“Kittiwakes back at Tynemouth” by H Tweeting
Showcasing the progress of the Kittiwakes along the River Tyne
“Have you visited the Tyne Kittiwakes recently?”
The ‘Tyne Kittiwakes Diary’ showcases a summary of the progress of the ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne’. This includes some photos and accounts from local birders and residents. Everyone is welcome to contribute. Help us to raise awareness for this unique inland breeding colony on Tyneside.
Any progress/developments is also summarised and presented on the ‘Colonies ‘ page, at the end of every season. Both the diary and colonies pages are
updated/maintained every year.
There will also be content related to other gatherings of Kittiwakes elsewhere along the North East coast. A variety of initiatives are also carried out to help ‘Raise Awareness‘ for the local breeding populations of Kittiwakes along the Tyne.
If you would like to contribute to the Tyne Kittiwake diary please email firstname.lastname@example.org or you can send a message to @KittiwakesTyne on twitter.
“Kittiwakes back at Tynemouth” by H Tweeting
As many may remember three pairs nested successfully on the side of the Guildhall during the 2020 season. This was despite the presence of anti-bird netting and avi-shock. As 2021 dawned however, new spikes were installed where the three pairs nested last year.
“What did the Kittiwakes think?”
Well it looks like some of those Kittiwakes have now returned. As you can see it is not impressed to see the spikes. Will it try to nest on these spikes, like the 2+ pairs opposite on the vintage building? or will it look for another loophole on the building where the anti-bird detterants don’t reach?
Well just around the corner, it is possible one of the other Kittiwakes has found such a loophole and can be seen sitting close to some anti-bird netting. On the hotel opposite they do successfully nest on anti-bird netting in situations just like this, so it is highly possible that 1-3 may still manage to nest again on the side of the Guildhall for the 2021 season.
“This is them from last week. All getting settled in their favourite spot. Webcam should be going live soon”. Andrew Moore
“North wind is seawatching weather, so seawatching I went, at the Walker seaside.”
Light but steady passage of Kittiwakes, with (not sure why!) quite a few immature Common Gulls among them (most 1st winter, a few 2nd winter), but nothing else. Picture: seaweed to prove it’s the sea”.
“For some reason one of my great nephews has named one of the Lombard House birds Steve. Can you figure out which one of the 17 here he is?” Ashley Bayston
Over 800 Kittiwakes have now returned to the River Tyne colonies. The Baltic Kittiwakes were largely all present today; whilst quite a few birds from the Tyne Bridge colony were resting on the river. The Tyne Bridge was a lot quieter this afternoon.
“Quite a few Kittiwakes were out at sea feeding”
Lombard House and the Railway Bridge however were fully occupied, and the Kittiwakes were getting very cosy. The Guildhall Clocktower also remains quiet at this time.
Over the past couple of seasons approx two dozen Kittiwakes have settled down here; however only a portion has returned so far.
A single Kittiwake sat on the old Church on the Gateshead side of the river a few weeks ago; whilst over the past week, no birds have been present. A single pair nested on the Gateshead Heritage Centre for the last two seasons and last year fledged one chick.
“First they arrive, then they pair up and get cosy…. then the nest building begins.
There is still time for more Kittiwakes to arrive”.
“Very different colours and their tails and wings form unique shapes”
The Fulmars were hanging their legs down at times. Maybe this was too slow themselves down. Both species were great to watch whilst showcasing their ‘flight dance’. Well worth experiencing.
“How many Kittiwakes do you think were resting on the sea at Tynemouth today?”
“This is a great location to watch the Kittiwakes in their natural habitat”.
When we visited the cliffs at Tynemouth last week, we didn’t find any Kittiwakes, however when we visited yesterday; over a HUNDRED were in the area. Most were opposite their usual nesting site sitting on the sea in a large group. 30-35 were on the cliffs, getting cosy with their partners.
You can learn more about the Tynemouth Kittiwake colony by visiting one of our partner websites at birdwatchingsites.co.uk
The colony can be found at ‘Tynemouth Haven’.
Tynemouth Haven is a great location to relax for a few hours. Dozens of coastal species of bird can easily be seen. There is a nearby free car park and local cafes in Tynemouth Village which is a short walk away. During the spring/summer months Sand Martins and Fulmars are also present. Some years Black Redstarts can be found if you are very lucky during the winter months.
If you look more closely at the two photos above, you can see this is the same ‘Kittiwake Triangle’ formation we noted last year. Kittiwakes often return to nest in exactly the same place. They spend months hundreds of miles away far out at sea, then return to find their ‘spot’ again to breed. Amazing they remember.
“All looks well from the bridge. No injuries or fatalities just lots of snuggles and happy Kittiwakes. Happy Easter!” Nicola
“Have the displaced Kittiwakes in North Shields found new places to nest?”
We have an update on the Kittiwakes down at North Shields. Last time we featured a single bird, which was sitting on a ledge, located on a building opposite the Ferry Mews. There was evidence that other birds had also been present on that ledge and there were further ledges that were suitable for Kittiwakes to nest on the same building.
A visit today, revealed two pairs of Kittiwakes on that ledge; with a further pair on the ledge to the right. The birds that were there had paired up, which is a strong sign that these birds will nest on these ledges. On Newcastle Quayside at this time, that is the position; where Kittiwakes are pairing up and sitting where they are likely to nest or have nested in the past.
Additionally today over 15 Kittiwakes were present in the gutters on the ferry mews building itself on the roof. As featured in one of last weekends updates; Kittiwakes on Newcastle Quayside actually nest in rain gutters on some buildings on Newcastle Quayside and they fledge young Kittiwakes successfully. Some of the birds present on ferry mews had paired up, which again is a sign that it is likely they may nest there.
“Kittiwakes pairing up on the roof”
Of course these rain gutters are more vulnerable to larger gulls that frequent the fish quay and forces the Kittiwakes to spread out in a line; whereas at the original site (which has been netted) they are more clustered together. So by nesting on the rain gutters, it may make them more vulnerable to predators. Larger gulls may also be able to land more easily. We do see Lesser Black backed Gulls and at times Herring Gulls act as predators on Newcastle Quayside. The Fish quay also has the much larger Greater Black backed, where as usually the Greater Black backed further up the tyne tend to stay more Riverside Park-Walker end.
