Kittiwakes upon the Tyne

Showcasing the progress of the Kittiwakes along the River Tyne

Home Tyne Kittiwake Diary Our Tyne Kittiwakes are doing well

On the 8th May 2020

“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.

“kittee-wa-aaake, kittee-wa-aaake” 

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.

Phoenix House

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.

Kittiwakes nesting on Phoenix House – Summer 2019

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!

Exchange Buildings – Newcastle Quayside

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.

A young Kittiwake with a parent from 2019 – Exchange Buildings – Newcastle Quayside

Kittiwakes successfully nest on the Premier Inn

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.

Summer  2019
Kittiwakes nesting on the Clock Tower
Guildhall – Newcastle Quayside

Guildhall – Newcastle

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.

A pair of Kittiwakes from 2019
Guildhall – Newcastle Quayside

Lombard House

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.

Tyne Bridge – Newcastle & Gateshead

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. 

An adult Kittiwake sadly dies – May 2020

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’.

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art – Gateshead

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’.

Street Lighting – Newcastle Quayside

Kittiwakes by Revd David Atkinson
from 2019

Quayside Roundabout

  • Last year’s Kittiwake triangle – two pairs of Kittiwakes are starting to nest. No sign of third yet.
  • Five pairs of Kittiwakes are constructing their nests on nearby street lighting again.
  • Several pairs of Kittiwakes could be seen nesting on the Vermont Apart Hotel and various other buildings nearby. Two dead Kittiwakes remain hanging from the ‘Vermont Apart Hotel’. One was trapped in anti bird netting in 2018, whilst the other was from last year’. Both were reported to the owners. No changes have been made to this anti-bird netting by the owners, despite Kittiwakes becoming trapped in anti-bird netting there for the last two years.
  • There are no signs of any Kittiwakes nesting on the usual drainpipe on Akenside Traders today.

St Mary’s Heritage Centre – Gateshead

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.

Photo from 2019
Kittiwakes on 
St Mary’s Heritage Centre

Railway Bridge – Newcastle

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!

 Kittiwakes nesting on Railway Bridge – Newcastle – Summer 2019