Kittiwakes upon the Tyne
Showcasing the progress of the Kittiwakes along the River Tyne
The Tyne Kittiwake Diary
“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. Anyone is welcome to help contribute. Help us to raise awareness for this unique inland breeding colony on Tyneside.
Any progress/developments will also be summarised and presented on the ‘Colonies ‘ page, at the end of every season. Both the diary and colonies pages will be 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 being planned 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 email@example.com or you can send a message to @KittiwakesTyne on twitter.
On the 4th August 2019
“Kittiwake fledging well underway at the nesting tower in Gateshead.
Forty chicks left at the tower from 85 in early July”.
by Andrew Rickeard
A Tyne Kittiwake from the furthest inland colony in the world.
“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.”
Towards the end of July 2019
Did you see them”?
“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.
Young Kittiwakes from the Guildhall
A Young Kittiwake on the Premier Inn, Newcastle Quayside
On the 26th July 2019
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.
A newly fledged Kittiwake fails to escape from anti-bird netting
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.
Changes needed to prevent more birds becoming trapped next year
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”.
On the 24th July 2019
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
On the 4th July 2019
“Tyne Newcastle = Kittiwakes with plenty hungry mouths to feed!”
by Rev David Atkinson
Not scared of Heights
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.
“Have you seen the Tyne Kittiwakes yet?”
A soft gentle gull, that travels as far as the Farne Islands in North Northumberland to feed. Well worth a visit.
On the 2nd July 2019
“Same species, two very different plumages.
Adult and juvenile Kittiwakes at the mouth
of the River Tyne on Tuesday.”
by David Hirst
Pairs of Kittiwakes build their nests amongst anti-bird spikes
Sharp and potentially dangerous to Kittiwakes
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.
Determined to Nest still
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?
On the 23rd June 2019
“A definite wildlife theme to today. Kittiwake nests on the Baltic”.
by Diane Wailes @dwailes
On the 21st June 2019
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!
“We hope any chicks are ok”.
On the 20th June 2019
‘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.
The Best Nests!
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.
On the 15th June 2019
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.
Eggs are hatching
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…
Under the Tyne Bridge
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.
Update for Guildhall – Newcastle Quayside
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.
On the 9th June 2019
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.
On the 9th June 2019
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.
On the 9th June 2019
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”.
On the 5th June 2019
Nice walk across the Tyne Bridge this morning. The sun was shining and my first Kittiwake Chicks of the year.
by Dylan Burgess @_DylanBurgess
On the 4th June 2019
“This juvenile Kittiwake was at the North Shields Kittiwake colony (by Shields Ferry landing) on Tuesday pm”.
by David Hirst @david1hirst
On the 2nd June 2019
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?
New Electric shock
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.
Phoenix House – Newcastle Quayside
This is a picture of a Kittiwake that remained trapped behind anti-bird netting for over two weeks last year. 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…..
Kittiwake chicks still at risk of becoming trapped behind anti-bird netting
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.
On the 2nd June 2019
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
On the 1st June 2019
“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!
Some of us have been a little bit worried about this pair this week; as they were getting awfully close to some dangerous netting. Four Kittiwakes were trapped on this building last year; two fatally. Sadly the owners made no changes and a risk remains of further trappings this season. A dead Kittiwake still remains from last year on the roof.
Dangerous netting was removed from three other buildings that were involved in last years unfortunate events, where Kittiwakes became trapped in anti-bird netting.
“We wonder why the owners of this building did not make any changes following the four trapped birds in 2018”?
Should anyone find a trapped or injured Kittiwake this season, please
contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty and advice helpline on 0300 1234 999.
To help officers locate birds in trouble explaining where they can be viewed from is very useful.
On the 27th May 2019
Another popular pair of Kittiwakes last year involved two Kittiwakes that nested on a pipe alongside the edge of the ‘Akenside Traders’ Building.
A Kittiwake nesting
on side of Akenside Traders Building
This building has an anti-bird deterrent Gel present, which has proved successful in deterring Kittiwakes from nesting. To everyones great surprise, a pair is again present in the same place this year on drain pipe. Hopefully they will be as successful as last year.
