Oil Spill - Lea Navigation. Passing on this message, it's not something I know about.This from Gill Walker on FB.
You may have heard there has been a horrible dump of dirty oil into the River Lea, which first spread from Enfield to Shoreditch. Advice here on what to do if you meet one of the many injured birds that got covered in the oil. Please pass on to all you know who walk or cycle along the canal or river.
Birds cope well with the cold, as long as their feathers are in good condition, and they have a good food supply. The recent oil spill has degraded their feathers, stripping the natural oils that keep the birds buoyant, and warm. For this reason they will be trying to keep off the water and get dry. Waterlogged feathers provide no insulation and will quickly lead to hypothermia. There will be many smaller birds suffering greatly, it may not be immediately obvious they have a problem if they have dried out, but they will not be able to access their normal food supply. Coots and moorhen are very difficult to catch. Unless you are positive you can catch them*, please do not chase them and force them on the water, as they will become stressed and wet and waste the scant resources they have. Best to leave them undisturbed if possible, and provide a shallow dish of water and food. Suitable foods are grains and seeds (wheat, oats etc) brown seedy bread, moistened is best. Swan and duck pellets if clean water available. Meal-worms or 'buggy pellets'. Coots and moorhen poke about in water weed for insects, so if you are able to put uncontaminated weed where they can access it without getting on the water, that would be perfect.
*If anyone catches a contaminated bird, please put it in a secure box with bedding, in a warm, quiet place, and call me on 07970 404 866, I will collect it and take to The Swan Sanctuary. Geese cope much better without access to the water. Their main food supply is grazing, and they tend to be in family groups or pairs, which provides better protection from predators. Due to their status under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, Canada and Egyptian geese cannot be returned to the wild after rehabilitation. For these two reasons they are usually only taken in to care if they are in poor or life threatening condition because of the oil. But please call me if you see a goose you are concerned about. Generally speaking, if the goose is on the water and it is not lower than usual, and it appears unstressed, it is OK even if it looks 'grubby'. If the bird is paddling furiously, or the water is consistently meeting over it's back so the neck appears disconnected from the body, he is water-logged and requires help.
The main swan rescue site in London is in Shepperton, I guess they can advise you what to do, contact here: http://www.theswansanctuary.org.uk/cause/oil-river-lea/
This was the original report last week