Several bird deaths on one of Pembrokeshire’s islands were caused by avian flu, DEFRA has confirmed.

RSPB Grassholm had hoped that the disease would not reach the island this season, as it had not already during the avian flu spike across 2022.

Across the past year, gannets and other seabird species have been hit by the outbreak of avian influenza (HPAI) which is highly pathogenic.

The H5N1 strain originated in Asia and has since spread into wild bird populations across the world.

Grassholm Island is home to 36,000 pairs of northern gannets, making it the third most popular site worldwide for the species.

Milford Mercury: The island is home to 36,000 pairs of northern gannets. Picture: RSPB GrassholmThe island is home to 36,000 pairs of northern gannets. Picture: RSPB Grassholm

A spokesperson from RSPB Grassholm said: “Up until now the disease had not reached Grassholm and we were living in hope that would remain so this season. Sadly, this is no longer the case.

“Following a spate of suspicious deaths during one of our recent surveillance visits the disease has been confirmed following testing by DEFRA.


“At present the outbreak is small but has the potential to escalate. It is early days and we are keeping the site under close surveillance and will update the public as and when there is more to tell. 

“Grassholm is not open for public landings due to the disturbance levels this would cause so there is no change in this regard.

“In the meantime, you may come across dead or dying gannets (or other seabirds) washed in on beaches around Pembrokeshire. The advice is not to touch these birds, keep dogs away from them and report to DEFRA on 03459 335577.”