Avian flu strikes in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens as dozens of birds found dead

The dead birds have primarily been waterfowl, including geese and swans  ((Stock picture) Anglian Ruskin University/PA)
The dead birds have primarily been waterfowl, including geese and swans ((Stock picture) Anglian Ruskin University/PA)

More than 30 birds have been found dead at two central London parks as the UK remains in the throes of its worst-ever avian flu outbreak.

Dozens of birds - mainly geese and swans - have died in Hyde Park and neighbouring Kensington Gardens since the start of November, with the virus the suspected cause.

A spokesperson for Royal Parks, which manages the land, said: “We believe that some birds have possibly contracted and died from avian influenza. We have alerted the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and are waiting to hear back on whether they can test them for the disease.”

It comes after canal workers reported finding a number of dead swans and geese in central London canals.

The UK has been facing its largest outbreak of bird flu in history with more than 200 cases confirmed on commercial premises, smallholdings and in pet birds since October last year.

All poultry and captive birds must currently be kept indoors in England to curb the spread of the virus.

Royal Parks said it remains “very concerned” about the outbreak, and has warned its visitors not to feed wildlife.

“Feeding encourages birds to group together which increases the risk of transmission of avian influenza between birds,” said the spokesperson. “Dogs should also be on leads near waterbodies and kept away from birds.

“We are unable to prevent wild birds from getting the virus, but we are carrying out enhanced monitoring of our waterbodies to check for signs of illness and to ensure that any dead birds are removed immediately.

“We are following all instructions issued by Defra and as a result, our colony of pelicans in St James’s Park have been moved to their enclosure on Duck Island.

“Visitors must not handle sick or injured birds themselves, instead they can report any sick or dead birds in the Royal Parks to 0300 061 2000 or via email hq@royalparks.org.uk. Visitors can also report sick or injured birds directly to the RSPCA.”

For more information on avian influenza visit Avian influenza (bird flu) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)