Time will tell us, if all these Kittiwakes will nest, however there are strong signs at the moment, that the Kittiwakes are going to nest elsewhere on the ferry mews building and on the building opposite.
Further updates will appear here over the next couple of weeks.
“Return trip to the Gateshead Kittiwake tower tonight. 8 returning adults identified, including ‘ACN’ ringed at the tower as an adult
in ‘July 2005 Kittiwake Tower’ Andy Rickeard
“I love this time of year when the Kittiwakes arrive to breed. We’re so lucky to have the furthest inland breeding colony in The World, take up residence along The Tyne and especially The Tyne Bridge, for a few months”. John Baker
“Tyne Kittiwakes in the breezy gloom earlier in the week. So glad to see them back where they belong!” Samuel Fisher
Another popular location for the Kittiwakes to nest in recent years has been the Guildhall Clocktower. Since
anti-bird deterrents such as anti-bird spikes and netting was added to the side of the Guidlhall; approx two dozen pairs have moved to the clocktower.
And… they have successfully raised young Kittiwakes on the clocktower during the last two seasons. As you can see in the photo, Kittiwakes are starting to return and pair up. and.. it is great news that no anti-bird deterrents are present here.
“They seem welcome to continue to nest
on the Guildhall Clocktower. Great News!”
Kittiwakes are also returning to the street lights where they have nested for over three seasons now. Here they have seen the light! and again, is an example of Kittiwakes blending in to their urban environment. At times the nests may experience some heat from the lights.
“As you can see in the photo Kittiwakes are pairing up and
they look very loved up at the moment. Our soft Geordie seagull”.
Over 600 pairs of Kittiwakes are now present along the tyne. Most are located around the Tyne Bridge, Baltic Gallery, Kittiwake Tower and Walker/Felling Riverside, close the the paint factory. More Kittiwakes are still arriving, and dozens can now be observed flying to and from the mouth of the tyne during the day.
The left section of the ‘Red House’ has 4 pairs starting to nest and pair up. This is a very historic building and looks very vintage. We don’t usually see any anti-bird deterrents on this building. The Kittiwakes here tend to nest close to the gutters, and don’t seem to cause any harm to the building itself. Young Kittiwakes were successfully fledged from nests here last season.
“This is an example of Kittiwakes nesting peacefully in an urban environment. A live nature show for everyone to enjoy. A seabird come to spend the summer with us”.
Well over a hundred Kittiwakes are now present on the Baltic Gallery. Most of the birds have now returned to breed again for another season on this building now. Many have already paired up and are busy settling in. Not long til the webcam goes live hopefully.
“An opportunity for us all to watch the nesting
Kittiwakes from the comforts of our own home”.
Sketches from Ashley Bayston © 2021
Kittiwakes on the Baltic
Whilst in North Shields today we were able to view the area that has been netted from the ferry landing again. A single Kittiwake was present on a ledge on the building opposite. There was also evidence that more birds had been present. It is possible some may nest on this ledge, and there are more ledges on the same building that could be used. This particular Kittiwake seemed quite fond of his spot, so looked promising. Also should they nest there, they may not disturb anyone. We will be keeping an eye out over next couple of weeks. If it looks promising we will look to see if we can secure this more long term.
In regards to the anti-bird netting. It is truly awful at front. Not professionally installed and therefore a much great risk of causing entrapment. When Kittiwakes become trapped in anti-bird netting on Newcastle Quayside it usually happens as Kittiwakes are starting to fledge in June/July, and try out their new wings. Also because the netting itself looks so bad, at sides and front; we are not sure how well it would cope with storms.
It only takes one area to damage, and that is all it takes for birds to get in. fingers crossed the Kittiwakes will be ok this season and that some will nest nearby.
“Not sure if North Tyneside Council actually came out to inspect.
Surely even if it is legal to install anti-bird netting, it has been done
in a safe manner, that does not remain a hazard to birds”.
We suspect, this has not been installed well, looks awful and is a hazard therefore to birds. Time will tell. We really hope we are wrong. Unfortunately so far, we have been right and Kittiwakes have been lost as we kept an eye out on high risk areas on Newcastle Quayside.
An update from Nicola
Phoenix House/Tyne Bridge
“Happy Friday. Just on the bridge now and all seems well with them settling down for the evening. Unfortunately there looks to be one fatality on the Newcastle side of the bridge having been hit by a vehicle”.
We checked in on Tynemouth Haven today. But there were no Kittiwakes or Sand Martins present. A couple of Fulmars were soaring through the sky.
Kittiwakes have been seen visiting the cliffs at Tynemouth over the past couple of weeks however. The photo below was taken by Bill Bertenshaw on the on the 19th March 2021.
We will keep everyone updated on their progress, once the Kittiwakes start to return and pair up. Tynemouth Haven is again one of the great locations you can observe nesting Kittiwakes up close and in this case in their natural habitat.
Three years ago, we lost quite a few Kittiwakes on this building due to anti-bird netting. Any netting which had been proven to trap Kittiwakes was removed before the birds returned the next season (and replaced with Avi-shock). Lots of thanks to the owners. Apart from a pair that nested there in 2019, Kittiwakes don’t usually nest on this building. You do get dozens however resting on the upper reachers of the roof.
Sketch from Ashley Bayston © 2021
The Exchange Buildings which also houses the Premier Inn
They can be seen chilling on the roof. Life for a Tyne Kittiwake is very busy. They fly all the way to the mouth of the Tyne and out to sea to feed. At times they even travel as far away as the Farnes islands. and.. of course they take their turn to participate in the ‘flight dance of the kittiwakes’; which can be best viewed from the Tyne Bridge facing this building.
More from Rev David Atkinson, who shares his sightings from his twitter account.
“Can you spot 3 species of GULL here?”
Here you have a small group of Kittiwakes enjoying ‘BATH TIME’. but if you look closely you can also see a larger Herring Gull and Lesser Black backed Gull. All are ‘best friends’ when its bath time it seems.