Two weeks later….. On the 24th May 2019
The owners of Phoenix House added a new anti-bird deterrent ‘fire-gel’ this year to deter Kittiwakes from nesting on their building. This failed to stop Kittiwakes returning to nest on the top of ‘Phoenix House’. Now almost two dozen pairs have settled in (twice as much as noted on the 12th May), building their nests amongst the anti-bird deterrent ‘Fire gel’.
Some of the pots of gel are Clearly empty.
The pair that was found to be building their nest precariously on one of the vintage arches, has been joined by two more pairs, that have replicated their talent of creating a fabulous nest. All three nests are a canny size, and they look quite settled.
The Kittiwakes all seem quite settled and hopefully like last year they will have a successful breeding season. Most of the dangerous netting that caused problems last year was removed; so hopefully no more birds will become trapped.
Two adults became fatally trapped in anti-bird netting on Phoenix House last year, and a chick required the assistance of the fire service and the RSPCA to free it from behind netting.
Guildhall – Update 27th May 2019
In 2017 Kittiwakes peacefully nested on the Guildhall down on Newcastle Quayside. As the ‘Worlds Furthest Inland Colony in the World’ these breeding Kittiwakes were extremely popular both with local residents and tourists. As the 2018 cycle began and the Kittiwakes started their journey back to the UK from their long winter out at sea in the North Atlantic; new anti-bird netting and spikes were installed to prevent the Kittiwakes nesting by Newcastle City Council. This was to protect what is a listed building and the local council had decided the Kittiwakes could no longer nest there.
Photo of a trapped
on the Guildhall
This new anti-bird deterrent however, failed to prevent the Kittiwakes nesting in 2018, as they nested higher up amongst the netting and spikes. Some Kittiwakes were injured on the spikes or trapped in the anti-bird netting. Sadly two adults were fatally injured/trapped; whilst a young juvenile needed to be rescued after being trapped behind the netting. Following a long-campiagn and a public-outcry some of the anti-bird netting that had been involved in trapping birds during the 2018 breeding season was removed. This did not mean ‘Newcastle City Council’ however was going to allow the Kittiwakes to continue to nest on the ‘Guildhall’. The council instead opted to install an ‘electric shock’ anti-bird deterrent.
Pair of Kittiwakes Nesting
On the Guildhall
by Paul Buskin
As the 2019 cycle started to take shape and Kittiwakes explored and prospected for nesting sites for another year; Kittiwakes were successfully deterred from spending time where the electric shock system had been installed. Any Kittiwakes attempting to land, quickly flew away; shaking their heads a few times.
They were clearly not happy but remained unhurt and those that went through this experience, often flew off some distance afterwards. Despite this new challenge to the Kittiwakes, some really wanted to continue to nest on one of their favourite buildings. One pair was so determined, that they have found a spot, where there are no spikes or ‘Avi-shock’ and have built their nest. We wish them lots of luck for 2019. We suspect however, new anti-bird deterrents will be installed for this area by Newcastle City Council before the birds return for the 2020 breeding season.
Kittiwakes nesting on
by Paul Buskin
More than a dozen Kittiwakes have also continued to settle on the clock tower, and nests can now be seen, with Kittiwakes in attendance. Hopefully this will be welcomed by Newcastle City Council and we won’t see new anti-bird deterrents installed on the clock tower next year. Fingers-crossed.
On the 21st May 2019
Some of the 700 pairs of kittiwakes, Rissa tridactyla, in Newcastle Gateshead, the furthest inland kittiwake colony in the world. These are on the Baltic Centre, Flour Mills
by John Feltwell
On the 22nd May 2019
“The Kittiwakes on the
Tyne Bridge have eggs!”
On the 22nd May 2019
A Kittiwake close up. Love the red orbital ring.
Tyne Kittiwakes busy
building their nests
The new anti-bird deterrent ‘fire-gel’ has not stopped birds nesting on the top of ‘Phoenix House’. Almost a dozen pairs have settled in, building their nests adjacent to the gel. As birds land they are clearly upset by its presence but their instinct to nest is stronger.
The pair that was found to be building their nest precariously on one of the vintage arches, have put a lot of effort into constructing their new nest.
It is a canny size now and looks a bit more secure compared to last weekend. It is amazing how Kittiwakes can nest on tiny ledges and so high up.
Ten-out-of ten for effort; hopefully this pair will be ok this year. There is a risk young birds, could fall through some of the remaining netting on ‘Phoenix House’.
Independent birdwatchers and local wildlife organisations are monitoring the Kittiwakes again this year.
