• Sim Elliott

Sandwich Terns - from the Undercliff, Brighton. 02.07.21

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

When I was cycling back along the Undercliff between Saltdean and Brighton Marina, after observing the Fulmars between Saltdean and Ovingdean, I saw a small flock (ca. 10) of Sandwich Terns diving into the sea to catch fish. It was extremely misty and hard to capture clear images.


This year I have seen Sandwich Terns nesting at Pagham Harbour, Pannel Valley and Rye Harbour; although I understand form chatting to people at Rye Harbour that there have been far fewer Terns, of all types, there this year. When I visited Rye Harbour Nature Reserve in May I saw few Sandwich Terns, but in a blog in March Rye Harbour Nature Reserve (Sussex Wildlife Trust) it was reported that: at Ternery Pool numbers of Sandwich Tern increased to 190 birds during the month; ...there were 121 Sandwich Terns roosting at Ternery Pool 28th March:

March 2021 - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Wildlife | Sussex Wildlife Trust


On eBird there are many recorded sighting of Sandwich Terns at Rue Harbour, but non at Brighton


This was the first time I have seen Sandwich Terns in Brighton.


I clarified with other local birders whether it was unusual to see Sandwich Terns in this location in Brighton. Apparently between July and September the terns nesting on the Sussex coastal extend their area for foraging, including in Brighton. I had just not noted them before; it is bice to see a species in a location you haven't seen it before



Sandwich Tern, Sterna sandvicensis


A large tern, about 40cm long. Whiteish-grey above and white below, with a large black cap and a shaggy black crest. Short black legs and a black bill with a yellow tip. Sandwich terns feed on fish which they catch by diving into the water, fishing out at sea.


Identified by the combination of large size with shortish tail, black bill with a yellow tip and shaggy black cap


Named after Sandwich Bay in Kent, one of three birds to be named after Kent: the others are Kentish Plover and Dartford Warbler. Sandwich Tern | Sussex Wildlife Trust








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