A WARNING over the dangers of avian flu was given this week after several little egrets were found dead on the Helford Estuary.

Yesterday the Marine Strandings Network said the deaths have been reported to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs because of the risk of avian influenza. The risk has been increased to very high for wild birds and medium for poultry with high biosecurity and high for poultry with poor biosecurity.

The findings follow concerns about the fate of up to 60 wild swans on the Penryn River which disappeared from their usual feeding grounds without warning last week.

Gloria Butterworth, who lives overlooking the Penryn River, said not only had the swans disappeared but a goose that lived with them had died as well. She said the swans were fed daily on the river but had disappeared. She had been told that they had contracted avian flu and died.

"About 60 swans have been claimed by avian flu on the Penryn river," she said. "Also the goose which lived with them for years has died as well

"As if times aren't bad enough, now the beautiful swans have died as well," she said. "It's so sad without them."

However, a check of the Defra website where avian flu deaths are recorded found there have been no avian flu deaths recorded in Cornwall this year, but there have been three swan deaths from avian flu in Devon.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77 and select option 7. Defra will collect some of these birds and test them to help them understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird, not all birds will be collected.

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find. More information can be found at gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu.