of 432 km/day and 488 km/day). The total average distance traveled by the White Sea Arctic Terns
during the non-breeding period is more than 84300 km. One bird flew a distance of more than 103600 km – the maximum known distance for an Arctic Tern migration during one year.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-68
Number of pages11
JournalOrnithologia
Volume41
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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