00:00, 7 JUN 2016
BY TOM WHITE
The Arctic tern weighs less than an iPhone yet covered a massive 96,000km on its journey to its winter home before returning to the UK
A tiny sea bird has made the longest ever known annual migration, which saw it fly from Northumberland to Antarctica and back.
The record breaking Arctic tern, which weighs less than an iPhone, covered a mammoth 96,000km in its journey down to its winter home in the Weddell Sea before returning to the Farne Islands.
It was part of a study carried out by scientists at Newcastle University for BBC’s Springwatch, which mapped for the first time the annual migration of the terns.
Last year, 29 birds were fitted with geolocators by the researchers and have now returned to the islands to breed.
The previous record had been held by an Arctic tern that covered 91,000km on its flight from the Netherlands.
Dr Richard Bevan, from Newcastle University’s School of Biology, said: “It’s really quite humbling to see these tiny birds return when you consider the huge distances they’ve had to travel and how they’ve battled to survive.
“So far we’ve managed to catch 16 of our tagged birds from last year and we’ve seen at least another four birds with our geolocators attached.