Kittiwake Tower

One thing I like about this little project I’ve set myself, to post a photo per day, is the unexpected. Those little gems that appear from nowhere. A trip back up to Gateshead was on the cards today, the second day of my son’s athletics meeting. A short wander down to the river before his race, through an industrial estate and I came across this tower specially built for nesting kittiwakes.

Kittiwakes are birds of the sea, rarely seen inland and nesting usually on high cliffs along the coast. But a colony has been attracted to Newcastle, nesting on ledges on the tall buildings along the quayside and on the Tyne bridge. They first appeared in the 1950s but soon each building they adopted was demolished. By the 1970s the Baltic Flour Mill had 300 breeding pairs.

But it’s not all good news. Their defecation habits and untidy nesting do not enamour them to the city council and building owners with buildings often being netted to prevent nesting. To persuade the Kittiwakes to nest away from the more tourist areas this hotel for Kittiwakes as been specially built which, as you can see, is working.

Kittiwakes generally mate for life which can last up to 28 years. When not nesting they roam the seas as far away as Canada and Greenland before returning to the same site. If anyone wants to watch a live webcam of the kittiwakes on the Baltic, half a mile up river, click here.

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