PHOTO GALLERY: Bird lovers told not to feed the ducks at Thorpe St Andrew

Bird feeders have had their feathers ruffled by plans stop them throwing food and grain on Thorpe St Andrew River Green.

Councillors could attempt to impose a bylaw on the much-loved riverside spot, near Norwich, as they say the grass and tree roots are being destroyed by vast swathes of pecking geese, ducks and doves.

But wildlife enthusiasts, who regularly feed the birds, say it is a long tradition, they are not doing any damage and are, in fact, helping the birds.

Pat Woods, who is in her early 50s, lives at nearby Richmond Court, in Yarmouth Road. She said she goes out to feed the birds as much as she can.

'Bird feeding has been going on for years and years and years and lots of families come down and that's what they enjoy. They get enjoyment from feeding the birds. It is a bit like a sanctuary,' she said.

She said the birds were not doing any harm and that recent improvements to the green had actually made it worse and some grass had disappeared.

Adam Goodrum, 29, of Yarmouth Road, was feeding the birds yesterday.

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He said: 'They are the main attraction here. Lots of families with kids come and feed the ducks. It has been such a harsh winter; if it hadn't been for people feeding them, they would have suffered. On a nice day like this, you think 'I'll go for a walk and feed the ducks'. The council should find better things to worry about than feeding the birds.'

He said that the doves would not be able to get the feed if it were thrown on the water.

Last year, the council spent �60,000 building a bus shelter and a flag pole, and creating disabled access to the green. They are now hoping to plant grass seed.

They are advising people who want to feed the birds at the River Green to drop food in the river rather than on the ground.

Town councillor Eleanor Laming said that they wanted a 'dialogue' with the bird feeders, but if they did not see an improvement in the future, they would consider a bylaw.

'It's better to have a dialogue with people and try to reach some sort of compromise', she said.

'We have spent an awful lot of money improving the river green.

'We would like it to look nice for everybody when they come.

'It think their intention is as nature lovers, but since there are other areas within a short distance, particularly in the marshes, that are more appropriate for the birds to live, we would encourage them to go there.'

Fellow councillor Ian Mackie added that it was not about restricting families coming to feed the birds. 'Everybody has done that in their time. It's about people not feeding the birds on an industrial scale', he said.

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