Thursday, 12 January 2017

Swan Song?

It is always sad to hear of problems occurring at places you have used for teaching and the outbreak of h5n8 avian influenza at Abbotsbury swannery in Dorset certainly falls into that category ( The swannery was set up by monks on the Fleet lagoon to supplement their food supply but has been maintained as an impressive visitor location where people can get close to birds (exactly what is not needed whilst trying to prevent the spread of the virus to domestic crops). The centre (as a consequence of its feeding regime) attracts around a 1000 free-flying Mute swans (Cygnus olor) but also many other bird species (including geese, ducks, Moorhens and Coots). To date, it has been confirmed that 9 swans have died from this strain of avian 'flu which, of course, means closure of the swannery to the public. Such events can challenge the financial viability of such centres (as well as the health of the birds in the centre and in the locality).

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