No changes appear to have been made to this hotel this season, in relation to anti-bird deterrents. We hope no birds are again trapped or become injured in their anti-bird netting. A dead bird remains on their quayside hotel still from last year.
Up to five pairs are showing signs of nesting on the front of the hotel, on anti-bird netting.
Should anyone find a trapped or injured Kittiwake this season, please contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty and advice helpline on
0300 1234 999.
To help officers locate birds in trouble explaining where they can be viewed from is very useful.
No birds nest on the Premier Inn, and the new ‘avishock’ system is proving to deter birds from nesting on this building. Dozens of birds continue to relax on the uppers areas however. Any Kittiwakes that land on the areas where ‘avi-shock’ is installed are clearly uncomfortable and fly off some distance afterwards; often shaken their heads a few times.
Kittiwakes have chosen ‘Lombard House’ to nest this year. Clustered on the left hand side, they have built their nests on the upper areas of the roof. Not sure if the owners will welcome their choice. Lots of Kittiwakes were displaced from the Guildhall; and it was expected, that these birds may instead have chosen other buildings along Newcastle Quayside as an alternative to build their nests.
Tyne Bridge and the Baltic
Hundreds of Kittiwakes have settled in and are busy nesting. Numbers have increased since last weekend.
The new ‘avishock’ system continues to deter birds from nesting where they successfully fledged young Kittiwakes last year. Half a dozen Kittiwakes were resting on the ‘Clock Tower’ today and there are signs, that some pairs will nest there this year.
Elsewhere on the Guildhall, apart from a couple of Kittiwakes on the roof tiles; with a second pair cuddled up to each other lower down; Kittiwakes appear to be less keen to spend time there.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the busy Quayside, over two dozen Kittiwakes continue to nest on the ‘Railway Bridge’.
A few pairs continue to nest on the street lighting.
This remains a popular choice for the Kittiwakes, but there is still a lot of capacity, so it is not always a Kittiwakes first choice to nest.
More information will appear in this dairy over the coming weeks for the Kittiwake Tower and Kittiwakes that have chosen to nest in North and South Tyneside.
On the 10th May 2019
“Big rollers and sea spray in the River Tyne on Thursday were no problem for our beautiful local Kittiwakes”.
Tyne Kittiwakes choosing
where to build their nests
Over the past month, small groups of Kittiwakes have continued to gather on the ‘white clock tower’ and on the roof of the Guildhall. No birds appear to be nesting where the ‘avishock’ system has been installed. The group that was spending time close to the road junction have now dispersed.
So it appears, the new anti-bird deterrent (avishock), that replaced last years anti-bird netting, has successfully, deterred any Kittiwakes from building nests on the Guildhall this year. These nesting Kittiwakes will be well missed. As colony numbers are lower this year, Kittiwakes have not had any problems finding alternative nesting sites.
Dozens of Kittiwakes have paired up and have built nests on the railway bridge. We wish them lots of luck.
A couple of pairs continue to hang out on top of some of the street lights. Any birds that choose to nest there, will be more vulnerable to predators. Despite the reduced odds of success, young Kittiwakes successfully fledged from the ‘street lighting’ nests last year.
Kittiwakes successfully bred on this building last year. A new anti-bird deterrent ‘fire-gel’ was added this year, to replace some areas of anti-bird netting that injured or trapped birds last year. Despite the change, there is evidence two pairs maybe trying to nest. Some pots of the ”fire-gel’ are now empty and Kittiwakes do still land on the building, but they are clearly uncomfortable from the experience when encountering the fire-gel. The first pair, seem to have chosen a location, which didn’t have a tub of ‘fire-gel’ or any anti-bird netting, and the nest looks quite safe. The second pair however have precariously positioned their nest onto a vintage arch. Elements hang over the side. This nest is potentially vulnerable to failure.
Kittiwakes continue to spend time relaxing on the roof of the Premier Inn. Any birds that have stopped off have enjoyed a good sleep. The new anti-bird deterrent (avishock) is deterring birds from landing wherever it is installed. No birds are nesting there. Lots of thanks go to the ‘Premier Inn’ for the removal of the anti-bird netting that trapped or injured Kittiwakes last year. It would be nice to see @premierinn make a small donation towards helping the Kittiwake Quayside colony this year via the @balticmill justgiving appeal or help @B_W_R Blyth Wildlife Rescue, which helped with many of the Kittiwake rescues last year. This would help the local colony of Kittiwakes recover from some of the losses last year.
