River Tyne Kittiwakes

1994 to present

Daniel M Turner has surveyed the black-legged kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla nesting along the river Tyne in northeast England (county Tyne and Wear) annually since 1994. Here are a few of his notes, results and photographs. Since summer 2015 Dr Kathy Evans has assisted him by performing additional surveys at the Akzo Nobel site on the river at Felling.

Newspaper articles

Newcastle Journal, 1 January 2022: Surging Tyne kittiwakes buck the national trend
The River Tyne nesting kittiwakes show increasing numbers despite global declines. The article also invites entry for readers to vote on the best Tyne nest.
PDF File [329.1 KB]

2024 season

Note prepared on Monday morning, 18 March 2024


Major Maintenence Works on the Tyne Bridge, between Newcastle and Gateshead, are currently planned to take four years and officially begin on 2 April 2024. In advance of this, Newcastle City Council arranged for the placement of scaffolding (during winter 2023-24) at the north aspect of the south abutment, beneath and up to road deck level. Based on my 2023 breeding data this would block 162-164 nest sites. As a consequence some temporary mitigation ledges have been positioned at the Gateshead side of the bridge - to allow these 162-164 nesting pairs somewhere to move onto for one season at least. Following the end of the 2024 nesting season, the plan is for this scaffolding to be removed to allow the birds to return to nest at the north face of the south abutment once again from the 2025 nesting season onwards. Whether the kittiwakes take to the new mitigation ledges during 2024 is another matter! From my past observations along the River Tyne over many years, it can be seen that it takes time for the gulls to take to new ledges / structures and many years to build up their nesting numbers on such newly accepted nesting ledges. As an example please refer to my long-term dataset for the Baltic Flour Mill / Baltic Art Centre. 


As an active member of the Tyne Kittiwake Partnership since its instigation in 2012 I have provided many facts and figures to Newcastle City Council during these years and advice in regard to the kittiwakes of Newcastle Quayside and the Tyne Bridge whose maintenance the City Council oversees. This has not always been an easy relationship for me as the City Council wished to stop Tyne Bridge nesting in the early days and it was only in quite recent years that the Council decided to really accept this important nesting population. With regards to the current Major Maintenance Works, the City Council has been extremely helpful and co-operative in trying to plan the works around the nesting gulls and I have been involved in many discussions with the Council, its engineering team, engineering contractor (Esh Civils), scaffolding company (ISS Ltd) and ecologists; also including site visits and preparation of meeting minutes and various reports. This has all been most encouraging and bodes well for the future. The general public can have a poor perception of gulls, but there are major differences between the various gull species. 


2020 season

Note prepared on Thursday, 20 August 2020.


The Tyne Bridge north abutment held 412 apparently occupied nests (pairs) this breeding season which produced around 383 nestlings (a breeding productivity of 0.93 chicks per nest). Meanwhile the Baltic Art Centre held 171 (pairs) this season, producing 174 chicks (a breeding productivity of 1.02). These are just some of the results from a marvellous river Tyne kittiwake year.

(Photo: north abutment and juvenile kittiwake, 15 Aug 2020).

Tyne Bridge, North abutment with juvenile, 15 August 2020

Tuesday, 18 August 2020 (Diary extract)


Late afternoon saw me observing at the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides, checking to see how many kittiwakes remained at this late stage. At the Tyne Bridge north abutment I recorded five adults and thirteen juveniles while the Baltic Art Centre held one adult and six juveniles. One chick remained at a nest on top of a lamp standard near to Newcastle Guildhall.

Newcastle quayside lamp standard nest, 15 August 2020
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© Daniel M Turner / White Wings Publishing 2014-2024