More birds die in mud and silt of St Albans’ Verulamium Lake

RSPCA trying to save a goose stuck in Verulamium lake's silt

RSPCA trying to save a goose stuck in Verulamium lake's silt - Credit: Archant

More wild birds are dying after becoming trapped in the mud and silt of Verulamium Lake, prompting outrage among park users.

One Canada goose had to be put down by the RSPCA after they dragged it out of the sticky water - the bird had been spotted last week by a keen-eyed walker, Hannah Menzies, who alerted the animal rescue charity.

She said: “I felt a bit helpless but how I would have got it out, I don’t know.”

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: “Sadly when we arrived our officer found the bird was extremely ill and there was nothing that could be done to save him.

“He had collapsed and was lifeless, so the difficult decision was made to put him to sleep to end his suffering.

“We would like to thank the member of the public who called us to help him.”

A different Canada goose was also found stuck in mud by Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub - it is believed this bird is still alive after it was rescued.

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Several days later there was a dead bird by the bridge next to the children’s splash park, laying in the scum. St Albans district council (SADC) says this bird died from natural causes.

St Albans resident Howard Berry, who walks his three dogs by the poisoned lake every day, says he has pulled “stiff” birds out of the silt four times in the last month, and more than 24 times in the last two years.

He described the dirty lake as disgusting, foul, and like a cesspit: “There are dead birds every day and it’s not an accident, it’s not old age.

“[Sorting it out] is all bullsh*t, nobody is ever over there doing anything, it’s no better at all and it’s disgusting.

“It’s not being mismanaged, it’s not being managed at all.”

He said he was so passionate because he loves the park and the birds, but believes the water could be also dangerous for children or pregnant women.

Howard added: “It’s foul and I am sick and tired of it, you don’t have to be an expert to see it’s not right.”

Fellow park user Barry Kimber, also of St Albans, has reported seeing sick birds, but he is not sure what is being done: “It’s totally unacceptable, I mean, there are children walking around the lake, and it’s not nice for them to see.

“Very little has been done to maintain the lake and it seems that the council just doesn’t want to do anything.”

This latest criticism of SADC is only the most recent in the ongoing silt saga over the last few years, including a spate of bird deaths from avian botulism in 2015.

Barry said he had become desensitised to the dying birds, after seeing so many during that period.

The silt is a combination of bird droppings, leaves and other material caused by la ack of water flow through the lake’s sluice gates.

Last summer SADC used a truck to suck up to 45 tonnes of the muck from the water, out of an estimated 12,000 tonnes, but the sticky substance has started to reappear around the edge of the lake again.

Signs asking people not to feed the birds, and further pollute the water, have also been put up around the poisoned lake.

Waste manager at SADC, Joe Tavernier, said it is an ongoing issue at Verulamium and it is working with the Environment Agency (EA) on a long-term solution: “Last summer, the council spent £29,000 on removing silt from the lakes in Verulamium Park with the aim of improving their water quality.

“We are planning further silt removal work to be carried out later this year next to the bridge that crosses the two lakes in Verulamium Park.”

However, he described this removal as a temporary solution.