No changes appear to have been made to these hotels this season, in relation to anti-bird deterrents. We hope no birds are again trapped or become injured in their anti-bird netting. A dead bird remains on their quayside hotel still from last year. Two-Three pairs are showing signs of nesting on the front of the hotel, on anti-bird netting. Volunteers and members of the pubic are watching out for the ‘Kittiwakes’ again this year.
Should anyone find a trapped or injured Kittiwake this season, please contact the
RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty and advice helpline on 0300 1234 999.
To help officers locate birds in trouble explaining where they can be viewed from is very useful.
Tyne Bridge, Baltic and Kittiwake Tower
Hundreds of Kittiwakes are busy bees, with their partners, investing all their efforts into this years breeding season. Some Kittiwakes are spending time under the bridge itself.
It was expected as birds were displaced from other buildings, such as the Guildhall and Phoenix House, Kittiwakes would seek out new places to nest. At this time there appears to be plenty of capacity for Kittiwakes to nest.
You can view live coverage of the Kittiwakes on the
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
via a webcam on the Durham Wildlife Trust Website at
Every year Kittiwakes make the narrow ledges of BALTIC their home. @Balticmill love providing a safe habitat for them to nest and they provide an opportunity for the public to experience these beautiful birds up close. This is great for education, conservation and helps raise awareness for seabirds.
Please help them if you can. Maintenance of the Kittiwakes’ habitat on the side of BALTIC every year is very costly (working out around £50 a Kittiwake) but it would not be the same without them. Your donations will help them to keep their home clean and safe.
This is always very much appreciated. They have raised only about 10% so far, so more help is needed to help secure this very important nesting site. Globally numbers have fallen by 40% so every nest makes a huge difference; especially during this time of climate change.
On the 4th May 2019
Is amazing to watch the Kittiwakes glide past, really fast, then with amazing skill, put the brakes on, and land on surface of the river. No crash landings, perfect every time.
Whilst spending time with Newcastle’s Tyne Kittiwakes you can benefit from lots of exercise, whilst exploring and sharing their urban habitat. From walking alongside Tyneside’s ‘Big River’ too climbing the cobblestone paths up to the famous Tyne Bridge. “kittee-wa-aaake”
On the 22nd April 2019
A Tyne Kittiwake. There are hundreds of Kittiwakes enjoying the comforts of urban life down on Newcastle/Gateshead Quayside at the moment. If you look more closely, it is amazing how there are small, medium and larger birds amongst them. This bird looked like it had travelled far.
On the 11th April 2019
Over the past couple of weeks, more and more Kittiwakes have started to return to one of their favourite nesting colonies along the Tyne; Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside. Numbers so far have continued to be lower than last year. Fewer Kittiwakes successfully bred last year. This was repeated elsewhere along the coast; largely due to adverse weather conditions last year, such as the ‘Beast from the East’. It is therefore very important for the ‘Kittiwakes’ that they have a good season this year.
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
Dozens of Kittiwakes have claimed some of the prime nesting locations on the ledges of the ‘Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art’. You can view live coverage via a webcam on the Durham Wildlife Trust Website at https://durhamwt.com/kittiwake-cam/
Hundreds more have claimed sites on the Tyne Bridge; largely on or around the two towers either side of the bridge. A small group of about dozen birds occupy a ledge on the west side of the bridge, with a couple of pairs on the East side. It is very reassuring that the recent repair work has been completed.
No birds have settled down to nest on the ‘Guildhall’, however about two dozen birds have been seen at times resting on the upper areas. There is an area close to the road, where about half a dozen birds are gathering. It is unclear if this is covered by the ‘Avishock’ system. A further dozen birds are spending time on the ‘white clock tower’.
There is a good chance that birds will again nest on the street lighting, which is more vulnerable to predators such as larger Gulls etc.
Up to a dozen birds have been spending time on buildings close to the roundabout, prior to the ‘Swing Bridge’, but it is unclear at this stage if they will choose to nest on any of these buildings
Kittiwakes have been spending time on the roof of the Premier Inn Hotel. Any that have landed where there is ‘Avishock’, have quickly retreated and flown off; appearing a little shocked, but unharmed. Usually they shake their heads a few times after this happens.