Another sketch from Ashley Bayston © 2021 . This time from Lombard House. Our Tyne Kittiwakes always seem welcome on this building and they cluster more closely together. One of the happier colonies. Kittiwakes have been returning to this building for the 2021 season also and are pairing up. They often go unnoticed on this building; both as users pass on the Tyne Bridge or pass in the street below. They seem to like this building and do well.
As you travel inland from the quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead; our big river takes us through a riverside habitat which is rich in wildlife all year round.
“According to the ‘Book The Birds of Gateshead’, Bowey,Rutherford & Westerberg 1993, there was a colony at Dunston in the 1970s. On the 18th July 1972 the count was 30+ with just 17 on the Baltic. However by early 1980s the site had been lost due to demolition work”.
Not only is there a handy cafe at the Gateshead Staiths, but you can watch a good selection of waders and other birds. A screen hide, helps you watch the wildlife without disturbing them and there is a display board which highlights some of the native and visiting birds.
On exercise walks this weekend, Curlew, Oystercatcher and Curlew were in attendance. Mallards, Shelduck and Teal were feeding nearby. Cormorants were joined by a selection of Herring and Lesser Blacked backed Gulls.
Recent highlights have included a Greenshank nearby and coastal visitor a Guillemot. We didn’t manage to photograph it, but if it visits again, we will try our best. Rock Pipit has also been known to visit from the coast and enjoy this wonderful riverside landscape.
“I noticed the new anti-bird gel. Hope they succeed in nesting. Love the Kittiwakes arrival every year. There’s a lot more Kittiwakes there now. That was last week on my way home from work. I was heartbroken when I first saw it but they seem not to be fazed.
Nicola – A volunteer keeping an eye out for our Tyne Kittiwakes and is kindly sharing her photos with us.
The anti-bird gel used on Newcastle Quayside is a harmless gel, that looks like fire to the birds as they land. It replaced an area of anti-bird netting in the area, that was accidently trapping Kittiwakes over the past 3 years. Unlike other buildings, where anti-bird gel has been used and dozens of Kittiwakes then stopped nesting there; the anti-bird gel seems to not deter the Kittiwakes in this instance. It could be the choice of gel used or the arrangement of it (ie not much considering the space and color looks different), makes it less effective.
Of course all of us that love the Tyne Kittiwakes want them to nest anywhere they choose. Human produce a lot of air pollution and industrial contamination along the Tyne, so to be honest it is a small price to pay to let them continue to nest. There are businesses below however and some entrances to the building and it is for this reason, that the owners have used anti-bird deterrents to encourage the birds to nest elsewhere.
It would be nice to see Newcastle City Council build a ‘Kittiwake Tower’ like structure, like Gateshead Town have done. After all they are part of our local heritage and have nested along the Tyne, longer than many of us have been alive.
Kittiwakes upon the Tyne
Over 400 Kittiwakes have now returned to the Newcastle and Gateshead colonies. The Baltic is starting to look very full now, with almost all the birds returned there so far. Hundreds of Kittiwakes are starting to pair up, on the Tyne Bridge. A large portion of the colony has still not returned yet and their remains plenty of room for their feathered friends when they arrive. It is interesting to note, specific areas are filling up first.
Over half the birds have returned to the railway bridge on the Newcastle side of the river. No sign of activity on the old church in Gateshead yet.
New Anti-bird gel was added to Phoenix House by the owners in an attempt to deter the Kittiwakes from nesting. This replaced an area of anti-bird netting. This area is above an entrance to the building below. It is looking like Kittiwakes will nest again however still.
Not a Kittiwake. A Herring Gull sneaked in for a time to join the ‘Flight dance of the Kittiwakes’ . It was clearly so much larger, but unlike the Kittiwakes it only joined them for a few minutes, before enjoying the performance from a nearby roof. The Herring Gull has pink legs and a larger bill. Black legs and their smaller size, make Tyne Kittiwakes easier to distinguish from other gulls, that live with us along the quaysides of Newcastle & Gateshead.
The photo below shows five adults, resting from their afternoon performing in the ‘flight dance of the Kittiwakes’. There are two areas where you can view this, one is from the Newcastle side of the Tyne Bridge, facing the law courts side of Newcastle Quayside. Since the Kittiwakes started to return, we have noted less Black-h Gulls, and the return of more of the larger Lesser Black backed Gulls that also join us for the spring/summer.
So first they arrive, then they start to pair, up and then…. its time to build their nest… We will be keeping an eye on them throughout the week. Lots more Kittiwakes could also be seen on the Kittiwake Tower from the Newcastle side of the river. Many of the Kittiwakes do look so tired, and it is not surprising considering they have spent all winter and for many of the younger birds, many years far out at sea.
Some photos from a previous season by Lophophanes; one of our front line volunteers and supporters. We will be posting more from Lophophanes and his sightings/photos this season.
On twitter we have been discussing
‘Are Kittiwakes more successful where they build their nests on smaller ledges?’
There are advantages here, as predators such as Crows and Lesser Black backed Gulls cannot land. This could be particularly useful for any artificial structures.
ie the Kittiwake Tower in Gateshead at this time is being visited by a flock of 50+ Carrion Crows that have been landing on the structure over the past week.
“Ledges on Guildhall only around 4 cm deep, no way a crow can land on them to grab eggs or chicks, so nests there highly successful. Pics from 2017 before it was netted.” Lophophanes
A couple of Kittiwakes from one of our great supporters that covers the ‘Gateshead Staiths’ part of the river Tyne. Rev David Atkinson, shares his own sightings from that part of the river on his twitter account.
David is a great supporter of ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne’.
According to the Book The Birds of Gateshead, Bowey,Rutherford & Westerberg 1993 there was a colony at Dunston in the 1970s. On the 18th July 1972 the count was 30+ with just 17 on the Baltic. However by early 1980s the site had been lost due to demolition work.
It is nice to see the Kittiwakes reach as far as the Gateshead Staiths. We will be exploring this area more this season. Watch out for more highlights from David and Gateshead Staiths this season. We will showcase some of the highlights here.
