More than 1,000 birds have been collected and disposed of from the Aberdeenshire coast as avian flu sweeps the country.
Cruden Bay and Crovie alone saw around 500 carcasses uplifted recently, with efforts continuing from St Cyrus up to Stonehaven, Balmedie, Newburgh, Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Macduff.
Aberdeenshire Council said the “unpleasant yet critical” task of removing the bird corpses from beaches was carried out by teams led by the council’s landscape services division and supported by volunteers from Live Life Aberdeenshire and Building Maintenance among others.
It also thanked local residents for their proactiveness in reporting the “significant” numbers of dead birds on beaches since the beginning of July.
“Although we are now seeing a distinct reduction in the number of reported sightings, there are still some birds being washed up along our coastline”, said protective services manager Gordon Buchanan.
“We will remain vigilant over the weeks and months to come and will respond to further sightings, but for now we have ensured that our beaches remain relatively clear and safe for everyone to enjoy this summer.”
Experts say the H5N1 strain of the disease is “the worst in two decades” after a variety of species began dying on beaches across the country in recent weeks.
Scottish SPCA workers have been forced to turn sick or injured birds away from their care in an effort to curb the spread of the disease.
NatureScot recently announced a new taskforce aimed at containing the avian flu crisis.
It has also asked the public to behave responsibly during the outbreak, and to not access seabird colonies for the remainder of the breeding season.
This approach “gives the best chance to limit the spread of the virus by human activities” and also gives colonies the “best possible opportunity of survival and recovery by reducing any additional stress.”