Dozens of birds are settling down to nest on the railway bridge; and numbers there are looking quite promising.
No birds have settled down to nest on ‘Phoenix House’ this year. About a dozen Kittiwakes have been spending time away from the ‘fire gel’ however on the building.
Pairs of Kittiwakes are settling down to nest at Tynemouth, North Shields, and Felling. The Kittiwake Tower is also very busy in Gateshead, with dozens of pairs starting to nest.
More information will appear on this site over the coming weeks.
On the 9th April 2019
“Some Tyne Kittiwakes dozing in the sun on the Tyne Bridge and Quayside lamp posts this afternoon”.
On the 9th April 2019
They are masters of flight. They are able to change direction quickly, whilst gliding with the wind. They are also very friendly and curious, yet at the same time, a little shy.
“kittee-wa-aaake” “kittee-wa-aaake” “kittee-wa-aaake”
I made the most of the Easter holidays and used the time to spend some time with one of my favourites, the Tyne Kittiwakes. Many are still showing off their flight skills, gliding past me, whilst at the same time saying hello with their familar calls.
On the 9th April 2019
Some Kittiwakes were floating in small groups on the river, or relaxing high up on one of the tall vintage buildings. Lots were passionately preening and cuddled up to each other in pairs, high up on ledges on the Tyne Bridge or Baltic.
On the 9th April 2019
Three Kittiwakes enjoying a well earned rest after their winter out at sea. Battling through storms, escaping from fearsome predators; the constant treasure hunt for food. Their journey is filled with endless challenges. It must be a great relief for them to rest along the Tyne.
On the 7th April 2019
“The Baltic Kittiwakes were
in fine fettle this morning”.
On the 3rd April 2019
“My first view of the Kittiwakes on the Baltic arts centre,
phone-scoped from the other side of the river. Beautiful birds”.
On the 31st March 2019
The Kittiwakes have been spending time together on the surface of the River Tyne this week in small groups. Many others, have been settling down to nest and bonding with their partners. Nice to see the Kittiwakes so relaxed and comfortable in their urban home.
Some Kittiwakes have been exploring the wonders of the Quayside.
It must be amazing to view the river from the air, gliding through the sky, whilst the rest of us are busy with our daily routines.
A short rest, before their eggs start to hatch for another year.
On the 22nd March 2019
“A Tyne Kittiwake after a wash and brush up
before the more serious work of the day
– finding a mate – near the Baltic Building”.
On the 25th March 2019
Didn’t have long during my trip back to Newcastle to see the Kittiwakes, but long enough to take a few snaps… welcome home.
On the 24th March 2019
Whilst the Newcastle Quayside Market was in full swing today, the Tyne Kittiwakes were floating on the river and gliding over the stalls. The River Tyne is full of life, whilst they are with us.
Over a dozen were gliding through the sky, showing off their talented flight skills. They often came close, moving their whole heads, to watch those of us, that were lucky to be around. “The Flight Dance of the Tyne Kittiwakes”
It is amazing to see how the wingspan of the Kittiwakes can look so very different at times. Not only can the birds move their whole heads, and glide like experts in the wind, but their ability to stretch their wings and fan their tails is so dramatic. Natural Art
Finally a couple of Kittiwakes from the Gateshead side of the River. The Tyne Bridge is a popular nesting site for the Kittiwakes and dozens have settled in already. These two were high up on the tower, enjoying the comforts of urban life.
“Nice to see the Kittiwakes around the Tyne Bridge
and Baltic Flour Mills – such lovely little birds!”
Birds lack muscles around their eyes. Instead they can move their whole heads. This can be artistic to watch, especially when they are in small groups.
Three Kittiwakes enjoying an afternoon nap. Every year thousands of Kittiwakes, make the long journey to the British Isles from the world’s second largest ocean; the Atlantic. They must be tired from their long journey.
On the 22nd March 2019
Who needs an exotic far off location when you could visit Newcastle Quayside and watch the Kittiwakes.
“No where better on a nice sunny day”.
On the 21st March 2019
“What smashing birds! A Kittiwake bobbing around on the
River Tyne just off the North Shields Fish Quay on Thursday”.
Above: The much larger Lesser Black backed Gull which is also present on Newcastle/Gateshead Quayside during spring/summer. They have a larger wingspan, darker wings, and yellow legs. Below: A famous Tyne Kittiwake, smaller, black legs, and grey wings.