This afternoon I spent a couple of hours, enjoying the return of our Tyne Kittiwakes. Over 300 birds are now present. Less than a dozen occupied the Baltic on Thursday; whereas today, there was almost one-hundred Kittiwakes present on the gallery.
The Tyne Bridge hosted well over a hundred; whilst a further 100+ were resting on the river or on nearby buildings, such as the Exchange Buildings on Newcastle Quayside. A single Kittiwake was exploring Phoenix House, with another dozen or so exploring other buildings along the Quayside.
The Kittiwake Tower was also filled with life today. On Thursday, only a couple were present but were being scared off by a group of 40+ Crows. Today up to two dozen Kittiwakes were on the Kittiwake Tower however. Welcome home. It is great to see them back there.
Other birds included a few Cormorants in the river. A selection of other gulls were present which included at least three Lesser Black backed Gulls, at least twenty Herring Gulls and 20+ Black headed Gulls. Further down river along the riversides of Walker and Gateshead, a couple of the giant Greater Black backed Gulls roamed; gliding through the air, like Gulliver Gulls, compared to the smaller Kittiwakes. Groups of 3-7 Kittiwakes could be seen arriving regularly throughout the afternoon. A pair of Oystercatchers sat on a roof, near the paint factory, while Mallards dabbled in the river. Paul Buskin
We are busy with a new interactive guide to the wildlife along the tyne. This will showcase over thirty locations and feature photographs and art from local birders and wildlife supporters.
by Haojin Zhou
“Only just under a dozen more Kittiwakes have arrived over the past week”
“A new guide to the wildlife along the tyne is currently in development and other parts of the river will be showcased. This will appear on www.tynewilidfe.org later this year. This will include any adjacent wildlife corridors and nearby nature reserves
which happen to be close to the river tyne”.
“Fifteen Kittiwakes arrive to claim
their place to nest”
“Hoping to Engage”
An update (16th March 2021) has been added at change.org regarding the campaign to help save the North Shields colony. Anti-bird netting has been added to a building they use, with only weeks before they are due to return from their winter far out at sea.
“Our Tyne Kittiwakes have returned and
there is an update in the diary page”
An exercise walk Newcastle Quayside……
A further update has been added by Dan Turner to Change.org
Updates regarding the petition to try and save the North Shields colony of Tyne Kittiwakes. Their nesting site was blocked off earlier in the year by the installation of some anti-bird netting. To view this update please visit Change.org
Comments from ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne”
It is very sad to learn that the anti-bird netting that was installed at the site where Kittiwakes breed in North Shields will not be removed. The birds are due to return any day. Of course, the landlord has concerns about his building, and is listening to his residents.
Considering how long the Kittiwakes have nested in that area however, it would have been nice if an opportunity had existed to first encourage the birds to nest nearby instead. This is especially important considering the red-listed status of the species, and how this is the only location in that area where a) they nest and b) well the Kittiwakes started nesting originally in north shields.
Secondly, anti-bird netting has been proven at times to accidently trap/injure Kittiwakes. This often happens as the netting becomes damaged in storms/strong winds. Kittiwakes also at times simply ignore the netting and nest on top. When rescues happen, they attract a lot of attention, and require a fire brigade ladder, and the services of animal rescues services and volunteers.
Of course, it is the responsibility of the landlord to check and maintain the anti-bird netting; however, volunteers from ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne’ will be checking on the North Shields site where the Kittiwakes usually nest. Watching out in case any birds become trapped. Kittiwakes often nest nearby when their original site is blocked off, or simply nest elsewhere on the same building. It will be very interesting to learn how this drama will unfold.
Will they nest on the anti-bird netting? Will they nest elsewhere on the same building? Will they choose another building? Or will they journey up the Tyne and choose a new location to nest?
It is re assuring to learn that Dan is exploring the provision of alternative nesting sites, nearby, and it would be great if this work continued and we could help encourage the Kittiwakes to nest, with some green-listed sites along the Tyne. We will liaise with Dan to see how we can help i.e. fundraising, raising awareness etc.
Finally, if anyone would like to help keep an eye out in the North Shields area as a ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne’ volunteer please email email@example.com
This involves simply reporting what you find to us. This can help if rescues are required and with monitoring.
A new facebook Group and Page for the ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne’ has been created. Both will help showcase the local population of Kittiwakes and will help raise awareness etc.. We also have a very popular twitter account which has been running since 2018 and has over 1500 followers. A new Instagram account will be available from March to help raise awareness further.
An area of anti bird netting on Phoenix House where Kittiwakes were trapped last year has been removed. New anti bird gel has been added. This is much safer than the netting and it won’t injure the birds. 24 pairs will be displaced however. It will be interesting to see where these birds nest in ‘21. The drama unfolds, and volunteers will be watching….
Of course it is very sad to loose this vintage building, however there is always going to be times, where some buildings are not suitable for them to nest. The user of safe anti-bird deterrents, such as the gel is preferred path in those cases. Anti-bird netting has demonstrated again and again, it can trap and injure Kittiwakes.
Even safe netting can become damaged in storms etc. and as it becomes older. Anti-bird spikes have also been proven to not actually stop the Kittiwakes nesting.
Gel has been tried before, but it was a different kind and installed , more random and as the birds had actually started to arrive. This time it has been added way before they are due back and in a more organised fashion. Volunteers will be watching to see if the gel works for ’21.
There are now anti-bird spikes where 2 pairs off Kittiwakes nested last year on the Guildhall. More spikes are also now present where a 3rd pair nested around the corner. Shame as these nesting pairs were popular with the public.
The clock tower remains clear however, which is great news. The clock tower has been used for the last two years and is a great place for them to nest.
It is possible these three displaced pairs will move to the clock tower instead or an adjacent building.
Adult Kittiwakes have short black legs, and are much smaller when compared to other gulls, which are usually present along the quayside such as Herring or Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
Kittiwakes seem to love triangles. We often find them arranged in this shape. Here we have some Kittiwakes from the Tynemouth cliffs colony in North Tyneside.
“Think I recognise that one – it’s the nest below the plastic falcon? Same one from last year”
“This is the first entry for the ‘Best nest of 2020”
This nest gets taller every year. It must be very comfy.
