These were the distressing scenes that carers from Secret World Wildlife Rescue found when they were called to the West Ham road out of Blackford.

A caller had notified the charity, which is based in East Huntspill, that three dead swans had been spotted lying in a field.

Secret World’s Animal Care Manager, Sara Cowen, rushed to the scene and found the dead bodies plus an injured swan in a nearby rhyne.

An inshore rescue boat from BARB (Burnham Area Rescue Boat) was called to help retrieve one bird, and further staff from Secret World also joined the operation.

More dead swans were found in the nearby area, all of which had been shot in the head.

A total of eight dead swans were discovered and X-rays revealed they had all been killed by air gun pellets.

“One of the swans had been shot three times and must have suffered terribly,” Sara told Burnham-On-Sea.com.

Secret World is appealing to anyone with information about the incident, which is believed to have happened early Monday morning, to ring them on 01278 783250 or to notify the police.

They are also appealing to anyone finding further swans that have been shot to report the incident.

“It is hard to believe why anyone would do such a callous thing,” Pauline Kidner, founder of Secret World told Burnham-On-Sea.com.

“The only thing that we had hoped was that death would have been fairly instantaneous as they all appeared to have been killed by someone who was quite an accurate marksman, but the X-rays told us otherwise.”

She added: “A lot of swans foraging on crops can cause a lot of damage, but there is no excuse for such cruelty. What makes matters worse is that some of the swans may well have been ones that we worked so hard to save from the ice over the Christmas Period.”

One injured swan was retrieved with BARB’s help and is now recovering at the wildlife centre in East Huntspill.

Pictured above is the sole surviving swan being cared for at Secret World this week and, top, the distressing scenes that carers faced on Monday