HUNDREDS of dead birds have been found along the East Lothian coastline in a matter of hours, with a nature reserve warden describing the discovery as “heartbreaking and horrendous”.

Nearly 2,000 dead birds have been identified by countryside rangers across East Lothian between the beginning of April and the end of September.

Bird flu is thought to have been the cause of death for a number of the birds but starvation has also been included as a possibility.

John Harrison, nature reserve warden at Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve, took to social media to highlight the depressing scene facing him at work.

He said: “The sun is shining bright and, well, it seems a good day but actually it is a really dark day for me; pretty, well, extremely depressing.

“In over 20 years working in nature conservation I have never seen scenes that I have just witnessed this morning.

“I’ve just done my usual patrol of about a mile and a half of the shoreline and... you will notice on the shore... a dead guillemot. It is one of over 200 that I just have seen along the shore.

“I have never seen scenes so heartbreaking and horrendous as that in my career.

“It does not sit in isolation.

“Last week, I had over 100 dead birds, same again the week before.

“My colleagues at East Lothian Council Countryside Ranger Service have been monitoring the shoreline all spring and all summer and we are seeing similar scenes at our other sites as well.

“It is thoroughly, thoroughly depressing.”

Mr Harrison stressed it was not a situation that was specific to East Lothian. Instead, it was a scene mirrored up and down the UK’s east coast.

And, while bird flu has been making headlines, he highlighted that was not the only cause.

Mr Harrison said: “We know that bird flu has killed a lot of birds.

“We lost hundreds of birds here in the winter; almost, certainly to bird flu. We have had bird flu confirmed in birds, including guillemots and other seabirds, this spring and summer.

“These latest ones appear to be dying not as a result of bird flu and they seem to be starving to death.

“We don’t know exactly why that is but it is utterly, utterly heartbreaking.

“These birds desperately need our help.

“We need to clean up our seas and our oceans and stop filling them full of plastic, and give them safe space.

“These birds are a barometer of the health of the oceans, which we rely on as well.

“It is a thoroughly depressing day really and I really, really hope that we don’t see many more scenes like this and we can really do things to help these birds.”