Some time ago I reported on the mysterious deaths of numerous birds in an around the Esperance area, in West Australia. The story broke, following the huge storm which went through Esperance early in January. Most of the birds affected were nectar feeders, notably Purple-crowned Lorikeets (Photo at left: John Milbank) and Honeyeaters, such as the Yellow-throated Miners (White-rumped Miners) below.
The scary thing is that while tests were supposedly conducted for poison, back in January, when the birds were first found, further tests now appear to show high concentrations of lead and nickel. It seems that there has been an export industry going on, through the port of Esperance for the last 18 months. Lead carbonate appears to be the mineral which is being exported, and is suspected as the source of the lead. It is being found in water supplies, including rain water tanks.
White-rumped Miners - Photo: DJW
The local Environment Officer has been issuing soothing statements, about how people need not worry unduly, but it looks to me a lot like the old syndrone of the "Canary in the Mine". I would be very concerned indeed if I lived there, and especially if I had kids at the local schools which have reported a high concentration of these bird deaths.
The Esperance Port Authority has suspended further Lead carbonate shipments, until the source of the lead poisoning has been identified. Sounds like it isn't rocket science, to me.