As the breeding season ends, and many of the young Kittiwakes start to fledge, they skies close to the quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead are filled with the ‘Flight Dance of the Kittiwakes’. Not only are these amazing birds amazing flyers, but this is the only place in the UK where you can view Kittiwakes in flight inland.
All photos by @H_Tweeting from Tynemouth in North Tyneside.
“Didn’t expect my Kittiwake photos to be so popular tonight.
So as a BIG THANK YOU here’s one more. My favourite of the day…
Pre Flight Check”
This year a pair of Kittiwakes returned to nest at the Shilling. None nested there last year, but they have opted to build their nests on this building in the past. On the front of this building, there is anti-bird netting and spikes present. Despite these obstacles, the Kittiwakes still choose to build their nests here.
Great news! as you can see they have two young chicks this year.
One of the best places to view the Tyne Kittiwakes up close can be from the Tyne Bridge. Care is needed not to disturb the nesting Kittiwakes. The Kittiwakes nest on the large grey towers, and the green areas of the bridge.
“The main risk is if they don’t build the nest deep enough, the eggs get pierced. If the nest is deep enough to cover the spines, it’s actually safer than a normal nest as it can’t be blown or washed off in a storm. Kitti chicks have evolved not to wander around, so are safe”.
Last year we recorded a pair of Kittiwakes building a nest on the St Mary’s Heritage Centre in Gateshead. This year we witnessed a successful hatching of a young chick.
At times alongside this pair up to a dozen Kittiwakes are present, relaxing on this historic building on the Southside of the River.
Three pairs (excluding the clocktower) nested on the side of the Guildhall this year. This is the third pair, which is popular with local visitors and residents as they walk or drive past. Have you seen them yet?
Last year three pairs of Kittiwakes nested in a triangle shape. This year only two pairs return to the same area.
This was the top pair.
For a second year, the Tyne Kittiwakes have gathered to nest on the Clock Tower on the Guildhall
along Newcastle Quayside. A great location!
For a third year, Kittiwakes nested on some street lighting along Newcastle Quayside. A Birds eye view!
Kittiwakes also returned to Phoenix House and successfully raised young during 2020.
A short video clip of an adult Kittiwake with two chicks. This Kittiwake was nesting on the Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side of the River Tyne. Over a dozen Kittiwakes were nesting alongside this pair.
A trio of photos from Tynemouth Haven, Tynemouth today. Here the Tyne Kittiwakes nest on coastal cliffs.
At a variety of locations along the quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead, young Kittiwakes are close to fledging. Last year a pair nested on the St Mary’s Heritage Centre. A pair did so again this year and have successfully raise one young.
Despite the presence of anti-bird netting and the installation of an electric shock system, three pairs of Kittiwakes continued to nest on the Guildhall, close to the Quayside roundabout. Young Kittiwakes are present and doing very well.
The railway bridge which is deeper into the city itself, above Newcastle Quayside, continues to be a popular location for nesting Kittiwakes. They look so artistic and really fit in with their surroundings.
The Kittiwakes continue to nest in canny numbers on Phoenix house. A vintage location.
Despite the presence of long sharp anti-bird spikes, Tyne Kittiwakes brave the odds and successfully nest and raise young Kittiwakes.
Kittiwakes look very happy on Lombard House this weekend.
For another year, Kittiwakes have nested on some lamp posts down on Newcastle Quayside.
As cars pass below, they enjoy a birds eye view.
The Tyne Bridge, that spans the city of Newcastle and the town of Gateshead is filled with the calls of “kittee-wa-aaake, kittee-wa-aaake” , as they celebrate the arrival of another generation of young Kittiwakes.
Over the past couple of years up to a dozen Kittiwakes from the local breeding population have been spending time on the main Vermont Hotel, down on Newcastle Quayside. Nearby is a railway bridge which already hosts over sixty pairs. There is also the legendary medieval Newcastle ‘Castle’.
During the 2019 season, up to a dozen Kittiwakes also favoured spending time on the ‘St Mary’s Heritage Centre’ on the south side of the river in Gateshead.
“Did they return again for 2020?”
Yes and like last year a pair has chosen to nest high up, close to the clocktower. We will be watching this location more closely this year. We are hoping not only does the existing pair successfully fledge some young Kittiwakes, but it would also be great if further pairs opted to nest. Fingers crossed.
The iconic Tyne Bridge that spans the River Tyne between the city of Newcastle and the town of Newcastle is supported by four huge grey towers. These are also home to dozens of Kittiwakes every year. Numbers present this year, are very promising and the Kittiwakes continue to be very vocal.
Plans were submitted to Newcastle City Council, to host a new leisure venue in one of the towers on the northern side of the river. If agreed, the inside tower is likely to encourage a major refurbishment. Hopefully the Kittiwakes that return every year to nest on the outside, will remain, undisturbed.
“A beacon of the natural world in a big city”.
Despite the introduction of a new electric shock system anti-bird deterrent and some remaining anti bird netting etc, a pair of Kittiwakes nested on the Guildhall close to the roundabout during the 2019 season; with a 2nd pair trying later. Today as the 2020 season was well under way, three pairs of Kittiwakes can be easily found, watching us all from the side of the Guildhall building. We wish these all the best of luck.
by Paul Buskin
“What’s particularly good about the Guildhall nests is the incredibly narrow ledges they build on, only 3 or 4 cm wide: must be close to the limit of what they can build on. The big advantage is these ledges are inaccessible to gulls & crows, so breeding success is high”.
– Lophophanes, 29th May 2020.
Two wind-blown Kittiwakes heading back from the sea along the River Tyne at North. Shield.
“A happy alignment”
by David Hirst
“Nesting Kittiwakes on the Quayside today”
by Sandra Clemens
“During this difficult time, we have been retreating to our homes, following the governments lockdown to help protect the NHS and everyone from the virus. Many have been busy working behind the scenes; key workers, that have been working continuously, at times putting themselves at greater risk. Others have been working from home, whilst many have been furloughed.
Some of us that live close to the Quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead have continued to watch out for the Tyne Kittiwakes; whilst driving through on our way to work, or during some daily exercise. The Kittiwakes are doing really well this year.”
