Kittiwake population endangered by netting of Tyne Bridge?
black legged Atlantic Kittiwake
The Kittiwake, a small seagull, could be driven off its nesting sites
on the Tyne Bridge by Newcastle City Council.
The birds are at
sea feeding on fish offal discarded by trawlers and when they return
in the spring to nest they may find that the City Council has netted
off their nesting sites on the Tyne bridge.
nesting on purpose built site
They used to nest in the Baltic Flour Mills but have been driven off
by the cultural aspirations of Gateshead. Gateshead Council provided
a nesting tower but this has been moved down river.
As the residential
development of the river banks gathers pace; "move on and take
your mess and noise with you", seems to be the message to these
now an international awareness of the plight of the Kittiwake.
breeding success of the Kittiwake, has been used as a trigger to close
part of the North Sea’s sandeel fishery in a move which is long overdue,
says the RSPB.
A succession of
bad breeding years, a shortage in sandeels combined with an increase
in their main predator, the great skua, has meant the number of Kittiwakes
has almost halved in the last 17 years.
of the very few urban nesting sites in the world. Newcastle
should celebrate its Kittiwake colony
Head of Marine Advice
Nature Conservation Committee
In Northern Scotland the number of breeding pairs has dropped from
54,600 in 1981 to 23,000 in 1998 according to a report by the Joint
Nature Conservation Committee in Aberdeen, published in the journal
'Atlantic Seabirds'. If this trend continues the species could disappear
within the next 20 years.
of the Baltic Flour Mill on the Gateshead side of the Tyne took away
access to a Kittiwake breeding site on Tyneside.
Now, in response to complaints from local residents about the mess
and noise from Kittiwakes, Newcastle City Council is considering netting
the Tyne Bridge to prevent nesting.
Kittiwakes first scouted the Bridge as a potential nest site in 1996.
In 1997 two nests on the bridge produced two young birds. In 1998
there were 13 successful nests on the Bridge, this figure increasing
to 39 in 1999, and to 82 in 2000.
Tyne Bridge is an important urban nesting site for the Kittiwake
It is clear that the Bridge has become an important breeding site
for these birds. Whilst there are of course much larger breeding colonies
in the UK, the Tyne Bridge is the furthest inland breeding site for
Kittiwakes in the world.
The netting of many other local nest sites by their private owners
makes it increasingly important that the Tyne Bridge site remains
available to nesting Kittiwakes.
the Kittiwakes go or stay?