Kittiwakes upon the Tyne

Showcasing the progress of the Kittiwakes along the River Tyne

Home Kittiwake Colonies Tyne Bridge – Kittiwakes The Tyne Bridge is in need of a new coat of paint

The Tyne Bridge is in need of a new coat of paint

The legendary Tyne Bridge
will be repainted and repaired

“When will the Tyne Bridge restoration work happen?”


The restoration of the Tyne Bridge will potentially be the largest hurdle the ‘Tyne Kittiwakes’ have faced in a generation.  Work won’t begin for 1-3 years; but there is likely to be some disturbance to these important red-listed sea birds when work starts. 

“Over 700 pairs of Kittiwakes nest on the Tyne Bridge”

Most of the Kittiwakes from the river tyne colonies nest on the Tyne Bridge. Despite assurances that they will be allowed to continue to nest on the Tyne Bridge; in todays world nothing is certain. There will remain a need to look out for our Tyne Kittiwakes, before, during and after the restoration work on the Tyne Bridge.

“Some may say this iconic bridge was
not built for birds”

Every day, land that was filled with wildlife is replaced with man-made structures to cater for our own expansion.  It is great to have an opportunity to give something back.  The Kittiwakes have adopted the Tyne Bridge, as they feel safe and they love our company every spring/summer. The have fallen in love with the panoramic  views, our big river and the quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead.  

“Kittiwakes are part of our local heritage”

Kittiwakes have nested along the tyne, longer than most of us have been alive.  

“Is there a case for more Kittiwake Towers,
or a replacement for the existing tower”

There may also be a case for the construction of further ‘Kittiwake Towers’ to offset any likely disturbance to the Kittiwakes during the restoration of the Tyne Bridge. It is likely there will be some disturbance; despite any efforts to avoid this.

The provision of a new ‘Kittiwake Tower Cam’ could help stakeholders to further research the existing structure/tower, which will help with any design of any new towers.  Additional structures are also likely to be needed as the colony is expanding and over two dozen pairs of Kittiwakes have already been displaced due to the introduction of further anti-bird deterrents on Newcastle Quayside this year.

Kittiwake Tower photos by Andrew Rickeard

Another option could be to replace the existing ‘Kittiwake Tower’ with a new improved version.  Could the ledges the Kittiwakes nest on be smaller so other larger gulls etc cannot land?  Are some sides more popular than others?  What works well? What does not work well?  Could it be larger, so there is capacity for more.  If more Kittiwakes could be encouraged to nest, on an artificial structure where the Kittiwake Tower is currently located, this could make it less vulnerable to predators 

Kittiwakes upon the Tyne have started efforts to help look out for our local breeding population of Kittiwakes on the Tyne Bridge.  There is not an option to consider trying to relocate the Kittiwakes from the Tyne Bridge.  Over 700 pairs nest there; it is perfect for them, and they don’t disturb anyone.  The colony is so large, it would take many structures to house them.  This would also be a backward move, as additional capacity is already needed as the colonies are expanding. The Kittiwakes on the bridge need us to look out for them so they can continue to bring life to future generations of this soft gentle gull. 

“Why are we helping the Kittiwakes to nest along the tyne?”

The UK Kittiwake population has fallen by 60% since 1986.  Climate change combined with a drop in their food supplies, is making life very difficult for the Kittiwakes. The colonies on the Baltic, Guildhall Clocktower, Kittiwake Tower, Railway Bridge and Tyne Bridge are the furthest inland breeding colonies of Kittiwake in the World.

As Kittiwake populations are shrinking elsewhere, these urban colonies will become even more important

“An opportunity to study a coastal sea-gull.”

Many of us have to travel to coastal cliffs and islands usually to witness a Kittiwake nesting.  This is a great opportunity for the younger generation to witness nature up close.  A LIVE wildlife show every spring/summer.