The TyneKittiwakes were out in the wind on Sunday. I took this photo and Wow, the wingspan looks much larger than I would expect for a Kittiwake. They really can stretch those wings when they want. They were loving the strong winds.
On the 17th March 2019
Lots more Tyne Kittiwakes have returned the past couple of days. After enjoying the familiar scenery of the Newcastle/Gateshead Quaysides, they have been finding their favourite places to relax and to start to build their nests for another season.
The Tyne Kittiwakes have been making the most of the recent windy days. Gliding around the bridge and over the riversides. Kittiwakes have a wingspan of 95-110cm. At times their wings looked longer this weekend. A soft friendly Gull from the coast.
On the 9th March 2019
“Good to see the Kittiwakes back around the Tyne Bridge this morning.
Hoping they have an easier year this year”.
Wednesday 6th March 2019
Kittiwakes are returning to their traditional nesting sites on the River Tyne after a winter spent out in the Atlantic. This one was at North Shields Ferry Landing on Wednesday 6th March.
There is a guided walk from the ‘Old Low Light Heritage Centre‘ on Wednesday 3rd April at 10.30 am. The walk will spend a couple of hours out and about around the River at North Shields/Tynemouth.
Tuesday 5th March 2019
“Great to see the Kittiwakes are back at the
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art on the Gateshead Quayside”.
2nd March 2019
“There were eight kittiwakes back on ‘Marsden Rock’, South Shields today”.
Anti-bird netting removed to help protect Kittiwakes
“Almost all of the ‘anti-bird netting’ was removed that was involved in last years events
(2018 Breeding Season) where some Kittiwakes became trapped or were injured”.
The majority of owners engaged constructively in meetings, genuinely wanting to resolve the situation, and crucially ahead of the 2019 breeding season, most of the unfit netting was removed. The property owners are now fully aware of their responsibilities in relation to deterrents and they developed protocols to ensure swift and safe action to rescue Kittiwakes should this be required. The Council has produced guidance on deterrents and there is an acknowledgement that the City needs to learn to live with these special birds.
Some properties installed alternatives to netting including bird gel and avishock. Whilst these deterrents will displace birds that were able to nest on netting in 2018, they do not present a danger to the birds, and are legal as long as installed outside the breeding season. Fire gel was installed in small dishes along ledges and, as birds can see UV light, it appears to them like fire discouraging them from landing. All available evidence suggests that Avishock is not harmful to Kittiwakes, or any other birds, and should there be any problems it can be turned off straightaway.
New anti-bird deterrents to be monitored
To demonstrate best practice, the Council worked together with the Tyne Kittiwake Partnership and monitored their site where avishock was present. This was done as the kittiwakes returned and throughout the breeding season. Should there be any issues with any avishock, this system could easily be shut down unlike netting which, if nested upon, cannot be removed during the breeding season (this would dislodge nests built up on top of the deterrent).
You may have seen that netting is removed from ledges but not down the length of buildings; this is in acknowledgement that netting was unsuitable for these ledges where Kittiwakes were able to land. Any netting remaining down the length of buildings has been checked and made safe if required.
The continual shifting of Kittiwakes due to deterrents is something everyone is working to address as part of long-term effects to secure the future of the ‘Tyne Kittiwakes’.
Changes to Anti-bird deterrents on Newcastle Quayside
Independent Observations by a
group of volunteers
Update March 2019
- Sections of anti-bird netting on the Guildhall have been removed. This has been replaced with ‘avishock’.
- Sections of anti-bird netting on the Premier Inn Hotel, which is part of a national chain; have been removed and replaced with ‘avishock’.
- The owners of Phoenix House, which was home to a trapped Kittiwake chick for a couple of weeks last year, (close to the Tyne Bridge), have actioned the removal of some of the anti-bird netting. This has been replaced with ‘Fire gel’.
- Kittiwakes will be allowed to continue to nest on the ‘Tyne Bridge’. There are no plans to install any new anti-bird deterrents on the Tyne Bridge. This bridge will be subject to major maintenance within the next few years, and ‘The Tyne Kittiwake Partnership’ are working to reduce any disturbance to the Kittiwakes.
