Traffic halted as rescue officers help mother and 14 ducklings cross Uckfield road
A mother mallard and her 14 ducklings had to be helped to safety at a small caravan park just south of Uckfield this morning.
East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) received a call from concerned residents on the Marley Mow Caravan Park on Eastbourne Road, Uckfield after a mother mallard duck was seen walking her duckling around the park.
Fearing she may try and cross the busy Eastbourne Road and get run over, residents called in East Sussex WRAS for help.
WRAS sent three rescuers in two veterinary ambulances to the scene to assist the mum.
Trevor Weeks, WRAS Rescue Co-ordinator, said: “It is common for female ducks to nest away from ponds and waterways in secluded locations hidden away from the many predators who hover around ponds looking for a quick meal at this time of year.
“Within 48 hours mum will try and walk them to a pond, but this can on occasions be over a mile away from where she has nested.”
WRAS rescuers Lisa Turner and Ellie Langridge had the difficult job of trying to get mum out of the caravan park.
“Mum clearly wanted to head west towards the pond, but fences and other obstacles made this impossible from where she was,” Ellie said.
“We had to encourage her in the opposite direction so she could reach the exit from the park, before walking along a short section of the road and into a field on the opposite side of the road.”
Taking it slowly and carefully to avoid mum flying off stressed and potentially abandoning her young, rescuers Ellie and Lisa slowly walked them out the park where Trevor and one of the local residents wearing high vis jackets stopped traffic to allow the mum and ducklings time to walk across safely.
“Everything went like clockwork and we only had to stop traffic for a very short period of time” said Trevor.
Lisa and Ellie continued to follow the family to ensure all 14 ducklings stayed with mum and got to the pond just across the field.
Rescuers used binoculars to do a final head count before leaving mum and babies to their new home.
Trevor said: “Wild birds are as individual as humans so you are never 100 per cent sure how they are going to react to you.
“We could attempt to catch them and move them but this comes with a high risk of mum flying off any abandoning her young if she is too stressed.
“It is also easy to make a mistake on where her intended destination is.
“If you catch mum and the duckling and release them at the wrong location they will up and walk off once everyone has gone, putting them at further risk of being run over or young falling down drains on roads.
“So walking mum and ducklings is always the best option when you are at a safe enough location to try.”
East Sussex WRAS’s is a charitable service which relies on donation to help fund its rescue service.
Anyone wanting to know more about the charity or to make a donation should head to www.wildlifeambulance.org.