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, are either demolished or made unusable following the installation of new anti-bird deterrents, they are finding themselves searching for alternative places to nest and bring life to the next generation of Kittiwakes.

This is especially important at this time, as globally  Kittiwake populations are 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 became 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 2018

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. To a bird the harmless (and invisible to the human eye) Ultra Violet (UV) light projecting from the non-toxic Gel is seen as a flame and hence a hazard to avoid.  The small group of Kittiwakes that settled down, high up on Phoenix House, showed signs of being unhappy with the fire gel, however their instinct to nest was higher.  They adapted to its presence pretty quickly. 


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. 

“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.



Some potentially harmful anti-bird netting remains

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 and if any dangerous anti-bird netting is remaining, this is removed before they Kittiwakes return
for the 2020 breeding season.