- There has been no change to anti-bird deterrents for some of the buildings. A small group of volunteers will continue to monitor ‘Newcastle Quayside’ just in case any Kittiwakes need any support.
“Should anyone find a trapped or injured Kittiwake this season, please contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour
cruelty and advice helpline on 0300 1234 999. To help officers locate birds in trouble explaining
where they can be viewed from is very useful.”
Lots of anti-bird netting and spikes still remain
There are some genuine reasons, why some of the buildings have retained some of the anti-bird netting/deterrents. As well as helping to prevent any Kittiwakes becoming trapped or injured, the owners are also required to protect what are in many cases ‘older buildings’. Efforts are ongoing to help protect the local breeding colony of Kittiwakes.
The diary section of this new website will follow the progress of the Tyne Kittiwakes. If you would like to contribute please email firstname.lastname@example.org Any new content is very much welcomed and appreciated. You can also show your support for the ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne’ by following @KittiwakesTyne
More Kittiwakes become trapped and some died
during the 2019 breeding season
Update November 2019
Unfortunately despite all the efforts and changes above there was evidence of further Kittiwakes becoming trapped in anti-bird netting. A summary will appear here within the next two weeks, and volunteers from ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne’ will be contacting the Tyne Kittiwake Partnership and Local Councils regarding any evidence which has been collected.
There is evidence that some buildings still contain some potentially dangerous netting that continues to entrap birds during the spring/summer months. More changes are needed to prevent further Kittiwakes becoming trapped next year.
24th February 2019
First Kittiwakes back on the Tyne today along the Newcastle and Gateshead Quaysides.
A Kittiwake from today by Lophophanes
On the 23rd February 2019
Really pleased to see Kittiwakes at Tynemouth Haven this afternoon
One came in really close. Kittiwakes are such friendly Gulls. I’ve really missed them.
Welcome back Tyne Kittiwakes
One pair of Kittiwakes looking for a new place to nest, chose a drain pipe, close to the pair that was nesting on one of the street lights.
A family of Kittiwakes by Lophophanes
This pair of Kittiwakes successfully nested, and they were a popular tourist attraction for the summer. Lots of visitors were very interested and stopped to watch them.
On the 6th August 2018
Following the loss and injury of some of the Tyneside Kittiwakes and to help avoid further trappings, the owners of the building which was leased by a national hotel chain, carried out a repair/replacement to the anti bird netting.
However this made no difference as two further birds became trapped in the anti-bird netting. Each on different parts of the roof and unrelated, as the netting was blocked off now between the two corners.
One bird was rescued and taken into care, whilst another was so badly injured it was later put to sleep. So the anti-bird netting, even when replaced and without any damage had been proven to still trap Kittiwakes.
A young Kittiwake that was trapped in anti bird netting on the roof of a Newcastle Quayside hotel, following a replacement/repair to netting. It was later put to sleep, due its extensive injuries.
On the 27th July 2018
To everyones disappointment and horror more birds were found a few days later. These were again on the first hotel, which had already trapped at least seven birds previously this summer.
The new trappings included one which had lost its fight to free itself from the anti bird netting; whilst four more were trapped either in or behind the anti-bird netting. One was moving freely from behind the netting. Two were trapped in between elements of the roof; whilst a fourth was relentlessly trying to escape from the netting.
Regretfully local fire and rescue and the RSPCA were unable to free the birds that day. Over the following weekend, they were recovered and freed from the anti-bird netting. This was very much encouraged by local/national press coverage.
On the 26th July 2018
Unfortunately more Kittiwakes became trapped either behind or in anti-bird netting along Newcastle Quayside. This time the location involved a building, which was closer to the Tyne Bridge colony.
Two birds were rescued, however two lost their lives. Thanks go to Blyth Wildlife Rescue for their kindness to help free and save one of the birds. It was not possible to rescue them all, as the fire and rescue ladder was needed for the birds which were trapped higher up. The fire service was busy helping with fires at the time.
A second bird was recovered by the RSPCA some days later.
On the 24th July 2018
Five Kittiwakes trapped in Anti-bird netting on a hotel along Newcastle Quayside by Paul Buskin
Following the unfortunate events, where a number of ‘Tyne Kittiwakes’ had become trapped or injured/killed in anti-bird netting, a small group of local birdwatchers and concerned residents, started to carry out regular checks along the Newcastle Quayside.
