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Birders flock to Thetford industrial estate to spot migratory gulls

PUBLISHED: 15:53 16 January 2017 | UPDATED: 17:08 16 January 2017

Birdwatchers gather to look at gulls on Burrell Way, Thetford. Picture by Dawn Balmer

Birdwatchers gather to look at gulls on Burrell Way, Thetford. Picture by Dawn Balmer

Dawn Balmer

Feathered visitors have caused a flurry of activity on an industrial estate.

Iceland Gulls on industrial estate in Thetford. Picture by Dawn Balmer Iceland Gulls on industrial estate in Thetford. Picture by Dawn Balmer

A number of gull species – some rarely seen in East Anglia – were spotted in Thetford this afternoon.

After the word went out on social media a number of birders heeded the call and came armed with long lens cameras and binoculars to catch a glimpse of the gathering in Burrell Way.

Local birdwatcher Joanne Lashwood said on Facebook that species spotted included Iceland, Glaucous, Caspian, Yellow-legged and Black Headed Gulls.

Among those who came for the twitch were a group of birders from Manchester.

A Caspian Gull spotted on Burrell Way in Thetford. Picture by Dawn Balmer A Caspian Gull spotted on Burrell Way in Thetford. Picture by Dawn Balmer

Mike Chorley, Karen Foulkes, John Rayner and Mark Rigby were on a long bird-watching weekend in Norfolk and had come to Thetford before heading home.

Mr Rayner said: “There are about seven species we have seen. Some are rather scarce here and that is what everyone has come for. The gulls are mostly winter visitors to the UK.”

Mr Chorley believed the birds had been attracted by deliveries of refuse arriving at a waste disposal site on the industrial estate, near Lidl.

“You usually find them where there is a tip like this. The best viewing place is upwind.”

A spokesman for the British Trust for Ornithology, based in Thetford, said the cold weather being experienced by northern, eastern and southern Europe was the most likely cause of the birds’ gathering.

“Glaucous Gull and Iceland Gull are high-Arctic breeders, Caspian Gull breeds in eastern Europe and Yellow-legged Gull breeds in south and south-eastern Europe. Having arrived in Britain they have found a ready food supply at the Burrell Way waste disposal depot.”

He added that one of the Caspian Gulls spotted was wearing a green colour-ring, which was fitted to the bird in Poland.

The rush of birders onto the estate caused aggravation for some businesses, and a warning was issued to visitors to take case where they parked their cars.

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