Dead birds prompt new fears about St Albans Verulamium Lake WARNING: Graphic pictures

Dead birds on Verulamium Lake

Dead birds on Verulamium Lake - Credit: Archant

Fears are growing that a spate of duck deaths in a polluted lake last year could be repeated this summer.

Verulamium Lake, St Albans

Verulamium Lake, St Albans - Credit: Archant

Dead birds have already been spotted on Verulamium lake by a concerned resident, despite St Albans district council’s assurance that they are tackling the problem.

An estimated 100 ducks died from a strain of avian botulism in July and August last year leading to calls for the lake to be dredged.

But the district council ruled out that option because they felt it was not cost efficient or ecological, instead planning to add more aquatic plants in a bid to oxygenate the lake.

Recent weeks have seen a build up of silt and algae on the lake, leaving a layer of scum and a strong smell particularly close to the Fighting Cocks pub. Now a dead heron and gosling have been spotted.

Dead birds on Verulamium Lake

Dead birds on Verulamium Lake - Credit: Archant

The man who saw the birds, who wished to remain anonymous, said he first spied the heron floating on the water last Thursday (26) evening and contacted the council about it later that evening.

When he returned the following day he saw that it had washed up on the side of the lake together with what he believes to be, a gosling.

After receiving no response from the council he contacted their contractor John O’Conner to remove the birds.

He said: “As of today (May 31) I still have not heard from the council.

The dead bird was spotted by a Verulamium park-goer last week

The dead bird was spotted by a Verulamium park-goer last week - Credit: Archant

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“I contacted John O’Conner who came and removed the bird themselves.

“It’s a disgrace that our lake has been left like this. It was completely obvious there was a dead bird there. I was amazed to see it at the side as the park was busy and there were children walking by.”

A spokesperson for the district council said that because the situation had been dealt with by their contractors they had seen no need to respond at the time, but would send a thank you email in due course.

Cllr Daniel Chichester-Miles, the council’s portfolio holder for environment, said that they were aware of the poor state of the lake.

He was keen to dispel any rumours that avian botulism had returned. He added: “Just because two dead birds have been spotted, it does not mean the botulism has returned.

“There could be lots of reasons that these birds died. We take these issues very seriously and if we thought it was botulism we would obviously take action.

“The more serious issue here is the silt build up. We are proud of our lake and our city and we don’t want visitors to see the lake like this.”

When he spoke to the Herts Advertiser on Tuesday, he said that a mini digger and 12ft skip would be used at the lake yesterday (Wednesday) to help remove some of the built-up silt.

Richard Shwe, the council’s head of community services, said: “Our contractor was alerted last week to the presence of two dead birds in the lake and removed them immediately. This is a natural occurrence which will happen from time to time.

“There are no signs of avian botulism and it would be wrong to suggest otherwise.”

He continued: “We have been working on an exciting, long-term solution to the water quality of the lakes with the Environment Agency and Affinity Water.

“This could be achieved alongside a scheme to return the River Ver to its natural, healthier state. That scheme is being examined and costed.

“We believe it would improve the lake’s water quality and the surrounding aquatic environment to support a wide range of birds, plants, animals and fish such as water vole, brown trout and kingfishers.”