Roundabout chickens continue to disappear

THE man who cares for the birds on the famous “chicken roundabout” has been left heartbroken after their numbers plummeted to just a handful.

Gordon Knowles, who for more than 20 years has fed the colony of birds which live on and around the Ditchingham roundabout, near Bungay, said that this week he counted just 14 chickens.

He said: “Two months ago we had 30-something. Since Friday we’ve lost another six.”

He added: “There’s something going on. Who is behind it we don’t know.”

Mr Knowles said the latest turn of events had upset both him and a woman who helps him look after the birds, adding that the nervous behaviour of the chickens led him to conclude that someone was taking them.

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“We had two lovely black hens and two cockerels,” he said. “Sadly the two little black hens disappeared and there’s only one cockerel left. When we go to feed them they run like the devil so it’s human beings doing it.”

He added: “It has broken both our hearts. What’s the matter with people? They’re not that expensive to buy.”

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Over the years the chickens have made a name for themselves among curious motorists. It is believed that they have lived at the junction on the Norfolk/Suffolk border for at least 50 years after escaping from nearby allotments and living off grain from a nearby maltings.

At Christmas 2008 there were 140, but by the following autumn the number had dropped to the tens.

“This is the lowest ever,” he said. “We don’t know what we can do. We are wondering if we can get some sort of security measure put up. It is so sad.”

Mr Knowles said the chickens’ fame continues to spread. “When I go and have a few chips at Yarmouth market and sit on a bench people come up to me and say, how are the chickens getting on?” he said.

Mr Knowles made a final appeal to members of the public to be vigilant.

He said: “It would help if people in the area can keep an eye on things and report anything to the RSPCA.”

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