Fears are growing for wildlife in Horsham Park following pollution of the park’s pond after a diesel spillage yesterday.
Wildlife experts rescued a female swan from the pond but there are fears for the welfare of a male which flew off after reportedly spending a long time in the polluted water.
Only two moorhens were spotted this morning at the pond - normally home to dozens of ducks as well as the swans.
The diesel spillage, thought to have come from Horsham Hospital, is the second park pollution incident within a year.
John Potts of the Swans and Friends Bird Rescue organisation rescued the female swan from the pond yesterday and took her to the group’s bird welfare centre at Shepperton for treatment.
“But,” he said, “we don’t know where the male is. We nearly caught him last night but he jumped into the water too quickly before flying off.
“He is absolutely polluted with it. He’s in a bad way.” He said that the bird was likely to ingest the oil when he tried to clean himself. “It could harm him.”
Horsham District Council said yesterday that it was working with the Environment Agency and Southern Water ‘to ensure there is no harm to the environment or members of the public.’
But concerns over wildlife in the park were expressed by the campaign group the Friends of Horsham Park. Chairman Sally Sanderson said the diesel had ‘come from Horsham Hospital’s generator as a result of a fault, following a power outage’.
A spokesman for Southern Water said today: “We were very happy to work alongside Horsham District Council, the Environment Agency and other parties to help trace the source of the pollution, which was quickly identified and was in no way related to our networks or any of our assets.
“In addition, we offered to help out with the clean-up operation, which has involved putting down oil absorbent pads and booms to help prevent the oil entering the nearby watercourse.
“We will be checking them on a regular basis and changing them until all the oil has been removed.”
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA animal charity, whose head office is at Southwater, said: “The news about diesel spill pollution in a Horsham pond sounds worrying but so far, we have not received any reports about it.
“We would urge anyone who spots a bird in distress or has concerns for the welfare of an animal to contact us on 0300 1234 999.”