Wildlife Rescuers had their work cut out this lunch time after a mother duck and ten ducklings decided to walk just under a mile through the streets of Willingdon leading to traffic on the busy A2270 Eastbourne Road having to stop to allow the feathered family to cross safely.
East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service were called to Broad Road Willingdon at lunchtime but on arrival the family had taken themselves into a garden in Oldfield Road. There was no way out of the garden other than back onto the road where she started walking south.
Having attended a mum and duckling last year at the same location rescues had a good idea where she was going, but had to be careful not to push her in the wrong direction. Slowly with all 10 ducklings following mum, they walked down to Tott View Road where a footpath led out onto the A2270 Eastbourne Road.
WRAS already had an ambulance at this location in case they walked in that direction. Traffic kindly stopped for a few minutes to allow rescuers to escort the family across the busy road safely. The family were soon up on the grass verge near Mornings Mill Farm and heading out across the fields to a nearby stream and pond.
“These rescues are always difficult and we have to balance the disturbance to humans and the welfare of the mum and ducklings which is difficult. She knows where she wants to go we just need to get her there safely” said Trevor.
It is common for ducks to nest in gardens and walk their young to ponds once they are 24 hours old, as gardens are generally safer places to nest than at ponds and river. “We are sorry for the short delay to the traffic as a result of her crossing the road. We only had one negative comment. We would really like to thank everyone for being so patient and caring today especially a Hobbs Recovery Service vehicle who stopped and help hold up traffic safely” said Trevor.
WRAS is often asked why we don't just catch them and move them. "This is simple, catching mum and all the duckling is risky and could cause mum to abandon her family or you could lose some of the ducklings as they scatter into bushes and vegetation. More importantly if you take them to the wrong location the mum is highly likely to walk off again once rescuers have left. So we have to weigh up the safety of walking them, against any dangers along the potential route to both them, rescuers and the public including potential traffic accidents as well as the risk of capture" explained Trevor.
WRAS is quite experienced in dealing with these situations and every spring and summer WRAS is called out to deal with up to 35 such incidents which can involved multiple ambulances and rescuers each time. "Not all locations need us to attend, some location are safe enough for us to just advice callers what to do, but in situations like this we generally have to attend" Trevor added.
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