THE agricultural department is conducting autopsies on a family of four Palmyra magpies that are suspected to have been poisoned over the Christmas break.
There are also fears for another family of eight maggies which has disappeared from Hammond Street, just up the road from where Bubbles the magpie and his flock used to live.
A distraught Yeovil Crescent resident says the first hint of trouble came on Boxing Day, when she went to check on Bubbles’ flock and found the youngest missing. Shortly after, its body was discovered on a Carrington Street verge.
“When I came back the next day Bubbles was dying on his favourite verge,” says the resident, who asked not to be named.
“His mate and other baby were standing around him.
“We took him to Native Arc but they could not save him.
“The next day I came back to see if his mate was OK and found her dying on the side of the road; she didn’t make it either.”
The resident then went back to try and rescue the remaining fledgling, thinking it wouldn’t survive without parents, only to find him dying in someone’s garden.
“This was an entire family destroyed.”
The resident said there were no signs of injuries, while preliminary examinations had only shown one bird with signs of parasites, leading her to suspect foul play.
What made Bubbles’ demise even sadder was that he’d recently struck up a friendship with a little girl whose grandfather runs a nearby shop. She’d been learning about native birds and had just started hand-feeding him.
That family went away during the Christmas break, and the resident fears the poisoner took advantage of their absence to target the birds.
She hasn’t found any bodies from Bubbles’ neighbouring flock, but will be heading out for a more thorough search so they can be given autopsies.
Once the autopsies have been carried out, if a toxin is notified Native Arc is expected to refer the case to the RSPCA for investigation.
by STEVE GRANT