Kittiwakes upon the Tyne

The Furthest Inland Breeding Colony of Kittiwakes in the World

Home Kittiwake Colonies Tyne Bridge – Kittiwakes

Over 700 pairs of Kittiwakes
nest on the Tyne Bridge

“Yes, over half the colony nest on the Tyne Bridge

The Tyne Bridge which spans the River Tyne between the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the town of Gateshead continues to be a favourite location for nesting Kittiwakes during the summer months.  Since establishing a modest 134 pairs of nesting Kittiwakes back in 2001, the total amount of nests on the Tyne Bridge has grown to over seven-hundred pairs.

A Kittiwake on the Tyne Bridge
by Mark Leitch

A short video from the 2020 breeding season of Kittiwakes nesting on the Tyne Bridge

“More than half the Kittiwakes that choose to nest along the River Tyne,
build their nests on the Tyne Bridge”.

Kittiwake with a chick on Tyne Bridge

The nesting Kittiwakes are distributed between both the Gateshead and Newcastle side of the river. They can be seen nesting high up on the Bridges towers, and the green metal girders in between.

Visitors are asked to take great care not to disturb any nesting Kittiwakes whilst on the Tyne Bridge during the spring/summer months.  


Please also watch out when driving, as there are at times fledged Kittiwakes trying out their new wings. 

Sketch – Kittiwakes nesting on Tyne Bridge
by Ashley Bayston. © 2021 

Over 700 pairs nest on the Tyne Bridge, so most of the colony is present at this location during the spring/summer months.  The bridge itself gets very busy with traffic and air pollution can be very high.  Efforts to reduce this are really needed for everyone.  

Sadly some newly fledged Kittiwakes fail to master their wings and are hit by passing cars or cyclists in the pedestrian areas on the edges of the road.

Sketch – Kittiwakes nesting on Tyne Bridge
by Ashley Bayston. © 2021

It has been many years since the Tyne Bridge was last painted, and the bridge is definitely starting to show both its age and signs of damage.  Once funding is secured those responsible for the upkeep of the bridge plan to restore the bridge and apply a fresh coat of paint.

“Will the Kittiwakes be allowed to continue to nest on the Tyne Bridge once it has been restored? We hope so, especially as almost half the colony choose to nest on the bridge “

Considering the portion of Kittiwakes that that have opted to build their nests on the Tyne Bridge from the River Tyne colony, it would be a disaster if they were not allowed to continue to nest.  This is especially important at this time of climate change, where population sizes are suffering huge drops world wide.

 All information which is available at this time, suggests the Kittiwakes will be allowed to continue to nest, however they will inevitably suffer some major disruption when the Tyne Bridge work begins


Climate change is changing our weather patterns and this is also likely to potentially cause some delays to those skilled workers carrying out this task.

Kittiwakes nesting
on the Tyne Bridge
by Dylan Burgess

“When will the Tyne Bridge be restored and repainted?”

The exact timeline for the repairs and repainting is unknown at this time, but rest assured ‘The Tyne Kittiwakes Partnership’ and volunteers from ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne’ will be monitoring the project and looking out for the welfare of the Tyne Kittiwakes. The furthest inland breeding colony in the world.

Sketch – Kittiwakes nesting on Tyne Bridge by Ashley Bayston. © 2021


Breeding Tyne Kittiwakes

A Review 1994-2020 – NHSN talks
With Daniel M Turner,
Tyne Kittiwake Partnership

The River Tyne nesting kittiwakes have shown a remarkable story since their beginnings in 1949. Explore a new talk as local ornithologist, Dan Turner, shares some of their nesting sites along the Tyne and examines trends in their numbers and breeding success.        Click here to watch on YouTube

“At times the Tyne Kittiwakes fly as far away
as the Farne Islands in Northumberland to feed”

During this talk it references a paper by Chris Redfern and Richard Bevan.
A comparison of foraging behaviour in the North Sea by Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla from an inland and a maritime colony. This can be found on Taylor and Francis Online