A mother mallard duck and 14 baby ducklings had to be escorted to safety across the Eastbourne Road near Uckfield this morning at 8:30am after the mum nested at the Barley Mow Park for the third year in a row.
She hatched 15 ducklings yesterday morning and residents anxiously waited to see when she would attempt to walk them to a nearby pond. At 8am this morning she decided to try walking them so residents called in help from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS). Unfortunately one of the ducklings was sat behind a plant pot and was looking quite weak so rescuers had to pick that one up and take the struggle duckling into care, but the mum and 14 others seemed quite healthy, alert and ready for the journey.
The pond the mum takes her ducklings to is about a quarter of a mile away across the other side of the Eastbourne Road in a field. “Attempting to catch her and move her is risky as she could fly off abandoning her young and leaving us with the job of hand rearing them, and no mum wants to be separated from their young, so we always when safe to do so, try to escort the mum and ducklings to safety” explained Trevor Weeks MBE, founder of East Sussex WRAS.
Trevor and fellow rescuer Ellie Langridge drove to the scene and working with the residents of the park slowly escorted the mum and ducklings out of the park onto the busy Eastbourne Road where the traffic was stopped whilst mum and duckling walked along a short section of the road before crossing over and into a field on the opposite side of the road. “The traffic was only stopped for a very short period of time, and luckily this year she chose to move them on Good Friday so the roads were quieter than normal. At first motorists were wondering whats going on and started to get impatient and didn’t want to stop, but once they saw the mum and duckling a smile appeared on their faces and they are happy to wait” said Trevor.
Thursday 14th April WRAS were called to another mum and ducklings on the Eastbourne Road at Willingdon, but the location was too dangerous to escort the ducklings to safety so the family had to be caught and have been released across the road safely. “Its normal for ducks to nest in gardens as they are generally safer for them than nesting by ponds and streams. Once the young are about 24 -48 hours old then generally them walk them to the pond or stream they want to go to. Unfortunately they don’t always plan how they are going to walk them there so we often have to step in and give them a hand. You also have to be careful you don’t force them in the wrong direction or take them to the wrong pond, because as soon as you have gone they are likely to up and walk to whether ever they want to head to, and could still get run over again” said Trevor.
Once across the road safely the mum had a few difficulties getting through the stock fencing, as modern stock fencing has more narrow gaps at the bottom which makes it difficult for wildlife to get through including mums and ducklings. Eventually she managed to get through two section of fencing and into the field where the pond is located. It was then not long before she was on the pond safety.
Rescuers monitored her all the way to the pond to ensure mum and all the ducklings stayed safe. The 15th duckling which had to be rescued is now at East Sussex WRAS Casualty Centre where it has joined other ducklings and will now be given plenty of TLC over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
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