Belongs to: terns

Sandwich tern Sterna sandvicensis

BoCC Amber list

Best time to see: end Mar to mid Sep

Key facts

Large pale tern with black crest on back of head

Summer migrant breeding on most UK coasts, including some in Essex mainly on Maplin bank

Named after Sandwich in Kent, where it used to breed


Large pale tern with black ragged crest, black legs, black bill with yellow tip; 40 cm

Flies with typical buoyant flight, in which pointed wings and forked tail are apparent

Dives to catch fish


Highly colonial nesters, often – for protection from intruders – alongside more aggressive species

Nest is a bare scrape on a sand or shingle beach; one brood of 2 buffy eggs speckled brown, April to May

Arrive early – often by the end of March – from their wintering grounds on the cast of W. Africa

© Robin Chittenden