There has been a significant drop in air pollution, and the local inland population of breeding Kittiwakes seem to be missing us, as much as we are missing them. The Kittiwakes are extremely vocal at the moment and they are extra friendly. We think they are missing our company.
Please note photos from 2019 have been used for this posting, as it has not been
possible for obvious reasons to produce any new ones.
More photos, combined with some short video clips will be added to this website,
when the lockdown ends and if it is safe to do so.
At first glance, it is very welcoming to find a lot more Kittiwakes present, when compared to the same point last year. There is also no evidence of any new anti-bird deterrents being added. Last years failed anti-bird gel is also largely absent, with just a few remnants remaining from 2019. In all over two dozen Kittiwakes are present and in pretty much the same arrangement as how they nested last year.
It is a very attractive scene; vintage arches and architecture, furnished with elements of the natural world. Over two-dozen Kittiwakes nested on Phoenix House during 2019. Hopefully, this will be repeated during 2020.
As users of the Tyne Bridge, travel between the City of Newcastle and the town of Gateshead, many often stop off to watch the Kittiwakes, especially in the summer months, as eggs start to hatch and Geordie chicks are on display for all to see. A taste of the coast, over ten miles inland.
Great news that Kittiwakes will be able to nest on Phoenix House again!
Our initial thoughts were that nothing had changed. Half a dozen Kittiwakes are resting on different areas of the roof. There are no signs of Kittiwakes building any nests there. Closer inspection, quickly reveals the presence of some additional ‘electric-shock’ anti-bird deterrent which has been installed on the upper ledges and even higher on some of the arches.
The Kittiwakes present however don’t seem to mind. Kittiwakes can be found resting between the strips of the electric shock system. More Kittiwakes are spending time on other parts of the roof. Most of the Kittiwakes usually rest on the grey top areas, which continue to be safe and free from any anti-bird deterrents. Historically the ‘Tyne Kittiwakes’ don’t usually nest on the exchange buildings, however one pair did last year on the upper ledges. This building is a favourite for the Kittiwakes to rest however in between long flights to the coast to feed.
It was already announced in the local press that more ‘electric-shock anti bird deterrent would be installed, so this was not a surprise. It won’t displace the Kittiwakes from spending time on this building, as most of the roof is still free of deterrents, however it may discourage the Kittiwakes from nesting again on the ledges.
No Kittiwakes were injured or trapped on this building during 2019 and the electric shock system, proved to be harmless to the visiting Kittiwakes.
Amazing News! Where one pair successfully nested close the roundabout in 2019, this year there are two. Nesting side by side! Also the Clock Tower is already hosting over a dozen Kittiwakes. More than two-dozen Kittiwakes nested on the clock tower during 2019. We are really pleased that Newcastle City Council has not installed any further anti-bird deterrents for these areas and are allowing the Kittiwakes to nest. Both these locations are great for everyone to watch the ‘Tyne Kittiwakes’ from the Newcastle side of the River.
Over a dozen pairs have claimed prime locations high up on Lombard House. These are best viewed from the Tyne Bridge. Please take care not to disturb the birds as eggs are hatching in the summer months.
Good and bad news. The good news is there ware a lot more Kittiwakes present on the ‘Tyne Bridge’ compared to the same time last year, especially on one of the Gateshead Towers. The other Gateshead Tower seems unusually quiet however at the moment.
Sad News! One adult Kittiwake was observed hanging lifeless from the Tyne Bridge Tower on the Newcastle side of the river on Thursday. Closer inspection, seemed to reveal perhaps, something left from someone climbing the bridge in the past. The Kittiwake had caught it’s beak in something connected to a connector that was itself embedded in the stonework. It didn’t look permanent or old. This will be reported to ‘Newcastle City Council’ and the ‘TKP’.
The Tyne Kittiwakes love the Baltic building and these prime nesting ledges, are packed and filled with the sound of Kittiwakes. Unfortunately, the Kittiwake Cam has not been working for the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, this will be back for everyone to watch the local Inland breeding population of Kittiwakes from the comforts of their own home. A valuable resource, especially during this time of ‘Virus lockdown’.
No Kittiwakes present at the moment. Kittiwakes don’t usually nest on this building; however one pair did last year, with over a dozen more resting at times.
Over fifty Kittiwakes are present. They have settled into nesting formations. Opposite the railway bridge on the ‘Vermont Hotel’, over a dozen Kittiwakes are resting on ledges. They don’t usually nest on the larger main ‘Vermont Hotel’, but they have been spending time on the ledges there more over the past few years and in greater numbers. As many owners of the quayside buildings install new anti-bird deterrents, more and more Kittiwakes are becoming displaced and are then forced to look for new locations to nest. What happens in many cases, is the Kittiwakes then look for new buildings, deeper into the city.
The installation of new anti-bird deterrents, just moves the Kittiwakes on. What is really needed is new fit for purpose be-spoke structures/environment, to secure the future of this important red-listed seabird. Helping them to nest is what is most needed!
The Tyne Kittiwakes are doing fine. Please don’t visit them at the moment. If you want to listen to their famous “kittee-wa-aaake, kittee-wa-aaake” calls please view the Kittiwake Cam
Life is extremely challenging at the moment. NHS workers school staff & many more are risking their lives for us all. Please stay indoors unless it is essential to go out. Help those that are trying to protect us, by given them more time. Save lives. You own life may depend on it.
Kittiwakes upon the Tyne
“A great wildlife wow for the Toon! Talking to people reveals how many folk still can’t separate Kittiwakes from other gulls and seabirds. They really are special birds to have this far inland and still a treat to find on the coast.
Kittiwakes scream their name ‘kitty-wakeee’ and have a cuter face and expression than most other gulls and seabirds’. Shorter legs too”
by Chris Charles
“Great to see Kittiwakes back on the River Tyne. Getting blown close to the North Shields quayside in today’s strong SW wind”
by David Hirst
“Something intensely moving today about the first few Kittiwakes grabbing nest sites under the Tyne Bridge and the hopefulness of those cries on a crisp cold day. #theyearturning”
by Julie Sanders
“The Tyne Kittiwakes are back on the Tyne, at long last.”
by Johnathan Drury
returned to the Baltic”.
by Andrew Moore
You can also watch the Kittiwakes from the comfort of your own home via a web cam. There is a ‘Kittiwake Cam’ which streams live coverage between March and August, whilst the Kittiwakes are nesting along the River Tyne.
