Guildhall – Tyne Kittiwakes
“Kittiwakes continue to nest on the Guildhall”
Kittiwakes nested peacefully on the sides of the Guildhall down on Newcastle Quayside for many years. As the furthest inland breeding colony of kittiwakes in the world these breeding Kittiwakes are extremely popular both with local residents and tourists. Whilst they nested 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 Kittiwakes started their lives on this historic building.
“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. Some Kittiwakes were injured on the spikes or trapped in the anti-bird netting.
Sadly two adults were fatally INJURED; whilst a young juvenile needed to be rescued after being TRAPPED behind the netting. Following a long-campiagn 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.”
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.
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 have found a spot, where there are 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.
“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”.
More than a dozen 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. Fingers-crossed.”
Determined to Nest still
“One pair nest, alongside 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.
This nest was alongside some avi-shock.
“Does the installation of anti-bird detterants, simply move Kittiwakes on either to other parts of the same building, or an other building entirely? Do anti-bird detterants 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?”
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. No new anti-bird deterrents were noted on this building during 2019.
“To read updates regarding the 2021 breeding season please
visit the ‘Tyne Kittiwake Diary“.