Little did they expect, that not only more Kittiwakes would become trapped and loose their lives, but in much larger numbers. On the 24th July 2018 to the right of where two adults Kittiwakes’s had been found dead, entangled in anti-bird netting earlier in the month; yet more Kittiwakes were found in trouble.
Two more adults and a young bird were dead on the right hand corner of the hotels roof; whilst an adult and another young bird fanatically were trying to break free, but were trapped in the anti-bird netting.
Thanks to the local fire and rescue service and the RSPCA, both birds were rescued and taken into care.
19th July 2018
Anti-bird netting and spikes was not limited to only one building, as a small group of owners had opted to install these.
Another chick on a nearby building also became trapped on the wrong side of some anti-bird netting. 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.
This rescue was made possible thanks to the local fire and rescue service and the RSPCA. The bird had remained trapped from the 19th July till the 30th July 2018.
A young Kittiwake trapped behind anti-bird netting – Newcastle Quayside by Paul Buskin
During that time the young Kittiwake was squashed, and unable to look after itself properly, so some of its feathers were damaged.
2nd July 2018
Is it a UFO? An upside down flying wok? No, it is some street lighting, along the Newcastle Quayside.
Some birds which had become displaced from their usual nesting sites because of new netting and spikes, opted to try out some alternative places to nest.
Two amazing Kittiwake nests on top of lamp posts! Newcastle Sandhill / Quayside – by Lophophanes
There was a reduced chance of success as this left the young birds vulnerable to predators such as larger Gulls like Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
2nd July 2018
As the breeding season dawned and the Kittiwakes settled down to nest; some familiar buildings, were not as welcoming to the Tyne Kittiwakes as they had been in the past. One of these, which in 2017 was home to 72 nesting Kittiwakes, had anti-bird netting and spikes along the sides and higher areas to prevent birds nesting. Despite this, many Kittiwakes were not discouraged and continued to nest, amongst the spikes and netting.
A young Kittiwake trapped behind anti-bird netting on Newcastle Quayside’s Guildhall by Lophophanes
Unfortunately two birds suffered injuries and later died; whilst one young chick fell through some of the anti-bird netting and was unable to escape.
This was reported to the Guildhall and local wildlife charities. Everyone was very relieved that the chick was soon rescued. The remaining birds, successfully nested as they had done in previous years. So the anti-bird deterrent failed to stop any birds nesting, but sadly two lost their lives, as the spikes were sharp and sometimes birds were getting trapped in the netting itself and injured themselves trying to break free.
On the 19th July 2018, the young kittiwake chick was freed from behind the anti-bird netting and placed on a nest beside a nearby sibling. This rescue was actioned by Newcastle City Council; the Guildhall’s owners.
Unfortunately , not everyone likes our Kittiwakes or can see the distinction between their larger cousins that scavenge lots. Kittiwakes feed on fish, shrimps and worms, often travelling all the way to the Farnes Islands to feed. They are a small, soft gentle Gull, and less capable at defending themselves from predators.
Two dead adult Kittiwakes on the roof of a Newcastle Quayside hotel by Paul Buskin
Kittiwakes choose high altitudes, to build their nests, beyond the reach of many. Their young have natural predators, such as Lesser Black-backed Gulls and some local birds of prey; which is why they often choose smaller ledges, where other birds etc. cannot land. Usually the Kittiwakes that return every year to nest, build their nests on the Tyne Bridge or the nearby SAGE Art Gallery. Some birds however have opted to choose to construct their nests on some of the vintage, buildings along the quayside. In an attempt to prevent birds building nests on these buildings, some anti-bird deterrents , such as netting and spikes are present on some of the buildings down on Newcastle Quayside. These have been added by the building owners.
Whilst this maybe legal at this time, there are occasions, where birds have become trapped. Sometimes this is rare, and by accident as a bird has flown into the netting. During July 2018 two adults were found entangled in anti-bird netting, on the roof of one of the hotels along Newcastle Quayside. Both birds had lost their lives, as they were unable to escape from the netting and had suffered injuries, as they came into contact with the netting and then tried to break free.
The netting had not been put up by the owners to catch or injure birds, but it had caused them injury and trapped both Kittiwakes. Hopefully the owners would take note of this and make some changes to avoid this happening to more birds, especially the red-listed local Kittiwakes, that breed on the Newcastle and Gateshead Quaysides every year.