“My first Kittiwakes back on the Tyne for the summer. #93 on the green patch year list. They will be present daily now for the next five or six months. The Tyne Kittiwakes are easier to see here than anywhere else in the world”.
As yet another storm raced across the region, less than a handful of Kittiwakes were seen flying up the River Tyne, past the Fish Quay in North Shields. Less than an hour later, three Kittiwakes were busy enjoying the facilities of the Quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead. They spent some of the time, busy washing themselves.
At times, the Kittiwakes could also been seen checking out some nests under the Tyne Bridge, however they were forcibly chased off by some nearby Carrion Crows. As hundreds more start to arrive however, the crows are likely to move on and continue their own efforts helping to keep the quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead clean. When compared to last year, the Kittiwakes are returning a little later this year, and initially in smaller numbers. Over a dozen birds were present this time last year, however more are likely to return over the coming weeks.
Elsewhere along the Quaysides, Herring, Black-headed Gulls and a couple of Greater Black backed Gulls were present. A single Redshank was busy feeding on the Gateshead side. Watch out for Grey Herons and Curlews which are regularly seen nearby. There was little sign of any Lesser-Black backed Gulls today, but they have been noted in the area. A new web based guide to the ‘Wildlife along the Tyne’ is currently in development and will be available early next year from ‘www.tynewildife.org‘. This will include over two dozen locations, where you can enjoy this rich, riverside habitat.
by Paul Buskin
“Kittiwake fledging well underway at the nesting tower in Gateshead.
Forty chicks left at the tower from 85 in early July”.
by Andrew Rickeard
“Kittiwake chicks always look so helpless. Their parents are kept very busy, especially as they have to travel miles along Tyneside’s Big River to find food out at sea.”
“We very much enjoyed watching the chicks develop into the next generation of Kittiwakes.”
A pair of Kittiwakes successfully nested on the Premier Inn; whilst dozens of Kittiwakes raised young Kittiwakes on the Guildhall/Clocktower-Newcastle Quayside this year.
Sadly some Kittiwakes became trapped in anti-bird netting again this year on one of the hotels down on Newcastle Quayside. Fledged birds, landed on the roof; they then slid down and some got caught in the netting from behind. During the 2018 breeding season, four birds were trapped on this hotel; and sadly some died before they were able to be rescued. No changes were made following this by the owners of the hotel and the netting at the top remained a trap, and again trapped fledged Kittiwakes during the 2019 season. The hotel was informed of the risk last year and discussions have taken place regarding this years trapped birds.
Thankfully most birds managed to break free, however one unfortunate young Kittiwake failed and remains hanging lifeless from the top of the hotel. A dead Kittiwake remains to the left of this from last year. Hopefully the hotel will collect these dead birds soon and they won’t both remain till next year. Both remain as of the 12th September 2019.
Without any change, this area of anti-bird netting will remain a trap and could continue to trap young Kittiwakes again next year. Everyone was pleased that another hotel where birds were trapped last year, did make changes and no birds were trapped on the Premier Inn this year. In fact one pair successfully nested. This pair was “very welcome at the inn”.
As the warm weather brings us towards August; some pairs of Kittiwakes are very busy looking after young chicks still. Amazing how much the ‘tourists’ and ‘local residents’ are stopping to watch! A very cute Kittiwake chick.
“It is hard work bringing up a littleIn nowadays!”
A patient chick waiting for his other parent to return from a trip out at sea! Hungry mouths to feed
“Tyne Newcastle = Kittiwakes with plenty hungry mouths to feed!”
High up, relaxing on some of Newcastle Quayside’s buildings you can find Tyne Kittiwakes relaxing and enjoying a well earned rest. Their life is not an easy one. They spend years out at sea, battling with the winters storms, dozens of fierce predators and unpleasant pollution. Adults journey to coastal cliffs and islands to breed every summer. Geordie Newcastle is very lucky, as we have them on our doorstop, as they return to build their nests close to the Quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead.
A soft gentle gull, that travels as far as the Farne Islands in North Northumberland to feed. Well worth a visit.
“Same species, two very different plumages.
Adult and juvenile Kittiwakes at the mouth
of the River Tyne on Tuesday.”
Close to the roundabout just before the turn off for the Swing Bridge, over a dozen pairs of Kittiwakes had chosen to build their nests using a variety of buildings.
Some chose to nest high up amongst some tall, anti-bird spikes, that looked potentially harmful to any visiting Kittiwakes. We hope no Kittiwakes were injured on the spikes.
Following the installation of the Avi-shock on the Guildhall early 2019, many Kittiwakes that had chosen to build their nests on this building in the past, were forced to look elsewhere to nest this season. One pair still managed to nest close to the roundabout, before the Swing Bridge, whilst over a dozen more settled down on the clocktower. The Kittiwakes continued to nest on the Guildhall during 2019.
One brave pair, opted to nest alongside the Avi-shock, close to the clocktower. It found a loop-hole, where this electric shock treatment didn’t reach. Is it possible to carpet the entire building with anti-bird deterrents?
A Tyne Kittiwake nesting on the Guildhall, close to the clocktower. This nest was alongside some avi-shock.
Does the installation of anti-bird detterants, simply move Kittiwakes on either to other parts of the same building, or an other building entirely? Do anti-bird detterants spoil the look of what are vintage buildings? What would you rather see; A rare Tyne Kittiwake, from the furthest inland colony in the world? or netting, spikes and wires?
“A definite wildlife theme to today. Kittiwake nests on the Baltic”.
by Diane Wailes @dwailes
One of at least three pairs of Kittiwakes that have opted to nest amongst some really tall spikes this year. Whats the point of these ugly things, carpeting some of the quayside buildings. They don’t stop Kittiwakes nesting! but they do injure them!
