Lake swans poisoned by toxic algae

THE RSPCA has been brought in to monitor wildlife at Portishead’s Lake Grounds after four swans died as a result of toxic blue green algae in the water.

Experts from the animal charity were contacted by North Somerset Council, which owns the beauty spot, after two adult swans and two signets were found dead.

The RSPCA will now monitor the birds and remove any showing signs of illness for treatment.

The swans have long been a popular attraction at the beauty spot and nest on the island in the middle of the lake.

Each year tens of thousands of people flock to the Lake Grounds to admire and feed the birds, which are a protected species.

A number of ducks and fish have already perished due to the appearance of blue green algae at the lake.

Some of the poorly ducks were taken to Vale Vets in the town for treatment, but sadly died.

North Somerset Council has been working with DEFRA and the Environment Agency to carry out tests, which revealed high levels of blue green algae in the water.

Bales of barley straw have been put in the lake to help lower the levels of the toxic algae and the area has been fenced off.

A pump has also been put in, which may become a permanent measure, to aerate the water.

Local councillor David Pasley, who represents the Lake Grounds, said: “It is such a shame to hear the swans have died as they are such a popular and much loved part of the Lake Grounds.

“There is now talk among the local community to build a new swan house on the island for the birds when the lake is clear of the algae.

“I certainly hope we do not lose any more of the swans as a result of this problem.”

The council is carrying out regular inspections of the lake and working with the Environment agency on long term management measures to control the algae.

It is believed that the problems with the algae may have been caused by the recent hot and dry weather.

The lake is a popular amenity with local people, and some clubs use it for sailing training while others use it for model boats.

The lake is fed by a number of natural springs in the vicinity and in wet weather, excess water from the lake drains out of a sluice and into the estuary.

North Somerset Council spokesman, Nick Yates, said: “We cannot physically stop any birds from landing on the water.

“The RSPCA will be monitoring the birds closely and any showing signs of illness will be treated.

“As far as the algae is concerned we are using barley straw which is having some effect and we are waiting for the results of further tests on the water.

“The lake itself remains fenced off.”


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