Birmingham City Council fail again.
Once again due to pathetic environmental management of its inner city parks, birds are dying on a lake “managed” by an authority which does not care about their fate.
I have set out a long history post about Brookvale Park in Erdington and the issues that were occurring there due to certain procedures not being followed- principally the fluctuating water levels which can see the water levels drop by a foot to expose silt and brick material where botulism thrives in hot/wet conditions.
A summary PDF of the issues can be read HERE-and please do take the time to read this before reading on……
Last month I noticed some dead birds and ill ones at this lake, in conjunction with the same dramatic emptying of the water due to the ancient siphon that lets out water not working properly. THIS STRUCTURE AS BCC STATE DATES FROM 1880 FFS!
This is a repeat occurrence, and the system is not fit for purpose, at least without the manpower of regularly clearing the area of debris, which is just not happening at present.
In 2020, the following statement was made by Joe Hayden of BCC in relation to this, and we were provided with the attached diagram and picture for explanation.
“The Siphon at Brookvale Park
Please find further details attached for the syphon arrangements at Brookvale Park.
There is a letter box weir and eight syphon pipes in this location. When water level rises in the pool and covers the shorter top water level pipes, the system is primed and the water will be automatically sucked until the water drops below the level of the slightly longer syphons, at which point the connection is broken, and the water level will start to rise again in the pool. By eye, the longer pipes appear to be about 150mm – 200mm longer than the shorter ones, and so this will be the maximum variance in water levels caused by siphon operation. The system has been effective since built (circa 1880) and as designed, with any major changes likely to affect marginal planting and the various inflows further upstream in the system.
Birmingham City Council do not manually regulate the water levels, as this historic arrangement has been in place for many years and it would take sizeable time and investment to amend the water level management arrangement. Any changes would likely have adverse impacts on upstream water levels, freely discharging outfalls and would increase flood risk elsewhere.”
When bottles or other obstructions- (of course there was no plastic in Victorian England when the park was created), the siphon goes on emptying water due to thinking that the siphon pipes are still above water, which they are not. The council cannot grasp this concept and do not provide any clearance of this to stop this from happening on a daily basis.
In connection to this there are large amounts of dead wood in the lake and the trees on the islands have collapsed, again perfect breeding ground for botulism in hot weather and fluctuating water levels. This has also been mentioned before, but the debris remains there.
Added to this, some contractors appear to have been doing some tree works around the edge of the lake, and have chucked the debris in the lake!
I would once again draw the reader of this blog post to the APHA guidance about dealing with issues surrounding botulism outbreaks on areas of water. THIS INFORMATION WAS REPEATEDLY SENT TO BCC OFFICERS BY THE APHA, THE RSPCA AND MYSELF, AND TOTALLY IGNORED , PARTICULARLY BY ONE INDIVIDUAL WHO NOW APPARENTLY THANKFULLY NO LONGER IS EMPLOYED BY THE COUNCIL, BUT IT IS QUESTIONED AS TO WHETHER HE STILL LIVES IN A PARK HOUSE BASED IN SUTTON PARK WHERE SUCH ISSUES DO NOT OCCUR?
The council have failed to remove dead birds from the island or lake itself- WE HAVE, and thus they would be still there to continue the cycle of infected maggots being ingested. Carcases on the island were riddled with fresh maggots, which is how this illness spreads.
See the video below taken on the island which shows this process.
We have gone above what the third sector should have to do. Every bird found alive so far, bar two have recovered after botulism treatment with charcoal. Indeed the APHA PDF confirms at page 2 concerning situations like this-
“Treatment regimes, including careful oral administration of warm water to flush toxin from the gastro-intestinal tract in early cases, and nursing can be effective.”
This has nothing to do with avian flu, indeed, the only case recorded in wild birds on the APHA website in the BCC area in 2023 so far was a peregrine falcon in week 4. Let’s cut the wide eyed crap about what is killing these birds and not hide behind bullshit. Let us also remember that this is not really “avian ” botulism, but a symptomatic effect caused by manmade issues- notably of course in Smethwick due to Severn Trent Water’s sewage pollution. It is noted that STW were digging up the road in George Road near to this lake a few weeks ago, the second time within the last year. Maybe unconnected, but I don’t believe in coincidences anymore- not with that company.
We understand that someone from BCC collected birds retrieved by ourselves on one Sunday, some 48 hours later , in which time post mortem predation by a fox had occurred on a bagged up swan. This is not good enough, and the council are not fulfilling their responsibilities.
We even retrieved 15 FIFTEEN, life rings from the pool, which are bloody useless anyway quite frankly on an area of water that size.
We are aware that this council being badly run politically and by officers who appear incapable of acting prudently with public money is near bankruptcy. This article also reveals that public sector workers were allowed “task and finish”, including it states those in parks maintenance, and that BCC’s debt mountain may be being paid off by those outside this bone idle sector for decades.
In the strongest terms we can only say that things must improve with the management and debris clearance of this lake.
The remaining birds need to be protected and things MUST improve at this site.
1 The weir/siphon need to be checked daily and cleared of debris regularly- particularly in hot/wet weather when levels fluctuate.
- The debris in the lake and trees must be removed. BCC cannot give the excuse of “we would disturb the silt” if we did. The pool is dying and so are the trees. Are the city council content to leave it in this state, knowing full well that it is contributing to the deaths of wildfowl on the lake?
3 There IS “something meaningful to be done”- unlike the rubbish that a previous park manager for this area was misinforming elected members about with botulism. Birds can and do recover, and they need to be removed as soon as possible.
4 A boat needs to be based on site, and regular checks made on areas to remove dead birds. This is not the job of the RSPCA and the third sector. The council spent and wasted enough money on the CG22 and yet in our experience have the worst managed pools in the West Midlands, an observation made by others. For example Shock as dead geese found in filthy lake at Small Heath Park | I Am Birmingham