‘The Vintage Triangle, the power of shapes‘.
As nearby buildings are infested with anti-bird deterrents, the Tyne Kittiwakes then choose another building to nest. What is needed is a ‘be-spoke’ environment such as ‘artificial cliffs’ etc. Every time the Kittiwakes are displaced from one building they seem to be moving deeper and deeper into the city centre.
A third entry for ‘Which Kittiwakes built the ‘Best Nests’ this year. Here we have ‘The stepping stone nests’ and ‘one of the tallest’ nests to the left. Deffo strong contenders.
One of the young Kittiwakes that is doing well on the Tyne Bridge. The recent wet weather has caused many problems for coastal populations of nesting seabirds. The Tyne Kittiwakes seek refuge in our ‘Big City’ and benefit from calmer weather patterns.
Kittiwakes nesting on nearby buildings are also doing well with at least thirty pairs nesting high up on ‘Phoenix House’ and over half a dozen pairs nesting on the ‘Vermont Hotel’ and ‘Lambard House’. Some of the eggs on Lambard House have hatched, and there are chicks present.
Elsewhere Kittiwakes are sitting on nests still on some of the nearby street lighting again and a selection of buildings close to the Guildhall. In some cases this is amongst anti-bird spikes. As new anti-bird deterrents are installed such as ‘avi-shock’, ‘spikes’ or ‘netting’, it does not stop the Kittiwakes from nesting, but they either still nest amongst these on the same building or choose a nearby building.
A greener and more long-term solution is needed! Read More…
Sadly whilst checking on the Kittiwakes today we found ‘a trapped Kittiwake’ that had been fatally injured in anti-bird netting under the Tyne Bridge. A Kittiwake continues to nest to the right, hopefully the dead bird was not its partner. Sad times.
Over two dozen Kittiwakes have continued to nest on the Guildhall, down on Newcastle Quayside. A single pair are nesting close to the roundabout and street-lighting pairs. A second pair are nesting high up, just below the clock tower. On the Clock Tower itself, over two dozen pairs have nested and seem very happy and comfortable.
“Hopefully the owners will not install new anti-bird detterants on the clock tower next year. Fingers Crossed”.
Such an amazing place to nest. Lots of residents and visitors are stopping to look up at them and they are fast becoming a popular tourism attraction. Let’s hope the local council welcomes them also and we don’t see any new anti-bird deterrents there before next season.
We have another contender for which Kittiwakes built the ‘Best Nests’ this year. These two looked so comfortable and happy! High up, watching us all below! These are part of over six pairs that have nested on the Vermont Hotel this year down on Newcastle Quayside.
Following the events last year, where over a dozen Kittiwakes became trapped in anti-bird netting; a new electric shock system was installed to replace some of the anti-bird netting which was removed the actual day the Kittiwakes started to return this season. Volunteers were on site at the time, monitoring the birds as they started to return.
This new system ‘Avi-shock’ has successfully deterred birds so far this season. Kittiwakes have continued to spend time on the hotel, where the ‘Avi-shock is not present.
Despite this new electric-shock system, more than twenty-four Kittiwakes were on the Quayside Premier Inn roof today. All the birds were away from the ‘Avi-shock’ system, apart from a single individual. One pair has built a nest and is sitting on eggs. “We hope they are welcome at the Inn”. It is possible more birds may chose to start nesting here also. The use of anti-bird deterrents along Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside, does not stop ‘Kittiwakes’ nesting, but merely moves them on, and they chose another building or location on the same building to nest.
We survived all the air pollution on the Tyne Bridge, from the busy Sunday afternoon traffic and as we reached the Gateshead side found over a dozen Kittiwakes on the old church @StMarysHeritage Centre.
“One pair was nesting on St Mary’s Heritage Centre, Gateshead.
We hope they welcome these red-listed seabirds”.
Nice walk across the Tyne Bridge this morning. The sun was shining and my first Kittiwake Chicks of the year.
by Dylan Burgess @_DylanBurgess
“This juvenile Kittiwake was at the North Shields Kittiwake colony (by Shields Ferry landing) on Tuesday pm”.
by David Hirst @david1hirst
Close to the Clock Tower where Kittiwakes are nesting, a second Kittiwake can be seen sitting on it’s own nest on the Guildhall.
It looks very happy, high up and is really enjoying watching everyone below. Fab nest, deffo in there for ‘Which Kittiwake built the best nest’ this year.
Meet the ‘Kittiwake Inspector’ She thinks this anti-bird netting looks very unattractive; the metal pins used to attach it have damaged the stonework lots to attach this ugly netting. Whats more attractive handsome cute friendly Kittiwakes or anti-bird netting with metal pins?
Many Kittiwakes have not been able to nest on the Guildhall this year, due to the new electric shock system. Some have chosen to nest elsewhere. Anti-bird netting, spikes, avi-shock is not a solution. How about some artificial cliffs? Was a past IDEA before Kittiwake Tower.
This is a picture of a Kittiwake that remained trapped behind anti-bird netting for over two weeks in 2018. The netting squares were so large it was able to get through as a chick. Could this happen again this year? We have been checking from Tyne Bridge this week and…..
Yes, it could happen again this year. It is disappointing that the owners of the building have not taken measures to prevent this happening again this year. As you can see from the new photos, the risk remains for Kittiwakes chicks becoming trapped in anti-bird netting.
Those spikes look canny sharp and very long! We have noticed this Kittiwake call a couple of times, as it’s hit the top of some of those that tower out of the nest. Spikes don’t stop kittiwakes nesting, but they can cause them to suffer injuries. no spikes is better!
Volunteers are continuing to help watch out for the TyneKittiwakes again this year. Some Kittiwakes have chosen a building that made no changes to anti-bird netting since last year. We are all hoping the chicks/fledged birds don’t get trapped in this anti-bird netting
“What a lovely day to see the Kittiwakes at The Baltic”
by Joe Thirlwell. @JojoThirlwell
A well earned rest for Mrs Tyne Kittiwake after a couple of weeks building their fab new nest on a vintage arch down on Newcastle Quayside. I wonder what Kittiwakes dream about? Their journey from far out at sea must be canny exciting!