Kittiwakes upon the Tyne

The Furthest Inland Breeding Colonies of Kittiwakes in the World

Home Tyne Kittiwake Colonies Guildhall – Tyne Kittiwakes

Guildhall – Tyne Kittiwakes

Kittiwakes continue to nest on the Guildhall

Kittiwakes nested peacefully on the sides of the Guildhall down on Newcastle Quayside from 2007-2017.  As the furthest inland breeding colony of Kittiwakes in the world these breeding seagulls are extremely popular both with local residents and tourists.

The Guildhall on Newcastle Quayside

Whilst they nested freely on the Guildhall, they could be easily observed by pedestrians and motorists.  It was a free opportunity to see wildlife up close in a big city. Many a young Tyne Kittiwake started their lives on this historic building.

For many locals and visitors this potentially could
have been the first time they had ever see a Kittiwake in their WHOLE lives”.


Kittiwakes nesting on the Guildhall during the 2015 breeding season by Hels Wilson.

Meet Kitty, the
anti-bird net inspector”

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 by Newcastle City Council to prevent the Kittiwakes nesting.  The Council did this to protect what is an older building.  The installation of the netting did however damage the stone work in places and is very unattractive as it hangs down the sides of the building. The Council had decided the Kittiwakes could no longer nest there.

Many considered this to be a great shame, that the Kittiwakes
could no longer nest on what was 
one of their favourite buildings”.

This new anti-bird deterrent however, failed to prevent the Kittiwakes nesting in 2018, as they nested higher up amongst the netting and spikes.  Sadly, some Kittiwakes were injured on the spikes or trapped in the anti-bird netting.


Photo of a trapped Kittiwake chick
on the Guildhall Summer 2018
by @Lophophanes

Two adults were fatally INJURED; whilst a young juvenile needed to be rescued after being TRAPPED behind the netting.  Following a long-campaign 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 early 2019.

It is best to leave them to nest as they are the only population to nest like this in the UK.  
Getting rid off them would be a disaster!   Please leave them to nest and enjoy them.”           
Leslie Carter 

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.

Pair of Kittiwakes Nesting
On the Guildhall
Summer 2019

The Kittiwakes were clearly not happy but they 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 found a spot, where there were no spikes, anti-bird netting or ‘Avi-shock’ and here they built their nest.

Lots of local residents, birdwatchers, and visitors very much enjoyed watching the chicks develop into the next generation of Kittiwakes.


Two Young Kittiwakes
on the Guildhall
Summer 2019

Did you see them?”

This pair of nesting Kittiwakes remained a prominent tourist attraction for over a month and they were very popular.

This was an amazing opportunity to experience nature up close”.

Kittiwakes  also settled on the clock tower, where over two dozen pairs nested during the 2019 breeding season.


Hopefully this will be welcomed by Newcastle City Council and we won’t see new anti-bird deterrents installed on the clock tower.  


Determined to Nest still

One pair nested alongside the avi-shock

One brave pair, opted to nest alongside the Avi-shock in 2019, close to the clocktower.  They 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.



Does the installation of anti-bird deterrents, simply move Kittiwakes on either to other parts of the same building, or another building entirely?  

Do anti-bird deterrents 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?”

The very best Kittiwake nestWinner of the Best Tyne Kittiwake Nest 2019

2020 Breeding Season

Where one pair nested during 2019 on the side of the Guildhall, three pairs nested during 2020. Kittiwakes also returned to the clocktower in good numbers. 


Clock Tower – Guildhall 

During the following two seasons, Kittiwakes continued to return to the Guildhall Clocktower and peacefully nested without any disturbance or signs of anti-bird deterrents from Newcastle City Council. 

Kittiwakes nesting
on the side of the Guildhall

Elsewhere on the Guildhall, further spikes were added by the council, where pairs had raised young chicks during the 2019 and 2020 breeding seasons.  These spikes proved very sharp and troublesome for the returning Kittiwakes, with many showing signs of injury and pain.  Despite this new challenge however, Kittiwakes from the Guildhall colony battled on, and up to five pairs nested in the end, with young chicks showing off their winning streak, sporting the black and white colours of Newcastle United.  And… during the 2022 season, the Kittiwakes became ever more determined and braver, nesting high up on the Avi-SHOCK itself.  


Kittiwakes nesting
on top of Avi-shock 
on the Guildhall
during 2022 season

CONCLUSION:  Anti-bird netting, spikes and avi-shock do not stop Kittiwakes nesting.  The anti-bird spikes, were proven to be HARMFUL to the Guildhall colony of Kittiwakes during the 2021 season.  The spikes do however, help keep the nest in place, so have the opposite effect of what they were intended for.  The anti-bird spikes are therefore pointless!


A Kittiwake from the Guildhall colony trapped on anti-bird spikes – Summer 2021

The anti-bird spikes on the Guildhall are dangerous and should be removed.  

Despite this Newcastle City Council have taken Zero action during the 2021-2022 breeding seasons. Badly done NCC. Is this a wildlife crime?”.

Kittiwakes from the Guildhall colony amongst Anti-bird spikes – Spring 2022

2023 Season

As the 2023 dawned, new anti-bird netting was found, which blocked off the troublesome anti-bird spikes.  The Kittiwakes remained determined and a couple of pairs continued to nest as the season progressed. 


Anti-bird netting overhanging anti-bird spikes
on the Guildhall on Newcastle Quayside




2024 Season

The story of the Kittiwakes on the Guildhall on Newcastle Quayside continues and as another season unfolds, volunteers from Kittiwakes upon the Tyne will be watching out for the Kittiwakes along the Tyne and posting updates in the News section of this website and via its social media channels, Twitter and Facebook.