Robin surprises supermarket shoppers

A PLUCKY robin has been surprising shoppers after setting up home in an Ipswich supermarket.

Elliot Furniss

A PLUCKY robin has been surprising shoppers after setting up home in an Ipswich supermarket.

The red-breasted resident arrived at the town's Martlesham Tesco Extra store about two weeks ago and seems to be thoroughly enjoying its new life in the fresh fruit section.

The robin is proving a bit of a pest for staff who have been told they can not kill or harm it as, like all wild birds, it is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The grocery giant is now working with Natural England to bring in specialists to help remove the elusive feathered friend, who is keeping customers on their toes.

One shopper, who asked not to be named, said she had twice seen the little robin in the store and had raised concerns with staff about its welfare and the potential hygiene risks.

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She said: “Shopping in Tesco Martlesham last night I was shocked to see a robin flying around the fruit section.

“I approached a member of customer service staff to alert them. She replied, to my horror, 'oh it's been in here for the last two weeks, it's an endangered species so we can't kill it and haven't been able to catch it'.

“If it's been living in the store for two weeks, there will be bird droppings everywhere - how unhygienic. Later whilst shopping the said robin swooped down the aisle nearly missing shoppers.

“I feel for this poor little bird and can't understand why Tesco, with it's massive profits, can't sort out a small robin and protect health and safety standards for their shoppers.”

A Tesco spokesman confirmed that staff had known about the robin for several days but had done everything correctly in handling the matter.

He said: “It's correct, there is a Robin in the store and it's a protected species, that's why they can not kill the bird. Staff are keeping an eye on it.”

Because there is a health and safety risk posed by the bird flying around the food, the store has to follow the strict guidelines set out in law and staff have been liaising with Natural England to resolve the issue.

A Natural England spokeswoman said: “All wild birds are protected to some degree under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

“In most cases trapping can be carried out under general licence. The person carrying out the action must be satisfied that they are acting within the provisions of the General Licence and therefore the law.

“If this action is not successful a specific licence is required from Natural England before you can take any lethal action.”