Kittiwakes upon the Tyne

Showcasing the progress of the Kittiwakes along the River Tyne

Home Tyne Kittiwake Diary

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

Paul Buskin



July-August 2018

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.

A Kittiwake trapped in anti-bird netting

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

A young Kittiwake trapped behind anti-bird netting

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

Young Newcastle Kittiwake - trapped behind anti-bird nettingUnfortunately 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.

July 2018

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.