* iStock photo. World traveller: The Arctic tern surpasses all migratory bird travel by flying from Pole-to Pole in one migration.
* iStock photo. World traveller: The Arctic tern surpasses all migratory bird travel by flying from Pole-to Pole in one migration.
Welcome to the first in a new series of Animal Tales from the Bermuda S.P.C.A., which have kindly been sponsored by our good friends at Noah's Ark.

The incredible migration of the Arctic tern

Of all the world's animals and birds that migrate, none compares with the epic journey of the Arctic tern. This small bird annually completes a 'round the world' trip from Pole-to-Pole and back - some 70,000 kilometres or 43,000 miles!

Scientists have fitted some of the birds with tiny geolocators to follow them on their incredible journey and to plot their route. What they discovered to their surprise is that the bird's spring and autumn routes are quite dissimilar.

Heading south in the autumn from their summer breeding grounds in Greenland, the terns first make a feeding pit stop in the rich fishing grounds north of the Azores. Then they follow the western coastline of Africa all the way down to the Antarctic, where they remain for up to four or five months.

They begin their return flight by retracing their route to southern Africa before diverting northwestwards across the southern Atlantic to the West Indies. From there it's a straight northerly route over Bermuda all the way home to Greenland - a gigantic 'S' shaped route.

In taking the longer route home, the birds simply take advantage of the prevailing wind system, which logically makes perfect sense. Be careful whom you call a 'bird brain' in future!

Dobry pies

Staff at an RSPCA centre in Oldham, England couldn't understand why the intelligent collie dog that had recently been handed over to them didn't respond to any of their commands. They knew the animal wasn't deaf, but he just looked at them with a blank expression whenever they spoke to him.

After a simple telephone call, the reason became apparent. The dog had been handed over by a Polish couple who could no longer afford to keep him, and the commands that they'd taught him were all in Polish.

A couple of staff members at the centre quickly learnt a few words in Polish, and bingo (or whatever the equivalent word is in Polish) the dog responded! The centre staff have since taught him some English commands too.

Needless to say, it's not very often that a bi-lingual dog comes up for adoption and the centre is expecting him to be re-homed in no time. 'Dobry pies' (that's 'good dog' in Polish).

Recycled coconuts

Marine biologists have known for some time that the octopus is one of the smarter creatures that inhabit our oceans. Further evidence to back up that assertion recently surfaced (no pun intended) off the coast of Bali, where octopuses were observed to be utilizing discarded coconut shells.

Coconuts are plentiful in Bali, where the natives routinely slice them in half, consume their milk and then discard them - either into the trash or into the sea.

While scavenging for food across the ocean floor, the soft-bodied octopuses are vulnerable to attack by other sea creatures. What the marine biologists in Bali have witnessed is octopuses sliding beneath the upturned hard shells of the coconuts and using them as a temporary refuge.

More amazing still is when these shy creatures gather together two discarded coconut halves and cocoon themselves inside the re-assembled shells.

When two become 37

A recent story from the ASPCA amply demonstrates the necessity to spay and neuter pets if people don't want to cause suffering and misery to them and their offspring.

Not so long ago a well-meaning woman living in Brooklyn brought home two cats for companionship, and although she took good care of them and fed them, she neglected to have the male neutered and the female spayed.

By the time that the ASPCA was called in, the woman's home was completely over run with cats and kittens - 37 no less in a one-bedroom apartment. She was overwhelmed by their out of control breeding and readily relinquished 35 of the felines to the charity - opting to retain her original two pets.

All 37 animals were initially taken to a staging area where they were medically evaluated. Most were in good health and after behavioural evaluations it is hoped that the majority of the cats and kittens can be put up for adoption.

In this particular case the owner brought about her own problems by failing to act responsibly and have her pets sterilized when she first brought them home. She was fully cooperative with the ASPCA, but the whole situation could have been so easily avoided.

It's a fact that in practically all cases where animals are hoarded such as this, that the owner(s) and the animals either suffer from neglect, health issues or from isolation.

Haiti appeal

It's impossible for us to fully comprehend the extent of the catastrophe that has recently befallen Haiti. The loss of life alone will undoubtedly make it amongst the worst tragedies of the 21st century, and we've only just seen out the first decade!

Amidst the human carnage, you may also want to spare a thought for the island's animals, which likewise have been made homeless, and who are dying from lack of food and water.

One of numerous charities that are helping Haiti's animals is the World Society For The Protection Of Animals (otherwise known as WSPA). They are accepting donations on their website: wspa.org.uk/haiti. My wife and I have donated to both human and animal aid charities.