Tyne Kittiwake Colonies
“The Furthest Inland Breeding colony of Kittiwakes in the World”
Every year thousands of Kittiwakes, make the long journey to the British Isles from the world’s second largest ocean; the Atlantic. Many birds are lost during the winter period from predators, storms and lack of food, especially during current times where foods sources are dwindling.
Kittiwakes are very much coastal birds and don’t usually travel inland to breed. Breeding colonies usually appear on coastal cliffs and islands, such as The Farne islands off the Northumberland Coast. At the Farnes other species of sea birds such as Puffins, Arctic Terns, Guillemots and Razorbills, usually join them to breed and to help secure their future.
Meet the legendary
The Black-legged Kittiwakes, have spent their winter feeding as far away as Canada. Hundreds of these soft gentle Gulls return every spring to build their nests along the River Tyne at a few specially selected sites, that they have chosen themselves to call their home during the breeding season.
Unlike many of their larger cousins, such as the Herring Gull or Lesser Black-backed Gull which scavenge lots, Kittiwakes feed on a diet of fish, worms and shrimps etc. Whilst the Kittiwakes are with us they regularly travel long distances to feed, at times even as far as the Farne Islands.
An Inland Colony of Kittiwakes
Please come visit these amazing seabirds
“In the present day Kittiwakes, can be observed nesting at the
following locations along the River Tyne during the spring/summer months”
To learn more about a site, please click on one of the links or use the interactive map below to read a summary report.
- The Tyne Bridge
– over 700 pairs – An iconic road bridge that links Newcastle to Gateshead
- Akzo Nobel – Felling – in
South Tyneside – over 210 pairs
– best viewed from the south side of the river at Walker Riverside Park
- BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
– over 125 pairs – In Gateshead – The UK’s largest dedicated contemporary art institution.
- The Kittiwake Tower – over 100 pairs. – A man made tower on the Gateshead side of the River Tyne
- A Newcastle Railway Bridge – 0ver 60 pairs – in the centre of Newcastle
- St Mary’s Heritage Centre – 1 pair – Gateshead
Various tall 3-4 storey+ buildings along the Newcastle Quayside, such as:
- The Guildhall – over 30 pairs
- Phoenix House – 20-24 pairs
- Exchange Buildings –
1 pair nested summer 2019
- Quayside Roundabout – Various buildings around – close to Guildhall – 12+ pairs
- Lombard House – 6-11 pairs nested last few years
- Street Lamps/floodlights – close to roundabout near swing bridge – 3-6 pairs
- Akenside Traders – some years on drain pipe – 1 pair.
Coastal Cliffs or close to the North Sea
- North Shields, North Tyneside
Up to 10 pairs nesting close to their natural habitat on the mouth of the River Tyne
- Tynemouth Haven, North Tyneside
Over 345 pairs – Kittiwakes nest on sea cliffs, using their natural habitat on the coastline
Click on a ‘Kittiwake Image Marker’ above to view additional information about each location.
You can also use the maps zoom controls to help navigate the map
to view the Kittiwake Tower in Gateshead and Akzo Nobel in Felling.
More information will appear here later 2020, relating to more Kittiwake colonies along the North East Coast.
Tyne Kittiwake Population Data
Seabirds make the riverside their home
“Daniel Turner has monitored the breeding population
of Kittiwakes along the River Tyne since 1994”.
Since the early 1990s the numbers of Kittiwakes that have chosen to nest at this unique location has increased from a few to over a thousand.
To learn more about Daniel’s amazing work and view his Tyne Kittiwake Population Data, please visit the ‘Natural History Society Of Northumbria Website‘ (NHSN). The NHSN are members of the Tyne Kittiwake Partnership (TKP) and they are also great supporters for the Tyne Kittiwakes. Daniel Turner also manages a ‘Facebook page for the Tyne Kittiwakes Partnership‘ to help raise awareness for the Kittiwakes.
Breeding Tyne Kittiwakes
A Review 1994-2020 – NHSN talks
With Daniel M Turner,
Tyne Kittiwake Partnership
The River Tyne nesting kittiwakes have shown a remarkable story since their beginnings in 1949. Explore a new talk as local ornithologist, Dan Turner, shares some of their nesting sites along the Tyne and examines trends in their numbers and breeding success. Click here to watch on YouTube
“At times the Tyne Kittiwakes fly as far away
as the Farne Islands in Northumberland to feed”
During this talk it references a paper by Chris Redfern and Richard Bevan.
A comparison of foraging behaviour in the North Sea by Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla from an inland and a maritime colony. This can be found on Taylor and Francis Online
The Kittiwake – by John C Coulson
Published 2011 – T & AD Poyser
“Bursting with everything you ever wanted to learn about Kittiwakes”
Read about John Coulson’s amazing insights into the lives of the worlds Black-legged Kittiwakes. John Coulson has decades of experience researching ‘The Kittiwake’. Brilliantly written and presented.
- An essential companion for all academics studying seabirds, colonial species and especially Kittiwakes.
- Beautifully illustrated and features photos of our well-loved Tyne Kittiwakes
Copies are available to order in from local book shops.
“The Natural History of Society of Northumbria also has a wildlife library,
with an extensive range of publications. Have you been there yet? “