Geese, Skuas, Cranes, Foxes: Avian Flu Takes Growing Toll On Wildlife

"One ecologist counted 160 dead wild birds while walking round a Scottish loch, and figures from other countries are just as worrying".

"As he walked along the shoreline of a Highland loch on a fine May evening, ecologist and wildlife photographer Peter Stronach could hardly believe what he was seeing. The beach was littered with dead and dying birds: male eider ducks, several species of gulls, a gannet, a puffin and no fewer than 26 pink-footed geese, which should by now have been on the way back to their Icelandic breeding grounds.

In all, Stronach recorded 72 individual birds of 17 species at Loch Fleet national nature reserve on the east coast of Scotland on that one day, plus many more in the following days.

But these birds had not been killed by a passing predator; nor were they the hapless victims of a sudden storm at sea. The cause of these deaths was a highly infectious – and for birds, usually lethal – virus. Avian influenza H5N1 or, as it is more commonly known, bird flu, is back with a vengeance.

What really worries Stronach is the range of species he found. “Earlier this spring, we noticed that avian flu was restricted to the geese; but since then it has spread to other wildfowl, raptors and seabirds.”"

Stephen Moss reports for the Guardian June 2, 2022.

Source: Guardian, 06/06/2022