What with everything else going on in the UK, you might have missed the news that bird flu is devastating our bird populations. Millions have died. And it turns out the epidemic is affecting some rather famous royal birds too. Charities say they have recovered 66 dead swans from the water by Windsor Castle in the past week.
There were previously 200 birds in the three-mile stretch, which runs from Romney Lock to Boveney Lock near Dorney. Volunteers from the Swan Support Charity have been visiting the riverbanks daily in kayaks to try and help the birds. One of them, Wendy Hermon, told Metro: ‘I have been looking after the royal swans for 30 years beneath the castle and I have never seen anything like this before.’ For some context, in 2018, avian Flu killed 70 swans in the area over a month, so we’re now seeing a similar number dying in less than a week.
The strain has already killed more than 86 million birds in the USA and Europe, mostly through culling, in which birds are mass-slaughtered in areas where the disease has been detected. The worst part, the volunteers explained, is that once a bird is infected, there’s nothing you can do – as taking them inside for shelter will kill all the other birds.
Windsor Castle said in a statement that Charles ‘will be deeply upset about this major outbreak and the King’s Swan Marker David Barber, who did the job for 30 years for the Queen, will be keeping the Palace informed’.
Anyone who sees sick or dead swans in the area is asked to call the Swan Support charity on 07968 868172. You can help them out here.