A swan who turned completely black after getting covered in oil has been released back into the wild after a remarkable transformation.

The swan was picked up by an RSPCA officer from a lake in Prestoles Road, Radcliffe, Manchester, after being spotted by a member of the public.

The bird was taken to the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Nantwich, Cheshire, where staff joked that an Australian black swan had just been admitted.

Lynsey Cale, wildlife assistant at Stapeley Grange, said: “It isn’t uncommon for us to admit birds and waterfowl whose feathers are coated with contaminants like cooking oil, engine oil or diesel, but this was the worst oiling of a bird I have seen.

“Initially, myself and colleague Rob joked that it was a black swan, as the contaminant coverage was so extensive.

“Our first concern was to get the bird washed as quickly as possible, not only to make him more comfortable, but to avoid him ingesting any of the toxic material from preening. From experience we knew this would take several washes with Fairy liquid!”

Happily, last week the swan was released back into the wild a transformed white swan, following a number of washes.

The wildlife centre is always in need of donations of Fairy original liquid which is used to wash oiled birds.

Donations can be dropped off at the wildlife centre in London Road, Nantwich, or at a donation point situated at Sainsbury’s in Nantwich, which supports the centre.

The RSPCA would recommend anyone who sees pollution on water or land to call the Environment Agency 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60. Concerns for a wild animal that has come into contact with oil or other contaminants should be reported to the RSPCA’s 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999.

The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations to exist. It costs the centre £50,000 to feed the 6,500 animals which are admitted every year. Anyone who would like to support the vital work of Stapeley Grange can now donate online at www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/rspcahq/stapeleygrange.