An update from the Tyne Kittiwake Partnership


In recent weeks, a number of kittiwakes have become trapped in and behind netting on buildings on the Newcastle Quayside. The Tyne Kittiwake Partnership shares the concerns of local people and is keen to ensure the future safety of nesting kittiwakes.

The Partnership includes the RSPB, Natural History Society of Northumbria, Durham Wildlife Trust, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, neighbouring Councils, Natural England, Newcastle University and independent ornithologists – including one who has been monitoring the Tyne kittiwakes for 25 years.

The Partnership was formed to safeguard the Tyne kittiwakes by raising awareness of this species, improving our understanding of kittiwakes in an urban environment and taking action when their nest sites are threatened. In this urban environment, the noise and mess created by kittiwakes has resulted in some property owners installing deterrents such as netting which, although legal, can result in serious problems for the birds if not installed or maintained correctly. Where possible, we try to ensure that property owners carry out this work appropriately and make them aware of their legal responsibility to prevent harm coming to the birds.

The Tyne kittiwakes are surrounded by human activity and are often in the vicinity of building works. The Partnership has been particularly active in preventing and reducing harm and disturbance to breeding kittiwakes from these activities and developments. We also provide advice on creating alternative nest sites where possible, for example when development is likely to result in the loss of ledges.

Whenever the Partnership receives a report of a trapped bird, we pass it on to the RSPCA. In recent weeks, we have been liaising with their inspectors. When possible, we’ve also contacted the property owners and undertaken visits to the Quayside to better establish the location of trapped birds and enable us to provide additional advice.

We would urge any of you who spot trapped birds to contact the RSPCA immediately and, where possible, alert the property owner.

There are instances when a rescue may appear to be delayed, but that is not necessarily the case; such operations require careful thought to minimise disturbance to neighbouring breeding birds and ensure that the netting is left as safely as possible (removing netting during the breeding season, upon which nests have been built, is not an option). Kittiwakes nest in hard to reach places that usually require a cherry picker or the Fire Brigade’s assistance.

The Tyne kittiwakes are here to stay and we need to make their home safe. We hope that the demonstration of public support for the kittiwakes will help to bring about positive change. We plan to meet with businesses and property owners this autumn to develop and agree on plans which will prevent future trappings and, should any occur, ensure swift and effective responses.