Dead sand eels found on Jersey beaches cause concern for birds

Image caption A local bird expert is concerned about this year's breeding season for birds

There are fears for the breeding season of birds on Jersey after hundreds of dead sand eels washed up on beaches.

Mick Dryden, chairman of the ornithology section of Societe Jersiaise, said four or five species could be affected.

He said shags, terns and cormorants, which rely on the eels for food, are just about to begin to reproduce after returning from warmer climes.

He said mature birds could also be lost if the eels do not recover quickly.

The environment department said the sand eels had been found on beaches in St Clement, Bonne Nuit, St Ouen and Ouaisne over the weekend.

A spokesman for the department said it would be examining samples to find out what caused the deaths.

Mr Dryden said: "This is the worst time this could possibly happen.

"The common terns literally are arriving as we speak onto the breeding sites around the offshore reefs of Jersey and they go straight into their breeding cycle.

"But if they are not feeding properly it is unlikely they will be successful in breeding young."

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