Kittiwakes upon the Tyne

The Furthest Inland Breeding Colonies of Kittiwakes in the World

Home Tyne Kittiwake Colonies Tyne Bridge – Kittiwakes

Tyne Bridge – Kittiwake Colony

The Tyne Bridge which spans the River Tyne between the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the town of Gateshead continues to be a favourite location for Kittiwakes during the spring and summer months.  Since establishing a modest 134 pairs of Kittiwakes back in 2001, the Tyne Bridge colony has reached up to 1,105 pairs as of 2023. 

More than half the Kittiwakes that choose to breed along the River Tyne,
build their nests on the Tyne Bridge”.

The Tyne Bridge colony of Kittiwakes is distributed between both the Gateshead and Newcastle side of the river. Kittiwakes can be seen nesting high up on the two pairs of twin towers, and the green metal girders in between; during the spring and summer months. 


Kittiwakes nesting on the Tyne Bridge metal girders by Paul Buskin.



A short video of Kittiwakes nesting on the Tyne Bridge

Visitors are asked to take great care not to disturb any nesting Kittiwakes whilst on the Tyne Bridge during the spring and summer months. Please also watch out when driving, as there are at times fledged birds trying out their new wings.  Sadly, some newly fledged Kittiwakes fail to master their wings and are hit by passing cars or cyclists in the pedestrian areas on the edges of the road.


Kittiwakes nesting on the Tyne Bridge
by Ashley Bayston. © 2023 

Over 1,100 pairs nest on the Tyne Bridge.    The bridge itself gets very busy with a wide variety of vehicles, including lorries and buses.  Efforts to help reduce air pollution are currently being planned and new restrictions started to be introduced from spring 2023.

It has been many years since the Tyne Bridge was last painted, and the bridge is definitely starting to show both its age and signs of damage.  Funding has been secured and those responsible for the upkeep of the bridge are busy restoring the bridge and apply a fresh coat of paint.

Kittiwakes nesting on Tyne Bridge
by Ashley Bayston. © 2023


Will the Kittiwakes be allowed to continue to nest on the Tyne Bridge once it has been restored?

Considering the portion of Kittiwakes that that have opted to build their nests on the Tyne Bridge from the River Tyne colony, it would be a DISASTER if they were not allowed to continue to nest, especially at this time where coastal populations were experiencing more severe weather patterns. 

Why are Seabird Populations declining?



Kittiwakes nesting on a
Tyne Bridge Tower
by Paul Buskin 

The Kittiwakes will be ALLOWED to continue to nest on the Tyne Bridge, however they will inevitably suffer
some disruption
when restoration begins”. 


Dubbed Kittiwake hotels, temporary nesting ledges have been built onto scaffold towers which the Kittiwakes can use as they return to breed.  This provides compensation for any nests which maybe inaccessible during the main refurbishment works.  The Tyne Bridge is a GREEN flagged location where Kittiwakes are welcome to nest.  Local councils and wildlife organisations are supporting the colony through the Tyne Bridge Restoration Works.  Please read our page about the Tyne Bridge Restoration to learn more about the Kittiwake Hotels.  Efforts to restore the Tyne Bridge are expected to take up to four years. 

Tyne Bridge Restoration

The restoration of the Tyne Bridge will potentially be the largest hurdle the Tyne Kittiwakes have faced in a generation. Work is about to begin very soon and there is likely to be disturbance to these important red-listed sea birds when work starts.  Our climate is changing and at times we are experiencing severe weather patterns.  This potentially may cause some delays to those skilled workers carrying out any restoration work.  Any funding that is secured to cover the costs for the repairs and repainting, may also be subject to time restrictions; which may be difficult when considering external factors such as weather and the need to not disturb the Kittiwakes during their breeding season.  Also, once work begins, additional faults maybe found, which could potentially extend the length of any refurbishment work. 

Read More about the Restoration of the Tyne Bridge

Kittiwakes nesting on Tyne Bridge by Ashley Bayston. © 2023


Kittiwakes nesting on a Tyne Bridge Tower 

on Newcastle Quayside
by Paul Buskin