Kittiwakes upon the Tyne

The Furthest Inland Breeding Colony of Kittiwakes in the World

Home Kittiwake Colonies Phoenix House – Newcastle Quayside

A Vintage choice for the Tyne Kittiwakes

“Over two dozen pairs of Kittiwakes
settle down to nest”

As more and more of the Tyne Kittiwake’s favourite buildings, were either demolished or made unusable following the installation of new anti-bird deterrents, many Kittiwakes found themselves searching for alternative places to nest and bring life to the next generation of Kittiwakes.

This was especially important at the time, with Kittiwake populations globally suffering large reductions. Phoenix House, close to the Tyne Bridge was chosen by the Kittiwakes to build their nests.  The owners of the building, were unable to let the Kittiwakes continue to nest and in an effort to prevent them nesting, they installed anti-bird deterrents such as netting.

Kittiwakes become trapped
in and behind
anti-bird netting

A young Kittiwake trapped behind anti-bird netting


A young Kittiwake
Trapped behind anti-bird neeting
On Phoenix House
Summer 2019

This did not stop the Kittiwakes nesting and the Kittiwakes continued to build their nests on and  around the netting. Unfortunately during the 2018 breeding season, two adults became fatally trapped in anti-bird netting and a chick become trapped behind some netting.    The chick remained trapped from the 19th July till the 30th July 2018.

“The chicks small size enabled it to fit through; but as the bird started to grow, it found find itself imprisoned and unable to escape.  Thankfully the bird was eventually freed and  taken into care by the Fire and Rescue Service and the RSPCA”.

A new anti-bird deterrent used – ‘fire-gel’.

As the Kittiwakes started to return to the River Tyne and the Quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead early 2019, the owners of Phoenix House removed some of the unsuitable ‘anti-bird netting’ and replaced these with a new anti-bird deterrent fire-gel.

Kittiwakes continued
to nest

The new anti-bird deterrent ‘fire-gel’ did not stop Kittiwakes nesting on the top of ‘Phoenix House’.  Over two dozen pairs settled in and nested during the 2019 breeding season.  Tyne Kittiwakes built their nests adjacent to the gel. As birds landed they were clearly upset by its presence but their instinct to nest was stronger.

Four pairs constructed their nests precariously on some of the vintage arches.

They put a lot of effort into constructing these new nests, and they proved to be very secure in the end. It is amazing how Kittiwakes can nest on tiny ledges and so high up.  Ten-out-of ten for effort.

Hopefully this will be changed or removed before the Kittiwakes
return for the 2020 breeding season.

“A risk remained for young birds falling through some of the remaining netting on ‘Phoenix House’.  It was disappointing that the owners of the building had not taken measures to prevent this happening again this year. As you can see from the new photos, a risk remained, where young Kittiwakes chicks could become trapped behind anti-bird netting”.

Independent birdwatchers and local wildlife organisations monitored the Kittiwakes again during the 2019 breeding season.  Hopefully the Kittiwakes will be able to nest again next year and if any dangerous anti-bird netting is remaining, this is removed before the Kittiwakes return for the 2020 breeding season.