After a silent winter while the birds wander the oceans, the Newcastle quayside once again echoes the calls of the kittiwake as the early returners stake their claim to the best nesting ledges on the rivetted cliff better known as the Tyne Bridge. It's about an 8 mile flap to the sea from the bridge and this is thought to be the furthest inland kittiwake colony anywhere in the world - right in the heart of urban Tyneside.
It's the early birds that get the prime window boxes on the bridge's stone towers.
The other tell-tale sign that the birds are back is the guano on the pavement, and therein lies a problem. Newcastle is a city divided. There are those that love to have the kittiwake colony on the bridge and consider it a privilege. Then, there are those that loathe the noise and the mess and want the city council to net the bridge to keep the birds off.
In my opinion, we should all just chill out a bit more and enjoy this fabulous addition to the city's diversity. What mess? Just clean it up, pay up and smile!