A WOMAN has told of her distress after rescuing a family of oil-covered swans in Old Kilpatrick.

Kirsty Murdoch, from Bearsden, discovered two adults and six cygnets living in polluted water at The Saltings.

With the help of her husband, she managed to safely transport the family to Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre in Beith - where they are recovering.

Kirsty told the Reporter how the rescue unfolded.

She said: “A lady phoned me and said she had been out for a walk at The Saltings where she’d seen a swan family, two adults and six cygnets, covered in oil.

“My husband and I went down to have a look as volunteer wildlife couriers because we do quite a few swan rescues.

“They did indeed appear to be oiled but they weren’t at a section where we could’ve collected them easily.

“I also wanted to check with Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue that they had the capacity to take in a family because they had taken in a family two days previously.

“I emailed pictures to the centre and they asked me to get them.

“When we went back on Monday they were in the exact right position for us to capture them safely.

“I caught the dad and we got him wrapped up, then we captured the mum and the cygnets and got them all into the car.”

Kirsty added: “It was distressing to see them like that. Swans like to be clean and they’re always preening.

“The cygnets would never have survived if they had been left any longer.”

Andy Christie, from Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Centre, said he had reported the incident to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

He said: “The cygnets and the swans are fine but they are still a bit dirty.

“We’ve got most of the oil off and they are all eating quite happily and behaving as they should, but we can’t put them back because the place is still contaminated.

“It is an annual occurrence at that location. I’ve spoken to SEPA about it and they are looking into it.

“It’s a long term problem because there is so much oil in the ground.

“It’s an old oil storage depot and normally we don’t get contamination in the open water, it’s usually in the old storage tanks.

“Over the years the oil has seeped into the pond and it was enough in this case to contaminate the family.

“It’s not life-threatening at the moment for the birds but they would have died if they had been left in the water.”