Identification: The Common Tern is so similar to the closely related Arctic Tern, that many birdwatchers admit defeat and simply call them 'Commic Terns'. When an adult is seen at rest, look for an obvious black tip to a long crimson-red bill and the. Common Terns also have longer legs than Arctic Terns and their shorter tails don't protrude beyond the wing tips. In flight the problem is resolved if you see, an obvious contrast between dark outer primaries and pale inner ones. This feature can be hard to detect in early spring but becomes obvious as the summer progresses. The juveniles can be distinguished from Arctic Terns by the conspicuous dark panel in the forewing which, at rest, stands out as a dark patch near the bend of the wing.
Habitat: Breeds on shingle banks by lakes, gravel pits, rivers and coasts.
Distribution: A common summer visitor, breeding in colonies mainly on the coast, but increasingly inland. The most commonly-seen tern in Britain.A widespread breeding bird in much of Europe including many scattered inland sites. South of the Arctic Circle, most terns seen inland, especially if breeding, will be this species.
Population: 2 300 breeding pairs in Britain, 3 100 breeding pairs in Ireland. Populations are widely scattered across eastern England, Scotland and eastern Ireland.
200 000 breeding pairs found along the coasts and inland waters of many European countries, the Baltic coast and particularly Finland and Russia where it is widespread.