BLUE and white circular objects reported in the sky, shooting stars falling to the ground, a silver grey rod flying over a small town - it sounds like a scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

But an exclusive News investigation has discovered normally quiet and unassuming small towns such as Huntingdon, Girton, Ely and St Neots are a hotbed of extra terrestrial activity.

Ten UFOs have been reported in Mid-Anglia in the past three years according to the Ministry of Defence, which revealed the figures after the News made a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

But is this an invasion of little green men or a figment of fertile imaginations?

Four lights, one brighter than the others, seen in the skies over Ely in February last year could be a signal from extraterrestrials that has traveled millions of lightyears to get here using physics we do not yet understand.

Or it could be a plane.

UFO sightings in the last three years in Mid Anglia:
  • February 19, 2003 6.30pm Huntingdon: A shooting star falling to the ground.
  • April 11, 2003 10.21pm Stansted Airport: A ball of fire, very bright, with no colour.
  • June 14, 2003 6.00am Girton: Small circular object. Blue and white, translucent.
  • January 9, 2004 10.30pm Thaxted: Strange light in the sky.
  • February 8, 2004 9.45pm Ely: Four lights, one brighter than the others, sometimes fading.
  • April 9, 2004 5.57pm Greater Chesterford: 60ft long symmetrical object.
  • February 11, 2005 Huntingdon: The witness just said that it was a "UFO".
  • June 4, 2005 12.30am St Neots: The object looked like a dim red light.
  • June 8, 2005 4.45pm St Neots: The object looked like a rod that was silvery/grey.
The British UFO Research

Association (BUFORA) has investigated reports of flying saucers, abduction, crop circles and all things alien since 1964. Robert Rosamond, the group's chairman, said most sightings can be rationally explained.

"Some are everyday like aircraft, military or civilian, or astronomical phenomena like shooting stars," he said.

"And they can be very rare like geological glowing balls of light. All these can be mistaken by people for UFOs. We find that 95 per cent of all reports can be explained."

Cambridgeshire seems to be a highway to the restaurant at the end of universe in the past 20 years, if reports are to be believed.

Teenager Jamie Wilks said he saw a strange craft defy the laws of gravity in Vinery Road at 10.30pm in August 1994.

The 14-year-old and his friends claimed they saw "strange pin-pricks" zipping backwards and forwards in the sky, followed by what looked like some sort of craft emerging from behind a cloud.

"I'm convinced it wasn't a plane," said Jamie. "Planes don't move like it was moving. It was defying the laws of physics."

Leslie Woodbridge was convinced he saw an alien craft while driving across the Fens near Ely early one morning in November 1987.

"I thought it was an aircraft, but its shape, speed and colour soon convinced me it was something far more strange," he said.

"I wasn't dreaming. It was incredible - the most fascinating thing I've seen in my life."

Mr Rosamond says BUFORA tried to be as scientific as possible while investigating possible UFOs.

"There are a few people who will hound you out a room if you say a sighting might not be UFO but we tried to be as objective as possible," he insists.

"We are neither pro-UFO nor anti-UFO. We look at each case individually and we try to look at the broad aspects of the phenomenon."

"Ufology", as it has been dubbed, takes in many other subjects, such as psychology, the sciences and astronomy, adds Mr Rosamond.

"We have all had individual cases where there is no obvious rational explanation but they are very rare. We never close a case and as we learn more it is possible phenomena we don't understand now can be explained later," he said.

Hollywood has also played its part. BUFORA files from the 1980s are bulging following the release of Stephen Spielberg's 1977 blockbuster Close Encounters of the Third Kind and his later hit ET, says Mr Rosamond.

"We have files going back to 1924, and the stereotype image of grey aliens you can see on everything from the bottom of skateboards to TV commercials came from the US. Prior to that there was nothing in the UK," he adds.

Since Roswell, when an alien craft allegedly crashed in New Mexico in 1947, reports of UFOs grew but over the past 15-years interest in little green men has died and sightings have dwindled.

Mr Rosamond says: "We are keeping an open mind. We will keep searching for answers."

An Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: "A combination of civil and military radar installations provide a continuous real-time 'picture' of UK airspace.

"Any threat to the UK Air Defence Region would be handled in the light of the particular circumstances at the time (it might, if deemed appropriate, involve the scrambling or diversion of air defence aircraft).

"Reports provided to us of 'UFO' sightings are examined within this department, but consultation with air defence staff is considered only where there is sufficient evidence to suggest a breach of UK air space.

"The vast majority of reports we receive are very sketchy and vague. Only a handful of reports in recent years have warranted further investigation and none revealed any evidence of a threat.

"The MoD does not have any expertise or role in respect of 'UFO/flying saucer' matters or to the question of the existence or otherwise of extraterrestrial lifeforms.

"We remain totally open-minded, but to date we know of no evidence which substantiates the existence of these alleged phenomena."