Kittiwakes upon the Tyne

Showcasing the progress of the Kittiwakes along the River Tyne

Home Kittiwakes continue to nest on Quayside Buildings

Kittiwakes continue to
nest on Quayside Buildings

“Kittiwakes really need to nest to
bring life to the next generation”

Kittiwakes started to return towards the end of February 2019,
from their long winter season far out at sea.

A Kittiwake nesting close to the Avi-shock on the Guildhall, close to the Clock Tower

The Guildhall

Despite the introduction of new anti-bird deterrents, thirty-one Kittiwakes were able to build their nests on the ‘Guildhall‘.  This is almost twice as many as the 16 pairs of 2018, but far from the 72 pairs that previously nested in 2017; prior to the new netting and spikes being installed.  As the Kittiwakes started to arrive for the 2019 breeding season, much of the anti-netting that was installed in
2017-18 was removed, and replaced with Avi-shock (a low voltage electric deterrent which delivers a harmless but disconcerting electric pulse).  No birds were injured or trapped in anti-bird deterrents on the Guildhall during 2019; this compares to 1 trapped chick and two adult Kittiwakes that were fatally injured in netting in 2018.  

Kittiwakes nesting on the Clock Tower on the Guildhall

Lots of thanks go to Newcastle City Council for removing the areas of netting that were involved in the trappings.  One pair nested close to the roundabout, whilst a second built their nest adjacent to the newly installed avi-shock close to the clock tower.  On the clocktower itself, over two dozen pairs successfully nested. We are all hoping the council do not install any anti-bird deterrents on the clocktower.  Nothing to date, suggests this will happen.  This would be a great place for the Kittiwakes to continue to nest, if this location was in fact green-lighted by Newcastle City Council as a ‘safe area’ for the Kittiwakes to nest on Newcastle Quayside.  

Phoenix House

The new ‘Fire-Gel’ anti-bird deterrent which was added to ‘Phoenix House‘ the actual day the Kittiwakes returned in 2018, failed altogether and two dozen pairs nested on Phoenix House which was higher than the 17 pairs which nested during 2018. To a Kittiwake the harmless (and invisible to the human eye) Ultra Violet (UV) light projecting from the non-toxic Gel is seen as a flame and hence a hazard to avoid.  No Kittiwakes were trapped in anti-bird deterrents on Phoenix House during 2019; this compares to 1 trapped chick and two fatally injured adults in 2018.  Most of the netting that was involved in the 2018 trappings was removed on Phoenix House, however a small area remains in the area.  It is hoped, this is removed before the Kittiwakes return in 2020.  Thanks go to the owners of Phoenix House for the removal of most of the anti-bird netting that had trapped Kittiwakes in 2018.  

Kittiwakes nesting amongst the Fire-Gel on Phoenix House

Favourite Nesting Sites 

As the new 2019 season progressed, more and more Kittiwakes started to return to some of their favourite nesting sites, along the River Tyne in the North East of England.  Hundreds of Kittiwakes claimed prime locations, on the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art ,a man-made Kittiwake Tower a Newcastle Railway Bridge, the iconic ‘Tyne BridgeAkzo Nobel in Felling, South Tyneside; and the sea cliffs of Tynemouth Haven.



Kittiwakes nesting on the upper ledges, high up on the Exchange Buildings

Exchange Buildings

Dozens of Kittiwakes spent a lot of time resting on the roofs of the ‘Exchange Buildings’, above the ledges.  This building sadly witnessed over a dozen Kittiwakes trapped during 2018 in anti-bird netting.  Prior to the birds returning for the 2019 breeding season, some of the anti-bird netting was removed on the upper/lower ledges.  Avi-shock was then installed on the  lower ledges, high up on the roof of the building. 

A few pairs settled down to nest on the upper ledges,  however only one pair actually nested in the end.  Everyone  was very pleased to see a successfully fledged young Kittiwake.  A happy ending.

An adult Kittiwake with the new Avi-shock on the lower ledges high up on the roof of the Exchange Buildings

It was announced in the local press, that more avi-shock would be installed, high up on the upper ledges. This won’t have any impact on most of the Kittiwakes that spend time on the building, however it is likely to discourage further nesting.  Over two dozen Kittiwakes regular spend time on the roof above the upper/lower ledges high up on the upper reaches of the building.  The Kittiwakes love to relax on this building, as they first arrive, between trips along the Tyne to feed out at sea and as new birds fledge at the end of the breeding season.  Hopefully they will be welcome when they return in 2020, even if they are not able to use this building to build their nests.  

St Mary’s Heritage Centre

For possibly the first time, Kittiwakes were noted nesting on ‘St Mary’s Heritage Centre’. Dozens of birds were regularly seen spending time on the old Church.  This pair didn’t ‘raise any young during the 2019 season, however birdwatchers will be watching this site when the Kittiwakes return to breed again in 2020 along the River Tyne.  


Many more buildings were chosen by the Kittiwakes themselves to bring life to the next generation of Kittiwakes along the River Tyne.  

“A taste of the coast, in a big city,
over ten miles inland”.

More In-depth Information

There are now summary reports available on the Colonies page for every location the Kittiwakes nested during 2019.  There are also some individual entries on the ‘Diary’ page.  

by Graham H


twitter icon
Read tweets by ‘Kittiwakes upon the Tyne’
@KittiwakesTyne for latest updates.

  You do not need your own twitter account to read this page