Kittiwakes upon the Tyne

The Furthest Inland Breeding Colony of Kittiwakes in the World

Home Tyne Kittiwake Colonies Tyne Bridge – Kittiwakes Tyne Bridge Restoration

Tyne Bridge Restoration

The restoration of the Tyne Bridge will potentially be the largest hurdle the Tyne Kittiwakes have faced in a generation.  Work won’t begin for 1-3 years; but there is likely to be some disturbance to these important red-listed sea birds when work starts.  Over 1000 pairs of Kittiwakes currently nest along the tyne; of which over 700 pairs return every year to raise their young on the Tyne Bridge.

So most of the Kittiwakes from the river tyne colonies nest on the Tyne Bridge. Despite assurances that they will be allowed to continue to nest on the Tyne Bridge; in today’s world nothing is certain. There will remain a need to look out for our Tyne Kittiwakes, before, during and after the restoration work on the Tyne Bridge.

Some may say this iconic bridge was
not built for birds”

Every day, land that was filled with wildlife is replaced with man-made structures to cater for our own expansion.  It is great to have an opportunity to give something back.  The Kittiwakes have adopted the Tyne Bridge, as they feel safe and they love our company every spring/summer. The have fallen in love with the panoramic views, our big river and the quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead.  

Kittiwakes are part of our local heritage.  Kittiwakes have nested
along the river tyne longer than many of us have been alive”

Artificial nesting sites

There may also be a case for the construction of further ‘Kittiwake Towers‘ to offset any likely disturbance to the Kittiwakes during the restoration of the Tyne Bridge. It is likely there will be some disturbance; despite any efforts to avoid this.

The provision of a new ‘Kittiwake Tower Cam’ could help stakeholders to further research the existing structure/tower, which will help with any design of any new towers.  Additional structures are also likely to be needed as the colony is expanding and over two dozen pairs of Kittiwakes have already been displaced due to the introduction of further anti-bird deterrents on Newcastle Quayside in recent years.

Kittiwake Tower photos by Andrew Rickeard

Another option could be to replace the existing ‘Kittiwake Tower’ with a new improved version.  Could the ledges the Kittiwakes nest on be smaller so other larger gulls etc cannot land?  Are some sides more popular than others?  What works well? What does not work well?  Could it be larger, so there is capacity for more?  If more Kittiwakes could be encouraged to nest, on an artificial structure where the Kittiwake Tower is currently located, this could make it less vulnerable to predators 

Kittiwakes upon the Tyne have started efforts to help look out for our local breeding population of Kittiwakes on the Tyne Bridge.  There is not an option to consider trying to relocate the Kittiwakes from the Tyne Bridge.  Over 700 pairs nest there; it is perfect for them, and they don’t disturb anyone.  The colony is so large, it would take many structures to house them.  This would also be a backward move, as additional capacity is already needed as the colonies are expanding. The Kittiwakes on the bridge need us to look out for them so they can continue to bring life to future generations of this soft gentle gull. 

Why are we helping the Kittiwakes to nest along the tyne?”

Kittiwake nesting on the Tyne Bridge by Helen

The UK Kittiwake population has fallen by 60% since 1986.  Climate change combined with a drop in their food supplies, is making life very difficult for the Kittiwakes. The breeding population along the quaysides of Newcastle and Gateshead is the furthest inland breeding colony of Kittiwakes in the World.

As Kittiwake numbers are shrinking elsewhere, these urban colonies will become even more important

An opportunity to study a coastal sea-gull.”

Many of us have to travel to coastal cliffs and islands usually to witness a Kittiwake nesting.  This is a great opportunity for the younger generation to witness nature up close.  A LIVE wildlife show every spring/summer.