A GROUP of swans and an Aylesbury duck who were rescued from an oil spillage have now been released back into the wild.

The birds were recovered by a team of five RSPCA animal welfare officers who found them covered with oil in the canal near Victoria Street at Clayton-le-Moors on October 5.

Oil can be extremely dangerous to water birds, leaving them vulnerable to dying from hypothermia by reducing the natural water proofing in their feathers, but fortunately the officers were able to take the flock they had found to Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich to be cleaned.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Manager Lee Stewart said: “Once the birds were washed, they were then transferred to outside pools with other swans, geese and ducks until the oil was cleared from the canal so they could be returned home.

Cleaning water birds that have been contaminated with oil can be a difficult and labour-intensive process, sometimes taking two members of staff half an hour to wash a single bird.

Sometimes multiple deep cleans are required for particularly severe infections.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Explaining the process, Mr Stewart said: “Cleaning just one bird can use half a bottle of washing-up liquid, and oiled birds sometimes need to have multiple washes to be completely cleaned of the oil.

“If there are no other injuries the washed birds can be transferred to outside pools with other swans, geese and ducks.

“It's then a waiting game for the oil to be removed or for it to dissipate before returning them home.”

In this case however, the team at Stapeley Grange were able to get all the swans along with the duck cleaned and ready for a return to the wild.

Mr Steward said: “It is always a team effort to help wildlife in this way and it is so rewarding to see animals we treat happily go back to their home.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

The RSPCA is currently appealing for donations to help continue operating throughout the coronavirus crisis.

If you are interested in donating, visit: www.rspca.org.uk/covid.