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Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside is home to an estimated 700 pairs of breeding Kittiwakes. Their colony on the Newcastle-Gateshead quayside is recognised as being the furthest inland Kittiwake nesting site in the world. Kittiwakes have used the Newcastle-Gateshead quayside as a breeding site since the 1960’s and have truly become a well-established part of our local and natural heritage.
Kittiwakes will usually breed on cliff edges and on rock faces, it is rare for them to nest so close to an urban landscape. They spend the Winter months at sea and return to their colonies as early as February through to August to breed. Male Kittiwakes are creatures of habit and will look to nest on the same site each year. Kittiwakes have a diet of fish, shellfish, worms and insects. They are medium-sized gulls with a yellow bill, bright red mouth, short black legs, black-tipped wings, a grey back and white underneath. There are an estimated 380,000 breeding pairs throughout the whole of the UK.
Kittiwakes make their nests from seaweed, moss and other plant material, they use mud and droppings to bind the nest. They will usually lay 1-3 eggs at any time from mid-May to June, both birds will take turns to sit on the nest and after a 28 day incubation period the chicks will hatch. Chicks instinctively stay in the nests until they are old enough to fly, generally once they are 6 weeks old. Shortly after fledging, the young Kittiwakes can usually be seen returning to their nests for a further few weeks. The Kittiwakes will nest with their tails pointed outwards to give them a safer and more stable roost.