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Arctic tern

Long-tail tern: an aggressive Arctic bird

We first encountered the Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) on the Madgalenesfjorden, where we stopped before arriving at the camp. Some terns were there on the ground whilst an Italian guide was going through the history of the fjord.

Then a guy moved away from our group to take a picture of an old furnace inside a fenced area. At that moment, the tern flew into the air making an aggressive cry. It remained still for a moment, floating over this man’s head.

The guy moved away but the tern attacked him many times.

The tern attacked me as well, so we decided it was better to move on.

The Arctic tern attacks humans and has a right to do so. This bird was probably protecting its eggs which must have been in that area even though we did not see them at all.

I was attacked for the second time by another tern during a trekking excursion at the first camp. We were walking on the beach when we saw some terns on the ground. Two of them flew away and one attacked us.

It almost pecked me on my left cheek. Thank God, I have good reactions. The same bird attacked me many times on the same day, even though we were walking away. We even saw a couple of eggs in the sand.

The only way to defend yourself is to raise a hand over your head, maybe wearing a glove or by lifting a pole in the air. The tern will always go for the highest thing it sees. We walked in the open for several minutes with the hands over our heads, like children do to imitate a rooster.

The third attack was the most dangerous for me. Even though the bird did not manage to peck me, it tried many times. The bird had had the brilliant idea to lay its eggs close to the men’s toilet…

That day, I was walking along the path to the toilet, when I saw a tern resting on a rock a few metres away from where I was headed. I just noticed it was flying away because I heard the sound of its cries over my head.

The tern tried to peck me many times that morning, but I could do my business, without any particular problem. There were other attacks, so I always took an alternative route to reach the toilet.

In the end the tern and I became friends. I always took an alternative route to reach the toilet and the bird kept resting on the rock to watch its eggs. It understood that my intentions were peaceful.

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