With hundreds of kittiwakes having returned to the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside for the nesting season, the RSPB and the RSPCA are calling on the public to keep an eye out for trapped seabirds.
Last summer, several kittiwakes became caught and entangled in netting on buildings on Newcastle’s Quayside, which had been installed to prevent the seabirds from nesting. Although legal, these deterrents can harm kittiwakes and other birds if they are not properly maintained.
Rescuing birds from high ledges is a difficult and complex job requiring specialist skills and vehicles. Last year the RSPCA, Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Blyth Wildlife Rescue worked tirelessly to save kittiwakes.
Since last summer, many businesses and property owners have been working with the RSPB, RSPCA and Newcastle City Council to make their properties safe for kittiwakes. Crucially, dangerous netting has been removed and where netting remains, some property owners have plans in place to ensure swift and safe action to rescue kittiwakes should this be required.
The RSPB and RSPCA believe that these measures have reduced the danger to nesting kittiwakes on the Quayside, but there is still a risk birds may become caught in the remaining netting.
It should be noted that Newcastle City Council has no authority to enforce the removal of an unfit consented deterrent. The removal of netting where kittiwakes are nesting would be inadvisable during the breeding season as it would risk dislodging nests built on top of the deterrent. It is vital that property owners work to make their buildings safe every year before the birds return.
Geoff Edmond of RSPCA said: We are pleased that changes have been made to the netting in this area to try to keep these beautiful birds safer. It is always upsetting to see an animal or bird in distress and we will always try to help when this happens. Problems arise when netting is put up incorrectly or becomes damaged, leaving gaps where birds can enter and become trapped. These birds become exhausted and are often badly injured by the netting and can sadly sometimes suffer a long and painful death from injury or starvation if they are not spotted in time.
“Any type of bird netting should be professionally installed and regularly maintained to ensure that birds cannot become trapped behind or in it.”
If you find an injured bird or see one trapped in netting please call the RSPCA’s cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.
Helen Quayle of the RSPB, said: “Kittiwakes have been nesting along the Tyne for more than five decades and have become as synonymous with the Quayside as ravens are with the Tower of London. We’ve worked hard to reduce the risk to kittiwakes returning this year and hope they will nest safely and raise lots of chicks.
“These precious birds are already under threat in the UK as their food supply in the North Sea is disappearing. We need to do everything to make sure we don’t put them at further risk while they are nesting in Newcastle and Gateshead.”
As a conservation organisation, the RSPB is not set up to undertake wildlife rescues. If you see a kittiwake in trouble, please contact the RSPCA straightaway with as much information as possible.
Last Updated: Monday 29 April 2019